Here’s the tech equipment you need to join the metaverse
A digital universe that combines virtual and physical reality, the metaverse offers its users the chance to buy land, play games and interact with other people across the different platforms online. And there’s no shortage of metaverse tech in the works. In October, Meta announced that it would be spending $10 billion over the next year to develop metaverse-related technologies. Apple will reportedly be releasing a blended virtual reality-augmented reality headset in the next year that could cost up to $3,000. And Snapchat has dreamt of making it in the augmented reality space for a while, although its latest AR spectacles are not yet available to consumers.
But for ordinary humans, experiencing the metaverse is still entirely possible. Here’s what you’ll need to get started, in order of most basic to most advanced.
A smart phone
It’s entirely possible to venture into the metaverse with just your iOS or Android device. Platforms like Roblox can be accessed after downloading its app for free, and others like Axie Infinity are accessible through Android, though they’re not available on the iPhone yet.
For an ultimate metaverse beginner, Roblox may be your best intro—it’s available on a wide variety of devices, including Xbox, mobile, tablets, desktop and VR headsets. That means that just through using your phone, you can still interact with friends who are using different equipment. And unlike some other metaverse platforms, you don’t need to buy cryptocurrency to get started.
“The overarching goal for Roblox is to make it so that no matter what platform you’re on, you can have a really good experience,” a spokesperson for Roblox told Fortune.
“I would say the Metaverse is currently mostly a PC/Mac experience—either browser based or desktop based—so users can access new types of immersive experiences,” said Sébastien Borget, COO and co-founder of the Sandbox, one of the most popular metaverse platforms.
Decentraland, which is web-based rather than a desktop application, says it can be accessed through both PC and Macbook (although based on Fortune’s experience, using a Mac can make for extremely slow going).
For those with a PC, you will need a computer with a good GPU, or graphics processing unit, because the virtual world is detailed and expansive. You’ll also have to set up a crypto wallet with either MetaMask, Bitski, or Venly wallets, which are officially supported by platforms like The Sandbox and Decentraland.
A gaming console
If you already own an Xbox, you may already have everything you need to explore a lot of the metaverse. Platforms like Roblox are available to Xbox users. Microsoft, which owns Xbox, has made its interest in the metaverse clear, and is offering users exclusive experiences in the digital world through their consoles, like an interactive “metaverse museum” in honor of Xbox’s 20th anniversary.
There’s not a huge difference between using a gaming console or a PC, as platforms will offer the same games and services on both. But if you’re already used to the controls of a gaming console like the Xbox, you may prefer to stick to those to move around your metaverse avatar.
A Virtual Reality (VR) headset
While companies have offered VR headsets before the metaverse hype that kicked off in earnest this year, some have recently started to heavily invest in the concept of an immersive, interactive digital world.
Meta (formerly known as Facebook) launched its first public foray into the metaverse last week, through an app made for its Oculus Quest 2 headset called Horizon Worlds. It’s important to note, though, that Oculus has been in development for years. The current Oculus headset is available for purchase at a base price of $299.
For gamers, Sony’s Playstation VR headset is also available for purchase, with game bundles (a headset and video game sold together) costing around $399. The Valve Index VR headset is also a popular option for gamers at $499. While Microsoft has been developing its VR technology since 2016 with its Hololens headset, it is currently catered towards developers and businesses for $3,500.
There are also reports that companies are continuing to develop more advanced VR headsets, including Meta with a new high-end virtual and augmented reality headset called Project Cambria and a Playstation VR 2 to come out in 2022.
Augmented Reality (AR) glasses
Augmented reality is slightly different from virtual reality in that the user’s physical environment is incorporated into their digital experience (think of playing Pokemon Go, and seeing a character show up somewhere you’re pointing your phone in the real world.) Because of this, AR glasses or goggles are usually less clunky than VR headsets, but also more expensive—Magic Leap’s AR glasses are available for purchase starting at $2,295, and Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses are also a hefty investment at $1,499.
Right now, while VR and AR headsets “are certainly appealing,” a computer like a PC “has the advantage of still being widespread and enabling users all sorts of interactions,” said Borget. According to Unity, a 3D software company with plans to enter the metaverse, it’s up to the user to choose what tool will give them the experience they’re looking for.
“Before we define access points, it’s up to the Creator to define what their version of the metaverse is,” a spokesperson from Unity told Fortune. “So that is to say, one Creator could believe their metaverse is all virtual (VR) and thereby you need a headset like an Oculus to access it. Another could believe it’s a blend of the physical and digital, and so you can do it on a mobile device. A PC can be just one entry point into the metaverse.”
Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez contributed to reporting.
Fortune’s upcoming Brainstorm Design conference is going to dive into how businesses are building experiences in the metaverse. Apply to attend the event on May 23-24 in New York.