Most players currently use keyboard and mouse skill to navigate in the Metaverses. While some players use headsets and hand controls to natvigate, existing virtual reality (VR) helmets are too heavy to wear for an extended period. Also the initial setup process is not user-friendly. Hardware equipment needs further improvement. Fortunately, many technology companies are speeding up their development of vision equipment and motion sensors so players can enjoy a more immersive experience in Metaverse. Sooner or later, Metaverse will be navigated by Augmented Reality (AR) headsets like the Apple Glass. Players can give their avatars with much more dynamic movements. Eventually, facial expressions will also be captured and reflected on the avatar too.
Metaverse will become a hybrid of social media, e-commerce and online games, connecting the virtual and physical worlds together. Travelling in Metaverse is a journey to the digital world where real products as well as virtual products are all available. We will be able to buy real goods for your real life as well as NFT products.
Decentraland is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and one of the most successful Metaverse platforms with over 300,000 monthly active players in November 2021. It is a popular 3-dimensional digital platform for social and networking. It is originally built on the Ethereum blockchain and was launched to the public in 2017. USD 26 million was raised in their initial coin offering and another USD 20 million within their ecosystem in September 2018.
All players are required to connect their crypto wallet with the platform in order to enter into Decentraland. After purchasing an avatar with their native currency ‘MANA’ from the platform, the player becomes a citizen of Decentaland.
16-meter X 16-meter Land Parcel
Every piece of virtual land or a parcel is minted as a NFT. Each piece of land has a different value. The closer to some iconic locations, such as the Genesis Plaza, the higher the valuation it will be. A parcel of virtual land in Decentraland is priced at 3.4 Ether (ETH), around USD 13,283, as of 17 December 2021. In May 2019, USD 80,000 transaction was recorded for a Land called “The Secrets of Satoshis Tea Garden” which is located next to a big shopping plaza and is surrounded by roads. Another player has purchased 64 standard lots and combined them into a big single land to sell in the secondary market. Roughly 50 transactions of Land in Decentraland are traded on NFT marketplace weekly.
Landowners can build shops, concert halls, gardens or houses to operate any business in Decentraland. In June 2021, the traditional auction house, Sotheby’s, opened a digital replica of its London headquarter as a virtual gallery to display digital arts. In fact, NFT art gallery is the most common business operating in Metaverse right now.
Digital real estate NFT investment fund, Republic Realm paid USD 913,228 for 259 parcels of land in Decentraland. It then launched a Japanese style shopping district, Metajuku, in June 2021. Metajuku transforms E-commerce from 2D website to 3D virtual shops, providing an immersive retail experience to shoppers. In late November, another crypto investor, Token.com paid 618,000 MANA, around USD 2.4 million, to acquire a patch of virtual real estate to run a fashion street in Decentraland too .
Originally, only two digital fashion brands, Dress-X and Tribute Brand, rented shops at Metajuku to sell wearable NFTs to the Decentraland citizens. Gucci then launched a mobile app and linked up with its virtual shop, Gucci Garden, in Roblox in May 2021 to sell wearable NFTs to customers. Gucci’s NFTs, which has generated more revenue than the physical goods during the pandemic period, can be accessed in the Roblox platform as well as Decentaland. The NFT market becomes a new revenue stream for luxury brands. Players create avatars based on an aspirational version of who they want to be. They will go into the fashion shop to find digital clothes for their own avatars and dress up gorgeously in the virtual world. One thing that NFTs are better than real objects is that players are able to sell their NFT collections in the secondary market. Anyway, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Supreme and Vans are going into the fashion street in Decentraland to sell wearable NFTs now. The fashion district is playing a central role of the virtual business.
Citizens Need Jobs
In early August 2021, Riverboat Casino just had a grand opening in Decentraland for players to gamble. A horse racecourse also joined shortly afterwards. In November, a computer programmer posted his golf game development proposal for the Decentraland citizens to vote in the DAO. This idea was supported by the voters and won USD 120,000 development funding . Now, Golf Craft is created for citizens to play virtual golf and earn tokens as well as wearable NFTs.
Apart from playing games and selling NFTs, citizens in Decentraland can check open positions in a discord channel called ‘Hiring’ to find part-time jobs as well as full-time jobs to work as shopkeepers, game operators, software programmers, casino hosts and casino managers. USD 200 monthly salary is offered to trainees. Amazingly, citizens can also work as freelancers, offering services, creating 3D models, making wearable NFTs, recording videos, etc, in this virtual world.
Plenty of events are held in Decentraland . The first ever Metaverse festival was celebrated in October 2021. Live DJ and a big crowd danced together. Artists and bands played songs and music for four days. Celebrity, Paris Hilton, also participated . Pop singers like to organize parties in a virtual concert hall to release new songs, engage with fans and sell NFT music.
However, according to OpeaSea, the biggest NFT marketplace, the sales of NFT music underperforms to digital artwork, collectibles and other digital categories. The top 10 NFT music was sold at about 223 ETH, around USD 835,000 only, from 14 November to 13 December 2021, accounting 0.03% of OpenSea’s 30-day sales turnover. The main reason is most music lovers are not in the crypto community yet, although NFT music provides more cost-effective production for artists and allows fans access directly to the artist’s music without any streaming giant or record label. Traditional music channels, such as Apple Music and Spotify, are still the mainstream media.
The NFT music engine has just started. In August 2021, 3LAU, a DJ who creates and sells digital music, announced a new blockchain-based music platform, Royal, and raised USD 16 million in seed funding. Royal will enable fans to be a part of the success of their favorite artists by purchasing fractional music ownership through NFT sales. In addition, iMusic, a digital music streaming company in Hong Kong, also plans to join the crypto community to sell NFT music. Undoubtedly, the sales of NFT music will grow fast and substantial. Hopefully, those NFT music platforms will bring more income to artists and attract more music lovers interested in NFTs. NFT music will be the new trend and add more colours to the music world. Danish investment bank, Saxo Bank, believes many artists will join NFT music platforms, generate direct income from audiences, connect closely with fans and cause a paradigm shift in the music industry soon.
Sunday Church At Home
MeChurch is a virtual Christian church established by Dr. Enoch Lam aiming at “forging faithfulness to a new frontier” in Hong Kong. During the pandemic, people cannot visit church. When the virtual church starts operating, members can visit the virtual church on Sunday, pray and listen to the pastors. The virtual church will also display historical scenes as background while telling Christian stories. Moreover, famous Christian figures, including Jesus and King David, will also be present to talk to the loyal Christians. Won’t that be impressive?
Well. It is not a joke! The government of Barbados has established the world’s first Metaverse embassy in Decentraland in November . It is also working with multiple metaverse companies to establish digital sovereign lands. Barbados will build more virtual embassies to provide services such as e-Visa and construct a teleporter that will allow citizens to transport their avatars between the various worlds. Joining the Metaverse is a strategic move of Barbados to expand its diplomatic missions to over 190 countries all over the world. Currently, they are only 18. By the way, is this e-Visa required for entering Barbados virtual land or real land ?
A USD 783.3 billion Market
Metaverse is far more than gaming. The Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Industry Analyst Matthew Kanterman and Analyst Nathan Naidu stated that the metaverse will be the next big technology platform for online game makers and social networks. It is the next evolution of the internet and social networks using real-time 3D software, presenting opportunities for online gaming, social media, networking and live entertainment including sports events. Their estimation of Metaverse market opportunity will expand from USD 478.7 billion in 2020 to USD 783.3 billion in 2024 for technology companies to capture, with a 13.1% CAGR within the forecasting period .
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- Gibbons, L (2021). Fashion Street Estate in Decentraland Purchased For 618,000 MANA in Record Breaking Sale.
- Thurman, A (2021). Barbados to Become First Sovereign Nation With an Embassy in the Metaverse.
- Bloomberg Intelligence, (2021). Metaverse May Be $800 billion Market, Next Tech Platform.