Blockchain and gaming and the metaverse? Oh my. Elad Yakobowicz, Founder at Business Evolution explores the state of the metaverse today and how blockchain games have managed to integrate into this vast digital world. 

Elad is interviewed by Melissa Zeloof, VP Marketing at ironSource and Anton Backman, Principal at Play Ventures. They dive into the metaverse, what connects it to blockchain gaming, and what this collaboration could mean for the future of technology.

Tune in here or keep reading for the edited highlights.

Exploring the metaverse

"When I'm asked about the metaverse, I like to distinguish between two different versions -  are we talking about metaverse with a lowercase m or with a capital M? I think the word “metaverse” gets thrown around a lot - so much that most people are talking about it with a lowercase m, not as a proper noun. That means every world, whether it's 3D or 2D, or it's a game or not a game is being called a metaverse today and that's fine - people can refer to it that way, we just need to distinguish when we're talking about specific content.

When we’re talking about Metaverse with a capital M, this overarching concept, how do we define that? I'm thinking about it as its own - not country or nation - place. It's conceptual and the borders are confined by ideas. 

So, what types of ideas compose the metaverse? Interoperability - the place where we interface between digital and physical, a place where we spend our time with our digital identities and our avatars. It’s a really overarching thing. 

One of the examples tossed around the most in pop culture is Ready Player One. What’s happening in that movie is highly considered to be where the metaverse is heading. When we ask “where is it going?” - do we want it to go in the direction of that movie? It’s a very centralized authority controlling the so-called metaverse, which many people are calling the “walled garden.” 

That’s what I think Facebook is proposing to do with Meta. They’re in control and they're the boss - they're the sovereign over that digital conceptual overarching world. 

Or, there's the opposite version of that called the open metaverse, and that has to do with using the power of blockchain -decentralized digital consensus - to take back ownership over the digital realm. It’s an attempt to not relive what happened in Web 2, but to actively participate in building and owning this virtual environment that we will come to spend much of our time in."

The metaverse and blockchain gaming

"I think the metaverse is the apex of our digital existence, but where’s gaming’s place in all of that? I think that it's not so different from where gaming takes place in our lives right now - it's evolved into the new social network. Traditionally, when you’re on social networks, what identity would you use? You have your real-life identity and, if you’re on Facebook or Instagram, you would use your real name and identity. 

With gaming and the metaverse, we see a different spin. It’s become not only okay but acceptable and even encouraged to have multiple identities. You're still the same person. It's still your same self, but you express yourself in various places, various platforms, and various worlds in different ways. Digitally and visually speaking, that can also be with different avatars.his concept that we're not talking about is actually called, self-sovereign identity, SSI. Self-sovereign identity asks the question: “in these digital worlds, who am I?” It strives to give you control over the multiple identities you use in multiple worlds. 

I think that has enabled blockchain and it affects how we will maneuver the metaverse and games. The connecting factor here is that we're using our wallets, or blockchains, as a single sign-on for the various things we're logging into, whether it's the overarching experience, the metaverse, or games within them. 

Our wallet is the one connecting factor. That's how we identify ourselves as an entity, even though we can express it as multiple identities. So I think the blockchain becomes this universal, underlying connector of the metaverse and the games that we participate in - not so different from Google login or Apple ID, which you use to log into all sorts of real identity things. Then you also have the Apple game center and other games you can log into with that, and you have a different alias there."

Blockchain games in the metaverse today 

"There are several opposing schools of thought around blockchain powered games. The two main opposing ones are: what needs to come first, the blockchain or the game? You have lots of platforms talking about being blockchain games, but there’s no game to be heard of. 

I'm on the opposite side of that coin what I'm saying - I need some sort of game first and the blockchain should be something that provides extra value for that game. In terms of games that fall into my school of thought, one that comes to mind is Blancos. It’s very strong on the game element, but less so on the blockchain side  and digital ownership."

The virtual economy

"The virtual economy is something that my generation grew up on. It’s the idea of buying and selling virtual goods, but we did it in a very gray market because the technical elements of it weren’t there. We had to depend on centralized authority. When you wanted to buy and sell game items from World of Warcraft or Counter Strike, or RuneScape, you had to do it through eBay or something similar. That’s the best that we had and it still required an enormous level of trust, either between you and the opposing party or you and the third party. 

That's mediating, and that usually costs a lot of money or a lot of risk or both. Sometimes, no matter what, you still get the short end of all the sticks. With domains, you had to pay a third parties a significant percentage in order to meditate for you and they were a centralized authority so you had to rely on them.

You've got real-world applications that will also boost the virtual economy. For instance, one way to use  NFTs is for selling actual physical property. You have multiple platforms right now, and people are selling apartments and land through NFTs. It’s very easy to do.Instead of going through multiple authorities and all sorts of situations, you can just transfer someone an NFT that represents ownership of physical goods. It’s happening not just with property but also physical goods in general. One of the companies that I work with, one of my clients, produces a protocol for buying and selling physical goods on the blockchain."

The arrival of the metaverse

"The metaverse is already here, but we don’t recognize it yet. I think that sometimes, no matter how imaginative we might be, until the infrastructure arrives and until you're able to play with it, the majority of people are not able to realize the power of what’s been invented. 

I think it would have been hard to conceive that we'd have Netflix and streaming, etc. before we had broadband. In the same sense, before the evolution of the metaverse and web3, we would have been hard pressed to ideate practical applications of that. The metaverse is here, but until we have more infrastructure to support it, a lot of our ideas are just notions that I think will turn into practical, concrete representations"

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