What is the Metaverse? An In-Depth Guide and Explanation

By Ehis Ohiwerei

Key Takeaways

  • The metaverse is a digital world that can transport you to new places using virtual and augmented reality.
  • Accessing the metaverse is simple – you just put on a virtual reality headset and use a set of controllers.
  • Although the metaverse is mainly used for gaming now, it will soon be used for many other activities like shopping, education, job training, medical appointments, and socializing.
  • Making money in the metaverse is possible in many ways, such as buying and selling virtual property, trading cryptocurrency and NFTs, and selling real and virtual goods.
  • Interacting in the metaverse will be commonplace within 5-10 years.

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse concept includes three major elements: a virtual reality interface, digital ownership, and avatars. However, these components are optional for the metaverse. At its core, the metaverse is a visually immersive virtual environment that provides a degree of realism, allowing people to engage in various activities such as work, play, shopping, and socializing, similar to real life.

A metaverse is a shared virtual space that results from the convergence of digital and physical realities, similar to how the internet evolved from independent websites to a collaborative platform. The metaverse is not controlled by a single entity and is powered by digital currencies and NFTs. Metaverses require various technologies and trends to work together, such as VR, AR, flexible work arrangements, HMDs, AR clouds, IoT, 5G, AI, and spatial computing.

History of the Metaverse

The term “metaverse” was first coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science-fiction novel, Snowcrash. The novel portrayed a world where people utilized virtual avatars to interact in a digital realm. Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One further popularized the idea of the metaverse, depicting everyday people logging into a virtual world via VR headsets to live out their dreams.

The rise of platforms and apps like Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, and Snapchat contributed to the growing interest in the metaverse, particularly among tech and gaming communities. However, Facebook’s 2021 rebrand to Meta brought the metaverse concept to the forefront of public consciousness.

Metaverse Vs. the Internet: What’s the Difference?

The metaverse is a vast and bustling network where people can socialize with friends, create art, play games, and shop remotely. The concept is one that expands the possibilities of the internet, as it will keep the internet’s underlying structure and protocol. The metaverse’s appearance is strikingly similar to the early stages of the internet’s development.

While platforms like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft aren’t metaverses, they exist within the metaverse as unique destinations. In other words, they’re like personal websites on the internet. To put this explanation in another way, Fortnite and Facebook are not the same, just as planets are not the same as galaxies. They’re both parts of a much larger system.

Internet Metaverse
Requires specific ID and profile pictures to gain access and for identification. Uses a universal ID and avatar to gain access and for identification.
The internet uses platforms known as websites that allow for text, audio, pictures, and videos as output mechanisms to shape users’ experiences. Metaverse uses world experience figures, including 3D and 360/spatial videos, for output to shape users’ experiences.
Users need tablets, PCs, and phones to use the internet. Users need VR/XR devices to access the metaverse.
The internet allows for fiat and ingame currencies for trade and exchange. Metaverse allows for crypto, CBDC, and NFTs as currencies.
The internet consists of independent apps and third-party apps for collaboration. The metaverse is an interconnected, open world with no barriers to access or collaboration.

Blockchain, Web3, and the Metaverse

The internet’s future may lie in blockchain, Web3, and the metaverse, as companies and projects related to these fields continue to emerge. While these concepts share similarities, they are not at odds with each other and may support and complement one another. “Web3” refers to a decentralized internet built on blockchain technology.

The core premise of Web3 is that power over the internet will shift away from a handful of tech giants and toward individual users and developers. Although Web3 and the metaverse are not identical, they are not contradictory either. Both may coexist in the future. Two examples of projects that lie at the intersection of blockchain, Web3, and the metaverse are The Sandbox and Decentraland.

These projects offer immersive virtual worlds and tools, allowing users to create monetizable projects. Unlike many metaverse companies, both The Sandbox and Decentraland are owned by their users and built on the Ethereum blockchain.

What Does the Metaverse Consist of?

The metaverse comprises ten layers, grouped into four categories: content and experiences, platforms, infrastructure and hardware, and enablers. Some examples of each layer are:

Content and experiences:

  • User-generated content, created by creators and developers, makes metaverse experiences more enriching.
  • Applications that cater to specific use cases, such as learning or events.
  • Virtual worlds where people can congregate, interact and build.


  • Platforms that make content, experiences, and applications easily accessible and discoverable.
  • Platforms designed specifically for creators of 3D experiences.

Infrastructure and hardware:

  • People access the metaverse using devices, operating systems (OS), and accessories.
  • The metaverse is powered by underlying infrastructure such as cloud computing, semiconductors, and networks.


  • Security, Privacy, and governance are critical for the metaverse to function appropriately and fairly.
  • Tools and apps that manage digital identity.
  • Tools to access the metaverse economy via payments and monetization.

How Does the Metaverse Work?

Metaverse technology is a hybrid of various technologies, including virtual reality, Web 3, and blockchain, as well as conventional programming technologies that power the internet. Blockchain is a technology that facilitates the storage of data in blocks linked together in a chain based on relevance, guaranteeing the security and accuracy of the data shared, hence its critical role in cryptocurrency.

Web 3, built on blockchain, is the latest version of the internet that provides the framework for extended reality. Virtual reality builds on these technologies to create a simulated real-world experience. Most VR software relies on a virtual world generator constructed using a software development kit from a specific VR headset vendor, which provides basic programs, drivers, data, and graphic-rendering libraries.

What is the Use of the Metaverse?

The metaverse is expected to significantly contribute to the digital economy, which is a crucial driver of the global economy. Although the metaverse is primarily associated with entertainment, fashion, gaming, and socializing, experts believe its most significant potential is education. Traditional learning methods, such as Zoom classes, may be enhanced by 3D-based education, which allows for more immersive and interactive experiences.

While there may be opportunities for financial gain in purchasing virtual assets, the actual value of the metaverse lies in its ability to enrich people’s lives through meaningful and valuable applications.

How to Make Money in the Metaverse

Trading Crypto

Trading cryptocurrencies can be a way to make money, similar to investing in stocks. However, it involves using real money as an initial investment and comes with a high level of risk that you must be willing to take on.

Buying and Selling Virtual Land

Just as people buy property in the real world, investors now purchase virtual spaces in the digital world. Virtual real estate involves using cryptocurrency to buy directly from a virtual developer. The Sandbox and Decentraland are currently the two most popular platforms for buying virtual real estate, and each has its own currency (SAND and MANA, respectively).

Trading NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets that represent real-world items like music, art, in-game items, and videos stored on a blockchain. NFTs can be profitable if you have an eye for predicting what will be popular. However, it’s important to note that NFTs have been criticized for their potential negative environmental impact.

Other Ways to Make Money

As technology advances, new financial opportunities are emerging. These opportunities include hosting events in the metaverse, selling virtual items such as digital clothes or hairstyles for avatars, offering services specifically for the metaverse, and trading metaverse tokens.

Is the Metaverse Safe?

Virtual reality safety concerns are more severe than those in traditional online environments, as the level of realism makes it easier for scammers to deceive people. Moreover, the metaverse introduces new safety issues unique to this technology.


Blockchain technology is considered a highly secure and private way of sharing information, but like any technology, it has its weaknesses. Furthermore, there needs to be more clarity surrounding laws related to digital privacy rights, and there are many unanswered questions about the legality of data privacy in the metaverse.


To enter the metaverse, people need more than just their physical bodies, which demand costly hardware, software, and expertise. This could be a significant barrier for individuals who need help to afford the expenses. Additionally, some places would require expensive infrastructure upgrades to improve data processing and storage, further amplifying the technological gap between countries or regions, which could cause concern.


According to Madsen, virtual reality can significantly impact a person’s physical and mental health. While physical injuries like tripping or falling are apparent risks, people are also experiencing headaches, vertigo, muscle soreness, and vision problems when using VR.

Moreover, people who spend a lot of time in digital worlds may need to pay more attention to physical exercise, fresh air, and socialization. The mental health risks of VR are even more subtle. As the technology provides an incredibly realistic experience, the emotional and mental impact can be more intense than simply watching something on a computer screen.

Some Examples of Metaverse Platforms

To understand what the metaverse is all about, let’s take a closer look at some of the platforms leading the charge:


Decentraland is a virtual social environment built on blockchain technology. It allows users to create, buy, sell, and explore virtual worlds. The blockchain serves as a permanent record of transactions across a decentralized network of computers, forming the foundation of the decentralized universe.

This platform provides incredible opportunities for both educational and entertainment purposes. Users can participate in meetings, trade in virtual marketplaces, and interact with other members like in real life.


The Sandbox is a 3D virtual world created on the Ethereum blockchain where people can come together to interact, build, and earn money. It’s accessible on various devices, including smartphones and Windows phones. The sandbox provides a platform for creating and exploring new virtual experiences, which can lead to monetary gains.

However, using the forum comes at a cost. To address this, The Sandbox created its own digital currency, the SAND coin, based on Ethereum. SAND tokens can be used to pay for gas expenses on the Ethereum network, making transactions more affordable for users.


Previously known as Facebook, it invested heavily in virtual reality, such as by acquiring Oculus in 2014. Meta aims to create a digital world where people can connect through VR headsets using their digital avatars for work, travel, or entertainment. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, believes that the metaverse could replace the current internet. He recently announced the company’s rebranding and described the metaverse as “the next platform and medium that will be even more immersive and embodied, where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.”


Microsoft is a software company already working on mixed reality applications with its Microsoft Mesh platform, which allows for combining the real world with virtual reality and augmented reality. Recently, the company announced its plans to bring mixed reality to Microsoft Teams in 2022.

They are also working on creating 3D virtual connected spaces for retail and workplaces. The U.S. Army is working with Microsoft on an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset to help soldiers train, rehearse, and fight. Additionally, Xbox Live is a platform connecting millions of video game players worldwide.

The Importance of the Metaverse for Crypto

The metaverse and cryptocurrencies are closely related, and a crypto wallet will be necessary to fully participate in the digital world. The Metaverse supports digital wallets, making it easy for businesses to manage transactions within their virtual ecosystem.

While some may find the idea daunting, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies offer more advantages than disadvantages. With cryptocurrency, online transactions can be carried out more conveniently for users and businesses. There is no need to connect your bank account to virtual worlds, and payments can be made with just a few clicks, with all transactions being transparent.

How to Access the Metaverse

To access the metaverse, you’ll need specialized hardware such as phones, computers, headsets, and other devices, as well as software like games and programs. The specific requirements depend on what you want to do in the metaverse. For example, you’ll need a VR headset and controllers to play VR games. Since no single metaverse exists, different companies are developing their own platforms, headsets, and other technologies. Meta, NVIDIA, Epic Games, Microsoft, Apple, Decentraland, Roblox Corporation, Unity Software, Snapchat, The Sandbox, and Amazon are some of the major players in this space.

Currently, the most popular platforms for accessing the metaverse include Meta, Oculus (owned by Meta), Sony, HTC, Pico, Valve, and Samsung. Augmented reality experiences come to you through your phone screen and camera, such as Snapchat filters or the popular Pokémon Go AR game. In the future, accessing the metaverse will be as simple as wearing a pair of eyeglasses.

Final Thoughts on the Future of the Metaverse

The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the technology industry and various sectors outside it. This is because it is envisioned to transform everything from how people shop, navigate, and tour places to how they interact with businesses and advertisements. While some companies will develop the hardware, software, and infrastructure to power the metaverse, others must adapt to this new environment to stay relevant. It still needs to be determined if the metaverse will become a reality or if it will fizzle out. However, if it does materialize, it will likely shake up multiple industries and compel them to invest in technology or compete with others to provide metaverse experiences to their consumers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Metaverse?
In simple terms, the metaverse is the next iteration of the internet. Users can experience a shared, immersive, persistent 3D virtual space that offers new and exciting ways to interact with others and the environment.
What are the Functions of the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a spatial computing platform that enables digital experiences that are either replicas of or alternatives to the physical world. This includes various aspects of civilization, such as social interactions, currency, trade, economy, and property ownership, all supported by blockchain technology.
Can the Metaverse Replace the Physical World?
While the metaverse offers unique experiences that cannot be replicated in real life, it still needs to fully replace the physical world. For now, it provides an excellent way to interact with people and explore things that are not feasible in real life. Whether it can replace the physical world entirely remains to be seen.
Do People Spend Real Money in the Metaverse?
Yes, they do. Virtual real estate in the metaverse can go for millions of dollars. The value depends on the location and the number of users who congregate there. Recently, someone paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg's virtual neighbor in the Sandbox world.
Who Benefits Financially from the Metaverse?
Investors can benefit from the metaverse by selling NFTs for a profit, while gamers can earn money by playing. It's also possible to generate revenue by holding events, selling tickets, or renting out virtual real estate. A career in the metaverse industry may be worth considering for long-term earning opportunities.
What is the Metaverse

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What is the Metaverse

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