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Will the Metaverse Be Free?

Will the metaverse be free or will there be rules and regulations? How will the metaverse be structured and organized?

Mark
Updated: January 16, 2023

Anyone who loves virtual reality is, without a doubt, very excited about the coming of the Metaverse. The concept has been around for quite some time. Online gamers recognize or at least part of it in popular games like Axie Infinity, Fortnite, and Roblox, among others. Thanks to these titles, these people know how immersive the Metaverse can be.

That brings us to the big elephant in the room – will the Metaverse be free for use when it’s fully activated, or will one have to pay? Let’s look at current developments and gauge whether people have to spend money to enjoy the Metaverse.

Companies Offer Virtual Real Estate

One of the popular activities right now in the Metaverse that involves money is real estate. Like actual properties, individuals and corporations can purchase land in the Metaverse. This, of course, comes with a price, and the rates are pretty hefty.

For instance, in August, the average price per parcel of Meta real estate was $2,500! Only speculative investors and large brands like Samsung and Walmart currently place their cash on virtual real estate. Despite the exorbitant rates, these finance-savvy entities are gobbling up plots like hotcakes, hoping to profit by flipping their properties when prices increase.

Here are some specifics – according to a McKinsey Report, the cumulative investment infused into the Metaverse during the first five months of 2022 exceeded US$120 billion. It’s a significant increase from 2021, which saw only US$57 billion entering the sector for the entire year.

McKinsey even has a prediction included in the report. According to the think tank, the virtual real estate market could grow in value to US$5 trillion by 2030!

The Gear Required For Full 3D Immersion Has a Price Too

As mentioned, we’ve already experienced a rudimentary version of the Metaverse through virtual world games. Most of them are free to play but with the option to purchase in-game items that can enhance your game experience.

The most significant difference between these games and the future Metaverse is the degree of immersion. With these games, you create an avatar, customize it, and move it around the virtual space using your mouse and keyboard while you watch through a screen. That’s not very immersive because you can still be distracted by what’s around you, even if first-person views are available.

Companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) are working to provide a more personal journey through the Metaverse through virtual reality (VR) headsets. These devices cover your eyes and prevent the real world from distracting you. At the same time, you peer through the goggles and see the Metaverse through your avatar’s eyes.

These devices don’t come cheap, either. In October, Meta launched its latest offering, the Meta Quest Pro. Dubbed the Meta Quest Pro, the device carries a price tag of US$1,500. For that price tag, the VR headset includes the ability to open documents using the Microsoft Office 365 suite and access the Xbox cloud gaming portal.

People Might Soon Shop Using the Metaverse

Yet another feature that is getting people excited is the ability to shop for actual items using the Metaverse. As mentioned above, some large brands have already invested in virtual land, obviously to prepare for migrating some of their operations to the space. Retail brands are no exception to this.

Plot provider Decentraland ups the ante by setting aside space for fashion retail companies hoping to start showcasing their products in the Metaverse. Other brands are taking a more direct approach. Walmart, for instance, launched a presence inside Roblox through its “Universe of Play” virtual world in October.

According to Walmart’s top marketing executive, William White, this move is part of the company’s push to increase engagement with Gen Z shoppers. Still, it is also the retailer’s sandbox from which it can test future Metaverse-related decisions.

For now, White said that they’re not yet earning any income from the partnership with Roblox. However, it doesn’t take a very imaginative mind to realize that when the Metaverse has been fully realized, brands like Walmart can launch all sorts of money-making promos and schemes aimed at the general consumer.

Even Virtual World Items Require Real Money

Like early virtual world games, the Metaverse will retain the in-world items common to these. You can purchase and take ownership of these items but keep them within the digital space. In the future, we might see people buying accessories for their avatars through the Metaverse. For now, however, the only in-world item available in the Metaverse is the non-fungible token (NFT).

NFTs are otherwise mundane items that are made valuable through induced rarity. In other words, NFT creators make sure that their tokens are one of a kind and that there is proof of authenticity to protect against fakes. This means attaching certificates of originality and ownership, which they can register their tokens for using cryptocurrency.

While you don’t have to make a significant investment to make your own NFT, you’d still have to cash out to secure its uniqueness, from which you can make money.   

Will People Have to Pay to Access the Metaverse?

Given the points raised above, it’s likely that there will be some payment scheme involved to gain access to the Metaverse. For example, you’d have to purchase virtual reality headsets to fully experience the three-dimensional world designed for pleasure. This means that you’ll have to pay for these devices to enhance how you immerse yourself in the Metaverse.

However, there is still plenty of room for change. Businesses and their ideas, as well as the Metaverse itself, are still in their infancy. Everything is up for grabs in the virtual space, so to speak, with plots of virtual land as the only feature currently realized. You don’t have to pay for these unless you’re an investor, which takes a lot of money.

Conclusion

The Metaverse is, at its core, designed to supplement our current world experiences by introducing a customizable three-dimensional alternate reality. This means that we can at least expect that there will be an exchange of currencies involved in the various activities that could possibly take place in the Metaverse.

However, you can also be sure that brands and retailers will have freebies ready to entice everybody to visit their brand-new digital shops!

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