The Metaverse: Your Next Destination
By Hadi El Talje, Freelance Writer
If you’ve ever boarded a plane in search of better opportunities, you know the idea of relocation could be as frightening as it is exciting. On one hand, you’re leaving the safety of the familiar, but on the other, you’re exploring new worlds and engaging your sense of freedom in a way you can never do while rooted in one location.
Well, the landscape of new world discovery has been changing over the past few years with the rise of the Metaverse. Instead of boarding planes and traveling the globe Columbus style, new virtual worlds are now offering users unique opportunities and immersive experiences from the comfort of their homes, or parents’ basements to be more exact.
But what is the Metaverse and is it truly a game-changer?
The future of reality is virtual
While generation Z seems to fully grasp the concept of the Metaverse, older generations are still somewhat confused as to what it actually entails. If you’re a millennial like I am, you might be almost scared to ask about it fearing the same looks you used to give your parents when they used to ask what Skype is. Simply put, the Metaverse is a virtual reality where you can live, work, travel, play, and much more. Its purpose is to digitize our few remaining undigitized activities and add a whole bunch of new ones.
For example, you, or a virtual version of you, can attend work meetings, go to concerts, sports events, or art shows. You can also travel to magical lands filled with unicorns, without having to consume recreational drugs.
The spectrum is wide to say the least, just like what the internet brought us back in the 90s.
Even though the Metaverse is still being developed, businesses are heavily investing in it claiming it’s the next big thing.
Think of it like a newly open shopping mall; every day you pass by and see another business set up shop. Big corporations like Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, Gucci, and of course the company formerly known as Facebook — Meta, have all made sizable investments in the Metaverse.
Facebook’s name change is a clear indicator of the company’s commitment to this revolutionary concept. Zuckerberg has already invested billions in the Metaverse pushing the notion that it’s a futuristic utopia set to revolutionize the time we spend online by making it more interactive and fun.
What Zuckerberg conveniently left out, is that it’s also going to revolutionize how companies like Facebook, excuse me Meta, are going to make boatloads of money, I’m talking Russian Oligarch boatloads!
The Metaverse economy could be worth between 8 to 13 trillion dollars by 2030. That’s just a couple of years from now. However, these numbers are heavily reliant on big investments from big corporations.
So what are they investing in exactly?
The Meta real-estate boom
You know what they say, real estate is the best long-term investment. Well, big corporations are apparently extending this adage into virtual real estate inside the Metaverse.
Ever since Meta started investing in the Metaverse, virtual real-estate prices skyrocketed. The average real-estate parcel inside the virtual world called “Sandbox” jumped from around 2,600$ to over 11,000$ after Zuckerberg’s announcement.
In November 2021, the crypto investor Tokens.com bought virtual property worth 2.4M$ in the fashion district of the virtual world called “Decentraland”. Earlier this year, they hosted the first-ever virtual fashion show headlined by big brands such as Dolce and Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Elie Saab, and others.
Real estate companies are looking to develop these virtual properties and then rent them to luxury brands as retail space. Then you can go to Gucci’s virtual shop, buy your avatar some slick threads, and attend a virtual concert for your favorite virtual band all while eating Nachos in your underwear.
It all sounds very alluring, but it does not come without consequences. With real estate sales in the Metaverse topping 500M$ in 2021 and expected to double in 2022, many experts are saying we are witnessing a first-of-its-kind Metaverse bubble.
So what kind of risks should we keep an eye for?
High-risk high reward
With pretty much everyone crowning the Metaverse as the next big thing, people have rushed to make substantial investments in an untested landscape, to say the least. Corporations and real-estate developers are looking to be disruptive and will most probably cash out big, but for the average joe investor like you and me, we have to be more prudent.
The biggest “what if” of investing in virtual real estate is the land you buy may not become a popular destination in the future, or even worse it could simply cease to exist.
Another big risk is the fact that cryptocurrency is the only way you can invest in the Metaverse, and considering its volatility, its value can fluctuate with something as simple as an Elon Musk tweet.
Imagine buying virtual land worth 5M$ in the virtual equivalent of Beverly Hills and then watching its value plummet to 5$ because Elon got bored and decided to pull out and sell all his Bitcoins.
The point is, there are always risks with investing in something new and untested, but still this does not mean you can’t make the big bucks and cash out before the bubble bursts.
The many worlds of the Metaverse
Even with all the doubters, the Metaverse is shaping up to be a gamechanger, especially when it comes to consumer technology. Think of it as the next iteration of social media, education, work, advertising, shopping, and even traveling. Everything could potentially be moved into the Metaverse.
But just like there are many social media apps to choose where you spend your time, many worlds will pop into the Metaverse to tend to different niches. For example, Sandbox is centered around gaming, and an arcade-type experience, while Decentraland provides more of an augmented reality experience. With time, whatever world you are interested in diving into, chances are it will pop into existence so it can capture your precious time and attention and probably sell you a virtual product you don’t really want or need.
If Mark Zuckerberg gives you the heebie-jeebies with his cyborg-like character, you’re not alone. But companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and others are also taking the leap of faith into this new virtual world.
So whether you’re an early adopter, a cynical doubter, or just as oblivious as most normal human beings are about the Metaverse, it looks like it’s here to stay. So might as well step into the matrix now and start exploring these new virtual realms before we’re all left behind in the real but irrelevant world of obscurity.
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