Money used to purchase digital assets in the video game world isn’t new. Often, there is a virtual currency within the virtual world that you can purchase with real-world dollars.
Second Life, the virtual world released in 2003, allows you to create virtual markets with 3D assets and allows other users to purchase those items with virtual money called Linden Dollars.
Social VR has clearly grown in popularity the last several years especially during the pandemic. Apps like VTime allow private or public meetups of people in VR for meetings or just get-togethers. With this in mind, it’s only a matter of time before we see a growing need for currencies on these platforms.
Modern day currency is often tied to geography. We have the US dollar, the Japanese yen, etc. In a VR world however, a US citizen could be talking face to face with someone on the other side of the planet. Cryptocurrencies are often borderless and decentralized, making them the perfect choice for a virtual payment method.
Not to mention that even real-world currency has no intrinsic value. The US dollar simply has value because we say it does. It can’t be eaten or used as a comfy blanket or anything like that. It is merely a placeholder that we as a society agreed has value. Virtual currency could hold just as much weight in terms of value.
In fact, it’s been argued cryptocurrencies like bitcoin hold more value than the US dollar because it has limited quantity. There can only be 21 million bitcoins, whereas the US Govt. prints out more money every year.
One existing example is NeoWorld, an Ethereum-based virtual MMO (massively multiplayer online) 3D environment, where players “can explore new frontiers, create skylines, pursue careers and build wealth, legends and legacies from scratch, just like in the real world” using Ethereum tokens.
The companies that have been interested in extended reality like Microsoft haven’t dipped too heavily into crypto yet. Bill Gates has actually had several criticisms of Bitcoin about how it allows for criminal activity and takes up a lot of energy to mine.
Apple has been interested in stepping into augmented reality, which could lead into virtual reality products as well. Apple also recently allowed bitcoin payments through Apple Pay, showing at least a partial interest or acceptance.
We’ll almost definitely be seeing these two emerging industries grow and partner in the coming decades.