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Is it at all likely to deliver on the elusive metaverse vision?
Call upon your distant memory of your first visit to Second Life. The pointless wandering. And then watch massive multiplayer game play like Fortnite in action. The richness of that engagement. It seems a short leap to take the vision and hope of Second Life and connect it with the game engines that have brought exciting new worlds to life. Even without the three-dimensional effects of VR.
What is most striking to us about this prospect is how fervently it is desired. This dream seems to resonate. Enthusiasm abounds for the prospect of virtual worlds. We all seem to be waiting for it, and hoping it meets our hopes. The crypto embodiment of the metaverse manifested in Decentraland remains in the category of distant hope. Promising? Sort of.
This is a major challenge for the crypto community. It is not clear that the federated deployment of capital orchestrated by blockchain (à la Helium) provides any advantage in the design and deployment of the cloud-based AI infrastructure needed to create a natural and engaging virtual environment. Nor is it likely to produce an authentic technological breakthrough. That may take the tunnel vision and massive horsepower of a centralized behemoth like Meta. With all of its might. Or Microsoft. Or Sony. Or a very high quality game studios. It is from those studios that we expect higher quality blockchain-enabled video game content to come to market this year, with the potential to overshadow all of the early entrants to the blockchain game world.
Crypto’s signature contribution to the metaworld is its vibe. It’s coolness. The community ethos. Who wants to be associated with Facebook? I’ll take my brand equity to crypto-land. And that is Decentraland’s window of opportunity. So we will see if they can run fast and break things. Or even walk briskly.
What heartens me is the richness of certain experiences in the Decentraland world. Especially the virtual museums. Both the structures – the virtual architecture – and the NFT’s – responsive to your presence, and in some cases, priced. That’s an authentic virtual world interaction with an authentic virtual asset – including of course the museum itself. We need to see more of those. And more compelling use cases that could draw users in droves. Why not sit in the presence of a virtual Kanye or Drake – right in the front row? Or on the stage? Or at a post-concert party? Something that could draw millions — not hundreds.
Concerns have been raised that the decentralized organizational structure may be the offsetting cultural liability of crypto, and of Decentraland in particular. And so it may be. But all that matters is the litmus test of usage, and usage is astonishingly small. Anyone here?
What might bring hoards of users to the virtual world? I can’t predict that. To find out, I paid a visit in Decentraland to the virtual Astrology Center. I got no clear answer. All I can do now is sit in a Decentraland virtual bar sipping a virtual cocktail, by my virtual self, and wait.