The word “metaverse” may be loosely thrown around today as the silver bullet but has been around for quite a while. The science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson 1992 was where it was first mentioned depicting humans as avatars in a virtual world. Fast-forward to 2021, amidst the height of a booming Non-Fungible Token (NFT) market, Facebook C.E.O Mark Zuckerberg announced the official rebrand of their social media apps into an umbrella name Meta to bring metaverse's functions into reality.
The metaverse has seen an upsurge from the buzz created by different projects venturing into it. For instance, the Adidas NFT "Into the metaverse" collection gives holders both physical and digital benefits not excluding the open metaverse virtual land experience. Now, it is impossible to talk about the Metaverse without mentioning NFTs. For instance, Decentraland, a blockchain-powered place on the metaverse, also has NFT features as its users get to own digital real estate as NFTs. So what exactly is the bridge between NFTs and Metaverse? Are they interchangeable, is the Metaverse a part of the blockchain? In this article, we will explore the connection between the Metaverse and NFT.
A look into the Metaverse
Famous Rapper Snoop Dogg took to his Instagram handle to take his followers on a ride through his estate on the SandBox Metaverse back in September 2021. Snoop would then launch a music video concert tagged ‘the House I Built’ on the Metaverse, further showing he’s not fiddling around but serious.
The Metaverse is a digital world or universe powered by blockchain technology offering users an immersive experience. With virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), NFTs, and AI amidst other technological tools, the Metaverse is providing an open economy where users can transfer real-life assets into an immersive digital world. Like the real world, services include the ability to own, develop, build, trade, shop, attend meetings and concerts, e.t.c., would be rendered in the metaverse. VR games have been used to exemplify how the metaverse operates through VRs and ARs. But instead of a traditional 2D video game, the metaverse has scaled up into a 3D virtual world. Hence, users would be able to sense, interact, and immersive feel like users experience in real world. So think of your real life on the blockchain —this is more interesting than playing the Grand Theft Auto; you get to own the assets and earn from them.
The point where NFT meets the Metaverse
NFTs are digital tokens that are unique and powered by the blockchain. NFTs have features that make them one-of-a-kind, giving them the scarcity, rarity, and uniqueness they possess as digital tokens. Compared to traditional arts, NFTs give their collectors authentic proof of what they possess since they are verifiable on the blockchain. They can be traded and used according to the policy of the creator. Blockchain technology has reshaped the gaming sector with the use of NFTs. Traditional gamers are known to get value from games through entertainment while all in-game assets are limited to the game also players who want to unlock more would pay to get extra features added to the game. But with recent development and integration of NFTs into app games, value has been given to players through a play-to-earn model. The in-game assets are made rare and unique, with ownership belonging to the gamer, thereby allowing trade or using them in games to yield more.
As related to blockchain games where each owned asset is unique to its owners, the metaverse will represent humans as unique avatars to interact with the decentralized world thereby leveraging on NFT as access to the metaverse. Crypto.com COO Eric Anziani says, "NFTs would be the tool that represents any digital type of assets in the virtual world."
The Sandbox is a typical example of brands or projects leveraging the use of NFTs in the metaverse. The sandbox allows its users to buy land in the form of NFTs and use them for other game features or monetary purposes in the virtual world. In April 2022, the sandbox C.E.O and co-founder Arthur Madrid announced Snopp Dogg's music concert and a metaverse-based music video.
A similar platform is the Decentraland; it is a virtual world where users can buy and sell land and use it to create and build marketplaces and other features. The platform requires digital tokens to partake in the game activities such as learning in the decentral and university, building, and others. The Decentraland uses an avatar unique to each player to explore its virtual world. In October 2021, Decentraland hosted the largest music festival that lasted for four days in its virtual world. The team described the event as a “celebration of music, culture, and creativity in the virtual social world of Decentraland.”
Critical roles of NFTs in the Metaverse
A few of the role NFTs play in the metaverse is listed and discussed below.
Unique and Distinct Identity
NFTs are known to be unique tokens on the blockchain. They represent either a digital item on a chain or a real-world entity uniquely. They provide uniqueness in the metaverse as each NFT created in the metaverse is irreplaceable by another. Each user avatar or in-assets are rare to their respective owner or collector. An example is the BAYC owners represented by their avatar in a conference meeting in the metaverse.
Improved social and community experiences
NFT is a great tool to enhance social and community experiences, leading to a more active and supportive community. Community members or supporters of the project will have to get the NFT of the project to get access to the premium features of the project, such as using NFT has to access meetings e.t.c
The metaverse and NFT are still in their emerging phase but with many breakthroughs. The power of blockchain technology has connected and integrated the two into one another. The metaverse cannot be a standalone entity without NFTs. NFTs are used as digital assets in the metaverse, which means each land, avatar, skin, building, e.t c, are NFTs tradeable and useable by their owners