Metaverse or Metaverses?

Sci-fi fans know about this. You might say Ready Player One, but the really cool kids point to Neal Stephenson’s 1994 novel Snow Crash for the original concept of the metaverse. It’s one of these concepts where the meaning is different depending on who you ask. It’s online, it’s 3D (maybe VR), it has other users. It may have NFTs. It is certainly not Second Life all over again. Oh and it can be used for work, maybe. Avatars may have legs (except walking is not easily VR-compatible). It’s great, you can’t be wrong. Your definition of metaverse is as true as mine.

However, all seem to agree on one thing: there will be one. We will all be in the same metaverse. Single and unified. Maybe with different rooms of some kind. But the point of those visions from entertainment fiction is that we are all in the same place. A single, unified metaverse. (This has implications on dominant position by the operator in those stories, which sounds a lot like the 2d-internet we have today.)

Who drives the vision of the metaverse? Meta has it in its name. Some online games are de facto-metaverses today (depending on who you ask, sure). Chinese tech players push their version. VR headset makers race for market share, with exclusive content offers. Some love cryptocurrencies and the mirage of de-centralization. At the same time, the market makers are some really big companies making some really big bets. Will they be generous enough to connect their metaverses? What about security concerns? The current tornado of investigations of and bans on Tiktok is a breeze compared to what an online shared space with actual work on it would bring.

Dear reader, do you see any path that leads to the unified metaverse vision in all of this? If you do, please let us know. Until then, my best bet is that there will be a plethora of metaverses, just like websites (or food apps).