Main challenges for the adoption of the metaverse

Álvaro Alegría    8 July, 2022
Photos: Jeshoots.com / Unsplash

In a previous post dedicated to the metaverse, I explained what the metaverse -the ‘buzz word’ of the year- consists of and what opportunities it will offer companies.

Today I want to share other challenges that, in my opinion, must be overcome in the short and medium term for the metaverse to unfold its full potential.

Diversification

Most of the metaverses, which are currently available, have gaming as a central element of their value proposition.

This is entirely understandable because, for years, the video game world had already oriented its strategy towards online multiplayer, so for its users, the leap into the metaverse is a natural step.

However, new proposals offering other types of content need to be deployed and consolidated in order to expand the number of users interested in joining the metaverse.

Here I am convinced that we will soon start to see horizontal proposals, as Meta is likely to be, and new vertical proposals, in the world of entertainment, sport, the workplace and even the industrial world.

Purpose and experiences

When a new technology is developed and, above all, when the level of hype that is brewing around the metaverse is generated, a perverse incentive is unleashed: to use it at all costs so as not to be left out of the wave, even if the real value is not understood and the potential is not well known.

As we mentioned in the previous article, it is important to understand that the metaverse is not an end, but a means. It is a tool that should serve companies to achieve their strategic objectives, whatever they may be.

The question should not be whether or not a company should be in the metaverse. The question should be why, what is the purpose?

Adopting the metaverse with a purpose is fundamental, because it will guide companies in designing the experiences that will define their relationship with their customers and users in the metaverse.

Payments and transactions

Everyone may not agree with what I am about to say, but the metaverse and the crypto world are independent concepts, which can exist entirely separately.

Whether the metaverse, without the ‘crypto’ world, can really unfold its full potential is a different matter. In my opinion, no.

Given that the metaverse involves the interaction of thousands of users from different countries, it is essential that all users share a common economy, through one or more digital currencies, which facilitates payments and transactions.

“Without the crypto world, the metaverse cannot unfold its full potential”

Imagine that you put an asset up for sale in euros and someone who has Peruvian pesos or Thai baht wants to buy it. That would mean that the buyer would have to calculate the price in their currency and one of the two would have to exchange currencies, increasing the friction of the transaction.

If, on the other hand, all users handle the same currency, for example “Mana” in the case of Decentraland, the transaction is much simpler.

But, to be honest, it will play a fundamental role here if the crypto world is able to overcome and avoid the major scandals that have been occurring in recent weeks and which directly affect the trust of the average user.

Privacy and Security

Great potential brings with it great responsibility, and the development of the metaverse will mean evolving security systems to a higher level.

The metaverse and Web3 will be built on the identity of its users and therefore it will be absolutely essential to build new methods of privacy and personal data protection. Let us be aware that the metaverse will multiply the type and amount of data we will share to identify ourselves.

But not only data, it will also be necessary to guarantee the protection of our virtual heritage or else it will be impossible to develop a true large-scale economy of digital assets such as the one I mentioned in the previous point.

Legality

The evolution of the internet has brought (and continues to bring) a parallel revolution in the legal sphere, both in terms of legislative production and in the way those same rules are applied.

The reality is that the law cannot cover all the factual scenarios enabled by technology because, among other things, the pace of technological development is several orders of magnitude greater than the capacity of any parliament to pass legislation.

Photo: Minh Pham
Photo: Minh Pham

And the problem we face with the advent of the metaverse is that, in addition to the current problems, we will be taking the complexity of the assumptions to a higher stage.

What jurisdiction applies in the metaverse? What is allowed and what is not? How do we give legal certainty to the hundreds of thousands of users who will interact at the same time in the same virtual space from multiple countries?

Metaverse adoption

I have left this point to the end because, although it is the simplest to understand, it is in fact the most far-reaching of all.

The future of the metaverse will depend on its mass adoption by users, as is the case today with social networks

However advanced, technological, immersive, decentralised and interactive the universes may be, they can only survive if they manage to attract the general public.

Nobody wants to go to the Wizink Center to a concert and find themselves alone on the dance floor because part of the fun of these kinds of activities is precisely to share them in community, to enjoy a common experience and to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

The challenge at this point is to overcome two important barriers:

  • An important part of the value proposition of the metaverse involves immersive experiences that, yes or no, require hardware (glasses, controllers, etc.) that are currently only available to a residual part of the population. Will brands get us to buy these devices to enjoy their experiences? It remains to be seen, but if we all now have a smartphone to be able to access all that mobile applications offer us, it is clearly a matter of incentive and reward.
  • Getting each of us to embrace the cultural shift of immersing ourselves for a few hours a day in a virtual world that abstracts us from our everyday reality. During the pandemic, internet traffic multiplied exponentially. But as the measures were relaxed, we all took to the streets to get back in touch with our loved ones. Will the experiences in the metaverse be interesting enough to make us renounce, even if only for a few minutes a day, life in the flesh and blood?

As I said at the beginning of the article, these and other challenges are undoubtedly the ones that all companies will have to face in the short and medium term in our strategies for adopting the metaverse.

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