Since the last few years, blockchain-based solutions have seen applications in financial, legal, gaming, and social sectors. Blockchain infrastructure, however, remains an open question for the growth of the Metaverse narrative.
How we define the Metaverse determines the answer to that question. There are some definitions of the Metaverse that focus only on its experiential elements. We often imagine wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset and experiencing an immersive virtual world when we hear the word Metaverse.
There is nothing wrong with this definition, but it is incomplete. It is expected that the Metaverse will be like the Internet in the future. It’s a great vision, but why do we need a new internet? That depends on the answer to another question – do we need blockchain for the Metaverse?
The challenges of delivering a metaverse through blockchain
Future Metaverses sound great, but are they just hype? For the Metaverse narrative to succeed, there are serious technological, experiential, and economic model headwinds.
The blockchain faces challenges in terms of scalability, interoperability, and security. With meaningful user bases, even the best chains cannot handle more than 50,000 transactions per second. The internet has millions of data interactions per second, including emails, tweets, posts, Google searches, and messages.
It is assumed that data interactions in a metaverse must occur on chains. The economic features of Metaverse-based models will take the spotlight as cryptographic techniques (such as zero-knowledge Rollups) improve at addressing scalability challenges.
In addition to scalability challenges, blockchains face major interoperability problems. In particular, bridges used to transfer value between blockchains are an example of this.
These bridges have been used in many cyber attacks on Web3 platforms. As examples, the Ronin bridge attack and the Solana wormhole bridge attack can be cited. Within Web3, interoperability presents an abundance of opportunities, but it is also a vulnerability that needs to be addressed.
Despite the best efforts of the blockchain ecosystem, these challenges continue to plague the infrastructure layer. A recent issue is the creation of a sustainable metaverse economic model. A scalable token model has yet to be identified, although GameFi has been used as a growth hack to attract users.
Several failed economic models have inspired new models and economic approaches to date. However, innovators in this space are at least a cycle away from identifying a sustainable model.
Last but not least, there is the issue of user experience. For hardcore gamers, creators, and users to join the Metaverse, VR hardware and the Web3 onboarding experience need to be more seamless.