In addition to established online spaces such as social media and gaming, the idea of ‘The Metaverse’ as an integrated virtual world is becoming ever more popular. Though the term is not yet strictly defined, it is used to refer to many visions of the future of immersive Virtual Reality spaces.
Although VR technology is still relatively underused, some tech companies are betting heavily on the idea of shared online spaces in which millions of people work, play, learn and shop.
NFTs will likely have their role in all of these areas, allowing users to define their online persona in the same ways they express themselves and own status symbols in the real world.
Many of our current social behaviours will also be mirrored from the physical world into the Metaverse equivalents of the office, school, high street etc, and tokenisation will have a part to play in the way these relationships function and are organised.
Just some examples of potential applications for NFTs in The Metaverse include:
- designer clothing and accessories for digital avatars
- instantly verifiable qualifications and resumes
- access tokens to shared workspaces
- VR concerts or social events
- contracts and invoicing tools for freelancers
- tokenised personal schedules with purchasable time slots, and many more.
The open and immutable record offered by blockchain technology also allows for the provenance of all of the above to be instantly verifiable, unlike opaque real-world supply chains or private corporate databases.
Even (un)real estate, i.e. plots of land in blockchain-based digital worlds such as Decentraland or The Sandbox, is being snapped up. Speculators want to secure a slice of what could turn out to be highly sought-after space in the future as new apps, games and experiences are developed in VR.
In these digital worlds, land is represented by NFTs containing the plot’s coordinates inside a blockchain-based smart contract. The owner has the right to use the portion of the land represented by their NFT as they please. As in the physical world, the potential utility of (un)real estate is varied. Developers can build interactive spaces such as games, concerts or workspaces, investors can speculate on the land’s value or rent the space to earn passive income, owners can make their land public or private, etc.
Though nobody is sure exactly what the results of future development will be like, nor if one particular ‘metaverse’ will win out over another, the level of speculative investment hints that it will be an exciting space to watch grow over the next few years.