The metaverse is getting hotter. When Mark Zuckerberg appeared onscreen smiling at formerly Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FB) virtual connect conference about five weeks ago, the iconic CEO wandered through sterile rooms filled with mid-century modern furniture where he, and his trusted lieutenants, went on to cheerfully lay out their vision for the metaverse, a concept for a 3D version of the internet that a number of companies are working on. Facebook believes so much in a metaworld that it has, in fact, rebranded itself to Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) in an attempt to own the metaverse.
Since then, the metaverse concept has been quickly gaining mainstream consciousness with more than a few brands entering the ecosystem since Facebook’s rebranding.
This presents an investment opportunity, as many metaverse-linked stocks and coins have been gaining traction thanks to the growing interest.
But first things first, what exactly is the metaverse?
The Metaverse Unleashed
As with most new or newish technologies, there’s no concise definition of the metaverse at the moment, but it can include virtual reality--characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you're not playing–as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. However, metaverse doesn't require that those spaces be exclusively accessed via VR or AR.
According to Morgan Stanley, the metaverse is a concept that includes the construction of an alternate universe where individuals can model their image to whatever they want to be, and perform real-life tasks such as buying things, gaming with friends, and other activities.
Meanwhile, Matt Maximo, research analyst at Grayscale Investments, has told GOBankingRates that the metaverse, “is how we interact with each other digitally and it’s about making digital interactions to be more authentic. The metaverse is an attempt to rebuild the social digital services--video calls, gaming, social media, etc. into experiences that flow seamlessly with the physical world.”
The metaverse also translates to a digital economy, where users can create, buy, and sell goods. In effect, the metaverse is interoperable, allowing you to take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another. In the real world, you can buy a shirt from the mall and then wear it to a movie theater.
Currently, most platforms have virtual identities, avatars, and inventories that are tied to just one platform; however, a metaverse might allow you to create a persona that you can take everywhere just as easily.
According to Maximo, there are two main concepts in the metaverse world for investors: infrastructure and games themselves:
“So, we look at two pieces of the puzzle: the games that have blockchain compatibility through NFTs and tokens and the protocols providing infrastructure for game developers to build blockchain-compatible games,” Maximo has explained.
Metaverse Investment Opportunities
On the business end of things, the entire metaverse market cap is currently estimated at nearly $37 billion.
Grayscale launched its Decentraland Trust (MANA) in February that solely focuses on the MANA cryptocurrency, thus enabling investors to gain exposure to MANA in the form of a security while also avoiding the challenges of buying, storing and safekeeping MANA directly. MANA is a metaverse that's built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, and has exploded 6,000% across this year’s trading, with some experts saying it’s just getting started.
Meanwhile, Maximo says the play-to-earn gaming tokens is another theme that presents a prime opportunity for investors:
“This trend is capturing the gamers who want to own the value of their time spent in-game and has become immensely popular with people in developing countries like the Philippines and Venezuela. These players are often able to earn higher wages playing these games than through traditional or even government jobs.”