Are People Going Mad in the Metaverse?

We have written about the Metaverse before – the immersive, online space where our avatars (3D representations of ourselves) can walk around, interact with others, learn, play games and go shopping. According to its advocates – which, most famously, are led by Mark Zuckerberg of Meta (as Facebook is now known) – the Metaverse is not so much the future of the internet as the future of everything. 

Unsurprisingly, retailers are rushing to set up shop in the Metaverse. Firms including Adidas, Burberry, Gucci, Nike, Samsung, Louis Vuitton and even banks like HSBC and JP Morgan have ‘bought space’ in the Metaverse. Their problem is that there are now over 50 companies providing space in the Metaverse: presumably at some stage only one of these companies will be the dominant force, so the companies which have bought virtual space have to gamble on which provider will become their virtual landlord. 

One recent auction of ‘virtual land’ raised the eye-watering sum of $320m (£268m) with the land paid for – obviously – in cryptocurrency. The virtual land will, apparently, feature in a game called Otherside.

You may be getting confused at this point: hard-headed businesses with, presumably, more than a passing interest in their bottom line, have paid virtual money for virtual land in a virtual world. 

But there’s more…

It is not just companies. People are spending money as well. Pundits are openly speculating on the future of the Metaverse, with one commentator suggesting that rather than having real children – the ones that eat all your food and turn into teenagers – many parents will opt to have digital children in the future. Children that are born, grow up and are educated in the Metaverse. 

The suggestion is that ‘digital children’ will be commonplace in 50 years’ time, due to concerns about overpopulation and the environment. 

These ‘children’ will, of course, need clothes – but people are not waiting 50 years to spend outlandish amounts on virtual clothes. Nike is apparently already selling digital trainers for the fashion-conscious to wear in the Metaverse. You can buy Nike trainers in the real world for anything from £40 upwards: the price of the digital trainers? Anything from $2,500 (£2,090) up to as much as $80,000 (£67,000). 

At this point, you may feel like you need a lie down. People are paying real money – a lot of real money – so an avatar can look fashionable in a world that doesn’t exist. It may, of course, turn out to be a sensible investment: alternatively, it may be madness.