Can the Metaverse Exist Without Blockchain?

Can the Metaverse Exist Without Blockchain?

Blockchain-based solutions have seen financial, legal, gaming and social applications, albeit at a relatively small scale over the last few years. However, whether the blockchain infrastructure layer will be a must-have for the growth of the Metaverse narrative remains unanswered.

The answer to that question depends on how we define the Metaverse. Some definitions of the Metaverse focus only on its experiential elements. The word Metaverse often makes us imagine wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset and going through an immersive experience in a virtual world.

This is not all wrong, but it is an incomplete definition of a Metaverse. The Metaverse is expected to be a futuristic version of the internet. That is a great vision, but why do we need a new internet? The answer to that lies in the answer to another question — do we need blockchain for the Metaverse?

Why do we need a new internet?

The internet has been built and evangelized through applications like Google, Meta (previously Facebook), Instagram and Amazon. These applications deploy several techniques to grab users’ attention, and monetize that when they have it. Despite creating monetizable value through these apps, users get a very tiny slice of the value accruing to them.

Even when users who have created value receive very little money, the applications that grabbed the users’ attention have generated wealth for themselves and their shareholders — several trillion dollars. The internet must be more inclusive for this to change.

This is not because of the applications, themselves, but because they were bred in a capitalist ecosystem. Here, the winners take all the value and the wealth. It is okay for this to happen with the new internet, as long as “winners” has a more inclusive definition.

Why would blockchain fix the internet?

In a blockchain-based world, the tokenomics of a metaverse (the new internet) platform allows more inclusive incentives. These metaverse applications can be inclusive from a shareholding (governance token) and user incentivization (utility token) perspective.

Active participants in the metaverse ecosystems often hold utility tokens. For instance, participants in a gaming metaverse earn their utility tokens by playing and creating games. Participants in an art metaverse earn tokens by creating art and being ambassadors of art by writing useful reviews.

The Metaverse allows participants to earn as users and creators of the platforms. As long as participants in these ecosystems keep creating value, they are incentivized. As these participants generate more value in an ecosystem, they accrue credentials and become influencers.

In the short term, a few scalable Web2 versions of the Metaverse would embrace the Web2 ethos of incentivizing participants. As blockchain matures, more hybrid models would emerge, where Web2 elements bring scalability and user experience, and blockchain takes care of incentivization. A fully scalable on-chain Metaverse may seem utopian now, but it would be the ideal way to build the future internet.

Created on 3rd Oct 2022