Now more than ever, the metaverse is shrouded in a layer of uncertainty and scepticism. Given the cryptocurrency crash that happened last year and increasing concerns over issues like data privacy and security, it’s not hard to see why. Already, questions have been raised about whether the metaverse might be over before it has even begun.
To Marjorie Hernandez, the metaverse remains the inevitable next iteration of the internet. As the co-founder of Web3 digital fashion marketspace The Dematerialised and Ethereum-based blockchain Lukso, she has witnessed first-hand how the conversations surrounding the metaverse accelerated rapidly over the course of 2022.
“Last year, the potential of the metaverse became really clear. We got a look at how the future of the internet could look like. But as the conversation around the metaverse spreads further, there is a growing misconception of what it is actually supposed to be,” she explains. “It’s easy to confuse it for a specific website or application, or something related to gaming, but the metaverse is just a version of the internet that has become free from the two-dimensional limitations of the screen and entered a three-dimensional space.”
“The move towards the metaverse is an inevitable trend—the cryptocurrency crash just makes the path slightly rockier”
Misconceptions and doubt are a natural part of the process, but Hernandez believes that we are in a valuable period of time when many have started to thoroughly consider the capabilities of the space. New ideas, then, will also follow.
In 2023, she predicts we will see an increase in phygital items and experiences, with brands finding ways to further enhance their product offerings through the metaverse. This will likely take the form of physical items with digital identities that not only act as certificates of authenticity, but also open doors to a range of other experiences—from event invitations to exclusive content. Following fashion’s growing presence in the metaverse, she also expects to see beauty brands becoming more prominent in the space.
“Users of the future want products that offer more. Rather than something static and unchanging, they want an item that evolves with them to provide new and exciting experiences,” Hernandez shares. “For brands, the focus will be on creating products that go beyond just being beautiful or functional. There’s a particular lifestyle that comes embedded in each item.”
Metaverse companies will also need to develop products that make the space less intimidating for new users. And with an increase in the number of people entering the metaverse, Hernandez expects to see lower prices across the space.
As with all things new, it’s unavoidable that the metaverse will face scrutiny. The effects of last year’s cryptocurrency crash are still ongoing, and Hernandez thinks apprehension around the space is understandable. “Unfortunately, in such a young industry, if one sector is doing badly, it affects the perception of the industry as a whole.”
Still, she believes that the crash will not have lasting repercussions on the longevity of the space. She explains: “The move towards the metaverse is an inevitable trend—there’s no way to set it back. The crash just makes the path towards it slightly rockier.”
The question, she believes, is not whether the metaverse will happen, but rather, what we will find within the space when it becomes widespread. “We need to create a metaverse filled with things that people will really love doing. Whatever we build, it has to be exciting, it has to make people happier and it has to improve their lives.”