This is the possible monetization of metaverse

By Stefan Brambilla Hall

In October 2021, when meta platforms announced the brand reshaping and repositioning of Yuanjie, the response of the business community was confusing.

Interest in “metaverse” (a term confined to technology circles for most of the year) has exploded, and executives of dating companies, cryptocurrency exchanges and professional wrestling brands have developed a strategy of engagement among many who claim to be building metaverse, with it – or, in some cases, both.

Given that metaverse is still largely conceptual, this is forgivable, but the lack of clarity is also instructive.

First, because it tells us something about what metaverse missionaries think it represents. For this group, the belief that metaverse will become an important part of the world economy – changing business and social life at a level comparable to the Internet – can only be strengthened by a variety of companies competing to be part of the noise.

At the same time, it emphasizes the impact of today’s major technology companies on the Internet and how this impact can transfer itself to metaverse. Critics of these companies argue that they are responsible for the “walled garden” – a unique, closed ecosystem that shapes content and business models around online behavior – and must avoid being copied or enhanced in the virtual world.

The fact that so many companies feel the need to explain their relevance to meta’s new corporate strategy shows that, for better or worse, the impact is not just a subjective view.

In any case, it is no coincidence to refer to the Internet to background opportunities and risks. Experts believe that metaworld will become the next major computing platform, causing evolutionary changes in hardware, software and experience.


XR will create a virtual world

But we can’t sustain it

This is the driving force for many companies to build the virtual environment on which the virtual world depends. They are likely to be based on “extended reality” (XR) – a combination of augmented, virtual and hybrid reality technologies.

Universal access is essential if metaverse is to connect our physical and virtual lives to the same or greater extent as today’s smartphones and mobile networks.

However, unlike a network that no one owns and is paid by everyone who uses it, the basic infrastructure for accessing the meta world is mainly developed by private enterprises. In 2019, more than 80% of the VR headset market was controlled by four companies, each using proprietary software.

Even if – as some say – the path to metaverse is through AR, it is unlikely to be funded by the free and open source models that provide us with the Internet. Either way, there is no reason to accelerate adoption. Skeptics say metaverse will always be a subset of the game.

This may be why it is suggested that metaverse is a point in time alternative framework that is gaining popularity. Specifically, metaverse represents the moment when our digital lives – our online identities, social and professional relationships, and assets – become more important than our physical lives.


Experience will become the cornerstone of the virtual world

If the virtual world is not so much a product as a framework for human interaction, it is feasible to look at the monetization of the virtual world from the perspective of experience rather than technology.

This broadens the scope of business models that support individuals and companies to create, market and sell new products, goods and services.

Some people are already trying the most obvious of them – advertising. Reports on brands’ use of video games, AR features and digital replicas provide early use cases on how they build consumer awareness and participation on platforms like metaverse. The patents submitted by meta show that advertising and sponsorship content will become an important part of its meta strategy.

Although advertising is a disgust to many technicians, as we know, it provides funds for the Internet. It generates high profits and allows content creators to drive discovery and participate in their work, making it attractive to anyone exploring metaverse as a business opportunity – and, importantly, it’s feasible.

But today’s advertising is dominated by the private sector and linked to products that are primarily of real value. This does not really support the argument that metaverse will create a new digital economy different from what we know today.

This is why non homogenous token (NFT) has attracted attention. Fashion shops, auctioneers and sports real estate are among the companies that sell NFT, enabling individuals to own digital assets. People have been building communities based on what they own for a long time, and the technology behind NFT – blockchain – can theoretically create incentives for the formation and strengthening of these communities.

For example, the founders of NFT will receive a certain proportion of remuneration every time they trade NFT, which can be used to financially support artists. The important role of creative industries in shaping culture and identity can normalize NFT in a wider audience.


Two sides of NFT coin

NFT can also promote the development of metaverse by encouraging the development of digital market. Creators of virtual worlds can charge commissions on transactions, such as how app stores operate today.

This model provides a global audience for developers and a common experience for consumers.

However, it is hotly debated by the whole technology ecosystem. The “transaction tax” of the app store is in sharp contrast to the future envisaged by the “Web3” advocates. They regard the yuan community as one of several balance points against the power of large technology companies and an opportunity to decentralize experience, control and monetization. The Internet benefits users, content creators and asset owners.

Perhaps paradoxically, the push for decentralization may eventually lead to more gatekeepers. Critics believe that if the virtual world wants to have real products from real users, it must support a unified and centralized experience.

These can never be truly open. Considering the development history of technology industry platforms, experiences and products in recent decades, it is ironic to see large companies announce their intention to define and build metaverse in this way. The power dynamics imposed by aggregators on the Internet today may be difficult to avoid replication.


Regulatory element boundary

Regulation will also play a role in the development of metaverse. Many Web3 start-ups are still under the regulatory radar, and there are more and more lists of hacker attacks, scams and simple errors they have suffered.

How to prevent fraud, eliminate copyright infringement and ensure the integrity of the digital environment has not been answered in detail, just as there will be a debate on how to make the virtual world a safe place to solve the developed human rights problems and enforce them to varying degrees in the real world.

Given all these problems in today’s real world, it only emphasizes their complexity and the trade-offs needed to solve them. Doing business in metaverse is not easy – but then again, what is simple?

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