7 Essential Ingredients of a Metaverse

Liz Harkavy, Eddy Lazzarin, Arianna Simpson

There has been a lot of buzz about “the metaverse” since its coinage in the ‘90s, but especially during the pandemic (given the surge in online activity), and even more so after Facebook changed its name to Meta.

Is this just a bit of opaque marketing-speak? What is a metaverse exactly? How does one define the term, and where does one draw a line between a metaverse and, say, just another virtual world? These are common questions that people ask about the metaverse, so we thought we’d outline how we see it and how the metaverse intersects with web3.

In many ways, the metaverse is just another name for evolving the internet: to be more social, immersive, and far more economically sophisticated than what exists today. There are, broadly speaking, two competing visions for how to bring this about: One is decentralized, generous with property rights and new frontiers, interoperable, open, and owned by the communities that build and maintain it. The other vision — too familiar to many people today — is centralized, closed, subject to the whims of corporations; and often extracts painful economic rents from its creators, contributors, and inhabitants.

The key dimension to compare these two visions is open vs closed, and the differences between them can be conceptualized as follows:

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