The coming of the metaverse and Web3 is widely billed as the next Internet revolution, but the promise of immersive cyberspace is no longer just a fantasy.
Even though a consistent definition of the metaverse still escapes us, most agree that it represents a network of virtual, 3D worlds powered to some extent by augmented and virtual reality to build digital economies and social connections.
The lure of the metaverse is so strong that Facebook’s parent company Meta recently committed $10 billion towards building its own take on the idea.
The likes of The Sandbox and Decentraland meanwhile have already made strong progress with their own, decentralized metaverses built on the Ethereum blockchain.
They might be the biggest names in the metaverse space but they’re far from the only players aiming to fulfill Web3’s destiny.
Of the many competing metaverses that have been attracting attention, two, in particular, stand out:
Trying to set itself apart from rivals such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, Bit.Country bills itself as the platform for everyone to come and create their own metaverse by building an immersive 3D world complete with a map, games, stores, economics, and governance.
Bit.Country is built atop of the Metaverse.Network, defined as a metaverse version of the Ethereum blockchain with lower gas fees.
On Bit.Country anyone can use the platform to invest in their own virtual world, complete with an economy based on cryptocurrency that rewards anyone who visits and spends time within it.
Brands who build or launch decentralized apps on Bit.Country can use them as a medium (a kind of app store) to interact with visitors and showcase just about any kind of product or service and make sales on the platform.
Individuals can build their own metaverses too for their friends, family or followers, with full control over the worlds they intend to create.
The Roblox metaverse is a rising phenomenon that has seen multiple brands leverage the Roblox development engine to build games encompassing promotions that overlap with the real world.
Most brands within the Roblox metaverse design games that promote real-life products and events.
For example, a movie producer might build a game that advertises an upcoming film and perhaps, also promote other brands outside of the entertainment industry that it partners with.
This has resulted in Roblox seeping into mainstream culture, working with brands such as Nike and franchises such as Stranger Things.
Roblox has also incorporated these brands' products and worlds into various immersive games.
Building a metaverse on Bit.Country is open to anyone at all, though it must be noted that the virtual land within its Continuum is not infinite and is in high demand.
The Continuum can be thought of as a map of metaverses, or bit countries, with a limited number of blocks that represent each one.
While the future shape of the Continuum will be driven by Bit.Country’s community, there is a total supply of 100,000 land blocks available, so there can only be that many bit countries.
Within each land block, the virtual space is subdivided into 100 land units, where individual buildings and environments are based. A group of land units is known as an “estate”.
Each bit country is represented by a small block in the Continuum with a unique coordinate. This block represents the essence of the community and is home to all of the content within that individual metaverse.
The land units within each one can be independently owned, bought and sold on third-party marketplaces, represented by an NFT.
Within each land unit, the owner (landlord) is able to build assets, sell products and services, display NFTs and host events - pretty much anything they can think of, in fact.
Bit.Country is a fully decentralized metaverse which means landlords have complete freedom to customize their land units.
They can use predetermined block themes provided by Bit.Country or by third-party developers, then decide on the features and images, style of the ground and walls of the buildings, the size and shape of the block and much more.
The idea is that each block should be based on a topic, with whatever content is built inside corresponding to that topic.
Visitors to the Bit.Country Continuum are free to visit any of the blocks they wish and explore all the lands within them, interacting with other visitors and events.
To acquire a new block and start building, budding landlords will have to purchase it at an auction.
Bear in mind however that the “Good Neighborhood Protocol” gives existing block owners a say in what neighbors they’d like to have, so they can avoid having a bit country with inappropriate content located close to their own.
Once a landlord has built up his own block, he or she can create or import another cryptocurrency that can be used to buy products and services and incentivize others to participate within the community and its governance.
Landlords have full autonomy to decide upon the incentive rules, which might involve creating content for the metaverse, hosting events or something else.
It’s worth mentioning that Bit.Country’s official NUUM cryptocurrency token and NFTs are a critical element of its metaverse.
NUUM is not only used to buy items but also as a governance token. Users can mint their own NFTs on the platform and exhibit them in virtual galleries.
They can also be traded through the Bit.Country NFT marketplace, which is a decentralized auction platform.
Roblox’s concept of the metaverse is quite a bit different from the more typical model followed by Bit.Country.
As a games development platform, Roblox’s virtual worlds are basically all a kind of video game, in which players must complete various tasks to win in-game items.
For instance, The Nikeland game built by none other than Nike involves players competing in various sports activities such as racing.
If the player wins a race they get to unlock exclusive Nike-themed items that can be used to customize their avatar with branded clothing.
Another example is Stranger Things, which built a carbon 3D copy of the Starcourt Mall that featured so prominently in Season Three of the hit show.
Players get to run around the shopping center, exploring various locations seen in the show and collecting various themed items and hats.
Building a game on Roblox is actually fairly simple thanks to the comprehensive power of its Roblox Studio development platform that’s based on the Lua scripting language.
Roblox Studio provides hundreds of “templates” for different game genres, be it platform games, shoot ‘em ups, racing games, driving games, etc.
For instance the Line Runner template is perfect for anyone wanting to create a Super Mario style side-scrolling platform game.
The next step is to design the graphics and layout or map, depending on the game genre.
Then the characters, monsters and obstacles, items, weapons and so on. It’s at this stage where designers get to brand their game, adding their logo in various locations within the game’s world, or creating branded items etc.
PC Mag has an excellent step-by-step walkthrough on how to build a Roblox game from scratch.
While Roblox allows anyone with minimal skills to build their own game-based virtual world, the potential audience of that metaverse is likely restricted to games players only.
Still, there are monetization opportunities available. A recent example is the Pet Simulator X title, which has started selling themed NFTs on its platform.
That said, most metaverses on the platform do not take advantage of this capability yet and remain focused on advertising brands only.
No doubt, that’s partly due to the lack of an official Roblox cryptocurrency.
Bit.Country, on the other hand, is designed to create an entirely new level of social interaction through a platform that offers a lot more than just game experiences alone.
Brands, celebrities and individuals can build their metaverse entirely as they wish, creating any kind of immersive 3D experience their imagination comes up with, along with hosting events and stores to sell any kind of product or service.
At present, Bit.Country is the only fully decentralized network that enables brands to build their own metaverse that comes complete with governance and a token economy.
Best of all, perhaps, it means brands and celebs can get much closer to their fans by building an immersive world as they see fit, eliminating the need to rely on existing social media sites and apps like they do now.