Thoughts and feelings about the metaverse are varied. While some people fear the potential threats of the metaverse and question how challenging it will be to police, others believe the future of humanity lies within this digital landscape. In recent years, countless industry reports have explored the potential benefits, and risks of metaverse environments.
On the one hand, metaverse solutions could pave the way for new digital threats, issues of harassment, and ethical problems. On the other, the metaverse could breed better human connections and more engaged communities. Around 80% of people say they feel more “included” in the metaverse than in everyday life.
Today, a person’s attitude towards the metaverse could easily be influenced by their location. While some countries are actively investing in metaverse opportunities, and promoting their ecosystems with positive messaging, others are staying clear.
Here are some of the top countries championing the metaverse today.
It may not be surprising that South Korea invests heavily in the metaverse. After all, many Korean citizens adore technology. Around 98% of people in the country own a smart device, and over 10% have some form of cryptocurrency. The country is also the fourth largest gaming market in the world, according to Coin Telegraph.
In January 2023, South Korea took its metaverse strategy to the next level, introducing a new platform built for public service relationships. The Mayor of Seoul unveiled a new virtual version of Seoul in the metaverse, which allows users to access various resources and public services in a virtual reality landscape. Users can access various attractions, read documents, talk to professionals, file complaints, and interact with other community members.
On top of this, the Minister of Science and ICT for Seoul also noted his team would be supporting more local firms with their own development of metaverse platforms in the coming years. The government is even planning on updating regulatory IT systems to reflect metaverse requirements.
Barbados may not be the first country most people think about when listing top metaverse locations, but it is rapidly proving its commitment to staying on the cutting edge. In 2021, the country decided to open a diplomatic embassy within the metaverse based in Decentraland.
The digital environment is home to various shopping experiences, real-world concerts, and communication tools designed to bring communities together in an age of decentralization. Although a deal has already been struck between Barbados’ government and Decentraland, they’re also planning on opening virtual embassies in other environments too.
As the world’s first embassy within the metaverse, the Barbados embassy will likely inspire other government groups worldwide to follow in its footsteps. Like South Korea, countries with virtual embassies will be able to unlock new ways of communicating with and serving their communities within the digital world.
The Spanish government is one of the few actively delivering grants to technology startups and innovators, focusing on metaverse creation. In December 2022, the Ministry of Culture in Spain decided to provide around $8.5 million in funding to companies creating metaverse experiences and video games connected to Web 3.0.
The grants are available to anyone engaged in the research and development of metaverse technologies, both in Spain and accompanying European Union countries. The grants are targeted explicitly at organisations creating new audiovisual and digital content for the metaverse and those using metaverse technologies to inspire social change.
Spain’s government has also made the funding available to companies building new metaverse workspaces for collaboration, and those exploring the benefits of the metaverse for culture, health, and education. Projects will be sponsored through to the end of December 2023.
As one of the world’s most innovative countries, China has also taken steps to empower the development of metaverse experiences. In 2022, the Government for the City of Shanghai proposed a new initiative to build a $52 billion metaverse economy. As part of the plan, the city aims to house around 10 of the top leading enterprises in the metaverse industry and support 100 companies with metaverse-related innovations.
The proposal didn’t reveal how much the city plans to invest to reach its goals. However, it does mention the government will need to deliver various special funds to support metaverse companies. This could mean Shanghai soon becomes the place to be for startups in the Metaverse space.
The document also notes various other technologies will also need additional investment to ensure it can achieve its metaverse targets, such as 5G, and artificial intelligence. Thanks to this initiative, Shanghai is quickly emerging as one of the top municipalities focusing on metaverse solutions as part of a long-term strategy for economic growth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the USA has also started focusing more heavily on the metaverse recently. In 2022, congress passed the CHIPS and Science act, which paved the way for billions of dollars in new funding dedicated to the XR and metaverse ecosystem. The USA is also home to companies like Meta, which have introduced new “creator funds” in the last year to assist developers making the first steps into the metaverse space.
Some regions of the US are moving faster than others when it comes to metaverse adoption. For instance, in December 2021, Downtown Santa Monica became one of the first major US cities to adopt the metaverse via a partnership with FlickPlay. The city government create a play-to-earn metaverse social app with built-in gamification elements.
Cities like Austin and Miami have also begun investing in the use of blockchain, one of the fundamental tools used in metaverse creation, to assist with public services. Additionally, New York has its own urban transportation digital twin project underway.