What do you really know about the metaverse? The land of avatars? The 3D version of the internet? Our world replicated virtually? The future of commerce? The future of everything? No one is exactly sure what the metaverse is or will look like because it’s a new concept but it’s a technology buzzword that sprang ever since Facebook rebranded itself as Meta.
What we do know is that the metaverse is expansive, immersive, and digital. What we don’t often know is the difference between a centralized and decentralized metaverse and why?
Let’s try to explain.
Whether to make a single digital environment centralized or decentralized depends on who is in control of it and the purpose behind it.
In a centralized Metaverse, users can freely create content or games that Metaverse creators allow, however, those users don’t have ownership of the subject matter or games and these reside entirely with the entity behind that virtual world.
Read: The first bite of the metaverse
Centralized systems can be necessary if the virtual space requires the sale of goods or services and where a brand controls the transactions.
The virtual space of TechStar, Meta Presence®, is a centralized system dedicated to corporate activities including learning, training, and meeting clients where users log in with a tailored avatar and design the business environment they like best.
Centralized metaverses can also allow remote coworkers to collaborate virtually and interact with customers with the ability to tailor their digital experiences.
With centralized games like Fortnite or Roblox, virtual players reside and play using avatars and digital currency but within certain restrictions controlled by the owners and are not free to own or control any aspects of the digital world. Popular centralized metaverse games include titles such as Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny 2, and World of Warcraft.
Centralized metaverses also allow people to hang out with friends, attend concerts, and often require tools like headsets or goggles and haptic gloves to get the full augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) experience.
And so essentially, centralized metaverses don’t use decentralized blockchain protocols.
Crypto metaverses utilize blockchain technology to enable in-game currencies, NFTs, and governance token-based voting and can vary on the extent of decentralization.
Crypto metaverses can be found on numerous blockchain networks including Ethereum, Polygon, Cardano, and others, but not Bitcoin because the way it is designed prevents it from being a viable blockchain on which to build metaverse projects.
Decentralization requires a distributed network and a decentralized ownership structure, which translates into no single entity can own a company, network, game, or other elements of the metaverse. The more stakeholders a metaverse has, the more decentralized it is.
In addition to enabling in-game currencies, and NFTs, decentralized metaverses allow control of the metaverse itself through governance token-based voting. Decentraland and The Sandbox are examples of popular metaverse games and commercial platforms that fit the bill for decentralized metaverses that use MANA and SAND respectively as virtual tokens to buy, earn, and trade virtual assets.
Decentraland garners some of the world’s biggest brands, including Morgan Stanley, Coca-Cola, Adidas, and Samsung.
Crypto metaverses can even decentralize game or content development decisions by using governance tokens that allow users to vote on the roadmap, development, storyline, and monetization schemes. This token-based voting is routinely executed through a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), an autonomous entity using smart contracts on the blockchain to implement the outcome of votes and referendums.
The degree of decentralization of a metaverse may change over time as the community evolves.
Metaverse decentralization allows participation without permission, giving users power over the project’s administration.
One essential disadvantage is that protecting users’ privacy and the data they being shared is completely the users’ responsibility.
So there you have it. If you’re one of those who like to be in control, decentralization is your best bet. The choice is always yours, literally.
For more on the metaverse, click here.