Could the metaverse survive without the blockchain,? Yes, but it isn’t suggested.
The metaverse is among one of the most talked-about subjects today. The growing encantation of the new internet brings tons of opportunities for growth and evolution of communication, learning, shopping, and more.
There are many that see the metaverse as being an extension of blockchain technology as well as Augmented reality and Virtual reality. There seems to be no differentiation between the two at all when it comes to general consensus, but, is that how things have to be? During a panel at Stanford University, the question was produced as to whether there was a need for the blockchain in order for the metaverse to exist, the general consensus among members of the panel was that it could exist just fine without it. The example given was that of Second Life which has over 70 million current registered users and a thriving economy — all handled without blockchain implementation. Blockchain is only part of web3 with other technology such as AI, 3D printing, VR, augmented reality, the IoT (internet of things), and many others making the DNA of what web3 really is.
Projects can be made without blockchain implementation but that may not be the best idea. Without the decentralization of blockchain technology, there is the risk of leaving web3 to once again be handled by Big Tech and leaving behind those still in web2. The main draw of web3 is a decentralized internet and giving that power to Big Tech firms means that the internet is once again controlled by only a few names-namely FAMGA, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Companies such as Meta are going to have to play by different rules than they are used to in order to survive web3 as their centralized efforts may not be appreciated in the new web evolution. Platforms are going to have to work on a certain type of interoperability with their projects in order for things to be correct. Purchases made on one platform should theoretically be available on other platforms as well. Digital clothing you buy on one platform should transfer over to other metaverses you travel to.
The term metaverse is still very broad and does not have a standard definition. Many parties define it very differently from each other and the definitions can vary vastly. There is an agreement that it is meant to be immersive, 3D, filled with games and role-playing. The easiest way to define a metaverse would be to break it into the people, places, and things it is meant to represent. Each of these areas can be seen to have a potential link to the blockchain.
People are considered avatars and the blockchain can be considered the DNA that holds that avatar on the metaverse. The blockchain can ensure that there isn’t a way for someone to be 10 different avatars at once. Places can be seen as a virtual world and blockchains are needed to keep those locales consistent and document the maps. Blockchains can also be used to hold onto the files that create the virtual worlds that we are meant to explore, thus keeping counterfeits out of the system.
Currently, there is very little interoperability with users of The Sandbox, Decentraland, and other platforms offered by Meta, Google, or Apple. This is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed if there ever truly is going to be a decentralized web.
There are other ideas of decentralization that include the right and ability for anyone to create a metaverse, the ability of any browser or device to access the metaverse, and complete ownership of all digital assets that can be used across multiple platform servers and clients, and finally the right and ability to produce, show, and purchase digital assets for everyone. The need for a centralized blockchain or the ability of blockchains to interoperate becomes clearer as the goals of the metaverse are made more concrete.
Interoperability is still a very hard thing to achieve as even blockchains that are supposed to be decentralized find themselves in competition with each other. Big Tech companies such as Meta, Google, Amazon, and Apple will be reluctant to release any of their hold on the market and allow for interoperability with their platforms as well. The final hurdle will be getting the general public to understand and accept the blockchain and web3 technology as many are still in the dark about what exactly web3 is.
As the metaverse evolves so will the need for control, structure, validity, and fairness. With these requirements in place, there is indeed a need for blockchain technology to make things in the metaverse more possible. Though the metaverse is completely capable of handling itself without blockchain implementation a decentralized goal makes the blockchain all the more necessary.