In a 24-hour experiment with a virtual reality headset, Wall Street Journal personal tech columnist Joanna Stern described the metaverse last month as fractured, freaky, sometimes frightening, but also kind of fun. All in a (virtual) day’s work, she traveled, exercised and played games. As a “legless torso that glides as a ghost,” she even met with her editor. In real life, she nursed a headache.
For the consumer, the metaverse doesn’t seem ready for prime time. But given its fabled promise, maybe it is these nascent shortcomings that make this piece of the so-called “Web3” especially attractive for investors to dive into right now.
Everyone is blabbing about the metaverse. But what does this future digital world look like? WSJ’s Joanna Stern checked into a hotel and strapped on a VR headset for the day. She went to work meetings, hung out with new avatar friends and attended virtual shows. Photo illustration: Tammy Lian/The Wall Street Journal
Cryptocurrency seems to be attracting everyone from the tech elite to musicians as a way to dip one’s toe in the virtual water. Whether or not cryptocurrencies eventually replace “fiat” ones like the U.S. dollar, as enthusiasts predict, the blockchain technology they are built on will no doubt rule in the metaverse.
Blockchains are essentially public, permanent digital ledgers on which cryptocurrency transactions—among other things—can operate. They enable decentralized, secure and fast transactions and have no physical form—perfect for a virtual realm uniting different people holding different currencies all across the physical world. Cryptocurrency may still seem, well, cryptic to you, but it is a good analogy for investing in the metaverse itself: You don’t necessarily have to be sure of its destination to bet it is likely to take off.
Unlike fully baked industries, which boast years of user and sales metrics, even the most informed bet on the metaverse right now would be something of a leap of faith. Perhaps real estate is a good analogy: The best investments are often in the neighborhood you believe will become something in 10 years, not the neighborhood that is already something today.
Naturally, investment firms are already buying up real estate in the metaverse. Publicly traded Tokens.com not only invests in crypto assets linked to nonfungible tokens, but it is also buying up virtual metaverse land. In a recent Wall Street Journal report, Chief Executive Officer
likened buying metaverse real estate today to buying land in Manhattan 250 years ago.
Videogame makers already create multiplayer worlds that are akin to miniature mateverses. They are now selling virtual clothing, weapons and other gear in the form of NFTs. The hope is that people will be able to trade and resell them, and use them across games and on next-gen social media. This month, the Journal reported
are already experimenting with this strategy, while
Playtika and others are also eyeing the use of NFTs to engage players in the future.
Formerly Facebook, Meta Platforms is betting the next …….