How Blockchain Could Transform Virtual Reality

Making a photorealistic VR world

Key Takeaways

  • Blockchain technology could turn virtual reality into a secure space for buying virtual land and items, proponents say.
  • Victoria VR is a shared virtual arena under development where users can do anything from play games to trade goods.
  • Blockchain is used in an attempt to ensure that no one will be able to cheat during purchase in the VR world.
A beach setting within Victoria VR's virtual world

Victoria VR

Blockchain technology is increasingly popular for financial and security applications, and it could soon expand into virtual reality. 

An organization is working on the first Massive Multiplayer Online Open World with photorealistic graphics. Victoria VR is a shared virtual arena where users can do anything from play games to trade goods. It’s one of a growing number of virtual reality worlds in development trying to use blockchain. 

"Blockchain is important in our project due to its transparency, openness, and the impossibility of rewriting history and cheating," Tomáš Bém, co-founder of Victoria VR, said in an email interview. "Users will thus be the real and sole owners of all their assets (VR land, items, NFTs, VR tokens, skins, special objects, etc.) in Victoria VR."

More Than a Game

While Victoria VR is billed as a game, the platform also will be available for entrepreneurs, shops, and advertisements, Bém said. Blockchain is used in an attempt to ensure that no one will be able to cheat during purchase in the VR world. The only currency in Victoria VR will be VR tokens.

A central feature of the Victoria VR world will be The Big Market VR, where users will trade blockchain-backed non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in VR. The launch of the entire Victoria VR world is scheduled for next year, but The Big Market VR is expected to be available to users within a few months.

"An interior designer could create a virtual space for clients to explore before ever purchasing furniture or painting a wall."

Experts say that blockchain technology could have widespread applications throughout both VR and gaming.

"NFTs (non-fungible tokens) by definition are unique and cannot be replicated, exchanged, or replaced with something else," Taryn Malher, who teaches VR and blockchain at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. "They are truly one of a kind. They provide evidence of ownership that is supported by the implementation of blockchain, or a distributed ledger."

VR Purchases More Secure With Blockchain

Blockchain may make digital assets more accessible to users in VR, Malher said. For example, suppose a clothing retailer wanted to allow customers to try on their designs in a virtual world rather than in a physical location. In that case, they could still maintain the rights to their original designs using NFTs. 

"An interior designer could create a virtual space for clients to explore before ever purchasing furniture or painting a wall," Malher added. "The products used in the virtual space could be NFTs made available for commercial use by the companies that created products used in the design."

Jonathan Ovadia, CEO of AEXLAB, a VR startup working on a first-person shooter game, noted that many games state in their user agreement that virtual items are exclusively the game’s property.

"With blockchain, this problem is being solved because games can truly own their in-game items without the potential of it being erased or taken away," Ovadia said in an email interview. 

Players also could buy virtual pieces of digital land using blockchain, said Arthur Carvalho, a professor at Miami University who recently published a paper on blockchain and gaming. 

"Blockchain technology ensures players’ assets and investments are long-lived, beyond the lifetime or interest of any individual company," he said in an email interview. "When coupled with other technologies, such as virtual-reality headsets, online games have now the potential to create a long-lasting metaverse—an alternative reality having its own currency, ownership structure, realistic avatars, and natural human interactions."

"Blockchain is important in our project due to its transparency, openness, and the impossibility of rewriting history and cheating."

Although still in preliminary stages, blockchain-based games such as Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and Somnium Spaces are laying the groundwork for the existence of metaverses, which have permanent virtual land and virtual spaces, Carvalho said.

"It might be years or even decades before a fully photorealistic and immersive experience exists," he added. "Where players might not even be able to distinguish what is real and what is virtual."

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