As the lines between the real and the virtual continue to blur, the Metaverse is taking us towards a more immersive, enhanced, and realistic digital environment.
Businesses and brands are actively looking for strategies to position themselves in the Metaverse so they can take advantage of its unlimited potential. Despite this, the Metaverse still faces significant obstacles that hinder its widespread adoption, with one of the primary hurdles being a lack of interoperability.
By preventing users from freely navigating virtual worlds with uniform standards, it limits users’ access to the Metaverse and confines their movement to a single project.
To overcome this, industry stakeholders must work towards interoperability, much like how APIs enable the same for unified communications or business apps.
Understanding What is an Interoperable Metaverse
An interoperable metaverse is essentially one without borders. In our real world, people may travel to several locations and easily transport their material possessions from one location to another. The same interoperability and consistency is desired by users inside Metaverse projects.
As a result, the interoperable metaverse will be a global network of linked systems. To enable it to function, developers will construct it on a network of public and private guidelines, norms, and regulations. Cross-chain design improves interoperability, which is a “communication connection” that enables easy information transfer.
A Metaverse initiative with interoperability features may communicate with other Metaverse projects, use their services and features, and allow cross-chain social networking, commerce, and a variety of other activities that are impossible in an ecosystem divided into separate sectors.
Challenges to Building an interoperable Metaverse
An interoperable Metaverse has not yet materialized, and ideally, it would encourage collective experiences for everybody, but the first challenge is the widespread adoption of VR headsets. Other issues to consider are the ability to migrate user’s assets from one Metaverse to another as well as business implications.
Regarding technical issues, even though two hypothetical Metaverses use the same engine, it could be difficult to import things between them. For example, fashion designers can create virtual clothing in Metaverse A, complete with real-time clothing physics. On the other hand, Metaverse B may have completely different physics engines or appearances.
Here, instead of attempting to create a single interoperable garment, a company would be better off creating two fresh shirts, one for each Metaverse. Further, challenges in creating an interoperable Metaverse are the following:
- Economic issues: establishing the right economic incentives and mechanisms that encourage users to exit core apps or platforms and traverse multiple worlds via the Metaverse.
- Persistent connectivity problems: For the Metaverse to have a growing user base, it must remain open and accessible. To permit global participation, the Metaverse must also be designed as accessible and decentralized similarly to the internet.
- Technology lagging behind: There will be specific software and programming techniques required to integrate off-chain and on-chain platforms into a unified, open metaverse.
- Challenges rooted in user psychology: Most users are largely pragmatic and typically remain engaged on familiar app ecosystems, leading to a conflict over alloting sufficient resources and adequate capital from investors, further hindering the pursuit of an interoperable metaverse.
Interestingly, Meta Platforms Inc. wrote in a blog that an interoperable Metaverse “isn’t an absolute — not every element of metaverse experiences needs to be, or will be, compatible with others.”
Addressing the Interoperability Challenge in the Metaverse
Projects may identify workarounds for this problem on a business level. Fees on the sales of interoperable items might be used to split the profit across all participating Metaverses. As an alternative, Metaverses may work out cross-promotional agreements and look at additional opportunities to produce shared value.
Developers working on the Metaverse will find it simpler to manage interoperability inside larger cross-platform ecosystems thanks to ready-made frameworks and software developer kits (SDKs).
Such tools are already in development, with initiatives like Univers creating a backbone that Metaverse developers can utilize to integrate their creative content into a larger network of interconnected services and decentralized apps.
Furthermore, improvements in computing capability and power are required to operate a linked Metaverse environment. This area has seen progress due to developments in quantum computing, which have significantly increased rendering speed and computational power. Currently, modern computers are insufficient to meet the demands of such a complex environment, leading to the development of inventions like Meta’s Research SuperCluster (RSC).
Although the most challenging component of interoperability may be technical interoperability, appropriate meta-economics also need a high level of interoperability. The World Economic Forum recently established its Defining and Building the Metaverse project in response by untiting important stakeholders to create an economically sustainable, interoperable, secure, and inclusive metaverse.
Two elements will be the initiative’s focal points. The administration of the metaverse, or how its technologies and environments may be built in a safe, secure, interoperable, and inclusive manner, is the primary area of focus. The second will concentrate on value creation and outline the opportunities and dangers that organizations, people, and society as a whole will face as the Metaverse materialises.
In order to attract more users, interoperability may become a critical selling factor for projects. Developers of the metaverse should make an effort to address the associated commercial and technical issues. Rather than developing isolated hardware and software stacks, they need to look to the future and create what would become, “a Metaverse of metaverses.”