Metaverse has been touted as "the next internet," utilizing the potential of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to provide a uniquely immersive experience. The concept originated in the 1992 cyberpunk classic "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson. In the book, the term denotes a virtual environment where users interact with one another via avatars.
The general idea behind the "real" metaverse is pretty much similar, albeit with plenty of variations. Some metaverse projects aim to recreate a specific urban setting and provide a platform for administrative services. Such is the case with South Korea-based metaverses commissioned by the municipal authorities.
Other virtual spaces, like Decentraland or The Sandbox, are open worlds that enable, at least theoretically, boundless exploration. And yet others are centralized online gaming platforms with metaverse features.
There isn't one metaverse! There are many metaverses
Contemporary metaverses are discrete virtual spaces governed by platform-specific rules. Each of them works differently on many levels. Many, though, resemble online games of various quality standards.
According to one possible scenario, the virtual worlds will become interconnected – if not merged. Perhaps, similarly to how websites and apps coexist within the world wide web. Obviously, it's mere speculation, as the future shape of the metaverse is far from being determined.
Currently, the whole industry is at the early stage of evolution, experiencing ups and downs, fending off criticism, developing technology to live up to users' expectations, and building awareness.
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of metaverse-related projects. Many potential users have trouble finding out how to even access the metaverse. Especially that options and requirements differ across platforms, with some being prohibitive for a typical desktop user.
We've been curious ourselves about how to access the metaverse, so we've embarked on research to provide you with some explanations.
Can you access the metaverse via a PC, smartphone, or tablet?
The trouble with accessing a particular metaverse is similar to the issue you may encounter when launching a computer game: limited processing power of your hardware. Even though it is possible to enter many metaverses on a regular-quality PC, or even a tablet or a smartphone, for smooth, high-quality experience you'll need gaming-level hardware.
It doesn't necessarily amount to using a bulky VR headset. You can access virtual spaces via a desktop and enjoy the ride. It is recommended, though, that your gear is equipped with a solid graphic processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU).
According to the ApexGamingPCs.com website, minimum PC requirements for most games on the market are NVIDIA GTX 770 or an equivalent with 2GB of VRAM and a CPU from Intel's 3000 to 7000 series, while the recommended ones are: GTX 1070 GPU with 4.5/4 GB of VRAM and an Intel i5-9600 CPU.
What are the technical requirements to enter the metaverse?
This is to give you a general idea, as technical specs for each metaverse might differ slightly or significantly, and only some platform operators provide the relevant details. For example, Somnium Space claims its VR world can be explored on mobile phones, whereas Horizon Worlds is currently accessible only through a Meta's VR headset.
In the case of downloadable platforms, you need to make sure they support your operating system. For example, Roblox won't run on Linux. Another factor to include is the sign-up method. Many metaverses require or at least "prefer" that you set up an account with a cryptocurrency wallet.
As details vary across virtual worlds, we give you an overview of five popular metaverse platforms, containing brief descriptions, clues on how to join each metaverse, and technical requirements you need to secure to enjoy a smooth experience.
How to access and play Decentraland?
Decentraland is the first decentralized, virtual, web-based platform, launched as early as 2017. It allows users to interact with each other, create content, and earn money through investments in digital assets.
The Decentraland economy is fueled by the Ethereum-based MANA Cryptocurrency, which enables users to buy land and trade various items as NFTs. In 2021, Decentraland experienced a surge in popularity and continues to be one of the most known metaverse platform, even though it has seen user decline in recent months caused by the NFT market downturn and doubts around the viability of the whole metaverse concept.
Since Decentraland is primarily a browser-based metaverse, you can access it through the project's website, clicking the "START EXPLORING" button. As of recently, the platform is also available in a downloadable beta version (Windows only).
If you choose to explore it through your browser, you can play either as a guest with limited experience or enjoy the party to the fullest by connecting your account to your crypto wallet. Currently, Decentraland supports MetaMask, Fortmatic, WalletConnect, and Coinbase Wallet, each requiring a different connection method, as described on the screen below.
If you decide to join Decentraland with a crypto wallet, your progress and achievements in the game will be stored on the blockchain. If you do it in the guest mode, it will be saved locally, which might result in permanent loss in case of deleting the file.
The next steps involve choosing and customizing your avatar, providing your name or a nickname, and… done! Now, you can enjoy the exploration.
What are the hardware and system requirements to enter and play Decentraland?
Depending on your standards, you may find Decentraland quite demanding on your hardware. If you own a gaming PC, the app will run fine, but if you launch it on a regular notebook, you might find it laggy. Currently, Decentraland is not available on mobile devices. Here's what the platform recommends for web and desktop clients:
Minimum GPU: Intel HD/UHD 9th generation or equivalent
Recommended GPU: Geforce 900 series or equivalent
Minimum GPU: AMD Radeon HD 6700 series or equivalent
Recommended GPU: AMD Radeon RX 500 series or equivalent
Minimum GPU MEMORY: 1GB
Recommended GPU MEMORY: 4GB
Minimum RAM: 4GB
Recommended RAM: 16GB
How to access and play Horizon Worlds?
Horizon Worlds is one of Meta's flagship products and probably the biggest investment in the metaverse space to date. From the start of 2019 to September 30, 2022, the giant has pumped $36 billion into its metaverse and VR businesses run by its subsidiary, Reality Labs, incurring a huge loss of $30.7 billion for the same period.
So far, Horizon Worlds has hardly been a success, with users drifting away at a stunning pace. In eight months, the platform lost 100,000 players and, consequently, lowered its goal of attracting 500,000 monthly users by the end of 2022 to just 280,000.
Horizon Worlds was released in December 2021 for Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets. In October 2022, Meta announced that web and mobile versions of the platform are underway. Once it's launched, users will be able to access the game through the browser.
Horizon Worlds is self-described as "an ever-expanding social universe where you can hang with friends, meet new people, play games, attend cool events and there are over 10,000 worlds and experiences to explore" or, in short, a "VR social experience."
Users are represented by cartoonish avatars, which were... given legs only in October 2021. "Seriously, legs are hard, which is why other virtual reality systems don't have them either," – commented Mark Zuckerberg on the occasion. The platform is currently dedicated to adult users since it allows "mature" content.
To enter Meta's metaverse, you need to install the Horizon Worlds app on your VR gear. The next step is to log in to the headset through a Meta account – a new "entity" in the Meta ecosystem introduced in August 2022.
You can set it up via an Auth.Meta.com web page, an Oculus mobile app, or VR goggles – simply follow the instructions on the screen. You can also create a Meta account by logging in with your Facebook or Instagram profile. This will allow you to connect with your Facebook friends or Instagram followers who are also using Horizon Worlds.
Once you're done with the setup, you need to create a Meta Horizon profile, which will be your social profile in virtual reality. The process is simple and involves providing a username and, optionally, a profile picture.
It's worth mentioning that the platform enables customization of privacy protection with three options: open to everyone, friends and family, and solo.
What are the hardware and system requirements to enter and play Horizon Worlds?
The requirements are pretty straightforward. Currently, you can only access Horizon Worlds through Meta's VR gear: Oculus Quest 2 or Oculus Rift S. As mentioned before, Meta is due to roll out mobile and web versions of Horizon Worlds platform soon.
How to access and play Roblox?
Roblox is an online platform for playing and creating games. It allows users to program their own games and share them with others. The platform was created in 2004 and launched in 2006 but has gained traction only in recent years, benefiting from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. So far, it has been one of the most successful brands in the metaverse, attracting over 50 million active users daily, with children being the key target group.
Roblox incorporated metaverse-like features before the concept became mainstream. The platform enables users to develop and trade virtual items, upgrade their avatars, host real-life and virtual events, and even perform marketing activities. It also uses its own virtual currency called Robux. You'll have to spend some if you want to enjoy ad-free gaming. Otherwise, you'll be forced to sit through advertisements.
Roblox is a multiplatform metaverse that runs on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Xbox One. It also supports Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, enabling a 3D immersive experience. You can enter the platform via a web browser, but first, you must download Roblox on your device.
After you sign up and create an account on the Roblox website, choose a game, then click on the green play button. A pop-up window will appear with a button reading "Download and install Roblox." Click on it and when the download is finished, run the setup file. With Roblox installed on your device you can head back to your browser and play the game you've chosen.
What are the hardware and system requirements to enter and play Roblox?
The platform provides detailed technical requirements for playing games in the Roblox ecosystem on its website. They are as follows.
Operating system requirements
Windows: Roblox will install on Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 10
Browsers supported for PC/Windows: Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge
Mac: Roblox will install on 10.10 (Yosemite) and higher, the Roblox Studio will install on Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) and above
Browsers supported for Mac: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Linux: Roblox is not supported on Linux.
Chrome OS: Chrome OS version 53 or above is required
Apple iOS: iPad 2 or higher, iPhone 4s or higher, and iPod touch 5th Generation, iOS 9 or greater is required
Android: Roblox supports Android OS 5.0 and higher
Amazon Fire OS: Kindle Fire HDX 7 (3rd Gen), Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (3rd Gen), Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Gen), Fire HD 6 & 7 (4th Gen), Fire HD 8 & 10 (5th Gen), and Fire (5th Gen) except Amazon Fire HD 2013
Graphics card: for PC/Windows Roblox requires DirectX 10 or higher feature level support, for the best performance platform recommends a computer less than 5 years old with a dedicated video card or a laptop less than 3 years old with an integrated video card
Processor: a 2005+ processor with a clock speed of 1.6 GHz or better
RAM or memory: at least 1 GB of memory on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10
Storage: at least 20 MB of system storage space to install Roblox.
A minimum 4-8 Mb/s internet connection
How to access and play The Sandbox?
The Sandbox is an online, blockchain-based, open-world, multiplayer game launched in November 2021. It allows players to create objects, experiences, and games with integrated tools and trade them as NFTs on the Sandbox marketplace.
To set foot in the metaverse via Sandbox, you need to sign up to the platform on its website using your crypto wallet or social media account. Wallets currently supported by the Sandbox include MetaMask, Coinbase, Bitski, Venly, WalletConnect, Wombat, Brave, and Opera Crypto Wallet.
For hardware wallet users, a recommended option is MetaMask, as it allows integration with some devices. If you choose to register with a social account, the platform will create a unique Ethereum wallet address for you, protected with a 4–6 digit PIN. The following steps include providing an email and nickname, creating avatar, and completing your profile in the "Settings" tab.
What are the hardware and system requirements to enter and play Sandbox?
The Sandbox metaverse is not heavy on the requirements, so you should be able to run it on regular-quality hardware. The specs are as follows:
OS: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or Windows 11 64-bit
CPU: Dual Core 2GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: 512MB VRAM
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 2 GB
How to access and play Voxels (formerly Cryptovoxels)?
Voxels, formerly Cryptovoxels (the platform rebranded in May 2022), is a virtual blockchain world and one of web3's most popular communities. The platform's generic name refers to graphic structures that can be described as 3D pixels. You can think of them as fundamental building blocks of a virtual space.
The Voxels metaverse includes real-life architecture and infrastructure, including buildings, roads, land plots, and other objects. The platform allows users to buy land, build houses and other structures, interact with each other, and customize their avatars with wearable NFTs.
You can access the Voxels virtual world through the "Sign in" button on the website. The metaverse supports only three wallets: MetaMask, WalletConnect, and Coinbase. As an alternative, you may use your Google or social media account, with Facebook, Twitter, and Discord among the available options. You can also continue with an email.
When your account is created, think up a username and type it in. Then register it and verify it with your wallet or a social account you used to sign in. When you're done with that, go to your profile options, where you can access the space creation section. You need to specify the dimensions and provide a description of your location. Then you can start building objects by clicking on the "Build" button.
What are the hardware and system requirements to enter and play Voxels?
The Voxels metaverse runs entirely in a web browser. The recommended options are Google Chrome for Windows and Safari for Mac. The metaverse may feel laggy on older computers or with slow internet. For a smoother experience, use a desktop with a good-quality GPU and a broadband connection. Find the technicalities below.
OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit
GPU: GTX 1050
CPU: i3-8300 (minimum), i3-9320 (recommended)
Memory: 8GB RAM (minimum), 16GB RAM (recommended)
Storage: 1GB available space
What's the future of the metaverse?
As you can see, today's metaverse is far from being a unified virtual environment. It is essentially a concept describing basic features shared by otherwise unrelated platforms rather than a cluster of interconnected worlds. Contemporary metaverses offer miscellaneous experiences and opportunities, are founded on different rules, and have varying requirements.
There's no fixed pattern for developing the metaverse landscape and its mechanics. Many metaverse projects are a part of the web3 ecosystem and evolve with the growth of crypto-savvy communities. Some are centralized and heavily depend on their owners' financing and marketing efforts.
Even though the metaverse economy is experiencing typical early-stage hardships, there's little doubt the whole concept will mature and yield fruit in the shape of more and more immersive products.
We'll be covering the latest metaverse advancements, so stay tuned!