For many, the Metaverse is still little more than a buzzword. Actually preparing and moving towards a business plan that includes it feels lightyears away.
Enter author and investor Matthew Ball, who delivered a keynote at SBC Summit Barcelona on Thursday to help the gambling industry both figure out what exactly the Metaverse is and is not and how the industry can harness its opportunity and get involved.
What the Metaverse is and is not
He was very clear about what the Metaverse isn’t. It isn’t just virtual reality. In fact, Ball explicitly noted a VR headset is not the only way people will engage in the Metaverse.
“Do not think of the Metaverse as a replacement for the internet,” he cautioned as well.
As for what it is? Well, there is a lot of misinformation and big promises out there.
“I won’t tell you that the Metaverse isn’t full of a lot of hype. I won’t tell you that the Metaverse is not here yet. But I will tell you that what we’re seeing is unique. It stands apart from 3D televisions and certainly from virtual reality at work. Seven of the 10 largest companies globally at the start of this year were investing tens of billions of dollars each into these initiatives,” Ball stated.
We still lack the tech for the Metaverse at scale
Citing numerous companies around the world, Ball illustrated the massive growth and investment in the Metaverse, but he also readily admitted that the technology is not where it needs to be in order for this to truly become a global phenomenon.
“I want to mention that we still remain barred from some of the areas that we believe are important. So I want to talk about one of the examples, which is virtual reality devices. We’re still far from what we think minimum specs would be for the average user, yet we should not discount the remarkable improvement.”
As the Metaverse does scale, Ball cautioned about two things that are always at the forefront of the gaming industry’s mind: localization and regionalization.
“The internet over time has become increasingly regionalized. This is the effect of two different tasks. Number one is regulation. Governments around the world understand the criticality of the internet and look to preserve local culture. But more important is the way in which the internet’s maturity has led to growth of companies with regional expertise.”
Regulations, KYC, and AML have a place in Web3
Ball expects this paradigm to get shaken up as the Metaverse grows, primarily because there will be different stakeholders at the heart of the industry that won’t be as rooted in the physical world. Nonetheless, Ball isn’t too concerned that this shift will result in a lack of regulation. Quite the contrary, actually.
“When I see regulators and when I talk to regulators, I see them not actually scared of the future but very vigilant about shaping it. And they spend a lot of time taking a look at which companies have been ethical, which have been responsible which are thinking about they’re thinking about what they’re doing, rather than just rushing to make an extra dollar.”
Even the crypto space is starting to implement KYC protocols even if it is not necessary. There are also ad restrictions in place to ensure products are being marketed to adults only within games like Roblox.
All of these are the kinds of measures needed for a gambling regulator to feel comfortable about participation in the space, but there are still going to be lots of questions to answer about what exactly constitutes gambling, particularly when the idea of value is increasingly placed not on currency but on digital objects.
Ball said the solution to that is tough because it is tough to track compensation within the current legal framework, particularly in the US. Perhaps with the new push by both the gaming industry and the Biden Administration to start treating cryptocurrency more like traditional money, those measures can be in place by the time the technology is advanced for us to all experience the world of gambling through the lens of the Metaverse.