Metaverses and NFT are two of the words that have raised the most curiosity in recent months. The arrival of community references such as Decentraland, The Sandbox or Bloktopia has greatly boosted its development, using blockchain technology and all the elements associated with it. This is the case of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. A type of blockchain technology that has become the backbone for representing ownership in metaverses. The close relationship between NFTs and metaverses is such that decentralized and interoperable metaverses are practically impossible to develop without NFTs.
What is the metaverse?
Talking about metaverse implies two words:
- goal that is everything that “is beyond”
- universe, everything that surrounds us.
So, we can consider a “metaverse” as “everything that is beyond our universe”, a universe that is beyond ours, but that we can create and interact with. The first appearance of the term metaverse occurs in the work of Theodor Holm Nelson (Ted Nelson). Nelson produced the Xanadu Project in 1960, where he developed the “docuverse,” an interconnected metaverse of documents. In this peculiar metaverse we could have our digital identity, interact with it and leave our personal signature. In fact, Ted’s “metaverse” is today a reality, because his work was what gave us hypertext and what we know today as the Internet. It was a space where we could create and have our own identity, but many limitations of the time.
Matrix and the metaverses
Our perception of the metaverses began to change completely as a result of the proposals of science fiction and cyberpunks, who are the citizens of the metaverse par excellence. Works, such as that of the writer Norman Spinrad and his novel “Songs from the Stars” (1980). THE “Ghost in the Shell”, one of the greatest works of anime/manga (1989), by Masamune Shirow; Y “Serial Experiments Lain” (1998), by Chiaki Konaka and Ryutaro Nakamura, were part of that transformation. Perhaps the most current representation of a metaverse is the one we can find in the films “Matrix” (1999), by the sisters Wachowski.
Brands are building the metaconsumer of the metaverse
NFT and metaverses
Now, a non-fungible token or NFT is a type of token that works on the blockchain and has the ability to represent something unique and unrepeatable. That is, NFT tokens cannot be split. They are at all times a unit, capable of representing objects in the real or digital world, with the full set of features.
The best known NFT standard in the crypto world is the ERC-721 token, from Ethereum. It is a standard that has been replicated in other blockchains, such as Solana, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain or TRON. In any case, these NFTs, in addition to replicating objects, can also replicate unique digital identities. A good example of this capability is seen in the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), where we can store digital identity and unique DNS addresses that are under our control using our crypto wallets.
It is precisely these capabilities that allow the inclusion of NFTs in metaverses. For example, do you want a unique identity in a metaverse? Well, an NFT within a smart contract of the ENS type can offer you a unique and verifiable identity of it. Need the unique representation of a valuable item in said metaverse? Well, an NFT can be the perfect representation for said object, since once created, no one can create another identical one within the blockchain. Even this item can be exchanged for other NFT items within the universe. In this way, we can generate the ability to create an economy for users.
Economies in the metaverses with NFTs
If you are a gamer, you know that the items (game objects that grant a specific function or some type of property) of the games can be very valuable and that they can be exchanged with other players. The game economy has been with us for a long time and mobilizes hundreds of millions of euros around the world. However, all of these implementations have major problems. They are centralized. That is, they belong to the company that develops them, which means that they cannot be removed from the game. Second, they are not durable over time. If the game disappears, the items disappear.
However, metaverses can fix these problems thanks to NFTs. Non-fungible tokens can not only be exchanged through a common market, but can represent items of any type and transfer those items to different spaces where they are supported. Imagine for a moment that you are in a Lineage-type metaverse and you have a unique character and items. You can take those items and sell them within the metaverse market or markets outside of it. You can even use your valuable items as collateral for loans on GameFi platforms like Zone.
In any case, the ability to generate dynamic economies in the metaverses goes through NFTs, because thanks to them the value within them can be better captured and reflected. And if we add to this the ability to interoperate with other metaverses and networks, then the potential of the technology is infinite.
Another great use of NFTs within the metaverses is real estate. Decentraland is a very clear case, since the land that is acquired in said metaverse is an NFT. The same happens with the rest of the objects that are in said virtual world. This strategy is replicated in Bloktopia, where the spaces in that 21-story building are an NFT that you can own. Or you can also have spaces to display advertising, among other unique experiences within this future 3D and VR metaverse.
All this leads us to conclude that real estate and the concept of digital private property in the metaverses reach their maximum expression with NFTs.
The arrival of social networks has transformed the way in which our societies go about their daily lives, interact, get information or even have fun. Social networks are just a reflection of our self-organizing nature in groups. Well, the same thing happens with metaverses, only that in these virtual spaces identities can be represented by NFTs to avoid their duplication.
Fully digital identities and societies
On Twitter, big-name personalities can be impersonated to send out spam and scams. Well, with NFT digital identities we can create a retaining wall against such actions, since the identity of the NFT would be unique for each user. That is, we can verify at any time that the person who speaks to us in a social network or in a metaverse is who they really say they are.
Thus, the avatars, our representation in these metaverses would be a unique and unrepeatable NFT. An avatar that we can adapt visually, while in the blockchain there is a safe and unalterable record of the entire history of changes. In the end, all that information is impossible to duplicate, allowing us to create truly unique identities in said virtual worlds. Under this premise, the organizations in the metaverses will be able to be safer and more faithful to the principles they wish to transmit.
The big social networks are armed to control the market of NFTs
The future of the metaverse
From everything said above, it is clear the important role that NFTs are playing in decentralized metaverses. Their safe construction depends to a great extent on them and also that they are capable of mimicking the real world. Although we are just beginning to create these virtual worlds, past experiences have been very helpful in understanding the full potential of these technologies. It only remains to continue maturing them and making them available to everyone. It will take years to develop, but metaverses will likely be an important part of our digital lives in the future.