Metaverse vs. Virtual Reality: How They Differ and What That Means for You

The Metaverse is a platform that will include VR as an aspect

The Metaverse and virtual reality (VR) are related, but it’s difficult to compare them in a direct way. The Metaverse is a hypothetical platform currently in development, while virtual reality is a technology you can already use today. It’s likely you’ll be able to interact with the Metaverse through virtual reality when it arrives, but the Metaverse is expected to extend far beyond the single technology of virtual reality.

Metaverse vs VR


Overall Findings

  • Still in development.

  • Will include virtual reality experiences.

  • Could also include augmented reality and be accessed through other devices.

  • Could include gaming, shopping, working, and more.

  • Persistence across many platforms.

Virtual Reality
  • Available through several platforms.

  • Experience virtual worlds in games.

  • Interact socially via avatars.

  • Individual experiences are not linked.

  • Platforms are largely closed.

  • Persistence exists only in some games.

The Metaverse and virtual reality are intertwined, but they aren’t the same thing, and they aren’t even in the same class of concepts. The Metaverse is a platform that could augment or even replace the Internet, while virtual reality is a technology that lets you experience virtual worlds. Virtual reality is also something you can experience right now, while the Metaverse is still in development, and its final form isn’t yet clear.

The Metaverse will likely be accessible through virtual reality, but also through augmented reality (AR), and even traditional devices like computers and phones.

The Metaverse could also leverage the blockchain and other technologies to decentralize control and allow users to create and own their own assets, similar to how web3 is currently envisioned. Since the Metaverse doesn’t yet exist, it’s impossible to know exactly what path it will take.

Accessibility: You Can Use Virtual Reality Right Now

  • Not yet available.

  • Companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook/Meta are working on it.

  • Could be available through VR, AR, and other technologies.

Virtual Reality
  • Available right now.

  • Facebook, HTC, Valve, Sony, and others sell VR equipment.

  • Multiple platforms including SteamVR, Oculus Home, and Viveport.

One of the biggest differences between virtual reality and the Metaverse is that virtual reality is available right now. If you want to try a virtual experience, and you’re not sure if you should wait for the Metaverse or try virtual reality, don’t wait. There’s no way to know exactly how long it will be before the Metaverse is implemented, or even exactly how it will be implemented, while VR is already available from multiple companies, through multiple platforms, today.

When the Metaverse does arrive, it’s likely to be more accessible than virtual reality. While the cost of buying virtual reality gear has come down over the years, and it’s easier to use now than it was in the past, the Metaverse is likely to be accessible in multiple ways. Virtual reality is a big part of it, but you’ll likely also be able to experience it through augmented reality and even devices you already have like your phone, tablet, or computer, just in a less immersive way.

Scope: Virtual reality is just one aspect of the Metaverse

  • Many interconnected worlds.

  • Could replace or augment the internet.

  • Includes virtual reality experiences.

  • Could include augmented reality and other experiences.

Virtual Reality
  • Many disconnected games and apps.

  • An alternative to a monitor and game controller or keyboard and mouse.

  • Just includes virtual reality experiences.

Virtual reality is likely to be a big part of the Metaverse, but it will still just be one aspect of a much larger platform. One of the basic ideas behind the Metaverse is that it could augment, or even replace, the internet, as a completely new way to share information, socialize, work, and play.

While virtual reality includes a lot of similar experiences in the form of games and apps, these experiences are disjointed and disconnected from each other. In contrast, the Metaverse could allow you to pass seamlessly from one to the next with no more difficulty than pointing your web browser to a new website.

Permanence: The Metaverse will be a persistent world of worlds

  • Continuity between different parts of the Metaverse.

  • The Metaverse itself will be a persistent world.

  • You may be able to create, buy, and possess virtual goods.

Virtual Reality
  • No continuity between VR platforms.

  • Some games have persistent worlds, but they aren’t shared.

  • Only connection between different games on a platform is your friend list.

The Metaverse is expected to be a persistent world that itself is made up of many connected worlds that are also persistent. That means everything keeps running even when you aren’t connected, and anything that’s changed, created, or destroyed remains that way the next time you connect. Since virtual reality experiences are all disconnected from each other, there is no continuity between them.

Some virtual reality games feature persistent worlds, while others are more basic games that you play from the start every time without anything changing. Some VR games let you craft and create things, but only in that game. In the Metaverse, it may be possible for users to buy, sell, trade, and even create permanent virtual goods and assets of their own that continue to exist even after logging out.

Final Verdict: Metaverse Is Still Too Early

Virtual reality is a technology you can experience today, while the Metaverse is a work in progress that we can only speculate about.

The Metaverse will almost certainly include VR as a way to access it, but could also leverage AR and other technologies. If you’re interested in the idea of virtual experiences, then you should check out one of the VR headsets that already exist, like the Quest 2 or Vive Pro.

On the other hand, if you’re just interested in technology and intrigued about how the internet and other connected experiences could evolve in the future, you’ll want to keep an eye on how the Metaverse develops.

  • How much does a VR headset cost?

    The price of a VR headset can range from $300-1600 depending on the resolution, control methods, tracking methods, and whether or not you can use it without a PC. The most expensive VR headsets also require an expensive computer to use.

  • How do I invest in the Metaverse?

    You can invest in Metaverse stocks, Metaverse cryptocurrencies, Metaverse NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and Metaverse real estate.

  • How do I buy real estate in the Metaverse?

    You can purchase virtual real estate through a Metaverse platform like The Sandbox or Decentraland. Purchases are made with cryptocurrencies and ownership is logged in a blockchain.

  • How do I play Roblox VR games?

    To play Roblox VR on Meta Quest, connect your headset to a PC using a link cable, then enable VR from the Roblox setting menu. If that doesn't work, install and run SteamVR to enable VR in Roblox.

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