Are Metaverse Investments Pie In The Sky?

Why do otherwise upright citizens fall for glib scams by snake oil salesmen?

After all, you can buy an acre of land on the moon for £22 from Amazon even though no one owns the moon, according to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 passed by the United Nations.

Nevertheless, even though buyers are paying for a certificate, dozens of sellers are advertising that their printed contracts and title deeds entitle their customers to a plot of land.

It sounds like pie in the sky to most people.

Someone might buy a plot as a novelty gift, knowing the certificate offers no real life guarantee.

However, it’s less easy to understand why anyone would want to buy a strip of virtual land in the metaverse.

Some business people, including billionaire Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook and Meta fame, want to monetise the metaverse to line their pockets.

So, what is the metaverse and is forking out for an investment worthwhile?

What Is The Metaverse?

The metaverse is hailed as the future of the internet. Any description of the metaverse is vague because this virtual universe only takes shape in computers or in the imagination.

This vast realm has no physical form and is only accessible by harnessing technology.

The metaverse is cyberspace where people live as avatars – a digital representation of a person displaying the features and qualities they want to display to others.

This virtual world is not private – others can roam where you go – and the metaverse exists even if no one is present.

Entry to this new world is through virtual or augmented reality, computers, tablets, smartphones and other internet-enabled devices.

Investing In Metaverse Stocks

Buying technology stocks is the easiest metaverse investment, but don’t forget the virtual world is still in its infancy and staking cash against any aspect of such a place is risky.

Four publicly traded stocks have a business model or revenues linked to the metaverse.

Meta Platforms – Meta is Facebook’s new identity where CEO Mark Zuckerberg is working on a corporate virtual reality accessed by the firm’s Oculus VR headsets.

Roblox – A netaverse pioneer launched in 2006 which has yet to turn a profit. The business data is impressive, with 9.5 million games developers hosted on the platform triggering 50 million daily users, but sadly little cash.

Microsoft – The software giant wants to provide metaverse connectivity to business users by extending the Teams platform. The plan is to provide an online hub for digital lifelike avatars to interact with other team members.

Boeing – The plane maker is the least likely metaverse explorer many would expect to see, but has swooped early to research a metaverse environment where staff from around the world can meet and discuss work.

Buying Metaverse Real Estate

No one owns the metaverse, but they can stake a claim to a plot to try to make some money, just like a real life land purchase. Owners can sell, rent or build on their part of the metaverse as they wish. There are no planning, tax or other laws in a space without a government or police.

Some metaverse platforms have markets where land and other collectables are traded as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The purchase is straightforward.

Start with picking a platform selling the land you wish to buy. Decentraland and The Sandbox are two of the most popular platforms.

Connect a wallet that contains the same cryptocurrency as the one used by the platform you have chosen. Think about the price, location, future use and why you want to buy the plot. For Decentraland, buyers need MANA tokens, while The Sandbox trades in SAND tokens.

Once the wallet is connected and the purchase offer is accepted, the platform takes payment from the wallet and the transaction is recorded on the token’s blockchain. The blockchain entry is proof of ownership.

The process is the same for buying other NFT-based goods on a metaverse platform, such as clothing and accessory upgrades for games.

The Problems With Metaverse Investing

One of the main problems for metaverse and cryptocurrency investing is the weakness of the digital wallet. Coins stored in wallets are prone to hacking at exchange. Users have lost hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrencies over the years.

Hackers have breached security at blockchain gaming platform Ronin Network to steal cryptocurrency valued at more than £500 million – the second largest crypto theft ever.

The Ronin servers held NFT cash for thousands of players of the online game Axie Infinity. The game is the world’s leading blockchain-based video adventure.

So, digital wallet security is a major issue and concern. Users can minimise the risk of fraud and theft by beefing up cold wallet defences that take accounts offline when unused.

Another worry is copyright law. Countries have copyright laws that differ widely. Although the blockchain certifies ownership, entry on a database does not stop others from copying and selling an NFT without instigating expensive and time-consuming legal action.

Then there are more common issues, like what happens if the platform selling your metaverse land goes bust or you lose access to your wallet storing blockchain passwords?

Metaverse Investing FAQ

What’s different between Web 3.0 and the metaverse?

The current iteration of the internet lets users find information based on fixed web addresses pointing at a single server. Web 3.0 changes that to finding data based on content held on any number of servers on a peer-to-peer network.

The aim is for users to control the sale or use of their data, instead of big corporations like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

So, Web 3.0 is the framework that the metaverse sits within.

How will people visit the metaverse?

Tech giants are the gatekeepers rushing to find new ways to access the metaverse. Most corporate videos promoting the metaverse gloss over how people will interact with the digital world because the access route remains undiscovered.

Meta and other corporations are developing VR or AR headsets, but these are large, heavy and clunky, while many headset users report wearing them triggers nausea and headaches.

Can I explore the metaverse now?

Despite grand intentions, the metaverse is currently a patchy place with just a few platforms acting as gateways. Some metas have kicked around for a while. Like games Second Life and The Sims. To explore what’s on offer, go to one of the games or the Sensorium app.

Is the metaverse free to roam?

The metaverse is like the internet – the structure is free and many places to go are free to access too. However, corporations are looking for ways to monetise the metaverse by setting up ‘walled gardens; for their registered users. Within these walls, people have to follow the company or community rules and are often subject to additional purchases if they want to expand from a basic, free experience.

When will the metaverse arrive?

The metaverse is already here as a concept with a few working zones, but expect the idea to develop over the next decade or so. The metaverse we end with is probably a long way from the ideas and blueprints discussed today.

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