The 3 Phases Of The Metaverse


Serial entrepreneur w/ 2 exits, author, faculty, investor. Awesm Ventures | Web3 and Metaverse Investment. Metaverse Corporate Strategy.

The ingredients of a metaversal existence have been in the making for some time. For example, virtual reality (VR) headsets, one of the access points for experiencing the metaverse, have been in development for over a decade. People have also been playing live adventure games with customized characters for a long time.

These features, when combined with blockchain technology, brought us to a current product that’s being heavily discussed nowadays: the metaverse. But is this what the metaverse is? By tracking the phases of development, businesses can understand the status quo and begin strategizing for the future.

Phase 1: Laying Out The Infrastructure

There are several misconceptions about the metaverse today. In simple terms, the metaverse is the convergence of physical and digital on a digital plane. In its ideal phase, you can access the metaverse from anywhere, just like the internet.

Early metaverse apps were focused on creating games with tokenized incentives (play-to-earn) and hadn’t initially been thought of as contributing to the next phase of the internet. One of the most prominent examples is the online game Second Life, which is regarded as the earliest web2-based metaverse platform. Users have an identity projected through an avatar and participate in activities—very much a limited “second” life.

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Similarly, Sandbox was created as an open-world game. The idea was the same: perform activities that aren’t strictly dictated by the game environment. This game showed promise to be something bigger, and when Animoca Brands acquired it in 2018, it began focusing on web3.

There are some common traits among Phase 1 metaverse apps.

• Closed environments, where users can play, earn and connect within walled gardens.

• The ability to transact land properties, and in most cases, users can create shops or gather peers on the properties.

• Shop NFTs, which can be sold within the same metaverse.

• Tokenized rewarding systems, also known as play-to-earn.

Phase 2: Introducing The Digital Economy

Phase 2 of metaverse development began as part of the NFT revolution, which caught fire when Facebook repositioned to become a metaverse company. NFTs gave people the power to own digital property that is verifiable and tradable. Brands have begun experimenting with owning digital real estate, expanding shopping into game metaverse decentralized applications (dApps), offering branded unique virtual assets, hosting experiences and events, providing special access and so on.

Unlike the previous phase, Phase 2 is all about creating utilities. Brands, IP holders and companies investing in innovation have been collaborating with gaming metaverse dApps to understand consumer behaviors and economic dynamics. No-coding tools, as well as software development kits, in this phase, are empowering the end user to co-create alongside developers, designers, brands and retail investors. Still, interoperability—the import and export of digital assets—is only possible on a single chain, and the user experience is still seen as gaming in 2-D or 3-D environments.

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The bottleneck with Phase 2 platforms is that these were inherently made for gaming purposes, not as a seamless integration with our real lives and the real-life economy. I see similarities between this phase and the dot-com bubble era. A lot of marketplaces and social platforms were being created at this time, like MySpace, Friendster, SixDegrees, etc. However, they generally weren’t considered to be products that solved any real problems. Therefore, they weren’t able to attract a critical mass and achieve a network effect. Once Facebook started, those social media pioneers rapidly lost footing in the industry.

If we apply the same line of reasoning to the metaverse and assess the current number of early adopters, there’s a high probability that only a few gaming metaverse apps will survive. More than likely, next-gen metaverse platforms will arise that solve real-life problems by leveraging web3 infrastructure.

Phase 3: Connecting The Physical And Digital Worlds

Phase 3 is the most mature phase of development. It’s when the metaverse becomes seamlessly integrated across all aspects of our lives.

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Imagine a world in which we can navigate cross-dimensionally between the physical and digital, all while owning the data. Users can experience brands by co-creating and owning digital assets, and brands can self-onboard into the metaverse across multiple apps, thus empowering users to contribute to next-gen products. Every place, product, or person in Phase 3 becomes a way to access virtual-point-of-experiences in which we all socialize, compose and own.

To activate Phase 3, we have to wait for the tech evolution to catch up. We must be equipped with things like 5G, edge computing, sophisticated virtual and augmented tools and interoperable blockchains. By doing so, we’ll activate an economy where digitally owned goods and services are more in demand than physical goods and services.

The metaverse is not a game. It’s a gamified, cross-dimensional experience we all co-create and own equally. To make progress, we must understand how the metaverse adds value in each phase, so we can plan how much time and resources we allocate to each. In my opinion, Phase 3 is going to be the most crucial part of the development. By seamlessly integrating physical objects into the digital realm, businesses can make the metaverse a feature of human lives as essential as the internet.


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