Ready Player One, NFTs, and the Metaverse: Predicting the Future or just another piece of (pulp) science fiction?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, it’s likely that you have at least seen a trailer for the film Ready Player One. In the off chance that you have not, enjoy this trailer below for your viewing pleasure and to introduce the topic at hand.
Have you finished watching? Great. Now let’s explain. You saw Tracer from Overwatch, The Iron Giant from The Iron Giant, Kaneda’s motorbike from Akira, and a Gundam from the Gundam franchise if you watched closely enough and paused the above trailer at just the right times. However, you have to stop to ask yourself, “What stops everyone from owning a Gundam or Tracer or whatever character or avatar they so wanted?”
The film was put in theaters in 2018, but it was based on a book written in 2011. The world that is portrayed in Ready Player One is grim on the outside and -somewhat- vibrant, lively, and colorful on the inside. The real world is becoming increasingly dystopian so people increasingly decide to spend their time in a VR world known as the Oasis. The Oasis has its own in-game currency known as (Oasis) coin, loot hunting, and licensing system for buying some in-game items like clothing, transformative accessory items like glasses that give you a Clark-Kent face, and weaponry that is sold on an in-game dynamic player-driven market. You want to wear Daniel Crag’s attire in Casino Royale while he’s at the poker table? That can be done in this world if you have enough Coin.
Ready Player One makes zero mention of blockchain, NFTs, or cryptocurrency. However, early on in the film we do see a newspaper clipping titled “Oasis Coin: The Next Dollar?” There are also several scenes in the film that confirm that the currency of the Oasis, again simply named Coin, is used to make purchases for both virtual items and real world items, including payments for houses in the real world.
Before we get in to what we think Ready Player One got wrong, we definitely want to hammer home the points they got right:
- A virtual currency for games that is fungible and can also function as real world currency.
- The concept of virtual ownership, licensing, and rarity.
- The concept of a metaverse without actually saying the term “metaverse.”
- A system of giving players a strong sense of virtual ownership.
- Creating a sense of ownership of a VR metaverse to certain stakeholders.*
- A large variety of VR equipment that hit the market.
*The stakeholders were using stocks to determine who makes what income based on the game metaverse’s (the Oasis’s) revenue, and these were largely the creators / owners of the company that created the Oasis game.
Now let’s get in to what we think Ready Player One might have gotten wrong about the trends we see now, and we will address them one by one in paragraphs below:
- Stocks and equity-paying dividends from the game’s income system.
- Using licensing to obtain verifiable virtual ownership of an asset.
- Centralizing stakeholders in the form of stock-owners.
At the time that Ready Player One was published (the year 2011), cryptocurrency and blockchain technology was in its infancy and it is entirely possible that the author, Ernest Cline, had never even heard of Bitcoin. Back then the concept of NFTs hadn’t even been thought of. Everything else brought to life in the Oasis, is more than feasible.
The concept of verifiable virtual ownership is manifested directly through the existence of NFTs and, most importantly, endorsement of these NFTs by relevant people and organizations of influence. If Bob says, “Hello everyone, I am auctioning this drawing of a Darth Vader I drew and colored, bidding starts at 1,000 USD!” then no one is likely to listen. If George Lucas hires a professional artist (Michael Whelan for example) to draw and paint a picture of Darth Vader, and starts an auction at 100,000 USD with all proceeds going to charity, then everyone on earth watches and people with money definitely want to join.
All it takes to legitimize an NFT or series of NFTs is a tweet from the appropriate individual or organization with endorsement of the NFTs themselves. Please examine the following two tweets with NBA star Stephen Curry below, later changing his twitter profile photo to the image of the NFT that he is endorsing…
This is a somewhat speculative claim, but the centralization of stakeholders through stock ownership is an idea that will probably become increasingly antiquated with regards to gaming. The last big and successful company to do this was Roblox with their IPO. However, there is an explosion of NFT and cryptocurrency games taking place at this point in time. The somewhat increasingly prevalent business model is the play-to-earn business model, but that’s a story for a different time and will likely out-do the traditional IPO investment model. In short, simply imagine a world where you stake digital assets, be the assets cryptocurrency or NFTs, and in return you receive 10% APY all without the need to go to a bank or reveal your face or first and last name to anyone. Ready Player One’s idea for profit sharing hasn’t been proven wrong yet, but it hasn’t been proven right either. For the time being, let’s just say it is 2021 and a lot of game companies are working on the play-to-earn business model.
In conclusion, we are witnessing the ideas that Ready Player One was introducing to the world, we have seen which ideas they got right while we are waiting to see which ideas -if any- they got wrong.
If you all would like to see a solid example of a VR NFT metaverse similar to the Oasis, then please consider signing up for our early access program at https://www.momentx.network/earlyaccess. You might have a chance to obtain a free NFT as well!