Not all metaverses are created equally. Some are highly immersive experiences, others are virtual reality light. This isn’t meant as a dig. There is no one-size-fits-all metaverse. TheSandbox, Decentraland, Somnium Space, Meta, and other platforms tend to offer their own versions of Web3 reality.
Somnium Space is an open-source platform. Users can purchase digital land, build homes and buildings, play hyper-realistic video games, start businesses, offer concerts and live events. Artur Sychov, the founder and CEO of Somnium Space, launched the platform in 2017, and opened it to the public in September 2018. The space is accessed through VR, PC and Web, which is also accessible on mobile. The focus is offering the best one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience for it’s users.
The rationale for conducting the interview inside Somnium Space as opposed to a Zoom or phone call, became obvious once we began the journey inside. Sychov wanted to prove that he doesn’t need to talk or boast about the future of the metaverse, as he says—unlike other members of his rapidly growing industry—Sychov offers one of the best metaverse platforms.
In a uniquely different style of interviewing, Sychov introduced himself clad in a black skin tight NFT superhero style of avatar with bright neon green piping. His head alternated between a lizard face—that realistically looked like he was talking—with a cool, sleek mask-helmet. His body gestures looked very realistic.
The interview was conducted inside Somnium Space, and the VR founder graciously showed me around the new universe. Sychov proudly told me that the “whole world” he was showcasing was built by users. We walked through a beautiful and lush landscape that looked like a futuristic civilization. He waved and chatted with people as we explored. There was a ride in a rowboat. The sounds of rowing, motion of the waves rocking against the boat made it feel like you were literally in the ocean. A visit inside a dungeon themed game was frightening with realistic actions.
He believes the only way to truly enter the metaverse is through a virtual reality headset, not a browser. “I’ve been in virtual worlds since 1999. Ultima Online, Second Life, they were fun, but you’re watching it on the screen.” and “The magic is being inside the world,” he said. Without an Oculus headset, it still felt that I was in a completely new and different reality. With the glasses, people say that it’s an incredible experience that you can’t get elsewhere.
“You have to convince people by showing,” and “Not by trying to push them in,” Sychov believes that investments in the new universe have intrinsic value because users will be able to truly own the land without Somnium as an intermediary because of the blockchain. “For the first time ever, people can actually own things in a decentralized way,” he said. “They can sell the world. They can monetize it. They can rent it. And that’s the revolution.” He also advised that the metaverse is still in its infancy, with a lot of hype, a gold rush mentality escalating, and realistically says that not all investment in this fast evolving space will work out well. If you remember the dotcom boom and bust from around 1995 to 2001, many tech companies flamed out leaving a few to stay afloat and around today.
Talking about the growing hype surrounding VR, augmented reality and the metaverse, he pointed out that there has to be a sound product or service that merits the price tag. Multi millions of dollars are being spent on VR projects. Sychov sees value in purchasing land. Similar to our world, it can be rented out and increase in it’s worth as more people get interested in VR. The blockchain offers comfort, knowing that they have true ownership that can’t be taken away. The central European entrepreneur is excited about the metaverse democratizing things, enabling people to own homes, buildings, cars, NFTs, video games and other businesses in a decentralized manner, as opposed to platforms such as the previously named Facebook.
If you are interested in checking out the site, you can “instantly join from any device via Somnium WEB client or download the Somnium application locally on their computer. You can use VR headsets like Oculus, HTC, VIVE, HP, and others.” The token of use is “CUBE, an ERC-20 token native to the Somnium Space ecosystem. CUBE can be used to purchase virtual assets, pay for goods and services in the metaverse, rent land, pay for games and events, as well as reward players with good “Karma.” CUBE can be stored in a crypto wallet and custodian like Gemini.”
Sychov, a metaverse purist, believes in an immersive 3D experience. He anticipates that as the metaverse catches on, the technology improves, the cost for glasses and gear decline, billions of people will join up, and become part of the globally decentralized financial system and for the first time ever. He envisions a place where builders and creators can thrive, and be rewarded for their efforts.
The CEO wants to manage expectations. While there are nearly limitless opportunities available, there are also large costs and challenges involved with creating, building and running a metaverse. There is unlimited space in this reality, but it takes time, money and people to build, monitor and maintain the servers, pay the bills and keep everything running smoothly.