Self Help

The Metaverse - Matthew Ball

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Matheus Puppe

· 67 min read

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The Metaverse is an emerging concept of a future iteration of the Internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. In this future virtual world, people can interact with digital objects and representations of themselves and others, seamlessly moving between virtual spaces and experiences.

The book provides a history of the Metaverse concept, which originates in science fiction and builds off long-developing technology like virtual reality. It also outlines the confusion around defining the Metaverse before giving a detailed definition. Ball argues the Metaverse will be the next incarnation of the Internet, built on networking, computing, virtual world engines, hardware, and other supporting infrastructure advances.

A significant part of the book covers how the Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize many industries and aspects of life. It will enable new types of businesses and change how we work, play, learn, and interact. Ball predicts it will transform entertainment, sports, social media, training and education, travel, and more. He also analyzes the potential winners and losers in a Metaverse-enabled world.

Overall, Ball makes the case that the Metaverse represents the next major computing platform shift, which will be as transformative as the web and mobile were before. The book aims to explain this complex emerging concept and provide insights into its potential impacts on society and the future.

  • The term “Metaverse” was coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, where he described a persistent virtual world that interacted with nearly every aspect of human life. However, Stephenson warned against taking his dystopian vision too literally.

  • While Stephenson coined the term, the conceptual foundations for the Metaverse existed in earlier science fiction works stretching back to the 1930s. These stories imagined advanced virtual worlds in which people could immerse themselves and live inside.

  • Stephenson’s writing has inspired several real-world technologies, including Google Earth, Magic Leap, and cryptocurrencies, aiming to build decentralized networks. He helped co-found Blue Origin and served as an advisor.

  • There is a long lineage of science fiction authors who presaged core components of the Metaverse. While Stephenson coined the term and advanced the concept, foundational visions existed previously in seminal works by writers like Stanley Weinbaum, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and Isaac Asimov.

  • Stephenson’s specific vision of the Metaverse in Snow Crash was dystopian, with the virtual world providing an escape from a collapsed real world. However, the core concepts have inspired more utopian hopes about virtual worlds improving life.

  • In summary, Neal Stephenson coined the term “Metaverse,” and his writing helped inspire several related technologies. But the foundations of the concept predate Stephenson in earlier science fiction, and his dystopian vision contrasts with more optimistic hopes today.

The visions of synthetic worlds portrayed in sci-fi works by authors like Gibson, Stephenson, Dick, Bradbury, and Weinbaum are often dystopian. However, the history of attempts to build virtual worlds over the past few decades reveals a more optimistic trajectory focused on collaboration, creativity, and self-expression.

Key developments include:

  • Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) in the 1970s allowed collaborative text-based roleplaying

  • Habitat in the 1980s was a graphical world where users defined laws and social norms

  • Advances in the 1990s brought 3D graphics and tools for users to build virtual spaces

  • Second Life in the early 2000s attracted millions of users and real organizations establishing presences

  • Minecraft and Roblox in the 2010s brought virtual worldbuilding to the mainstream, enabling large collaborative projects

Pioneers of proto-metaverses have focused not on control or profit but on enabling user creativity and agency in shared virtual spaces. This suggests the Metaverse may be more romantic than dystopian if guided by these priorities.

  • Virtual worlds and proto-metaverses have existed for decades, evolving from text-based multi-user dungeons (MUDs) in the 1970s to visually rich virtual worlds like Second Life and Minecraft today.

  • Minecraft and Roblox have seen explosive growth, with hundreds of millions of monthly active users. Their worlds are highly customizable and user-generated, with some becoming as complex as small cities.

  • Fortnite and other games also incorporate social, non-game experiences like concerts, signaling a convergence between games and broader virtual world concepts.

  • The necessary technological capabilities and cultural familiarity are now reaching critical mass for more immersive and integrated metaverse experiences. A new generation growing up “iPad native” understands these digital worlds innately.

  • Fierce competition is expected between tech giants to control metaverse platforms and set technical standards. The open, interoperable early Internet contrasts with more centralized or walled-garden approaches.

  • The Metaverse promises to be highly influential culturally and economically, with some predicting it could make an emergent central platform more powerful than governments. Early openness and decentralization may help counter these risks.

  • There must be a consensus definition or consistent description of the Metaverse. Tech leaders define it in a way that fits their companies’ capabilities.

  • Microsoft’s Satya Nadella describes the Metaverse as a platform that turns the world into an app canvas, augmented by cloud software and AI. This aligns with Microsoft’s strengths.

  • Mark Zuckerberg focuses on immersive VR and social experiences connecting distant people. Facebook owns Oculus VR and operates the largest social network.

  • Epic envisions an expansive, communal digital space for self-expression and joy. Users could move freely between games, movies, shopping, etc.

  • Many executives use the metaverse buzzword before fully understanding what it means.

  • The lack of clarity leads to hype and confusion. The Metaverse encompasses many existing and emerging technologies across digital worlds, VR/AR, blockchain, AI, etc.

  • We are still early, and no single company will own or control the Metaverse. Collaboration and open standards will be essential.

  • There is an opportunity to shape the Metaverse responsibly, focused on user needs over corporate profits. Leading companies’ philosophy and culture will impact whether the future is better or worse.

  • Dating app company Match Group said its services like Tinder and Hinge would soon have “augmented features, self-expression tools, conversational AI, and metaverse elements” to improve online dating but provided no specifics.

  • After Chinese tech giants like Tencent positioned themselves as Metaverse leaders, competitors like NetEase also claimed readiness for the Metaverse, despite uncertainty around what it is.

  • CNBC host Jim Cramer struggled to explain the Metaverse concept to investors, comparing it to interacting with holograms of people with shared interests.

  • There is disagreement around whether the Metaverse is VR/AR, decentralized, or can be controlled by one company. The lack of clear definition leads to critiques that it’s just marketing hype.

  • Some believe tech companies use the vague Metaverse concept to avoid regulation and antitrust action. Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney claimed “Apple has outlawed the Metaverse” in its lawsuit.

  • Confusion is expected with disruptive technologies. The Internet’s potential needed to be clarified in the 1990s, too. Uncertainty around the Metaverse suggests the opportunity for widespread disruption.

  • Predicting the impact of emerging technologies is difficult. Experts often need to correct the timing, applications, or business models.

  • Technologies like the Internet and smartphones recursively enabled new behaviors and innovations, leading to unpredictable outcomes. The specifics of how we use technologies today took a lot of work to foresee.

  • Some critical mistakes:

  1. Underestimating potential, like Krugman dismissing the Internet’s impact

  2. Understanding importance but not specifics, like Microsoft misjudging mobile form factors and business models

  3. Betting right on tech but wrong on timing, like the fiber optic boom of the 90s

  • Precisely predicting how technologies like the Metaverse will be used day-to-day is impossible. Focus instead on capabilities to prepare for potential disruption. Recursive innovation means the future applications are unknowable today.

  • The Metaverse is based on virtual worlds, computer-generated simulated environments. These can be 3D, 2D, text-based, etc.

  • Virtual worlds can have game-like goals or be more open-ended like social spaces. Their popularity has grown as creation becomes more accessible.

  • A vital aspect of the Metaverse is that the virtual worlds must be 3D. This is essential for transitioning human activities like work and socializing from physical to digital.

  • The Metaverse must be massively scaled with large concurrent users and persistent over time.

  • It must have continuity of identity, history, objects, communications, payments, etc., worldwide.

  • Users must have an individual sense of presence, as if they are there.

  • The Metaverse will require real-time rendered 3D to achieve this presence and be experientially different from today’s Internet.

Here is a summary of the key points about using a flat touchscreen:

  • Touchscreens allow for direct input and control through touching the screen, as opposed to using a separate input device like a mouse or trackpad. This makes them intuitive and easy to use.

  • Flat touchscreens, as opposed to curved or flexible screens, are the most common type on smartphones, tablets, and other devices today. They provide a smooth, flat surface for tapping and swiping gestures.

  • Capacitive touchscreens, which use the conductive properties of the human body, allow for exact tracking of touch input. This makes them well-suited for detailed on-screen interactions.

  • Multi-touch capabilities allow for gesture controls like pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling. This expands the ways users can manipulate on-screen content.

  • High pixel density and responsive displays provide a fluid, natural feel when sliding, tapping, or dragging. This approximates the experience of direct manipulation of objects and content.

  • Durability and scratch resistance are essential considerations for touchscreens that will undergo frequent touching. Materials like Gorilla Glass help protect flat touchscreen surfaces.

  • Overall, the directness and intuitiveness of flat touchscreens make them one of the most common and convenient means of interacting with smartphones, tablets, kiosks, and other electronics today. Their tactile nature enhances the user experience.

  • Interoperability enables the global Internet to function as an interconnected network of autonomous systems that can reliably exchange information. This is made possible by adopting technical standards like TCP/IP, HTML, URLs, and governing bodies like IETF that manage these standards.

  • The early Internet became globally interoperable because most networks voluntarily embraced open technical standards for communication, rather than remaining closed and proprietary systems. This allowed heterogeneous networks to find and communicate with one another.

  • Establishing similar interoperability between virtual worlds will be challenging, as most were designed as closed systems with their proprietary formats for 3D assets, avatars, etc. There are no agreed-upon standards for representing and exchanging virtual goods.

  • Developing these standards will be messy and take time, requiring consensus among many stakeholders. The process will be driven primarily by economics - platforms that embrace open standards will attract more users and developers.

  • Leadership in developing Metaverse interoperability standards will confer significant influence, as these leaders will shape the rules and capabilities of this next-generation Internet. Getting the standards right will also be key for efficiency and scale.

  • Interoperability is difficult but its economic benefits mean it will likely emerge gradually, just as it did for the early Internet. This will require patience and a long-term view.

Here are the key points about the laws of physics in virtual worlds and how they may evolve:

  • For a true “Metaverse”, there must be a massively scaled number of diverse, interconnected virtual worlds, not just a few controlled experiences.

  • Persistence is a significant challenge - currently, most virtual worlds reset or respawn rather than fully retaining changes made by users indefinitely.

  • EVE Online is one of the most persistent virtual worlds, but it achieves this partly through creative limitations like space and infrequent significant battles.

  • The complexity of rendering a fully detailed, planet-sized Metaverse envisioned by Stephenson must be more feasible. Tradeoffs around complexity, data storage, and computing power will likely shape physics.

  • Physics may diverge from the real world for pragmatic reasons like reducing rendering load or enabling new experiences. But some adherence to real physics adds credibility.

  • More complex and realistic physics will become possible as computing power grows exponentially. AI may help generate and adapt physics.

  • Interoperability between worlds makes consistent physics principles more critical. But some differences could emerge, like alternate laws of physics in different universes.

  • Emerging standards, company priorities, user expectations, and hardware advances will shape the evolution of physics. It’s an ongoing experimental process.

  • Virtual worlds in the Metaverse must persist and be shared, synchronous experiences. This requires high bandwidth, low latency, and continuous internet connections.

  • Most online experiences today, like webpages and messaging, only send batches of data back and forth. They don’t require continuous connectivity, just frequent updates that feel like life.

  • Even video streaming uses tricks like pre-loading and compression to handle intermittent connectivity issues.

  • Real-time, multi-user virtual worlds have unique demands for continuous high-bandwidth connections. This is the most significant technical constraint for the Metaverse today.

  • Videoconferencing handles similar challenges but uses software tricks like catching up missed packets. It focuses on a shared visual/audio feed rather than a complex 3D world.

  • Overall, the Internet was designed for one-way transmissions of messages and files. Continuous connectivity for shared virtual spaces still needs to be improved to achieve. This synchronous experience issue is the most complex technical problem facing the Metaverse.

  • The Metaverse requires high-speed, synchronous networking capabilities sensitive to minor delays or inconsistencies. This is far more demanding than activities like video streaming or calls.

  • Current networking protocols like BGP were not designed for real-time, interactive virtual worlds and will likely need significant upgrades. Deploying these will take time.

  • Due to computational limitations, even today’s most advanced games need help to allow more than 50-150 concurrent users in a shared virtual space. They use creative designs to work around this.

  • Non-persistent virtual worlds like Fortnite and World of Warcraft get around concurrency issues by splitting users across different servers/instances that can’t interact.

  • EVE Online is uniquely persistent but spaces users across a vast universe and limits interactions. It still runs into issues when too many users congregate in one area.

  • Enabling the Metaverse vision of unlimited users in a shared virtual world with individual presence and freedom will require overcoming massive technical hurdles around networking and computation. This will take time.

  • The article defines the Metaverse and explains why the definition does not include terms like “decentralization”, “Web3”, and “blockchain”.

  • The Metaverse and Web3 are related but distinct concepts. The Metaverse refers to synchronous, persistent 3D virtual worlds, while Web3 refers to a more decentralized internet built around independent developers/users rather than big tech platforms.

  • While the Metaverse does not require decentralization or blockchains, these Web3 principles may be necessary for establishing a thriving Metaverse, by promoting competition and empowering individual users/developers.

  • There are also trust issues with centralized servers controlling virtual assets that decentralization could help address.

  • It’s debated whether centralized servers can support the scale needed for a massive Metaverse or if a decentralized network is required.

  • The Metaverse is often described as a successor to the mobile Internet, likely requiring new standards and infrastructure. It represents a new computing platform and shift in how we interact with technology and each other.

The Metaverse represents the next generation of the Internet and can potentially transform technology, business, and society profoundly. Just as past computing revolutions enabled new leaders to emerge and displace incumbents, the Metaverse will likely disrupt established technology giants and reshape entire industries.

Video games are poised to drive the Metaverse because they have faced the most extreme technical constraints, forcing innovative solutions. Games require instantaneous, multiplayer experiences with cutting-edge graphics, requiring optimizations across hardware, software, networks, and protocols. Overcoming these challenges has led gaming companies to pioneer virtual world platforms, real-time 3D engines, social networks, and economic systems foundational to the Metaverse.

The Metaverse will build on top of the existing internet architecture, evolving it distinctly just as the mobile Internet did not replace it. Instead, it extended the capabilities of the early Internet. It is unlikely to be controlled by any company but will emerge from integrating many virtual worlds, platforms, and technologies. This decentralized, multi-stakeholder development will enable a more open and innovative Metaverse, even if the process is imperfect and faces limitations.

Overall, the Metaverse represents the next frontier of computing and networking, potentially transforming industries and enabling new leaders to emerge. Gaming firms are poised to play a crucial role given their technical innovations driven by the demands of real-time, multiplayer virtual worlds. TheMetaverse will build upon and extend the existing Internet, likely through a decentralized process, enabling a more open and permissionless digital future.

  • For decades, video game consoles and PCs have been the most advanced consumer computing devices, requiring more power than other software. This helped drive down the cost of graphics hardware.

  • The companies that focused on gaming, like Nvidia, are now among the most influential tech firms due to their graphics expertise.

  • Game engines like Unreal and Unity are the best at real-time 3D rendering compared to non-gaming alternatives because games required that ability from the start.

  • Game developers have experience overcoming internet limitations and lag to enable smooth online multiplayer gameplay. This expertise will help build the Metaverse.

  • Games companies know how to create compelling virtual worlds that keep users engaged over time, which will be necessary for the Metaverse.

  • In summary, decades of focus on gaming to meet its technical demands has given these companies valuable experience in graphics, networking, and worldbuilding that will aid in realizing the Metaverse.

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) is an incredibly realistic flight simulation game that renders a highly detailed virtual world representing the actual planet Earth.

  • To create this level of realism, the virtual world of MSFS is enormous - around 2.5 petabytes in size. This is far too large to store locally on consumer devices practically.

  • Instead, MSFS works by storing a small portion (around 150GB) locally and streaming the rest from Microsoft’s servers as needed when playing online. This allows it to reflect real-time weather, air traffic, and geographic changes.

  • In contrast, most online multiplayer games try to send as much data as possible to users upfront to minimize reliance on the Internet during gameplay due to concerns over unreliable connectivity.

  • By streaming data on-demand, MSFS can have much greater diversity and realism in its virtual objects than traditional games’ pre-loaded assets. It doesn’t need to store a limited set of predefined clouds, trees etc.

  • The tradeoff is that MSFS requires significant bandwidth and low-latency connectivity to stream large amounts of data on the fly. Most consumer connections today need help to support the fully realized vision.

In summary, MSFS offers a glimpse of the potential of highly detailed streamed virtual worlds, but fully realizing this vision is constrained today by connectivity limitations.

  • The Metaverse requires real-time, low-latency data streaming that our current internet infrastructure cannot fully support.

  • Virtual worlds today use a “batch update” model where new content is downloaded in patches. This causes delays and limits how dynamic the planets can be.

  • Roblox and Microsoft Flight Simulator use a hybrid model where some data is pre-loaded but additional data is streamed as needed. However, their data demands are still limited compared to a true Metaverse.

  • Both constraints are bandwidth (data capacity) and latency (network speed). Enough bandwidth is needed to stream large amounts of unpredictable data in real-time. Low latency is required so users feel their inputs have immediate effects.

  • Average latency today is still too high for a seamless Metaverse experience. The human brain is susceptible to lags and delays. Even 50-100ms extra latency can make games unplayable.

  • Upgrading to widespread fiber infrastructure and 5G may only partially solve the latency and bandwidth challenges needed for the Metaverse vision. Significant technical advances may be required in data compression, prediction and caching.

  • Latency is a significant obstacle to realizing the Metaverse. Even the fastest connections today need help meeting the latency thresholds for immersive virtual worlds.

  • Multiplayer games use techniques like matchmaking, delay-based net code, and rollback net code to work around latency issues. However, these scale poorly as the number of simultaneous players increases.

  • Social experiences and augmented reality require even lower latency than games. Minor delays are very noticeable and break immersion.

  • Physics limits how fast data can travel long distances. The speed of light in fiber optic cables is 31% slower than in a vacuum. Real-world routes are even longer due to infrastructure constraints.

  • Domestic internet infrastructure is incredibly challenging to optimize because it grew organically rather than centrally planned. Data takes indirect paths between cities.

  • As the Metaverse grows, more investment will be needed in low-latency networks. But latency cannot be reduced to zero due to the fundamental speed limits of physics. Workarounds and optimizations will be necessary.

  • The cables, switches, routers, etc., infrastructure limits data transmission speeds. Upgrading this infrastructure is expensive and slow.

  • Protocols like BGP route data inefficiently, often taking far longer routes than necessary. This adds latency.

  • New technologies like 5G and satellite internet (Starlink) provide some improvements but need help solving the underlying infrastructure issues.

  • More computing power allows for better graphics and simulations, but it is still limited. Creating real-time shared virtual worlds taxes even modern hardware.

  • Games like Fortnite and Roblox were only possible recently when consumer devices got powerful enough. Servers that can handle many concurrent users also became affordable.

  • Compute resources remain scarce because more power enables more complex and detailed experiences rather than just faster experiences. There are still primary computational limits to scaling the Metaverse.

  • The Metaverse requires a massive increase in computing power, possibly 1,000x more than today. Experts believe we are still 5-10 years away from having enough power.

  • There are two main approaches to achieving this power: 1) Performing more computation remotely in data centers rather than locally on devices, which is more efficient but requires fast connectivity, and 2) Developing more powerful devices, which allows for offline use but is costly.

  • Current games use tricks to work within computational limits, like limiting player counts and map sizes. The Metaverse aims to obliterate these limits.

  • More computing power enables greater realism through physics simulations, higher player counts, persistent worlds, customizable environments, better graphics, etc.

  • There are tradeoffs between data center vs local computation approaches regarding connectivity needs, customization, backwards compatibility, and more. An optimal solution may involve both.

  • Overall the Metaverse faces a challenging computation problem, but solutions are being pursued via improvements in devices, networks, and software optimization. More innovation is still needed to realize the vision entirely.

  • There is debate over whether remote, cloud-based game rendering can offer a better experience than local rendering on consumer devices. While cloud servers are more powerful, networks and latency issues get in the way.

  • Local GPUs only render what a given user needs at a particular moment, through techniques like view frustrum culling. Having cloud GPUs efficiently “share” across multiple remote users is challenging.

Due to compatibility issues, Cloud game servers often use racks of consumer consoles rather than custom server hardware. This could be more efficient.

  • GPUs get disproportionately more expensive with increased power. Twice as powerful costs more than twice as much. So there are diminishing returns to building mega cloud GPUs.

  • Underutilization of cloud resources is expensive. It takes a lot of work to efficiently provision for peak demand.

  • Shifting to the cloud creates new costs like cooling, bandwidth, etc. Local compute improvements are outpacing network improvements.

  • Decentralized computing models have cultural appeal but face technical challenges. Idle consumer devices are fragmented and not optimized for sharing compute tasks.

Here is a summary of critical points about game engines and building virtual worlds:

  • Game engines contain the code and frameworks that establish the laws and logic of a virtual world. Historically, game makers built their engines, but now most license engines like Unity or Unreal.

  • Licensing an engine allows smaller/newer teams to build games on proven technology so they can focus on content rather than essential engine work. It also lets them tap existing talent used to these standard engines.

  • However, licensing is a cost and some worry about relying on another company’s technology and priorities. Large publishers often still build custom engines to have control.

  • Building a robust, flexible engine for the Metaverse will require solving complex technical challenges around scale, real-time editing, interconnectedness, and interoperability.

  • Noengine today is designed for the demands of a fully shared and interconnected Metaverse. New approaches and architectures will need to emerge, likely built on top of elements of current game engines.

  • The Metaverse engine will need to handle vast numbers of concurrent users and objects interacting in real-time across multiple virtual worlds. This will require scalability and computational power beyond current game engines.

The summary highlights how game engines have evolved and simplified virtual worldbuilding. New architectures optimized for the Metaverse’s unique requirements must emerge to fulfill its potential. Current game engines provide a starting point, but the Metaverse demands capabilities they were never designed to offer.

  • Independent game engines like Unity and Unreal provide a common platform that makes game development easier and faster. They are like a shared R&D pool for the industry.

  • Live services suites like PlayFab and GameSparks offer capabilities like user accounts, data storage, transactions, and communications that work across platforms. This further standardizes game development.

  • Integrated virtual world platforms (IVWPs) like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite Creative combine game engines and live services. They enable the creation of games and worlds without coding, using simple interfaces.

  • IVWPs fully standardize the technology stack and require the use of their tools and services. This makes building easier but limits flexibility compared to standalone engines.

  • IVWPs allow creators to quickly build on each other’s work, driving network effects. The platforms improve over time as more creators join.

  • Roblox demonstrates the potential of the IVWP model, with massive growth in usage and creation on its platform. As the network expands, it attracts more users and spending.

  • Roblox and Minecraft are independently developed virtual worlds that have become massively popular, with billions of plays and millions of daily active users.

  • Strong network effects have driven their growth - more players lead to more content creation, which attracts more players, and so on. Revenues and developer payouts have grown even faster than users.

  • However, Roblox and Minecraft are unlikely to become the Metaverse, as many other virtual worlds are being developed with different technologies and value propositions. The overall market is still early and proliferating.

  • History shows that early leaders often get displaced by new entrants, as happened to Facebook despite its massive user base. The Metaverse will likely be an interoperable network of many virtual worlds, not dominated by one or two.

  • Roblox and Minecraft should be considered very successful “Metagalaxies” - massive virtual worlds - but not the entirety of the future Metaverse. There is still room for many more virtual worlds to emerge and connect into a broader network.

Here is a summary of the key points about social media and virtual world platforms in the 2010s:

  • Snapchat launched in 2011, with Facebook quickly launching clones “Poke” in 2013 and “Lifestage” in 2016 to compete. Both were shut down within a year.

  • In 2016, Instagram copied Snapchat’s “Stories” feature, which Facebook adopted in 2017. In 2019 Instagram launched “Threads” as a dedicated Snapchat-like app.

  • Facebook launched competitors to Twitch (Facebook Gaming in 2018) and TikTok (Lasso in 2018).

  • Facebook Dating launched in 2019, and Instagram added TikTok-like “Reels” in 2020.

  • These services are all growing fast, with TikTok becoming the most visited web domain in 2021. However, they still represent a small portion of the gaming market compared to Unity and Unreal Engine platforms.

  • Various proprietary engines and platforms will continue to be developed, incentivizing developers to in-source more technology rather than relying solely on third-party platforms like Roblox.

  • There is rapid growth in virtual world scanning software (Matterport, Planet Labs) that digitizes the real world.

  • We should not want a single company or platform to control the Metaverse, so interoperability between many venues will be critical.

Here is a summary of the key points about interoperability in the Metaverse:

  • Virtual assets don’t exist - only the data representing them do. Different virtual worlds and software systems use hundreds of incompatible file formats and rendering engines to structure and display this data.

  • It’s tough to agree on universal standards for representing even simple virtual objects like shoes and complex ones like avatars. Features like animation, appropriateness ratings, and stylistic variations multiply the complexity.

  • Technical standards, conventions, and systems will be needed for assets to be portable between metaverse platforms. But managing ownership rights and payment mechanisms when assets are shared or sold across platforms raises huge additional complications.

  • Game publishers currently manage in-game economies carefully to maintain fun and balance. Open economies and unrestrained trading enabled by interoperability could undermine the core gaming experience and incentives.

  • Significant alignment across the gaming industry will be needed on technical standards, ownership systems, and economic approaches to achieve meaningful interoperability of virtual assets in a metaverse.

  • Interoperability in the Metaverse refers to the ability of different virtual worlds to share standards, data, and assets. It is not binary but rather a spectrum of how much is shared, when, where, and at what cost.

  • Economics will drive greater interoperability over time. Allowing users to keep and use virtual goods across different worlds will increase spending and investment. Establishing ownership rights is critical.

  • Developers also have incentives to embrace interoperability, as it allows them to reach a broader market across platforms. Relying on a single platform or economy is risky.

  • Identity and player data sharing present challenges around privacy and toxicity, but overall benefits outweigh the costs. Credit bureaus evolved to share data for collective use.

  • As with networking protocols, technical interoperability challenges have been overcome through standards bodies. Game engines now face challenges supporting so many platforms and devices.

  • Economic gravity will pull the Metaverse toward greater openness and interoperation, just as with other industries. The opportunity is too significant for closed, walled gardens.

Creating game code that works across various hardware platforms and operating systems is difficult and costly. Game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine have emerged as a solution, allowing developers to publish games across platforms with minimal incremental cost.

These cross-platform engines helped break down walled gardens like the PlayStation Network, which historically did not allow cross-play or cross-progression with other platforms. The immense popularity of Fortnite, built with Epic’s cross-platform Unreal Engine, forced Sony to open up PlayStation to cross-platform gameplay. This benefits all platforms by increasing revenue opportunities and letting friends play together regardless of their devices.

Cross-platform services like Discord also help connect gamers across hardware boundaries. Overall, cross-platform game engines and services have increased in response to fragmentation, benefiting developers, platforms, and users by increasing interconnectivity. Their success provides a model for eventual convergence into a unified metaverse.

  • Discord has built an extensive communication network for gamers by offering APIs integrating into games, streaming platforms like Twitch, and messaging apps like Slack. Even closed platforms like Xbox and PlayStation eventually integrated Discord due to its popularity.

  • Standardizing 3D formats and asset exchanges will enable collaboration and reuse across different engines and platforms. Initiatives like Nvidia’s Omniverse promote asset interoperability using standard languages like USD (Universal Scene Description).

  • Epic Games is pioneering cross-title assets and achievements to reduce friction between games, bring players’ friends and items across titles, and incentivize trying new games. This could drive the adoption of Epic’s services and standardization.

  • Facebook is adding interoperable avatars to its Facebook Connect APIs to allow customized avatars to work across different virtual worlds. Major platforms promoting avatar interoperability will serve as a de facto standard.

  • Epic also enables the “interoperation” of competing intellectual properties in Fortnite, with unlimited licensing terms and little editorial control. This signals that interoperability has inherent value that can surpass legacy business models.

  • Despite limited consumer demand, major tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple have invested heavily in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets.

  • Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset has shipped fewer than 500,000 units since 2016, but the company continues investing in it.

  • Google has pursued AR with Google Glass and VR through Cardboard and Daydream, but shut down these projects due to lack of interest. It plans a new AR/VR headset for 2024.

  • Amazon’s Fire Phone flopped in 2014, but it released AR glasses Echo Frames in 2019.

  • Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. The latest Oculus Quest 2 has sold over 10 million units.

  • Apple has acquired several AR/VR startups and has been granted hundreds of related patents and device signaling plans.

  • Other social tech firms like Snap have released AR glasses despite little experience in hardware.

  • The heavy investment stems from a belief that new devices emerge with each computing transformation, even if current consumer demand is limited. Companies want to be ready.

  • AR and VR devices still have significant technical limitations holding back mass adoption, but are seen as the potential next big platform after mobile phones. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Snap, and Niantic are investing heavily.

  • Key constraints include display resolution and frame rates, the field of view, weight, and battery life. Challenges are fitting powerful processors into glasses-sized devices.

  • Improvements are being made incrementally across these areas. Differentiation will come from software experiences on the platforms.

  • Parallels can be drawn to the iPhone’s development - Apple combined available components innovatively, made bold bets on touchscreens, consumers as the target market, and premium pricing. Interface choices balanced complexity and simplicity, like the home button.

  • There won’t be a sudden breakthrough, but constant iterative improvements. 2-3 years after one company breaks a key barrier, others typically catch up. The tech challenges are compared to “fitting a supercomputer into glasses.”

  • Beyond VR/AR headsets, many companies are investing in other types of hardware to complement computing devices and enhance the Metaverse experience. These include haptic gloves, bodysuits, bracelets, and other wearables.

  • Haptic technology can provide physical feedback and sensations to users through vibration, air pressure, actuators, etc. This helps simulate touch and interactions in a virtual environment.

  • Motion tracking is also essential, and can be done via wearables on wrists, ankles, etc. as well as cameras. The goal is to capture users’ movements and gestures to reproduce them digitally.

  • Other sensor technologies like electromyography can detect muscle signals and nerve impulses from the arms and hands. This allows very nuanced finger and hand motions to be captured.

  • Major tech companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google are all developing their wearables and sensors, from smart watches to neural interface armbands.

  • As the technology improves, wearables will shrink, increase capabilities, and be integrated into clothing and accessories. This will enhance users’ Metaverse experiences.

  • New devices and interfaces like AR/VR headsets, smart glasses, smart lenses, and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) will allow for more seamless and intuitive interactions with the Metaverse.

  • These devices aim to move beyond the limitations of smartphones and controllers which can be impractical for continuous Metaverse use. The goal is technology that integrates more seamlessly into our lives.

  • Companies like Google, Facebook, Neuralink, and others invest heavily in developing smart glasses, contact lenses, and invasive/non-invasive BCIs. Challenges remain around consistency, performance, ethics, and user adoption.

  • Extensive hardware proliferation will enable the Metaverse, from high-precision 3D scanning cameras to omnipresent sensors and internet-of-things devices. These will facilitate detailed digital twins of physical spaces.

  • Real-time tracking cameras and sensors will replicate users as digital twins and enable remote expert assistance. Hyper-detailed projection cameras will integrate virtual objects and avatars into physical spaces.

  • Smartphones will likely still play a role in the Metaverse future. Still, the goal is to move beyond their limitations towards more seamless human-computer interaction through innovative devices and interfaces.

  • Through the 2020s, most Metaverse devices, like smartphones, will likely be ones we already use. VR/AR headsets will remain niche, with less than 250 million active users projected by 2030.

  • Smartphones are rapidly improving with features relevant for the Metaverse, like 3D face mapping, lidar scanning, and ultra-wideband chips for precise location tracking. They can serve as ‘edge devices’ for things like smartwatches.

  • Devices needed for the Metaverse can be grouped into primary (smartphones), secondary (PCs, VR/AR headsets), and tertiary (smartwatches, cameras).

  • Even if not mainstream, these devices represent an opportunity for hardware companies to generate new revenue streams and lock in customers.

  • Hardware is a gateway to the intangible Metaverse experience of virtual worlds, data, identity, and community. Companies want to control the gateway to manage that overall experience and associated data/advertising.

  • Payment rails are the systems and standards that enable trillions of dollars of economic activity, often in an automated way. They are the backbone of modern digital economies.

  • A battle is underway to become the dominant payment rail in the Metaverse, arguably the central battleground for control of the Metaverse.

  • Existing payment rails like credit cards, PayPal, and Venmo largely predate the digital age but now facilitate most non-cash transactions. They have different fees, network size, speed, reliability, and flexibility.

  • Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are seen by many as the first “digitally native” payment rail that could solve problems with the virtual economy, like excessive fees and centralization.

  • The history of payment rails starts with Fedwire for bank transfers, then grew to include systems like credit cards as commerce moved online.

  • Whoever controls the dominant payment rail gains significant power over and revenue from the ecosystem, so there is intense competition to own the fence. This could impede an open Metaverse.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • There are several central payment rails in the US including wires, ACH, credit cards, and digital networks like PayPal and Venmo. They vary in speed, cost, security, and other features.

  • Wires are fast but expensive. They are irreversible and need more confirmation, making mistakes hard to correct.

  • ACH is slower but has a meager cost. Payments take 1-3 days to clear. Errors also take days to correct.

  • Credit cards are convenient but have higher fees for merchants. Transactions happen in seconds. Payments can be reversed.

  • Digital networks allow instant transfers between users. But transferring money out can take days and has fees.

  • No single rail is perfect. Having competition between them based on advantages/drawbacks is beneficial.

  • The virtual economy is over $150B from video games and in-game purchases. But it uses the same 30% fee standard as the mobile app stores, despite different economics.

  • Apple and Google set this 30% fee standard without regard for costs or competition. It has remained unchanged.

  • Game platforms can’t implement better payment rails due to restrictions from Apple and Google. This limits innovation in the virtual economy.

The virtual economy has increased, but the payment systems have become more expensive, cumbersome, and less competitive than the real world. Virtual payment systems like gaming platforms bundle many services beyond just processing payments.

In the 1980s, platforms like Nintendo charged developers a 30% fee to manufacture game cartridges. This became an industry standard. Today’s digital downloads have much lower costs, but the 30% cut remains for in-game purchases.

Platforms justify this by selling consoles at a loss and investing in tools for developers. But developers must be on all major platforms, so platforms don’t compete on fees. Critics argue the costs lock in both developers and players.

Proprietary APIs and services like Xbox Live also add costs and lock-in, with limited value. Developers want cross-platform games and manage their online services now. But they still must use each platform’s APIs and pay fees.

Entitlements also lock players into platforms. If you buy a PlayStation game, you can’t play it on Xbox without re-buying. Media control saves data, trophies, etc. This makes it harder for players to switch platforms.

Unlike real-world payments, console platforms prohibit the direct use of standard rails. The billing system is bundled with other services. There are no discounts if a game doesn’t need specific services. The high fees remain regardless.

Steam launched in 2003 as a PC game platform allowing users to manage, download, and update games easily. It provided many services like social features and matchmaking, improving the gaming experience. Though technologically outdated now, Steam maintains dominance because of its vast user base and bundling of distribution, payments, entitlements etc, like consoles do. Competitors like EA, Activision, and Amazon have failed to disrupt it.

Steam’s success is partly due to outstanding service, policies requiring games to be played through Steam, and the possible use of MFN clauses. The Epic Games Store tried to compete by offering a more open model with lower fees. Though it forced a small fee cut, Steam still dominates. The gist is that Steam built an ecosystem with excellent service and policies that lock users in, and competitors have yet to manage to overcome that despite open PC platforms.

  • Valve’s Steam platform maintained its dominance in PC game distribution, while Epic’s rival Epic Games Store (EGS) accumulated significant losses and showed little evidence of sustainable success beyond Fortnite players.

  • EGS revenue grew from $680 million in 2019 to $840 million in 2021, but Fortnite drove 64-70%. Many EGS users likely only use it for Fortnite or its free game giveaways.

  • Leaked documents suggested EGS lost $181 million in 2019, $273 million in 2020, and was projected to lose $150-330 million in 2021, with breakeven not expected until 2027.

  • Apple’s App Store adopted the 30% commission popularized by Steam in 2008. Apple also adopted a closed model requiring iOS apps to be distributed through the App Store.

  • In 2020, Spotify, Rakuten and Epic Games sued Apple over alleged anti-competitive practices, including its 30% commission. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said Apple “outlawed the metaverse.”

  • Mobile gaming grew from $1.5 billion in 2008 to over half of the $180 billion gaming market by 2021, driving most of Apple’s App Store revenue despite accounting for a small share of overall app spending.

  • The App Store’s impact grew slowly initially, leading even Apple to doubt its profit potential early on. But it soon became a multi-billion dollar business, fueled disproportionately by gaming.

  • Apple’s App Store is hugely profitable, generating $73 billion in revenue in 2020 with an estimated 70% profit margin. If spun off, it would be a Fortune 15 company.

  • The App Store’s 30% fee on many transactions stifles investment and negatively impacts business models in the emerging Metaverse sector. It diverts significant profits from creators to Apple.

  • The 30% fee mainly constrains profits for virtual world platforms like Roblox. In 2021, only 81 Roblox developers made over $1 million due to Apple’s cut and Roblox’s own 25% fee. More developer revenue would benefit everyone.

  • Apple’s policies prohibit Metaverse-focused technologies like cross-platform avatar networks and virtual item trading. This hampers Metaverse development.

  • Epic’s lawsuit argues these policies are anti-competitive and aim to open iOS to alternative app stores and payment systems. The outcome could profoundly shape the future Metaverse economy.

  • Roblox loses $30 for every $100 of value it creates on mobile devices due to Apple’s 30% cut. This forces Roblox to operate at a -30% margin on iOS.

  • The high fees mean Roblox developers only get to keep $25 out of every $100 value created. Roblox can only increase developer revenue by deepening losses or cutting R&D.

  • Apple’s fees incentivize developers to create standalone apps rather than build in Roblox’s integrated virtual world platform. This helps Apple’s goal of being the distributor of virtual apps via the App Store.

  • Apple limits technologies like WebGL that could enable web-based games and metaverse experiences that bypass the App Store. This pushes more developers to create native iOS apps.

  • Apple restricted cloud gaming services that could allow complex games to be played on any device without using the App Store or Metal APIs. This protects Apple’s business model.

  • Overall, Apple’s policies limit technologies that could undermine its control points like the App Store. This restricts the growth of integrated metaverse platforms and other disruptive technologies.

  • Cloud gaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud were initially banned from the iOS App Store. Apple claimed this was to protect users, but critics argued it was to watch Apple’s business interests.

  • In 2020, Apple revised its policies to allow cloud gaming but imposed byzantine restrictions such as requiring each game title to have its own app listing and review process. Microsoft, Facebook, and others criticized this as a poor consumer experience.

  • Apple prohibits apps from using its NFC chip for mobile payments, except for Apple Pay. This blocks other payment services like Visa and Square from offering tap-and-go prices on iOS.

  • Apple does not allow apps related to cryptocurrencies, crypto mining, or decentralized data processing, citing battery drain and device strain concerns. But this blocks iOS devices from participating in the blockchain economy.

  • More broadly, Apple exerts stringent control over interactive experiences and emergent payment rails to protect and take advantage of its hardware, software, and services businesses. Rivals argue this harms innovation and consumer choice.

  • Platforms like Apple’s App Store and Google Play act as gatekeepers for the Metaverse by controlling payment systems and restricting certain technologies like cryptocurrency and NFTs. This allows them to take a large commission on transactions.

  • Apple and Google justify restrictions by claiming to protect users, but it helps them maximize revenues and stifle competition. Their effective duopoly makes it hard to challenge their bundled services.

  • Without its own devices and operating system, Facebook is constrained by Apple and Google’s platforms. It invests heavily in AR/VR and other hardware to control its metaverse platform.

  • New devices alone will only disrupt the duopoly if independent of Apple and Google’s chips and networks. Facebook’s devices will likely be more expensive and limited as a result.

  • The gatekeeper role of mobile platforms like iOS and Android could prevent actual competition and innovation in building the open Metaverse. New decentralized payment rails may be needed.

Here is a summary of the key points about blockchains and their relevance to the Metaverse:

  • Blockchains are decentralized databases managed by networks of validators rather than a single party. This makes them harder to corrupt.

  • However, decentralization has downsides like slower speeds, higher costs, and challenges reaching consensus. Much blockchain-based software still relies heavily on centralized databases.

  • The main appeal of blockchains is that they are programmable payment rails that are trustless (no need to trust validators) and permissionless (open for anyone to participate).

  • Bitcoin was the first mainstream blockchain, focused solely on enabling its cryptocurrency.

  • Ethereum built on Bitcoin by creating a more flexible blockchain that can run various decentralized apps and smart contracts. This expanded the potential use cases.

  • Blockchain advocates believe Metaverse economies need the openness and programmability of blockchain payment rails to develop, circumventing platform gatekeepers entirely.

  • Critics argue the Metaverse can thrive with centralized payment systems, and decentralized options add unnecessary cost and friction.

  • It remains an open debate whether blockchain technology will be critical for the Metaverse or largely optional. But blockchains enable types of digital ownership, economies, and interoperability that would be difficult otherwise.

  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use decentralized networks and trustless programming to enable permissionless participation and competition. This pushes down transaction fees and prevents centralized control.

  • Ethereum built on this idea by creating a decentralized network and programming language that allows developers to build decentralized apps (dapps) that can also have their tokens.

  • Ethereum faces criticisms about fees, speed, and programming complexity, which has led to new blockchains being developed as well as “Layer 2” solutions built on top of Ethereum.

  • In contrast, platforms like iOS are more centralized and controlling. Android aimed to be more open but Google progressively closed the system likely due to Samsung’s success.

  • Dapps are often only partially decentralized, with founders holding substantial tokens initially. But their success depends on attracting users and developers, so they commit to “progressive decentralization” over time.

  • As conventional platforms become more successful, they become more controlling. Blockchains are designed to avoid this by building trustless participation, competition, and decentralization.

  • Blockchains allow users to own their digital assets (like photos on a blockchain Instagram) because the records are decentralized, not controlled by a central company. This makes it hard for apps to lock users in.

  • In 2021, blockchain transaction volume exceeded $16 trillion, more than digital payments giants like PayPal combined. This shows the potential scale despite no central authority.

  • NFTs (non-fungible tokens) allow people to own unique digital items. In 2021, about $45 billion was spent on NFTs across areas like NBA Top Shots, CryptoPunks avatars, blockchain games etc.

  • It needs to be clarified how NFT spending compares to traditional gaming spending, but NFT growth is much faster (90x year-over-year). NFT utility is still limited by lack of game support.

  • Key philosophy is that blockchains let users control their data and digital assets, preventing lock-in. This could disrupt tech giants, but many past technologies have failed. Impact remains to be seen.

  • NFT games have limited functionality and rudimentary graphics since most are web browser-based. This is why NFT collecting is more popular than NFT gameplay.

  • Major game companies still need to adopt NFTs, so only a few million people have purchased NFTs compared to billions who make in-game purchases.

  • The potential of NFTs lies in realizing true interoperability between games and virtual worlds. This requires overcoming revenue leakage, where assets bought in one game depress revenues in another.

  • Blockchains could enable interoperability by allowing automatic commissions to original asset creators when their assets are traded or used elsewhere. Other solutions like asset degradation over time could also help.

  • Blockchain-based games can reward users with governance rights and appreciation potential through native tokens. This deepens user engagement.

  • Blockchains also support decentralized computing infrastructure for gaming by allowing users to rent out spare computing power in return for cryptocurrency rewards.

  • Overall, blockchain’s trustless and permissionless structure could enable more user-owned and user-governed gaming experiences that are more collaborative and sustainable long-term. But the technology still needs significant improvements in usability and scalability.

  • Contributors to Helium can earn cryptocurrency rewards for wireless coverage, but the long-term viability is uncertain since most ISPs prohibit rebroadcasting connections. However, Helium is striking deals directly with ISPs.

  • There has been a surge in blockchain gaming development and investment in 2021, with nearly $4 billion invested. The influx of talent and users could create a virtuous cycle leading to the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies for gaming.

  • Blockchains enable new decentralized collaboration and funding models through “smart contracts” and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). These allow the instant creation of organizations and automated management without lawyers or paperwork.

  • DAOs have collectively purchased high-value NFTs and made investments. They can change how people collaborate, fund projects, and run organizations.

  • Despite limitations like high fees, DAOs like ConstitutionDAO have shown the ability to crowdfund millions of dollars from thousands of people quickly.

  • Wyoming has recognized the legitimacy of DAOs, which could link digital assets to the physical world. DAOs may become an essential organizational structure of the Metaverse.

Here is a summary of the key points about blockchains and the Metaverse:

  • Blockchains like Ethereum allow decentralized, transparent ledgers and smart contracts that enable new digital ownership, compensation, and governance models.

  • NFTs and social DAOs are early examples of using blockchains for digital collectibles/items and community management.

  • However, significant technical obstacles exist around scalability, speed, and energy use for widespread blockchain adoption.

  • Opinions vary on how revolutionary blockchain will be - from a fad to completely disrupting industries and platform dynamics by aggregating resources and aligning incentives.

  • Blockchain may not fully decentralize experiences but could still enable progress around rights, compensation, and interoperability even in partly centralized systems.

  • Control does not just come from data ownership but also proprietary code and IP, so blockchain does not necessarily mean fully open ecosystems.

  • Overall, blockchain has the potential to be a vital part of the Metaverse by enabling new models of ownership, incentives, and cooperation, but widespread adoption still faces hurdles. Impact could range from moderate to highly disruptive.

  • Predicting the emergence of the Metaverse is difficult, as transformation is an iterative process without a clear start or end point.

  • The transition can be compared to the electrification process in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, which occurred in two distinct waves rather than linearly.

  • Opinions on the timeline vary, with estimates ranging from the Metaverse already being here (Microsoft) to emerging mainly in 5-10 years (Facebook) to taking multiple decades more (Epic, Nvidia).

  • Factors driving the transition include advancements in hardware performance, network connectivity, software capabilities, content creation, and business models.

  • Arrival will likely involve a critical mass of users interacting in interconnected virtual spaces across devices, engaging with persistent digital identities, content, and economies.

  • Transformation will be gradual and uneven across industries like gaming, live events, social, work, education, health, shopping, and travel. Some applications will arrive earlier than full convergence into a singular Metaverse.

  • Completely replacing the physical world is unlikely; the Metaverse will overlay and augment reality. The process may always have a vague end point.

  • The rise of mobile Internet and smartphones like the iPhone enabled a critical mass of innovations, not just Apple alone. Components like 3G, ARM processors, Gorilla Glass, the App Store, mobile networks, wireless standards, etc were created by many companies and organizations.

  • External ecosystems of developers, wireless carriers, tower companies, payments systems, etc., were crucial for the iPhone’s success. Apps, networks, and infrastructure made the iPhone more useful.

  • Getting to the iPhone 12 with 5G required further ecosystem innovation over a decade in networks, chips, apps, games, cameras etc. Apple alone could not have created the iPhone 12 in 2008.

  • Similarly, the Metaverse will require a critical mass of technologies and capabilities to come together across devices, networks, engines, blockchains, etc. It won’t arrive all at once but will gradually emerge.

  • Key pieces are coming together, like mobile devices, GPUs, networks, cross-platform gaming, blockchains, etc. But we are still in the early stages. More innovation across industries and companies is needed for true Metaverse.

  • The Metaverse will likely emerge gradually as more pieces fall into place over time, not overnight through any one company. It will require ecosystem-wide collaboration and innovation.

  • Cross-platform play (being able to play with others across different devices) has been a primary driver of growth and engagement in virtual worlds and games. It breaks down walled gardens and expands the network effects.

  • The normalization of spending significant money on virtual goods like skins and emotes has helped legitimize virtual worlds. Brands and celebrities are now flocking to be involved.

  • Improved technology like internet speeds and GPUs, combined with cheaper and more capable game engines, constantly makes virtual worlds more immersive and dynamic.

  • A new generation of “iPad natives” who grew up expecting interactivity are now both consumers and creators shaping the Metaverse. There are 140 million unique gamers born each year.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated adoption as people sought activities and connections in virtual worlds during lockdowns. This helped destigmatize time spent in virtual worlds.

  • We will likely see significant transformations in education, medicine, fitness, social connection, and commerce as immersive new experiences are created in the Metaverse. But the exact future is hard to predict due to ongoing feedback loops of new tech enabling new behaviors.

  • Teaching has seen lower productivity growth than other sectors because teachers can only teach more students dramatically or faster while impacting quality. However, teacher salaries must keep pace with other fields.

  • Education remains highly resource-intensive, with costs rising partly due to new technologies like iPads. The faster growth in college tuition vs goods prices shows this.

  • Remote learning during COVID demonstrated the importance of in-person “presence” for effective learning. Hands-on and immersive experiences are hard to replicate remotely.

  • However, new Metaverse technologies like VR, AR and haptics are starting to close the gap by enabling rich virtual simulations and experiences. This can augment in-person learning at a lower cost.

  • The Metaverse can enable on-demand customized lessons, virtual field trips, and experiences like virtual dissections. It can supplement classes with “real” instructors like Jane Goodall.

  • Other lifestyle sectors like fitness, meditation, therapy, and dating are also likely to be transformed by new immersive and simulated Metaverse experiences.

  • Interoperability between educational Metaverse apps and the wider Metaverse will increase their usefulness. The ability to bring identities and account histories across experiences will aid learning and personalization.

  • The entertainment industry is moving towards more immersive experiences like VR and AR. Films and TV shows may be filmed for 360 degree viewing.

  • Real-time rendering engines like Unreal and Unity are being used more in filmmaking, allowing directors to immerse themselves in scenes and provide interactive, game-like experiences.

  • Virtual production stages with LED walls and ceilings allow actors to be integrated into real-time CGI environments. This can speed up production.

  • Studios are building virtual backlots of assets that can be licensed and reused across mediums. Fans can join characters in side missions between episodes.

  • Sports will blend live games, video game representations, fantasy play, and betting. Fans may be able to jump into critical moments of an actual game that just finished.

  • Casinos and gambling will become more immersive with live performers and motion capture. New formats like virtual horse racing are emerging.

  • The lines between traditional entertainment like film and interactive experiences like games will blur, leading to interconnected storytelling and shared worlds.

  • Entertainment companies are exploring more abstract and interactive forms of entertainment, as seen in the “Massively Interactive Live Event” Rival Peak hosted by Genvid Technologies. This allowed audience members to influence the storylines and outcomes in a virtual reality simulation.

  • The adult entertainment industry is also likely to be profoundly impacted by VR, AR, haptics, and real-time rendering advances. Platform policies currently restrict these applications, which may limit income potential and safety for sex workers.

  • Virtual worlds have historically lacked brand advertising, but this must change as the Metaverse grows. Determining the proper ad formats and sales models poses challenges.

  • Unlike traditional ads, some brands like Nike create branded virtual experiences to express their ethos. The Metaverse may require more creative approaches to advertising beyond simple banner ads.

  • As virtual worlds become more lifelike and immersive, fashion brands are also taking notice and creating virtual clothing and accessories. The Metaverse provides new opportunities for fashion, both virtual-only and linked to physical items.

  • R is a programming language becoming more popular and receiving increased attention. It has grown from a niche language used primarily by statisticians to a more general-purpose language used across many fields.

  • R has been historically underappreciated but is now gaining mainstream traction. More resources are being devoted to R and used on various applications.

  • R has a solid open source community supporting its growth. Packages shared on CRAN allow R users to leverage the work of others.

  • Major tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook are now supporting R, contributing to its momentum. RStudio has also made the language more accessible.

  • R enables efficient data analysis and visualization. It is well-suited to statistical analysis and machine learning. These capabilities make R a good fit for today’s data-driven world.

  • While other languages like Python also offer data science capabilities, R’s roots in statistics make it particularly strong for certain applications. R continues to have a place even as Python grows in popularity.

  • There is no consensus on valuing the “Metaverse economy” since it does not yet exist as a distinct entity.

  • The Metaverse will be intertwined with the traditional economy, making it hard to isolate and measure.

  • Historical precedents like the mobile and internet economies suggest that the Metaverse’s overall digital economy share will grow over time.

  • Modeling suggests the Metaverse could be worth $3.65-7.25 trillion annually in 10 years if it constitutes 10-20% of the digital economy by then.

  • The Metaverse will disproportionately contribute to the digital and overall global economy growth.

  • Companies that pioneer the Metaverse will grow faster than average and produce significant wealth.

  • A few Metaverse companies will become trillion-dollar intermediaries like today’s tech giants.

  • It’s unclear which current tech giants will lead the Metaverse era. New entrants may displace today’s leaders.

  • Facebook faces challenges transforming again without acquisitions and controlling hardware platforms.

  • Facebook has invested heavily in the Metaverse, but past success does not guarantee future results. Despite early investments, Microsoft and Google provide cautionary tales of tech giants failing to capitalize on significant shifts like mobile and internet.

  • New disruptors like Epic Games, Unity, and Roblox have key advantages like large gaming communities, developer networks, and virtual world expertise that the tech giants lack. Their cultures align more with gaming and the Metaverse than the big tech firms.

  • Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp but missed opportunities to achieve Epic, Unity, or Roblox when they were inexpensive. Its Oculus acquisition is less central than Horizon Worlds.

  • Google has neglected gaming and the Metaverse. It needs its virtual worlds or platforms despite Niantic’s early success.

  • Amazon has spent billions on gaming studios and services like Luna but has yet to be successful compared to its other content. Its Lumberyard engine also failed to gain traction.

  • Apple is well positioned through its hardware, OS, and app store, but its gaming and metaverse efforts still need to be made more explicit.

  • The tech giants were distracted by other bets and underestimated gaming and virtual worlds as the path to the Metaverse. New disruptors are better positioned despite their far smaller scale currently.

  • Apple is well-positioned for AR/VR hardware like headsets due to its expertise with iPhone integration but lacks software capabilities like a leading IVWP (immersive virtual world platform).

  • Microsoft has transformed under Satya Nadella to be platform agnostic, growing despite losing OS dominance. With acquisitions like Minecraft and Activision Blizzard, Microsoft is poised to be a leader in gaming and the Metaverse.

  • Sony has massive gaming, film, TV, music, and anime assets but needs help with online services and cross-platform offerings. It should have capitalized on past opportunities like Walkman and Crackle. Collaboration across divisions is required.

  • Nvidia doesn’t make headsets or games but provides key graphics chips and cloud streaming. Its Omniverse platform could be pivotal for digital twins.

  • Today’s leaders like GAFAM look prepared but some will likely falter. The metaverse leaders may need to be discovered or just starting.

  • Regardless of who dominates, trust will be critical as a few platforms may control time, content, data, and revenues. User behaviors in both the Metaverse and real world will be shaped.

  • The “war” for the Metaverse is between significant corporations, centralization, and decentralization. The Metaverse needs a balance of both to thrive.

  • Companies like Epic Games are making their platforms more decentralized and limiting their power, to build trust with developers. This “race to trust” is critical for attracting developers.

  • Microsoft and Facebook have also made policy changes to be more open and decentralized, supporting third-party payment systems and app stores. This is to maximize the metaverse economy and empower developers.

  • However, some cynicism remains around these moves by “Web 2.0” giants, given their histories of being closed platforms. Striking the right balance of openness and control will be an ongoing challenge.

A balanced, trust-based metaverse will likely emerge from policies that curb centralized power while enabling centralized platforms to thrive. The details of this balance are still being worked out.

  • The digital era has improved access to information and connected people, leading to challenges like misinformation, abuse, poor data rights, and platform power.

  • As more aspects of life move online, these problems will likely grow and mutate in the Metaverse.

  • Issues like radicalization and election tampering may worsen as immersive environments make it easier to manipulate and mislead people.

  • Harassment could take on disturbing new forms with advanced avatars, AI voices, motion capture, etc.

  • Decentralization may make content moderation harder and anonymity easier for malcontents.

  • Data rights and privacy issues will grow as more personal data is created and captured. Questions about how this data is used and valued need to be addressed.

  • The Metaverse will exacerbate ongoing socio-technological problems as more life moves online. New policies and solutions are needed to shape its impact on society.

  • The Metaverse will raise new questions about data privacy, security, and ownership. Who will manage user data and virtual assets? How will they be kept secure? Who will own user-generated content in virtual worlds?

  • Labor and employment will also be impacted as more work moves into virtual spaces. This could exacerbate inequality if only privileged people in developed nations can access these new jobs. It also raises questions about minimum wage, benefits, and workers’ rights.

  • Identity and representation will be challenged as users create avatars that may not match their real-world identities. There are ethical concerns around issues like cultural appropriation.

  • While some worry about isolation and less time outdoors, time spent in social, interactive virtual worlds could be better than passive TV watching. Declining prices for VR headsets could also close the digital divide.

  • The Metaverse needs transparent governance right now beyond corporations. New policies, regulations, standards, and governing bodies will likely be required, building off successful models like the Internet Engineering Task Force.

  • Overall, the Metaverse offers great potential but many open questions around ethics, rights, security, ownership, and governance that society must grapple with.

  • Apple and Google have too much control over in-app billing policies, which enables them to block competing payment services. This hurts developers and consumers. Regulators should force Apple and Google to unbundle services like identity, software distribution, APIs, and entitlements from their hardware and OS.

  • Users should be able to own their online identities and purchased software. They should choose how software is installed, paid for, and distributed. Developers should have freedom in how their software is distributed. Unbundling would promote competition.

  • Policies are needed regarding how integrated virtual worlds support developers who want to export their environments, assets, and experiences. It should be easy to transfer virtual assets between platforms like it is for other online content. This encourages competition and innovation.

  • Smart contracts and DAOs should be legally recognized to inspire entrepreneurship and protect against exploitation.

  • Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations should be expanded for cryptocurrency platforms to reduce fraud and illegal activities.

  • Overall, regulations are needed to reduce the power of dominant platforms, give users control of their identities and purchases, make virtual assets portable, and promote healthy competition in the Metaverse.

Here is a summary of the key points made in the conclusion:

  • Technology advances are often predicted long before they actually come to fruition, though the specifics take more work to foresee accurately.

  • Vannevar Bush predicted many future devices, but his envisioned Memex differed significantly from modern computers. Kubrick imagined advanced AI and space travel but not modern user interfaces. Stephenson’s Metaverse emerged from TV, not gaming.

  • Certain aspects of the future Metaverse seem predictable - the increased use of 3D virtual worlds, network bandwidth, compute power improvements, and younger generations adopting first.

  • Operating systems will be unbundled, but their owners will still thrive as the Metaverse grows their markets. A handful of big tech companies will continue to dominate.

  • Some current leaders will be displaced but survive, some will perish. We’ll continue using many digital products as only some things suit 3D virtual worlds.

  • Interoperability will come slowly and imperfectly. Different standards will persist with imperfect conversion between them. Services will be fragmented across companies and countries.

  • Technology’s impact depends on how it is governed. Surveillance and security, identity management, data rights, AI ethics, and digital divides need addressing.

  • The Metaverse’s full effects are still unpredictable. We are all spectators of how it unfolds based on decisions made now by governments, companies, and society.

He Did the Math,” New York Times, November 23, 1999, accessed January 4, 2022,

  1. John Seabrook, “The Next Big Thing: Can a Silicon Valley Start-Up Guru Herd Cats in Hollywood?” New Yorker, October 17, 1994, accessed January 4, 2022,

  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Stewart Brand, “Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums,” Rolling Stone, December 7, 1972, accessed January 4, 2022,

  5. Ibid.

  6. J.C. Herz, Joystick Nation: How Videogames Gobbled Our Money, Won Our Hearts and Rewired Our Minds (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1997).

  7. “First Serial Computer Music Compositions,” Composer Leon Kirchner’s Stanford University website, accessed January 4, 2022,

  8. Ibid.

  9. Peter Todd, “Todd: A Musical Kaleidoscope,” Stanford University Experimental Music Studio, accessed January 4, 2022,

  10. “First Serial Computer …”

  11. Todd, “Todd: A Musical Kaleidoscope.”

  12. Perry Hoberman, “Bar Code Hotel,” The Perry Hoberman Collection, 1991-94, accessed January 4, 2022,

  13. Aaron Souppouris, “Second Life Creator Linden Lab Prepares to Test Parallel VR Universe ‘Project Sansar,’ ” Engadget, February 27, 2015, accessed January 4, 2022,

  14. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (New York: Random House, 1992), 36-37.

  15. Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (New York: Bantam Books, 1995), 280-281. This passage is taken from chapter 19, where an interactive simulacrum of actor Sir John Hackworth explains to protagonist Nell how to access a virtual classroom called “The Primer Classroom” within “Miss Strata’s Interactive Theater.”

  16. Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, eds., Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001), xvii

  17. Ibid.

  18. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (New York: Random House, 1992), 51-52.

  19. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (New York: Random House, 1992), 51.

  20. Randal Walser, “Elements of a Cyberplayspace,” part of The Artificial Reality 2 conference in 1991 at Stanford University, published in Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, eds., Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001), 270.

  21. Ibid.

  22. Stephenson, Snow Crash, 52.

  23. Walser, “Elements of a Cyberplayspace,” 273.

  24. In Snow Crash, The Black Sun club that Hiro Protagonist attends is owned by the Japanese mafia Yakuza. Stephenson, Snow Crash, 66.

  25. Quoted in Howard Rheingold, “Teledildonics: Reach Out and Touch Someone,” Mondo 2000, issue 5 (1990).

  26. Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York: Vintage, 1993), 12.

  27. Asaf Ashkenazi, “Metaverse History Timeline,” Metaverse Today, December 30, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

Chapter 2 A (Brief) Cultural History of Shopping

  1. Richard, Lord, Kevin Money, and Carola Hillenbrand, “Relationship between American consumers’ experience of commercial friendships

And their satisfaction, trust, commitment, and repurchase loyalty,” Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 52 (January 1, 2020), accessed January 4, 2022,

  1. Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels, Andrew Perrin, and Lee Rainie, “More Americans Now Say They Prefer to Shop Mainly Online,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  2. Monica Anderson and Emily A. Vogels, “Most Americans Have Joined the Digitally Connected World, But Some Still Remain Disconnected from the Benefits of the Internet,” Pew Research Center, April 2, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  3. Ylan Q. Mui, “Americans With Disabilities Are More Online Than Ever. But Still Less Than Before Covid,” NBC News, updated September 24, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  4. “Social Media Fact Sheet,” Pew Research Center, April 7, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  5. “The World’s Most Influential Cities,” McKinsey Global Institute, accessed January 4, 2022,

  6. Paul Petrone, “Nearly Half of All Consumers Now Buy Things on Amazon,” LinkedIn, February 5, 2019, accessed January 4, 2022,

  7. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020), Chapter 3.

  8. Laura Stevens and Sara Germano, “Amazon Sales Hit New Record During Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2020, accessed January 4, 2022,

  9. “Annual Report 2021: Form 10-K,” Shopify, accessed January 4, 2022, pdf available at

  10. Walmart Q3 earnings press release, November 16, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  11. Ray Wang and Constellation Research, “Retail’s Renaissance and the Rise of 3D Commerce,” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, August 6, 2019, accessed January 4, 2022, via

  12. Diamandis and Kotler, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, chapter 3.

  13. Josh Constine, “Facebook Has Acquired Bloomsbury AI,” TechCrunch, July 29, 2018, accessed January 4, 2022,

  14. Ian Bogost, “Enough With the Trolley Problem,” The Atlantic, March 30, 2018, accessed January 4, 2022,

  15. Molly Smith, “9 Virtual Shopping Apps to Try for Home Decor and Fashion,” Good Housekeeping, December 21, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  16. Bethany Biron, “Metaverse Shopping Has Already Arrived, With Stores in Decentraland and Experimental Fashion,” Business Insider, July 1, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  17. Mark Sullivan, “Why ‘virtual try-on’ technology could transform e-commerce as we know it,” Fast Company, July 22, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  18. Kevin Featherstone, “SoWa’s Artists Get a Real Space in Decentraland’s Digital One,” Boston Globe, November 26, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  19. Sarah Perez, “WarnerMedia joins Fortnite with a custom ‘Stranger Things’ experience,” TechCrunch, June 23, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  20. Bloomberg Intelligence analysis via Bloomberg Terminal, accessed January 4, 2022.

  21. Mary Meeker, “Internet Trends 2020,” June 2020, slide 61, accessed January 4, 2022 at

  22. Om Malik, “The Metaverse Land Grab Is an Illusion,” New Yorker, November 17, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

Chapter 3 Defining the Metaverse

  1. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Q2 2021 earnings call, July 28, 2021, Bloomberg transcript accessed January 4, 2022.

  2. Matthew Ball, “Reality Has Always Been Augmented,” Rewire, September 17, 2018, accessed January 4, 2022,

  3. Ibid.

  4. Matthew Ball, “Framework: The Metaverse,” January 21 2022, accessed February 12, 2022 at

  5. Ibid.

  6. “Domestic Tourism: Number of domestic leisure trips in the United States from 2002 to 2020 (in millions),” Statista, accessed January 4, 2022,

  7. “World Population (Total),” The World Bank, accessed January 4, 2022,

  8. “International visitor arrivals worldwide from 1996 to 2020 (in millions),” Statista, accessed January 4, 2022,

  9. “Theme park attendance at Cedar Fair parks worldwide from 2010 to 2018,” Statista, accessed January 4, 2022,

  10. Kat Moon, “Disneyland Attendance Dropped Significantly in 2020 for Obvious Reasons,” AV Club, March 9, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  11. Juniper Research, “In-game Spending to Reach $210 Billion Globally By 2025, Driven by Virtual Gifting & In-app Purchases.” Press release, August 13, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,,from%20%24165%20billion%20in%202021.&text=This%20growth%20will%20be%20driven,virtual%20gifting%20and%20in%2Dapp.

  12. Matthew Ball, “Framework: The Metaverse,” January 21 2022, accessed February 12, 2022 at

  13. The exact quote from Snow Crash is, “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances, he could be the worst motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied hard for ten years. If Colombian drug dealers wiped out my family, I swore to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.” Stephenson, Snow Crash, 9.

  14. The phrase “metaverse” was not coined initially by Stephenson but originated in an earlier novella by Damien Broderick titled Transmitters (1984). However, Stephenson popularized the term and influenced how it came to be understood - similar to how William Gibson’s Neuromancer (also published in 1984) helped define what the internet and “cyberspace” would mean, despite earlier uses of those specific terms.

  15. Adi Robertson and Jay Peters, “Here’s Everywhere You Can Go In The VR ‘Metaverse’ Right Now,” The Verge, October 28, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  16. Dean Takashi, “Jensen Huang interview: Why the metaverse is Nvidia’s greatest opportunity,” Venture Beat, January 4, 2022, accessed January 4, 2022,

  17. Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary, “Meta says the metaverse could someday generate more revenue for it than Facebook does today,” Vox Recode, October 25, 2021, accessed January 4, 2022,

  18. Matthew Ball, “Framework: The Metaverse,” January 21 2022, accessed February 12, 2022 at See also and

  19. Matthew Ball, “Frameworks: Distribution & Monetization Strategies for the Metaverse,” September 27, 2021, accessed January 19, 2022,

  20. Ibid.

  21. Neil Stephenson, Snow Crash (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 23-24.

  22. Ibid, 24.

  23. Ibid, 24-25.

  24. Winston Churchill, “Painting as a Pastime” (1948 essay), in Thoughts and Adventures (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2009).

  25. Stephenson, Snow Crash, 25.

  26. Ibid, 36.

  27. Ibid, 55.

  28. Matthew Ball, “Framework: The Metaverse,” January 21 2022, accessed February 12, 2022 at

  29. Facebook company filings, accessed January 4, 2022 via Sentieo.

  30. Eric Jho, “Why We’re Changing Our Company Name to Meta,” Meta Newsroom, October 28, 2021, accessed January 4,

Here are concise summaries of the key points from each of the chapters and sources referenced:

Chapter 1: The Metaverse will likely evolve from virtual worlds and video games. Early visions of the Metaverse appear in science fiction. Tech CEOs like Tim Sweeney believe open metaverse platforms will emerge.

Chapter 2: Major tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook announced Metaverse plans, but there needs to be more clarity about the Metaverse. Epic Games sued Apple over app store policies relevant for the Metaverse. Predicting tech is complicated.

Chapter 3: The Metaverse combines persistent virtual worlds, universal interoperability, and a fully functioning economy. It extends the connectivity of the internet into immersive 3D spaces.

Chapter 4: The Metaverse could be the next stage of the internet, built on blockchain and crypto. It requires advances in networking, computing, and virtual world engines.

Chapter 5: High-speed, low-latency networking is crucial for the Metaverse. Microsoft Flight Simulator shows the potential.

Chapter 6: Realistic graphics and simulations require heavy computing power, like Pixar’s animation and Nvidia’s Omniverse. Cloud computing can enable the Metaverse.

Chapter 7: Metaverse platforms like Roblox and game engines like Unreal are evolving into versatile virtual world engines. Interoperability remains a challenge.

Chapter 8: VR/AR headsets provide embodied immersion into virtual worlds. Oculus Quest makes VR more accessible but needs improvements.

Chapter 9: Digital assets, NFTs, crypto, and blockchain enable metaverse economies. However, challenges around fraud and scams persist.

Chapter 10: The Metaverse raises concerns about privacy, toxic behavior, and antitrust issues. More oversight may be needed as the Metaverse evolves.

Here is a summary of the key points from the two sources:

  1. Roblox video:
  • Roblox is a user-generated gaming platform that allows players to create their games and virtual worlds.
  • In 2021, Roblox had 49.5 million daily active users, spending over 22 billion hours engaged on the platform.
  • Roblox has become a social space where people play, create, and learn. The company refers to this as the “metaverse.”
  • Roblox enables creators to monetize their games, with top creators earning millions annually. The creator economy is a vital part of Roblox’s vision.
  1. Roblox article:
  • In 2021, Roblox had 49.5 million daily active users, up from 32.6 million in 2020. Total hours engaged grew 29% to 22.2 billion.
  • User-generated content is core to Roblox. In 2021 there were 9.5 million user-created experiences, up from 7.3 million in 2020.
  • The developer community earned over $500 million in 2021, compared to over $300 million in 2020. The top creators are making millions per year.
  • Most Roblox users are under 16, providing an important social space for youth. The metaverse vision is to be an immersive, 3D space for communication and interaction.
  • Roblox went public in March 2021 and now has a market cap of over $60 billion, highlighting the platform’s explosive growth.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Future of games is far more than the metaverse: Let’s talk hyper-digital reality”:

  • The Metaverse is attracting a lot of attention, but the future of gaming is about much more than just the Metaverse. It’s about creating hyper-digital realities that are persistent, synchronous, and spatially extended.

  • These hyper-digital realities will be enabled by advances in graphics, AI, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and digital humans. Games will lead the way in pushing these technologies forward.

  • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney envisions the Metaverse as an interconnected digital world but thinks only some companies will own or control it. It will be built on open standards that connect different worlds.

  • Advances like real-time graphics, simulated physics, and digital humans will make these virtual worlds feel more natural and immersive. AI-driven NPCs will make them feel alive.

  • Concepts like Ready Player Me avatars, VRChat, and technologies like haptic gloves and suits will enhance social presence and embodiment. Blockchain and NFTs will enable persistent digital ownership.

  • This hyper-digital future will profoundly affect how we work, socialize, learn, and perceive reality. Games will pave the way toward this converged physical-virtual existence.

Google is a technology company that develops products and services like the Android mobile operating system, the Chrome web browser, Google Search, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Google Drive cloud storage, and more. Some key points about Google:

  • Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google has become one of the world’s largest technology companies.

  • Google’s essential products and services include Search, Android, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Play Store, etc.

  • Google pioneered new models of internet services supported by advertising revenue rather than direct payments by users. Its AdWords and AdSense programs deliver relevant ads alongside search results and on websites.

Due to its market dominance, Google is considered one of the Big Five “Big Tech” companies, along with Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook.

  • Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has expanded into other areas like artificial intelligence, cloud services, healthcare technology, self-driving cars, and more.

  • Google has faced scrutiny over issues like market dominance, data privacy, censorship in some countries, workplace culture, and more, but remains influential and profitable.

  • Under CEO Sundar Pichai, Google continues developing new technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud services and hardware like Pixel phones.

In summary, Google is an internet technology powerhouse offering a diverse suite of widely-used products and services and investing in emerging technologies. While facing some controversies, it remains one of the most influential technology companies worldwide.

Here are a few key points about the companies and topics mentioned:

  • Microsoft is a significant technology company founded by Bill Gates. It developed the Windows operating system and Xbox gaming platform and acquired Minecraft in 2014. Microsoft has invested heavily in mixed reality and the Metaverse through HoloLens and other initiatives.

  • Sony is a Japanese conglomerate known for consumer electronics and gaming. It developed the PlayStation line of gaming consoles and has a significant film/TV studio. Sony is a rival to Microsoft in the gaming industry.

  • Minecraft is a viral sandbox video game acquired by Microsoft in 2014 for $2.5 billion. It is a crucial metaverse platform with over 140 million monthly active users.

  • HoloLens is Microsoft’s augmented reality headset. It overlays holograms onto the natural world and is aimed at enterprise use cases. Microsoft sees HoloLens as part of its metaverse strategy.

  • PlayStation is Sony’s successful line of gaming consoles. The PlayStation 2, released in 2000, is the best-selling console ever, with over 155 million units sold. PlayStation competes with Microsoft’s Xbox.

  • Nintendo is another prominent Japanese gaming company known for consoles like the Switch and game franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon. While not at the forefront of metaverse tech, Nintendo has an iconic IP and user base.

  • Roblox is a gaming platform with a vibrant user-generated content community. It is considered a metaverse leader and pioneer with over 200 million monthly active users, mostly under 13.

  • Epic Games makes the Unreal Engine and Fortnite. It is suing Apple over App Store policies and sees the Metaverse as key to its future.

In summary, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Roblox, and Epic are all major players vying for position in the emerging metaverse landscape, leveraging gaming IP, platforms, and hardware expertise. Minecraft and Roblox are seen as having metaverse-like qualities already.

Here is a summary of the key points from the excerpt:

  • The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) is mentioned in the preface.

  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) are referenced about sports streaming and viewership.

  • The National Science Foundation is thanked in the preface.

  • Native apps and near-field communication (NFC) technology are discussed.

  • Companies like Nest Labs, Netflix, Nexon, NextVR, Niantic, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, Nvidia, Nuance Communication, and NVM are referenced throughout.

  • Topics like networking, bandwidth, latency, payment rails, standards and protocols, virtual worlds, video games, and more are covered extensively.

  • Individuals like Jensen Huang, Travis Scott, Tim Sweeney, and Neal Stephenson are discussed about their influence on metaverse-related technologies.

  • The excerpt provides an overview of many key companies, individuals, technologies, and concepts related to the development of the Metaverse.

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