A young person is surprised to learn that virtual reality and the metaverse are not the same thing

The metaverse and virtual reality are just different terms of the same thing, right? Not exactly.

VR and the metaverse are deeply interrelated, at least right now. While the metaverse is still in its infancy and largely speculative in its scope and potential, connecting it with virtual reality makes sense.

Let us explain.

Because the metaverse is in its early stages it is still largely undefined, like many ideas that are just being hatched, we aren’t really certain what the metaverse may grow into. We just know that there are a few building blocks, like virtual reality gaming platforms, that make sense to be included.

However, the metaverse is more than virtual reality. It also can include things such as:

  • 3D virtual events
  • NFTs
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Augmented reality
  • Blockchain
  • Experiential marketing
  • Gaming

In a groundbreaking article, Wired explains that: “To a certain extent, talking about what “the metaverse” means is a bit like having a discussion about what “the internet” means in the 1970s. The building blocks of a new form of communication were in the process of being built, but no one could really know what the reality would look like. So while it was true, at the time, that “the internet” was coming, not every idea of what that would look like is true.”

While it’s certainly possible that life in the metaverse age may well involve VR headsets, it may also involve AR devices, computers, smartphones, and devices that have yet to be invented.

Why Does it Seem Like the Metaverse and Virtual Reality Are the Same?

It feels like the metaverse and VR are the same for two good reasons.

Let’s break them down.

1. The Metaverse and Virtual Reality are Related

There are few that are arguing for the expansion of the metaverse that are suggesting eliminating virtual reality from the equation. Nor should they be.

It seems that there is clear potential for VR technology within the developing metaverse. It also seems logical that embracing, considering, and innovating upon virtual reality tech (including headsets) will be a factor in how the metaverse grows.

Even now, thinking that the metaverse is virtual reality is as incomplete as thinking that “cars” are Nissan. Yes, Nissan is a type of car and included in the very broad category of what comprises the category of “cars” in the universe, but certainly there’s more to the category and idea of “cars” than Nissan.

It’s the same with VR and the metaverse. Virtual reality is a part of the bigger idea but it’s not the whole.

2. Virtual Reality Exists Already, the Metaverse is Just Being Defined

The other reason that these ideas feel interconnected is that it is common to use virtual reality as a means of talking about the metaverse.

In marketing campaigns for the (not-accidentally-named) Meta (Facebook’s parent company), hardly an ad goes by that doesn’t feature someone in a VR headset accessing the metaverse.

There are 2 reasons for that as well:

  • Meta is trying to sell their VR headsets and platforms.
  • It is much easier to talk about an abstract idea by connecting it to something that currently exists.

You’ve seen a VR headset. You might have even worn one. It’s familiar. How often do you use comparisons to try to describe something to someone? A lot, and the same is true here. As the metaverse is still pretty abstract, virtual reality has become a tool to help us discuss it.

Want to learn more about leveraging virtual reality and the metaverse for your business? Reach out to us today. VR headsets optional.