The metaverse consists of various digital "worlds". What makes these worlds part of a larger meta-universe is their emphasis on decentralization and the extensive experiences that people can have in these worlds - many of which are user-generated. These digital worlds exist at scale because they have evolved from centralized, closed worlds to decentralized, open worlds.
The metaverse at this stage is still in the realm of Web 2.0, with users still creating or participating in virtual experiences in a closed ecosystem. These worlds are game creations that are more fun and interesting than the digital economy that only a decentralized world can offer.
A few typical examples of Web 2.0-based metaverse on games are Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox. Today's metaverse is essentially a series of closed worlds or "walled gardens" in which content, commerce, and consumer experiences can only exist in a specific virtual environments, and cannot be taken outside of them.
For example, a Fortnite player who purchases a digital item in Fortnite cannot take that digital item into other virtual environments. Likewise, the player can't seamlessly move from Fortnite to other virtual environments, just as you can't seamlessly switch between Netflix and You Tube with the same account and the same user interface. In this sense, a true metaverse, an intertwined virtual world where content, conversations and commerce can seamlessly dovetail and become universal, is not yet fully realized, although it seems close at hand.
Most "closed" worlds were created in Web 2.0 and are beginning to adopt some of the features of Web 3 to upgrade their platforms. Although not quite Web 3, they are still marked as part of the metaverse because they already have some of the characteristics of the metaverse. How far are we from a truly decentralized and open metaverse? It's a lot closer than most people think. We provide some concrete examples in the "BoomSpace Metaverse Ecosystem" section later in this paper.
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