What’s the Metaverse and why should we care about it?

Posted on September 29, 2021 - Last Updated on October 4, 2021

Our virtual sports online approach to the Metaverse – immerse yourself in alternative worlds

Introduction

If you’re the kind of person who takes any interest at all in technology and how it could shape our collective future, you might have heard of the concept of ‘Metaverse’. Virtual reality used to be a bit of a science-fiction idea, but its application has become endemic in recent years. The idea of a metaverse is another area where the internet, virtual reality and gambling are combining in interesting and innovative ways. You can read more about the metaverse and the possibilities it offers for gambling here.

What is the Metaverse?

So before we go any further, it is probably a good idea to tell you exactly what we mean when we say the ‘Metaverse’. The term actually dates back to 1992, when it appeared in a novel called Snow Crash, written by Neal Stephenson. He used the term to refer to a virtual reality successor to the internet. Users of a metaverse are not folded entirely into that reality, as in the film The Matrix, but can interact in the metaverse while still being fully aware of the real world.

You may have seen examples of metaverses in massively multiplayer online games such as Warcraft. In 2021, Facebook announced its intention to create a metaverse. This will come into existence in the next 10 to 15 years or so, and Facebook is investing $50 million in research for the concept. It is looking to develop the idea responsibly, and create an environment in which people can interact with friends, spend money, create and play games.

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Image Credits: rblfmr / Shutterstock.com

Betting in the Metaverse

The possibilities that the concept offers for betting are obviously myriad, especially when cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are taken into account. The growth of virtual sports has shown how betting on cyber sports can bring rewards for bookmakers. Esports betting has also become incredibly popular in recent years, and there is a substantial crossover between the worlds of esports betting and metaverses.

Skin gambling, although it has had its issues, is a concept that still occurs in esports betting. This was where players from games like CSGO bet skins on real-life esports contests. The skins could only be used in the world of CSGO, but could also be traded for real money. This was an early indication of how the gambling and metaverses could intersect.

Virtual Sports and the Metaverse

The more perceptive among you may have already noted just how important the concept of a metaverse could be for virtual sports gambling. Virtual sports are sporting contests that are entirely computer-generated. The teams or racers are given attributes for skills and other factors that are then taken into account when a Random Number Generator determines the results.

Sports bettors enjoy placing wagers on virtual sports as they can watch the games unfold live. The matches and races are also much shorter in terms of time than their real-life equivalents, so bettors are given the opportunity to bet more often. This also means that you can fit an entire season of races or matches into an afternoon.

In terms of what you can bet on, virtual sports that are popular with betting fans include virtual football and virtual horse racing, as well as greyhound racing, motor racing, trotting, basketball and ice hockey. The range of virtual sports for betting is increasing all the time and bettors are sure to see more options offered in the future.

A metaverse with virtual sports

One example of an almost metaverse is the casino and race track environment that exists in Grand Theft Auto V. Anyone familiar with GTA V will have noticed that this casino offers a world within a world, with interactive gambling games and horse races on which the player can bet. As the concept of a metaverse becomes more entrenched in the world of gambling, we can probably expect to see online bookmakers and casinos offering some kind of very similar experience. While this is not a true metaverse, it does give you a good idea of how the concept works.

The development of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology obviously makes this whole idea much more feasible and accessible.

ZED Run digital horse racing

An example of how the future could look when it comes to betting on virtual sports is ZED Run. This is a concept from Australia-based Virtually Human Studio that uses virtual horses as Non-Fungible Tokens that have a life of their own. Players can breed horses and do everything that owners and trainers can do in the real-life world of horse racing. A partnership with Unikrn means that it is also possible to bet on these horses as they race.

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Image credits: ZED Run
Read more about ZED Run here: ZED Run and Unikrn partner up to bring Blockchain-based Horse Racing

A sign of how fast the concept of a metaverse such as this is progressing in betting circles is seen when you look at the prices of the horses. When the concept started life in early 2019, horses were changing hands for as little as $30. By the time June 2021 rolled around, people were paying as much as $150,000 for a horse, with entire stables going for as much as $225,000.

Unikrn believes that it can combine horse racing fans with esports fans into a whole new audience for virtual horse racing in ZED Run. Unikrn launched betting with cryptocurrencies in 2019, and ZED Run uses the Ethereum blockchain. One senses that this is just the beginning of betting in virtual environments online.

Conclusion

The development of metaverses is one of the most exciting things to happen in the gambling world for years. The full range of possibilities is yet to be explored, but the opportunity to ‘breed’ and race virtual horse races is surely just the start. We cannot be far away from a world where online bettors can build virtual soccer clubs on which other punters can bet. The future certainly looks interesting for gamblers in the Metaverse.

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Zack Wilson

Zack Wilson is an experienced writer whose past includes working for Goal.com and Love Rugby League. With a keen interest in how technology will shape sport and gambling in the future. Away from the screen, he still plays and coaches rugby union.

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