Decentralized Storage: There will be greater demands put upon it in the coming years, so humans need to get this part of Web3 right. Here’s how.
The best and brightest are working on the metaverse – a digital space with no boundaries offering a wide array of new experiences. But many are overlooking one key aspect: storage. As of now, many developer groups plan to utilise centralised storage even for decentralized projects. However, given the potential size and demands of the upcoming metaverse, it just won’t fit the bill.
Issues of Centralised Solutions
Today, at the dawn of Web3, data sovereignty, interoperability, and security are becoming the must-have qualities for the most sophisticated technical solutions. Sadly, modern centralised storage services have issues with all three. Firstly, they leave one entity in complete control of our information, which poses a security threat, as centralised servers create a single point of failure.
Secondly, they lack interoperability, although almost 94% of enterprises are using this technology to store their data, which gets stuck on platforms like Amazon Web Services. The same goes for play: gamers might have thousands of hours in Roblox, Minecraft, or Fortnite, but those experiences cannot transfer between one another, regardless of network.
A few companies in the market are working to solve some of these issues, often at the expense of others. Facebook’s Meta, for one, may aim to solve the interoperability issue, but it is still going to deploy centralised solutions: e.g. connect to centralised bank accounts and user profiles on the Facebook platform.
Data in Metaverse
Besides the vast amount of data needed to run the worlds, the metaverse stores all data relevant to the player experience. For starters, all information about their avatar’s appearance has to be kept somewhere. This can include customisable aspects like hair, skin colour, height, and accessories.
Then, the digital property symbolised by NFTs – from land plots to digital objects – will require safe and reliable storage space, too. And, there is data on the overall user experience. This can include how much time one has spent in various worlds, which unlocks token gated content: better, new, or different experiences based on the achievements and reputation of the owner. For a seamless user experience (UX), those should be stored in an accessible storage space or within the user’s world of choice. Then they can be transferred between dApps to blockchains as needed.
Decentralized Storage: The pros
Like I mentioned above, interoperability is the key trait to factor in, when choosing a data-storage solution for the metaverse. Decentralized storage platforms act as a sort of pass-through layer between the user and their information, enabling the user to move assets via that layer across applications.
Another important feature of the decentralized storage propositions is unstoppability, where the data you upload cannot be taken down. This is especially relevant for the metaverse, as nobody needs permission to create anything – from NFTs to whole decentralised worlds. All that said, permissionless publishing and interoperability must still abide by a certain set of ethics to prevent data hoarding and similar issues faced in the Web2 era.
And third, decentralization of data storage brings us closer to true data sovereignty. With decentralized storage, access to the data is not restricted by who is running the servers but by those who own the decryption keys. The data itself is distributed across a network of peer-to-peer nodes or users, who get monetary rewards for providing storage space.
Decentralized Storage: Additional Benefits
Decentralized data-storage solutions offer several additional benefits – such as trustless operation, faster speeds, lower costs, improved security, and nearly 100% uptime. Peer-to-peer transfers remove the congestion, while decentralization leads to enhanced security without a central point of attack and constant uptime.
Fair incentivisation means a network can attract additional nodes, indicating better security, while storage can extend to off-chain solutions within the network, avoiding on-chain bloat. And, lastly, shifting the cost of a perceivably endless amount of storage from one entity to a decentralised group ensures lower costs for all involved.
Connecting the Worlds
Fun is fun, but the metaverse has way more to offer to the world than mere entertainment. With globalisation increasing by the day, countries worldwide are looking for ways to implement data-centric metaverse solutions to harness their benefits. Citizens in the Philippines, for instance, are pulling themselves out of poverty via Play-to- Earn games like Axie Infinity.
However, once the tech matures and more worlds emerge, the question of data interoperability will be even more important. In addressing it, we must also remember that interoperability is a collective effort, hence collaboration between different developer groups needs to be prioritised.
Effective solutions are emerging slowly. With the help of efforts like Swarm and Fair Data protocol, even the traditional world is starting to realise that we need a truly decentralised, censorship-resistant data-storage solution. It needs to travel across all networks, bring down the walled gardens, connect the separate digital worlds of the metaverse – and give users easy access to all their virtual wonders and perks.