Metaverse's Matrix: Introduction and History Pt. 1
June 24, 2022 (Last Modified Jun 28, 2022)
Note: This article is part of a series discussing the Metaverse and should be read in order. It is also important to note that ideas won’t be discussed in a linear manner. Additionally, articles will be released in due time and links to previous and next articles will be at the bottom of this article.
A revolution is coming. Development is underway, the Metaverse has the potential to completely change our perception of reality, and ourselves. Similarly how the internet allowed communication across the world via a 2D experience; the Metaverse will allow complete interaction across the world via a 3D experience. Thus it is natural to predict the Metaverse’s revolution shadowing the revolution of the internet. This series will describe the future with the Metaverse revolution. And along with every revolution, and every action, there’s consequences.
What’s the Metaverse?
First off, before what is even “the Metaverse.” From my understanding, the Metaverse is a concept, it’s a network of virtual spaces or simply a virtual space, like how the internet is a global network of computers. To be honest the Metaverse doesn’t have a concrete definition causing confusion on the term. But here’s some facts I can be confident about the Metaverse:
There are currently multiple Metaverses/Platforms (eg. Horizon Worlds and VRChat), unlike the internet being one global network.
The Metaverse is in VR, but there’s platforms that still call themselves “the Metaverse,” despite being 2D experiences.
That being said, people also confuse the term Meta and Metaverse; Meta is the company formerly named Facebook. Meta does not own “the Metaverse” because there’s multiple platforms, nor did they create the concept of the Metaverse; however Meta did create a Metaverse called Horizon Worlds.
Speaking of Meta, Meta’s PR departments and the media has muddled up the definition of the Metaverse. The Metaverse is often dubbed “the successor of the internet” but fundamentally they function completely differently. The internet is one global universal network of all computers through a set of standardized protocols. But as I previously stated there’s multiple Metaverses and not multiple internets, just one internet. To access a Metaverse you need to download an application since each Metaverse is coded differently. While accessing another website (computer) you don’t need to download anything, just a web browser since everything is standardized.
I believe the term “the Metaverse'' refers to the collective whole of all the Metaverses/platforms and VR applications in general. These different Metaverses that are not connected in anyways and companies will develop their own Metaverses. For example, Meta’s Horizon Worlds, VRChat, Microsoft’s Mesh for Teams, etc. An analogy for this future is a computer with only applications without a web browser. Now before the Metaverse is discussed further, it is necessary to know basic knowledge of VR development history.
A Quick Recap of VR History
During 2014, many big tech companies made a move that would change the course of VR history. These tech companies finally backed VR development of some sort. Therefore exponentially increasing the development and growth of VR. Also popular VR chatting platform, VRChat, launched and is one of the most popular metaverses currently.
Then around 2016 myriads of VR products came into the general public, but virtual reality headsets were still a niche and expensive for the average consumer. VR headsets also were essentially just glorified displays with sensors and it was still necessary to buy a gaming rig to render objects. Therefore VR was originally adopted by gamers, mostly planning to play video games, further making VR more popular.
Later on from 2016 to 2019, adoption of VR steadily increased; however headsets were held back by the necessity of buying an entire gaming rig. So standalone VR headsets soon came into the market in 2019; these headsets had their own hardware built into the headset itself, therefore it wasn’t necessary to buy a gaming rig to use VR. But usually the hardware wasn’t great and gaming rigs were needed to run more hardware intensive VR applications. Standalone headsets were also more expensive than regular headsets too.
Eventually a standalone headset called Oculus Quest by Meta was released. It also came at a cheap $400 price point, this headset made Meta hold a monopoly being the undisputed “best beginner” headset for the average consumer; due the fact of being standalone and cheap. Later the Quest 2 would release, being even cheaper at $300, this headset made VR finally available to the average consumer.*
PS: There was a cheaper standalone headset released by Meta before the Quest called Oculus Go for $200. However hardware-wise it was much weaker and had many limitations compared to other standalones.
Implications of the Quest 2
Since the Quest 2 removed the financial barrier to entry, we can only expect more individuals to adopt VR; thus VR and Metaverse development will increase. This situation is similar to how before computers were expensive then became cheaper; thus allowing the average consumer to access the internet. However the average user wouldn’t just use the Metaverse if there was no real need. And that’s where conversion comes in.