Does Metaverse need blockchain to ensure widespread adoption?

Many also believe that blockchain technology will play a key role in the metaverse along with other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). But is the use of blockchain really a foregone conclusion?

Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson recently moderated a World Economic Forum panel discussion featuring some of the world’s leading Metaverse and blockchain thinkers. “The first question to the group was ‘Do we need blockchain to build virtual worlds?'” Bailenson, founder of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, told Cointelegraph. “The consensus is that Metaverse can exist without a blockchain.”

For example, Bailenson offers Metaverse pioneer Second Life, which was founded in 2003 and has 70 million currently registered accounts, is Add to Its online multimedia platform is adding 350,000 new accounts every month. Second Life has developed “a robust economy where digital assets can be bought and sold,” Bailenson said. “The typical GDP of Second Life is about $5 billion per year. Also, the world works robustly without the use of blockchain.”

“Will the next iteration of the internet exist without blockchain technology?” asked Tonya Evans, a professor at Penn State Dickinson School of Law. “Yes, it can,” she told Cointelegraph. After all, distributed decentralized ledgers and cryptoassets — including smart contracts — are only part of Web3 technology, along with artificial intelligence, 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), and more.

Many were excited about the prospect of the Metaverse, a virtual world that could be used to play online games and train surgeons using 3D organ models, allowing students to visit recreated villages in ancient Greece that are surprisingly lifelike.

exclude it at your own risk

However, omitting blockchain technology, while possible, could still be a mistake. “A Metaverse without blockchain will probably just push the ball for big tech,” Evans added, and that will come at the expense of those left by Web2 — “a truly decentralized web that will empower those people .”

Yonatan Raz-Fridman, founder and CEO of SuperSocial, which develops games for the Metaverse, agrees that blockchain technology is not strictly necessary. “No, you don’t need a blockchain to enable the metaverse,” he told Cointelegraph.No first Why can’t avatars be created in 3D and games played on closed platforms like Second Life.

But Web3 is arguably a reaction to FAMGA companies — Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon — and their proprietary platforms, and Raz-Fridman predicts that companies like Meta will have to compromise on interoperability issues , if they wish to participate. This means allowing avatars to freely move from one Metaverse project to another – along with all their digital clothing and jewelry.As NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway put it recent:

“Why buy clothes if you can’t get out of the store? Why buy a Birkin bag if you can’t show it off in Metaverse?”

Consumers now demand Web3/Metaverse more like what was described in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel avalancheRaz-Fridman added, “Everyone owns their digital assets and can freely move them from one place to another.”

Artist’s depiction of the Metaverse avalanche. resource: West Walter.

Interestingly, novelist Stephenson himself is the co-founder of the recently launched Metaverse project Lamina1, “which will use blockchain technology to build an ‘open metaverse’ — an open source and decentralized one,” Washington post report.

About people, places and things

The metaverse is an elusive term – it is defined differently by various parties. Most agree, though, that it involves immersive 3D virtual worlds with lots of games and role-playing. Bailenson thinks it’s useful to break down the metaverse into people, places, and things. In every area, he sees the potential role of blockchain technology.

“people It’s the avatar, the body we wear when we’re immersed in the digital world,” he explained to Cointelegraph. Here, blockchain technology can provide the “encrypted DNA” that “ensures a one-to-one mapping between people and avatars.” For example, It can be used to guarantee that one cannot live in ten avatars at the same time, or to enable others to “take my own avatar for a ride.” Added Byronson:

“While one obvious application of blockchain is to verify avatars’ clothes and jewelry, I always think the killer application here is recording and verifying human animation.”

In Bailenson’s concept, locations are fixed areas in the virtual world grid. For the metaverse to function, a world “needs to be persistent: it’s there, even when you’re not there, and always: if you buy a one-kilometer piece of land from Snoop Dogg, it can’t move any farther, because It’s based on arbitrary remapping of the world.” He noted that some platforms are already using blockchain technology to record these maps.

Finally, the most obvious application of blockchain technology is in Bailenson’s IoT space, including 3D models, 2D images, sound files “or any digital asset that can be stored in a virtual world.” Blockchain technology can be used to verify transactions “without the need for a central authority to oversee transactions,” and also ensure that “items have unique value based on supply — assets cannot be counterfeited by simply copying thousands of copies.”

Need interoperability?

As things stand, major Metaverse players and/or competitors — including Sandbox, Decentraland, and FAMGA companies — “offer very little communication between their online platforms and others,” said the Korea Advanced Institute of Science. Assistant Professor Lik-Hang Lee and Technology, told Cointelegraph. This lack of interoperability (a Web2 feature) is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed if Metaverse is to realize its full potential. According to Lee, this includes at least the following elements:

  • Anyone should be able to build a virtual world that can link to the rest of Metaverse;
  • Metaverse should be accessible to any device or browser as long as it conforms to certain predetermined specifications;
  • Ownership of digital assets should be recorded and maintained on multiple servers and clients;
  • A single avatar should be able to communicate with avatars on other servers;
  • People should have the ability to produce, display, buy and sell their digital assets in Metaverse.

Lee told Cointelegraph: “Given the growing number of mutually incompatible metaverse projects, the creation of standardized organisms is more important than ever.”

However, interoperability may not be easy. Meta, Google and others “will do everything in their power not to lose their dominance,” Raz-Friedman said. It may also take time for the public to understand what the user-owned Internet contains, but when they do, “consumers will demand more control.” FAMGA will then have no choice but to interoperate Make concessions, at least in part.

Raz-Fridman was asked why crypto folks in particular seem to be so interested in the Metaverse. Is it because they think it might boost cryptocurrency adoption? “If you look at history, there’s always been a struggle over narrative — different versions of what the world should be like,” he replied.

At one extreme are the crypto maximalists, who envision a decentralized, blockchain-based open-source world where people own and control their data and digital assets. Raz-Friedman is sympathetic to that position, but ultimately doesn’t think it will prevail, at least in general. Facebook, Google and other companies “have a lot of economic activity on the Internet, and they won’t be toppled overnight.”

For the same reason, the continuation of private, closed platforms is not realistic. In the short term, Raz-Fridman continued, one might expect some sort of “clash of civilizations” between the two visions, with a middle ground eventually emerging as consumers themselves decide how decentralized the Metaverse will be.

Meanwhile, as Metaverse develops further, Bailenson expects to see a lot of pro bono use of blockchain technology “where the technology is effective but not essential.” However, over time, “there will be a series of killer applications where blockchain is the only way to get the job done,” Bailenson told Cointelegraph.

All in all, a Metaverse without blockchain is both viable and feasible. But, “if the goal is to democratize the internet, not to mention accessibility, transparency, composability and platform interoperability,” Evans said, “then Metaverse must include blockchain.”