top of page

Virtual Worlds and Metaverses, what's the difference?

A woman using a VR headset while seated in front of a laptop

"Virtual worlds" and "Metaverses" are often used interchangeably, but they actually have pretty distinct differences.

Virtual world? Metaverse?

A Virtual world describes a digital world that one can immerse themselves in, regardless of its presentation or means of access, and control an avatar of themselves in that world to interact with various things or others.

While the Metaverse is a concept that was popularised by Mark Zuckerberg (Meta CEO) in his 2021 presentation. This concept involves the integration of various technologies to augment and bridge the digital and physical worlds together, effectively making a digital world that functions in parallel to the physical world.

To put it more succinctly, here are some features Virtual worlds and Metaverses, and their key differences

Virtual Worlds

  1. Definition: A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment where users can interact with each other and the digital surroundings.

  2. Scope: Typically, virtual worlds are specific and self-contained, with predefined boundaries and rules.

  3. Examples: Online video games like "World of Warcraft" or "Second Life."

  4. User Interaction: Users interact through avatars, engaging in activities such as gaming, socializing, or creating content within the limits of the specific world.

  5. Access: Often accessed through specific applications or software designed for that virtual world, on a traditional computing device or similar.

  6. Economy: Some virtual worlds have their own economies, but they are usually limited to in-game currencies and items.


  1. Definition: The metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.

  2. Scope: Much broader and more expansive than virtual worlds, aiming to be an interconnected universe where various virtual worlds, augmented reality, and other digital spaces coexist and interact.

  3. Examples: Conceptually similar to the vision presented in "Ready Player One" or initiatives like Meta's (formerly Facebook) metaverse project.

  4. User Interaction: Users can interact across different platforms and environments, with interoperability between various digital spaces.

  5. Access: Can be accessed through a variety of devices and platforms, including VR headsets, AR glasses, and traditional computing devices.

  6. Economy: Envisions a more unified digital economy where digital assets and currencies can be used across different virtual spaces, possibly leveraging blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Key Differences

  1. Interoperability: Metaverses aim for interoperability between different Virtual worlds and digital environments, whereas virtual worlds are often standalone entities.

  2. Scale and Integration: The Metaverse is a larger, interconnected ecosystem that includes Virtual worlds as part of a broader digital reality, integrating AR, VR, and other digital experiences.

  3. Persistence: Metaverses are designed to be persistent, with elements like user identity, digital assets, and social relationships maintained across various virtual spaces. While Virtual worlds tend to keep the abovementioned assets within their own boundaries.

  4. Purpose: Virtual worlds often serve specific purposes like gaming or socializing, while the metaverse aims to be a comprehensive digital parallel to the physical world, encompassing various aspects of life including work, entertainment, education, and commerce.

Hopefully this helps you understand what are the differences between Virtual worlds and Metaverse! If you have any further clarifications or would like to learn more the nuances and what you can achieve with either types of worlds, do not hesitate to contact us!


bottom of page