What is the metaverse

By Anycoin Direct

The metaverse is too comprehensive to just explain in a few sentences. With so many different definitions and techniques, we thought it would be an excellent topic to devote this comprehensive Academy article to.

  • The metaverse in its pure form is all the virtual online worlds put together

  • A metaverse is a virtual online world that may or may not use cryptocurrency and where you walk around with an avatar

  • A metaverse is timeless, without end, has an independent economy, is real-time, permissive and all participants help create it

  • The term metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson in his scifi novel "Snow Crash"

  • Both virtual and augmented reality can be part of a metaverse

  • All kinds of games like Fortnite and Second Life count among the precursors of a metaverse

  • Large companies like Meta and Google are also very interested in building a metaverse

  • In a blockchain-based metaverse working with crypto, NFTs and AI

  • Revenue models in today's gaming metaverses are often very poorly thought out

  • A metaverse has huge advantages, but actually also considerable disadvantages

  • An avatar allows you to walk around a metaverse in 3D. His clothes, house, name, et cetera are usually NFTs and you can buy and sell with cryptocurrency

  • A metaverse can become part of Web3, or it can become a plaything for large companies like Meta

  • When people play too much in a metaverse they can quickly begin to live unhealthily

  • To create the metaverse, one overarching world, you need not only standards, but also a shared real-world playing field, this is still very far away

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse in its purest form is an overarching online world, in which all other virtual worlds come together and can work and in which crypto often plays a major role. As a user, you get the feeling of being physically present (for example, through an avatar) in a three-dimensional world based on coordinates. However, this is still a very far from my bed show. The question is even whether this will ever be possible.

The word metaverse is a compound of meta and fresh. Meta has many meanings, but in this case it is best described as on top of or beside, as in metaphysics. Verse is short for universe. So the compound means as much as on top of or beside the physical universe.

Other definition metaverse

Another definition says this is the entire network of interconnected interactive 3D spaces where you can walk around with an avatar in an all-encompassing virtual universe.

The following definition says it is a combination of virtual reality and augmented (augmented) reality, sometimes referred to as mixed reality.

Another definition says it is an environment where the digital and physical worlds come together through augmented reality. So this is reality as we all know it, augmented by virtual aspects. This metaverse can also have its own virtual economy, where people can make real money. The purpose of this world, housed in Web3, is to engage in all kinds of activities in your own control (Self Sovereign Identity), so that not big companies like Facebook or Google own your data, but you as a user decide everything.

For a true metaverse, not only would you be able to jump from one virtual world to another, but all virtual worlds would be part of the same metaverse.

Components of a metaverse

However, a number of aspects belong to a customary metaverse:

  • Infinite and timeless. This world doesn't normally end somewhere, you can just go on endlessly. When you log in you will see that the world went on without you. So you can suddenly see a plant in front of your house or something, which was put there when you were offline.

  • Independent economics. Within this metaverse, separate economic realities exist.

  • Synchronous and real-time. It's not a turnbased game or anything. Everything happens simultaneously just like in the physical world. When my neighbor walks a dog I can see it.

  • Permissive. Anyone may and can join at any time, unless it is a centralized world. Access is assured by connecting to your wallet.

  • Everyone creates the world. Everyone gets to make things that can be used in this metaverse.

Where did the term metaverse come from?

The term metaverse was first mentioned in Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash." Snow crash in this novel is the result of a crashed Macintosh computer that wrote in bitmap gibberish and was named snow crash.

In this novel, people walk around as avatars in a metaverse invented by Stephenson. This metaverse is a virtual world similar to a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). Hyperinflation created an anarcho-capitalist world, in which almost everything ended up in private hands, including entire countries. People eventually switched to electronic money that they use for tax-free encrypted online transactions.

To walk around in this world, you need some kind of snow goggles. Some people remain constantly connected to this always-on metaverse and are called gargoyles because of their grotesque, deviant appearance. Everything in this virtual world is experienced from a first-person perspective.

In terms of foreshadowing, this novel definitely did not do badly. Let's hope that not everything comes true!

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality is a mock reality simulated by a computer. Common methods involve putting on virtual reality glasses that generate both visual and auditory effects, allowing you to experience a world in first-person perspective that is as real as possible. These VR glasses have a built-in microphone and speaker.

Since the sensory world also includes smell, taste and touch, it will be some time before virtual reality can somewhat further integrate the physical world.

Applications virtual reality

VR is often used to prepare for the real world though, such as simulating a flight simulator, surgery, or an accident in a chemical plant to train and prepare people. It is also used to allow people who have had an accident to have experiences as if their full faculties were still intact.

Fun variations of this include boxing against famous champions, playing soccer against the biggest stars and fighting one of those aliens from the movie of the same name, anything is possible! You can also experience concerts as if you were there, such as that of Travis Scott or Ariana Grande in the Epic game "Fortnite".

Bringing large groups of people together in a virtual world can also bring big savings in transportation and logistics.

Other applications consist of pre-testing the animosity toward a product before bringing it to market. This allows for high cost savings in development and production.

Artists could hold an exhibition of their artwork and get buyers all over the world. The artwork itself they could sell as NFT.

Less obvious, for example, is to enter a virtual clothing store and be able to see, based on your given measurements, whether something fits and looks good on you before ordering it online. Many applications will come as a surprise. "Does my butt look fat in this?" Judge for yourself!

Virtual reality in movies

A number of films have already been made with virtual reality as their subject, such as "Inception," "Ready Player One" and, of course, "Avatar."

"The Matrix" is an example of virtual reality appearing more real than real life. For that, though, it took a movie.

"I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

Cypher character from "The Matrix" (1999)

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is reality as we all know it, augmented by elements created by a computer. AR has a link to mediated reality, where the perception of reality is altered by a computer in order to gain a better understanding of reality, as with the Google Glasses or other augmented reality glasses.

AR adds an additional layer of information to reality in real time, interactively and three-dimensionally. This technique is also used by simulators, as well as additions that come into view that could not be noticed without AR. For example, you can have all kinds of information projected through your glasses, giving you real-time statistics on stocks or cryptocurrency without switching screens.

Applications augmented reality

All kinds of training programs can be created with augmented reality, without interfering with reality, such as working with chemicals, fighting opponents on the warpath or practicing social interaction with customers.

A well-known example of augmented reality is Pokémon Go, where you could catch virtual critters in the real world for which you were rewarded. This is also where major bottlenecks were immediately found, such as congestion at the critters' locations and problems with privacy or rights in the public domain.

Metaverse and play to earn

Snowfoot has created a directory of all kinds of players who want to get a foothold in the metaverse or already have:

Forerunners of the metaverse

Forerunners of the present play to earn metaverse games are games like Second Life (2003), where you created an avatar and used it to walk around and communicate with other avatars. In Second Life, you could invent a whole new personality and be a real rock star, soccer god or CEO.

We can also count MMOG (Massive Multiplayer Online Game) and MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) games among the scouts of the metaverse.

We also count Fortnite (Epic Games) among the forerunners of the metaverse.

Minecraft is not technically a metaverse, because you play alone. Yet it is very similar, because you create an ever-expanding world and you also face opposition from in-game critters or unexpected events that can cause your character to die. We also count Minecraft among the forerunners of the metaverse because of its real-time play and world expansion.

There are already quite a few games that call themselves part of the metaverse or even claim to have created one. This, of course, depends on how you the metaverse or a metaverse describes.

Centralized metaverses

Some major players are already pushing hard to join the metaverse opportunities, such as Facebook (Meta), Google and Microsoft. There is a lot on the horizon for many companies in a sector where there is still a lot of growth to come. So far, play to earn and the metaverse is rather sparse, but at Silicon Valley and in gaming and tech companies they are eager to enter this growth market of new developments.

There are already a number of metaverses owned by large tech companies. Both Horizon Worlds, Roblox and other worlds are centralized. So your data is owned by these companies and can be used as the owners want. The Internet dominated by large platforms will have a tailspin in metaverse reality.

We will discuss some of them.


As such, this is a charming metaverse, where you can play games for free. You get an avatar that you can dress up with items that cost money, which you can pay for with the in-game currency Robux. Of course, you are rather encouraged to buy all sorts of things.

You can also create your own games here and make them better through social interaction. If many people play your game you can earn money. For this you need a premium account, otherwise you are not allowed to sell anything.

Millions (especially) of children play here every day. The danger of this site is that children want to spend a lot of money for all kinds of things they would like to have in order to play more fun. Besides addiction, this is a lame way to extort money from children.


Facebook has not changed its name to Meta for fun. They are dead serious there about creating a metaverse and have already invested heavily in it through their Meta Horizon Worlds. Horizon Worlds already has hundreds of thousands of players.

Knowing Zuckerberg, he will see big money in a Metaverse owned by Meta. Probably to store and sell even more private data of users and harass you with even more targeted ads than before. Another explanation is that Zuckerberg recognizes that the new form of social media will lie with the metaverse and that sites like Facebook may soon become obsolete.

"Metaverse isn't a thing a company builds. It's the next chapter of the internet overall."

Mark Zuckerberg - Meta

Play to earn decentralized metaverses

Play to earn games use blockchain, NFT and cryptocurrency to bridge the gap between the real and virtual worlds. The blockchain technology stores the data, the NFT shows which items you all have and the cryptocurrency gives value to your NFTs and your adventures in these worlds.

A major advantage of these games over centralized metaverses is the fact that gamers have invested a lot of time in a game and have come to value their earned, created or purchased items. Moreover, they are simply worth money. With centralized players, you don't get this.

If we were to claim that multiple metaverse exist, we could name a number of play to earn games that conform to a metaverse. Such a metaverse is thus a self-contained virtual world that exists alongside our own.

Some metaverses will require you to put on VR or AR glasses and log into your account. All your data here is stored on a blockchain, so you can continue playing with everything you've collected so far in cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

What is striking about these games is that the gameplay is really poor. You are often better off playing a PC game or free online game, which have worked this out much better. Examples of decentralized play to earn games:


Here you can walk through different worlds with your avatar. You can dress up your avatar with all kinds of in-game NFTs and you can also buy your own land and build all kinds of things on it and, for example, charge entrance fees for your casino or museum that you have created.

Although it incorporates several components of a metaverse, the playability and graphics are rather poor. You can also walk around themed worlds here, like the Wild West or something.


This is a similar game. You walk around a bit in a world, although with this "metaverse" you have to download each individual world separately.

Almost all aspects are similar to those of Decentraland, except that the graphics look even more amateurish.

With both games, the question is how many people actually play, since it rather amounts to running around aimlessly in large worlds.

Earnings models metaverse

As the boss of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, pointed out, a metaverse must have a good revenue model to remain attractive to both players, but especially to the people who make the game. The latter group, the developers and creative people, need to be adequately rewarded for improving a game. That way, the game will keep evolving and people will keep playing.

Yet something needs to be done on the other side as well. So far, we have seen that developers and investors are well taken care of, but players get the short end of the stick. Many even suffer losses because hardly anything can be earned or financial barriers are put up before you can play.

If it's a centralized metaverse, there shouldn't be too much on the bows of the central players with the Web2 revenue model.

In itself, a game can cost quite a bit, but you should get something in return. So far, the games featured in play to earn are far below par and an investment in a computer game is a much better and more enjoyable investment than fiddling around with poor play to earn games. Work to be done!

Unequal playing field

As you often see, the successful, large companies can invest more than the smaller ones, making it likely that companies like Meta and Microsoft will be a lot faster at rolling out worlds that meet the right conditions of speed, playability and scalability. Logically, these companies will protect their investments through some sort of tying, which means that everything is linked together and, for example, a character with attributes or devices you have in a commercial metaverse are unusable on all other worlds.

Advantages metaverse over reality

In the real world, you will run into limitations. For example, the total land area of the earth is finite. In the metaverse, you can add pieces of land endlessly.

In the real world, you can't fly, walk through walls, see what's happening on Mars, et cetera. In the metaverse, you can do anything the developers made up.

If the total world is recreated in a metaverse, you can visit all the locations in the world in a realistic way without moving from your seat. That will save some more plane rides.

In the real world, you may have all kinds of flaws. In the metaverse, you can move freely according to the rules of the game or app.

In the metaverse you can experience dangerous things in such a way that it is indistinguishable from the real thing. In this way you can practice without danger for as long as you want, until you are ready to try it out in the physical world.

When creating virtual stores, there can be a lot of savings not only by the provider, but also by the customer. The customer no longer has to physically go to a store and the provider saves substantially on warehouse costs, overproduction, vendors and logistics.

Careers in the metaverse

Many people could make a living in the metaverse. Once there are enough players and enough money coming in, the team of a game or a DAO choose to hire permanent employees who will practice within a metaverse.

Artistic people can become designers of wearables, land surfaces or other visual aspects, for example.

Successful avatars can hire others to farm things for the toppers, for example, so they can spend their time on something else.

In services, large groups of people can be appointed, including guides who tell you where things are or how to do something.

In fact, most professions can also be done in the metaverse, as long as enough money comes in.

Disadvantages metaverse

If the provider of a metaverse is a centralized player, it can have even more private data about you because it can now see conversations with other avatars of yours, including body language. These he can sell or send you highly targeted advertisements that can be rather creepy and make you timid about sharing anything important with your fellow players. Self-censorship can become a major issue in a metaverse of one of the major players.

To represent all those worlds takes enormous computing power and thus has a heavy ecological footprint.


The more players start playing along, the slower the game can become. Imagine if hundreds of millions of people start logging in and playing a game or using an app. At some point, you just don't get ahead. Taking a step forward can then start taking minutes. Before you know it, you'll be in "the old days" where you could finish a guitar playing course in the time it took you to finish one online game.

Public safety online

Another thing to remember is that people need to be able to feel safe in a world. So you quickly get questions about privacy, harassment, insult or other issues that already plague social media now. On top of that, there is the question of whether you can just snap at someone in the metaverse, or otherwise harm the avatar.

Dependency owners

A major disadvantage of this type of structure is that overnight the owners can change the terms and start demanding a monthly subscription fee, for example, after players have already invested in the game for years. Google used this trick, for example, with YouTube, where they first let users upload content, then charge money for a subscription without advertising. In a decentralized DAO, this is virtually impossible because users will vote against it.

Fake reality

Another disadvantage of a metaverse is that such a world is one big advertising column with smiling people, perfect jobs, expensive clothes and great houses. As long as you dwell in this world you put on your Macleans smile and forget everything else. As soon as you watch the news for 5 minutes the harsh reality hits you again.

Addiction is also always lurking, especially for people who like the metaverse more than the real world.

"I don't see someone strapping a frigging screen to their face all day and not wanting to ever leave."

Elon Musk

What is an avatar?

An avatar is an imaginary digital identity that can carry you through an online digital world. These avatars have all sorts of attributes and characteristics that distinguish him from other avatars. You can continually build an avatar with new items so that it becomes more and more like who you want to be in a particular virtual world.

An avatar itself can be an NFT and its clothing, home, weapons, name and any other attributes associated with this avatar can be an NFT that are worth money and therefore cost money to purchase.

An avatar can be described as your digital counterpart. Usually, your avatar also allows you to communicate with other avatars. Nowadays, an avatar can even display your body posture and gestures, making your body language make you more present.

With the rise of social media, we have already seen that your online identity has become increasingly important, especially for young people. With the advent of the avatar, this will become even more important, and the question is whether everyone can be protected well enough against an unrealistic self-image based on a virtual avatar.

Self-Sovereign Identity

Since the advent of huge companies that sell your data to corporations and send you targeted advertising based on algorithms, Google, Facebook, Amazon and the like have gotten a bad name when it comes to privacy.

A Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) is a collection of data on a blockchain controlled by the user. Only the user has the private keys of this SSI and may authorize others to use it (possibly for a fee). SSI is part of the future Web3.

Decentralized or centralized?

If this data is used in a metaverse, the data will be recorded decentrally on thousands of computers so that it is clear to everyone whose data it belongs to.

Further decentralization can still occur if all decisions are made by a DAO, so that large companies or developers do not create an uneven playing field.

So who has access to this data is hugely important to a metaverse. Where data on social media is important, in a metaverse you will reveal much more of yourself and the big companies will absolutely try to get access to this so they know even more about you.

Facebook has already changed its name to Meta, so it is eager to participate in this new development. Of course, Meta will become the owner of your data, so whether you really want to participate in a game like Horizon Worlds? Other than the fact that you will only be half in the picture!

Cryptocurrency in the metaverse

Certain games use NFTs to generate all sorts of things, such as the adornment of your avatar. You can purchase these attributes for the in-game cryptocurrency.

Often they have multiple cryptos, where you use one crypto to purchase things and the other you can earn by playing the game.

As soon as a game acquires more popularity, the economy improves. Players then tend to invest more money in all kinds of parts of this world, similar to people who love baseball a lot and buy caps and other baseball apparel, bats and balls. Shirts with a name on the back or of a certain brand tend to be popular as well, and you can see that in the metaverse now.

Having multiple cryptocurrencies in a game can greatly complicate the economy.

NFTs in the metaverse

An NFT in the metaverse is a non-fungible token that can be used in a variety of ways.

For example, you have the NFT of which there is only 1, such as country or your name. These are unique and often worth a lot of money.

Other NFTs can be common (common), uncommon or rare. The rarer an NFT is, the more expensive it usually is. In many games from the metaverse, you cannot play without purchasing some NFTs. For example, you are not allowed to walk around in your nakie with your avatar.

In some games you can also make your own NFTs and sell them on the marketplace. If you are handy at this, you can earn good money.

The NFT has now also been found by major brands such as Nike and Gucci. They already sell NFTs in all kinds of games that feature their brand.

AI in the metaverse

It is without question obvious that AI is going to play an important role in the metaverse. As worlds get bigger and bigger, it will become increasingly difficult to keep things together.

At some point, machine learning and deep learning bots will be deployed that become faster and more efficient with every move they make. In the field of Augmented Reality, AI will be used directly to bring data from the outside world into a game via oracles, for example.

AI will also be used to generate content that will be used in the metaverse. Think of songs, in-game items and environments embellished with the help of AI by a user. In this way, the user will start to contribute more and more, and the developers will be able to focus on keeping the basic processes running smoothly.

The prediction is that metaverse can grow tremendously once quantum computers are in place, because they work much more efficiently. Until then, it will still be a bit of a struggle with worlds that keep expanding and need more and more computing power to work decently.

Web3 and the metaverse

The metaverse is actually part of Web3. Web1 involved static, read-only Web pages. Web2 is a phase we are in now, with the tech giants and the issue of data ownership. It is the read and write phase.

Web 3.0, decentralized Internet, consists of read, write and own. In a Web3 environment, the user owns everything he does online, ideally owning only one profile. He can decide to sell his data, or he can walk the Internet completely anonymously without being tracked. In Web3, you own a Self-Sovereign Identity, where from the moment you log in with your personal profile until you log out, you have complete control over who gets to do what with your data.

Property in the metaverse

With Web3, you can store all your data on a blockchain that only you have the private keys to and thus own. Decentralized apps with the ability of smart contracts can arrange this for you. Usually, you will need a wallet link to a game, so the blockchain stores what all you have amassed.

The metaverse(s) can also decide to create a DAO, which allows all users to decide for themselves which direction to take in terms of developments.

So if Web3 and the metaverse come together, you could log in with 1 profile and then you could walk right into all the games and websites with the same profile. This is a bit like Google password management, but without a central player who can change the conditions to your disadvantage.

Corona and grown interest in the virtual world

The metaverse became very topical again in many directions during the time of corona. A lot of people had to stay home then, and a large group of companies then held meetings in the metaverse reality to still maintain some productivity.

These companies have found out that this actually has a lot of benefits and even now often meet online to meet in a virtual environment to save time and money without sacrificing productivity.

The online virtual world has expanded considerably during this time.

Open and closed metaverse

An open metaverse is a platform made up of multiple 3D worlds in which he can hop from one world to another. Thus, you could use NFTs earned in one game in another. The advantage of such an open metaverse is that your items are not locked in one metaverse and unusable in others, making you dependent on one provider.

An open metaverse is still in the future, if it can or will ever be realized.

A closed metaverse means that everything you collect is valid only in the game you are playing. This is common in all kinds of worlds, such as Horizon Worlds or Decentraland. Once a game loses its popularity, your items have little or no value.

Another explanation of a closed metaverse is one world containing all others. Until the advent of quantum computers, this seems impracticable to us.

In any case, let's hope that whatever form of metaverse comes along will be free to access and not in the hands of large corporations trying to squeeze every penny out of it.

Social interaction

If the metaverse becomes increasingly popular, physical social interaction will become less and less frequent. There is a risk that people will begin to shut themselves off from the real world and live a make-believe life in the metaverse in a dystopian escapism.

Introverts can be especially sensitive to this, as they are often not suited for meetings in groups or feel that way. If they can attend a meeting as a 3D avatar of the company they work for they are probably fine with it.

Contemporary escapism

We already see forms of this escapism in people who are fused to their smartphones and immediately reach for their devices to respond to every ring, bell and noise. The metaverse may play an even more extensive role in this, making people virtually unreachable with their headsets on, leaving them unable to see or hear anything.

This is why augmented reality will probably grow faster in the social realm than virtual reality, because you still retain a link to reality. In gaming, the opposite will happen, you will want to be completely "off-world."

Another possibility is actually good for health, if you get together virtually in the park on a sunny day, so you don't have to sit in that musty office. Involving physically limited people in the world can also be called a positive development.

Dangerous developments for public health

Beyond health hazards such as little exercise, poor eating and psychological deprivation of the group instinct, people can also begin to exhibit inappropriate behaviors when they get out for a change or are overwhelmed by the impressions of living things.

An example from World of Warcraft (Southpark).

Ultimately, some people may feel that the metaverse is a more important world than the real physical world. But then again, who is to say that what we call the physical real world is not already a metaverse to another physical world?

Investing in the metaverse

The metaverse has all kinds of opportunities to invest in. The gaming industry, in particular, will see increasing earnings in this sector. So an investment in this sector could be golden.

Nevertheless, other activities will also become increasingly profitable because of specific applications in the virtual world.

Thus, meetings with a room full of avatars will be quite popular. Studying with an avatar as a teacher is also possible. Working in virtual space to save costs and time.

Wearing branded clothing and other branded items can also start to make a lot of money in the metaverse. Some items even become more expensive when sold in the metaverse as NFT!

In-game NFTs tend to be cheap at the beginning of a game and increasingly expensive as you go along, especially if the developers have sold everything and you have to buy items from your fellow players. Therefore, it's often wise to get in very early if you want to invest in land or rare NFTs, but as soon as you have to buy from other players leave things the way they are.

A standard for a metaverse

If there is eventually a true metaverse (1 virtual world enclosing all other worlds) there will still have to be standardization. These will have to be open source standards so that everyone can use them for free, otherwise there will be problems with rights.

So eventually all worlds will have to be interoperable, but is this realistic?

Get real

Suppose you have a war game where you drive tanks through the streets and shoot at other tanks, can you just let these tanks roll into a social game where you have parties? What is a tank supposed to do at a party?

If we are realistic we can say that a true metaverse will never happen unless everything is developed by the same group. Each game has its own standards, values and gameplay. These will never come together.

Technical standards

What can be done is to create standards that we already know: TCP/IP, ICMP, FTP, et cetera. Other standards can also be integrated, such as file standards, sound standards, et cetera. Thus, the advent of decentralized Internet (Web3) seems more likely than a true metaverse.

But should we want a metaverse in which all other applications can run? The danger of monoculture is that if it falls over, everything is gone.

Bringing together multiple players in the gaming market also runs into copyrights and unwillingness to share data by companies very quickly.

The future of the metaverse

That's why I think it's fine if all kinds of metaverse will exist alongside the others, so people can choose which story they like best. Whether it is a game with cryptocurrency, conferencing or playing music, choice and competition is essential to keep moving forward. Whatever will be used en masse will win, because the best will have won.

This may not always be so, it may also have to do with the bandwagon effect as with many social media, which means the biggest network and not the best wins, but there is something to choose from.

"What is inevitable is not death but change. Change is the only abiding reality. The metaverse evolves, fractally and forever. Saints become sinners, sinners become saints. Dust becomes men, men become gods, gods become dust."

Robert Charles Wilson - Scifi author

Test your knowledge

Question: 1/5What is not part of the metaverse?
DAugmented reality