Philip doesn't actually say "metaverse" in the announcement, but if it walks like a metaverse, quacks like a metaverse:
Why shouldn’t your virtual identity travel with you? Instead of being splintered across multiple services, all your identifying information, all your assets could be stored on a blockchain, accessible on any platform. Today, we’ve taken a big step toward making that vision a reality. High Fidelity and JanusVR have formed the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance(VRBA), a group dedicated to establishing a universal digital identity built on the blockchain and outside the control of any specific corporate entity. Soon High Fidelity users can bring their virtual goods to Janus, along with ownership rights — the precursor to avatars and property moving effortlessly from world to world.
This is very similar to an effort launched by Linden Lab 10 years ago, when Rosedale was CEO of the company -- but the partner back then was IBM:
Linden Lab®, creator of the virtual world Second Life®, and IBM have successfully demonstrated virtual world interoperability by teleporting avatars between the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim virtual world server. The joint development project represents an industry first of a quantifiable milestone for virtual world interconnectivity... Teleporting an avatar between platforms has the potential to have a significant impact on the future of virtual worlds. An open standard for interoperability would allow users to cross freely from one world to another in a seamless transfer, just as they can go from one Web site to another on the Internet today.
The Linden Lab/IBM partnership never went anywhere, in great part because consumer use for Second Life and OpenSim never really grew beyond its (sizable) niche, while the real world use cases for virtual worlds remained even niche-ier. That continues to be the biggest challenge for initiatives like this -- how many people actually want to move between various virtual worlds?
On paper, one big difference now is building that interoperability on top of a blockchain, so it's not dependent (or controllable) by any any one company. But whether that actually works with a mass userbase very much remains to be seen -- I'll just point to this conversation on blockchain for virtual worlds between Philip and Adam Frisby:
ADAM: For most consumers, losing a password to an online service is a mild inconvenience they’ve grown accustomed to, since typically, it’s quickly fixed by requesting an email reset, say, or talking with customer service. Blockchain wallets and their passwords, by contrast, are tied to a file on a user’s hard disk and are absolutely critical to users trying to access the blockchain. By their very nature they have no recovery mechanism. “You lose your password, you lose everything” is an awful user experience for mainstream consumers and a nightmare for companies attempting to build their service on a blockchain.
PHILIP: Yeah, it's inconvenient to lose your password, but you know what's really inconvenient? When Equifax gives away all your information to hackers, as they just did! At least with the blockchain, YOU have a choice. If you want, you can use a separate service that stores your password for you and will give it back if you need to reset it. For example this is what people using Coinbase do - you can recover your passwords. And because you can use a separate service that hackers probably don't know is associated with you, you are much less likely to get information stolen. But the security choice is up to you, not Facebook or Google or Equifax.
So the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance's future likely depends on who is more right. Anyway, read the full announcement here.