So what is the Metaverse?
Despite its recent rise to fame, the term Metaverse was first coined by science fiction writer Neil Stephenson in 1992 30 years ago. His novel “Avalanche” depicts the metaverse as a 3D virtual world, where people move around as avatars, socializing/interacting with each other, and AI-generated characters.
Fast forward 30 years, this definition has different meanings in different contexts. In short, Metaverse is a virtual world in which people can socialize, work, shop, and entertain. I divide it into three ways: virtual reality, augmented reality and virtual world.
Segmentation of the Metaverse: virtual reality, augmented reality and virtual world
Virtual reality (VR)
These are immersive worlds. You can touch, feel and move in the digital world through earphones and tactile technology.Also known as: physical senses and representations in the digital world.
- Facebook renamed itself “Meta” in October 2021 to create its own version of Metaverse, and spent $10 billion to make it a reality. Their core gameplay in the virtual reality “Horizon World” is a social world construction playground that can be accessed using Meta’s Oculus headset-it was expanded from the invitation-only beta in December 2021.On Christmas Day, Oculus is the number one free app, Apple’s App Store, proving that people’s interest in experiencing the virtual world through VR has revived.
Augmented reality (AR)
This is an interactive experience that takes place in the physical world, covering computer-generated objects and environments, also known as : digital representation in the physical world.
- As early as 2016, Pokemon GO (created by Niantic) took the world by storm, reaching 232 million users at its peak, and its core experience occurred in augmented reality. Players can move in the real/physical world to capture the characteristic Pokemon in the mobile application, which can appear anytime and anywhere.
- Snapchat has always been known for its filters and AR priority methods. Their AR-enhanced glasses Spectacles failed badly in 2017, when only 0.08% of users bought them-today, they are not for sale-only AR creators on their platform have limited access to them. However, their Lens Studio (AR department) has 200,000 creators, and they have created 2 million lenses for more than 200 million DAUs. Consumers use lenses in the Snapchat app every day to enhance the world around them.
This is the most open interpretation of the Metaverse. Traditional games with avatars, skins, economy and social platforms can themselves be regarded as Metaverses. That is: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claims, “If you treat “Halo” as a game, it is a Metaverse. Minecraft is a Metaverse.” In addition to the newer game changes that now hold virtual concerts such as Roblox or Fortnite In addition to the Metaverse, there are also some games and worlds that are being built on the blockchain (ie: Axie Infinity, Sandbox). These games and worlds can create new ecosystems and worlds and help build a bridge between digital and physical. AKA, a completely digital world, with digital representation.
- Roblox has become the Metaverse darling of everyday non-crypto consumers. It is said that half of American children play games on Roblox, where users can play millions of 3D online games, customize their avatars with skins, and spend/earn Robux. Roblox also has the most monthly active users (202 million as of April 2021), and strong daily engagement on the Metaverse platform of the newer era (close to 50 million DAU as of December 2021). Roblox is a closed ecosystem, which means that the avatars and skins in Roblox cannot be transplanted outside of the game. This is a platform that is thriving on UGC-as of October 2021, Roblox has 1.3 million developers earning Robux (in-game currency), and these creators are expected to earn $500 million from their game creation this year. Roblox has a market value of US$61 billion and is one of the most highly valued companies in Metaverse. I think it is still in the early stages of deriving value from brands, franchises and artists on their platforms.
- Sandbox is a blockchain-based virtual world (built on Ethereum) in which players can build, own and monetize their gaming experience. There are a fixed number of NFT-based real estate plots in the game (two-thirds of which have been sold), and companies, celebrities, and individuals compete for their rights in these plots. As of November 2021, the total value of The Sandbox’s land commodities has exceeded 144 million U.S. dollars, with more than 12,000 virtual land owners (including 165 brands and more than 500,000 registered wallets). The company just raised US$93 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and mentioned its ambitions of “developing from games to fashion, architecture, virtual concerts and performances, art galleries, museums and other economies”. Sandbox is using a “make money while playing” model to motivate players to spend time in Metaverse, and is building an open Metaverse to achieve greater collaboration with creators and brands.
- Axie Infinity explored the vision of bringing encryption technology to the mainstream through gaming. Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game, built on Ethereum (+ Ronin sidechain to minimize fees and transaction delays), where players can buy NFTs of cute monsters called Axies and interact with them Fight. Players can use Axies to trade real money in the game market (some sell for more than $600,000), and they can be cultivated to create additional NFTs.It requires pre-investment to play, because you need at least 3 Axies to participate in this “play to earn” mode, and they are priced as low as $70. As of December 2021, they are on the Axie market. Regarding how much activity has taken place in Axie Infinity, it is by far the most successful blockchain-based game and the largest overall NFT project based on transaction volume (transaction volume reached 341 million US dollars) as of December 27 in the past 30 On its market within days).
What’s different this time? Or, in other words, why is it now?
The “Metaverse” starter pack for Gen Z, especially for those born in the late 90s/early 2000s
As a 24-year-old “Gen Z elder”, I grew up playing Webkinz and Club Penguin in elementary school. Webkinz is the perfect representative to connect the physical world and the digital world-you received a plush Webkinz toy with a digital code on your birthday, allowing you to use the digital version of the toy to enter the “webkinz world”. There is no talking about Metaverse, this is just a place for every child to go online-play games to earn more KinzCash, decorate your room for your Webkinz, etc. The same is true for Club Penguin. Your avatar is a mini penguin. You can decorate your igloo, play games to earn coins, and socialize with friends and strangers. I believe that any Club Penguin fan will remember to party at Club Penguin after school, hang out, “date” at a pizzeria, or try with dozens of strangers and uncover the tip of the iceberg.When I graduated from high school, I became obsessed with Sims (especially “The Sims 2 Deluxe Edition”), and will spend a few hours to create new families and avatars, build houses and communities, and through the Sims virtual To live. The idea of Metaverse is no stranger to Gen Z or any local gamers who have experienced game currency, avatars and the world.
Therefore, if the “Metaverse” has existed for many years, what is special this time ? I think market timing, technology (blockchain, headsets) and generational readiness play an equal role here. I will delve into these three aspects from my perspective, but first, I will review some thoughts on why previous Metaverse startups failed, starting with Second Life.
Founded in 2003, Second Life is an over-hyped Metaverse startup that strives to stay relevant-I think many younger generations have never even heard of it, even though it was hyped nearly 20 years ago as important or as important as Facebook Revolutionary. Similar to today’s metaverse startups/companies, in the virtual world of Second Life, you can roam around and customize your digital avatar, participate in events, buy and sell virtual goods, and more. At the peak of 2007, they had about 1 million members every month, and even saw the brand collaborations of Adidas, Armani, and Calvin Klein (considering the Roblox activities we are seeing now, this sounds very familiar).
The biggest difference between the failed Second Life and Roblox success is that Second Life is not actually a game and failed to create a mechanism to keep users engaged. Detailed information on dedicated Second Life users and bloggers “Its users mainly use it for social gaming activities, such as role-playing, virtual fashion, collaborative sandbox building, and even virtual sex.” The average user age of Second Life is 32 years old. So it is naturally an older group of people, and the use case is fundamentally different from the Roblox/Fortnite use case-even the former chief architect of Second Life claimed that “it has no [work] reason, and this reason is still very correct today. It’s just that most adults are not accustomed to interacting or socializing with new friends in a multiplayer online environment.” User-generated content is not as valued by venture capitalists as it is today in the post-YouTube era, and Second Life’s platform is said to be difficult to create /Build, thus creating friction. Compared with Roblox, 24.5% of all revenue generated by the game, the revenue in 2020 is 250 million U.S. dollars, and the expenditure in 2021 is 500 million U.S. dollars.
You can also turn to the failed promises of many VR startups in the past decade that have raised millions of dollars in funding but are not ready for prime-time consumer adoption. VR startups raised US$900 million in 2016, but due to many failures to deliver, it plummeted to US$280 million in 2018. In recent years, Oculus has gained popularity again. For example: Facebook changed its brand name to Meta, Oculus jumped to the number one free app in the iOS App Store this Christmas, and so on.
Before the rise of Axie Infinity, there were many other blockchain-based games that failed (again…have existed since 2018, but achieved great success in 2021). This article introduces some of these games in detail and explains The related unique challenges the Ethereum gas price and creates friction within the platform. Axie solved this problem with Ronin sidechain wallet. Just like investing in any traditional game startup, there are inherent “hit risks”.
So, we are back to this question, why is it now? I think this is a combination of these three forces:
1. Market timing
2. Technology (blockchain, equipment)
3. Prepare for Generation Z.
Market timing-COVID-19 / pandemic
It is hard to ignore the impact of pandemics and home orders on the growth of the metaverse. People of all ages must become more comfortable digitally living and doing things at home—whether it’s work, ordering groceries, visiting a doctor or veterinarian via telemedicine, or even spending time with friends and family on Zoom or FaceTime. Even from a personal point of view, I have never had online friends before 2020-Twitter and my own global online community Gen Z VCs have contributed to this growth. I have also never worked from home, attended a virtual concert, or used Zoom outside of a work environment (I can now say that I have attended a wedding, baby shower, etc.).
Facebook changes its name to Meta
You only need to look at the Google Trends data for the word “metaverse” in the past year, and you can see a real and tangible turning point when Facebook changed its name to Meta in October. When the world’s largest social network claims that their product focus is too narrow and all bet on the Metaverse… people will pay attention . There is no harm in announcing an investment of $10 billion for its own version of Metaverse.
Today you can experience the Metaverse in many different forms, from web-based Metaverses such as Roblox, console-based Metaverses, such as Animal Crossing through Nintendo Switch, and VR-based Metaverses through Oculus, such as Meta’s Horizon Worlds or VRChat, or even use your iPhone for AR-based Metaverses, such as Pokemon GO.
I would say that from an investment point of view, I am more optimistic about network-based virtual worlds and Metaverses, mainly because I think there is minimal friction in gaining mass adoption. You can use Oculus, Nintendo Switch, and Roblox for quick level settings. Oculus reportedly sold 10 million Quest 2 VR headsets in the past year (as of December 2021), making it the most successful VR headset in the world. However, it still pales in comparison to the 97 million Nintendo Switch consoles sold (and the 35 million copies of Animal Crossing Friends currently handed over to consumers through the Switch)…not to mention the 50 million on Roblox every day Active users do not need any additional hardware to play. From the perspective of these numbers, Roblox has more daily active users (50 million) than Spain’s total population (47 million).
In other words, before we can work, live, and play in Metaverse for several days, we need to make more technological advances. As a data point, I have almost completely read articles and writing about metaverses on my computer in the past 2 days. I have worn about half of the Blu-ray glasses, but I still have a headache and need to take a break to look at my screen. I think we need years to work, live and play in Metaverse (especially VR) for several days.
Generation Z preparation
The above two reasons are widely cited as the two major driving factors for the adoption of Metaverse, but I also think that Gen Z preparations of Metaverse played a role, and the young and digitally native Gen Z paved the way.
MAU and average user age (mainly Gen Z) top new era Metaverse platform.
I have always been a clear supporter of Roblox’s success and will continue to delve into case studies on partnerships in fashion, music/concerts, etc. However, if you view the largest web-based virtual worlds or Metaverse worlds by user group (ie: Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft)… the vast majority are Generation Z. We have become accustomed to digital life, so that the metaworld is indeed not a new concept. The younger generation is embracing the monetization opportunities brought about by these types of resale economies, and Club Penguin or Webkinz does not exist for us. Gen Z focuses on side business and entrepreneurship. These platforms allow us to be creative, build/create, and make money through ownership.Earlier this year, a study showed that people spend 5 times more money on blockchain-based games than traditional games.
Jamie Burke perfectly described this phenomenon in the context of the recent success of Axie Infinity. He said: “When the value can be freely transferred outside the platform and the value earned or purchased can be easily converted into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. When it comes to currency, players will spend more money in the game.” This is the core difference between owning Webkinz in the digital world and owning Axie in the digital world.
As Gen Z gradually transitions from Roblox to other Metaverse platforms, it creates real opportunities for Metaverses such as The Sandbox and Decentraland to own these audiences and monetize them accordingly, or other blockchain-based games to win younger audiences. The heart desires to both play and make money.
Let us not forget the scale of this opportunity in the future-the market size of Metaverse cannot be ignored. It is estimated that there will be a market opportunity of US$800 billion by 2024 (compared to US$478 billion in 2020).
Early adopters in metaverses and use cases
Fashion in the Metaverse
When it comes to bridging the gap between the digital world and the physical world, the fashion industry seems to be most prepared to embrace the Metaverse. This year, from the crazy cooperation and activation of Vans, Nike, Ralph Lauren and other brands on various platforms This is proved by Balenciaga, Gucci, Uniqlo and so on.
Why skin creates opportunities for brands
Luxury and mass retailers should care about Metaverse, because one of the biggest opportunities for in-game monetization is through skins, which are customizable add-ons that allow you to change the appearance of your avatar (such as clothing, accessories, etc.). According to reports, the fur market reaches US$40 billion annually, which is hard to ignore. You combine this $40 billion market opportunity with the emerging theme of “meet users where they are”. In many cases, in game ecosystems such as Roblox or Fortnite, you have a magical brand moment. Attract the target audience in a way that is both real and authentic and profitable. And none of this has the physical limitations of production in the physical world-theoretically you can create clothing items without gravity restrictions, without worrying about excessive inventory or discounts, or changes in labor costs. Take the digital fashion house The Fabricant as an example, and the way they make digital clothing items and collections. Australian Fashion Week, The Fabricant brought the Animator coat to life, “made of liquid metal and enhanced anti-gravity tentacles”, something that cannot be physically replicated in the real world.
In theory, the monetization potential of brands in the Metaverse is unlimited. For consumers, the value of skins/collectibles obtained from overtime has real potential to increase-Metaverse has created a real and tangible resale economy from which users of any age can benefit. My favorite example is the digital Gucci bag on Roblox, which was resold for more than $4,000 (more than the IRL version) after the Gucci Garden experience. I even experienced this when decorating my *very cute* profile picture on Roblox, as shown in the picture below-Roblox x Zara Larsson’s “Heart Gaze” face shape is a limited supply, and prices are skyrocketing in the secondary market . Users who saw the value of this particular “face” when they bought it have been able to make 50 times the profit by selling it, and hope that the value will continue to rise because there is only a limited supply of 17,000 pieces.
Brand Cooperation in Metaverse: 2021 Edition
The skins and digital collectibles in Metaverse provide huge monetization opportunities for brands and consumers. The figure below outlines the various partnerships and collaborations taking place in the network-based Metaverses such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing in 2021.
In 2021, the main Metaverse platform will cooperate with well-known brands
Many of these are developed through Roblox’s partner team / “top down” is not directly handed over to the game developer but yourself. In addition, big brands usually work with agents or consultants to help complete some of these large-scale collaborations. Forever 21 has partnered with Metaverse creative company Virtual Brand Group to help them launch their “Shop City” experience in Roblox, allowing users to create their own fashion stores (I broadcast this partnership on Bloomberg TV. If you want to know For more information, please proceed in December). These activities also include short-term real-life/virtual collaborations (such as the Gucci Gardens experience on Roblox that lasts only 2 weeks), as well as long-term or indefinite collaborations, such as Vans’ Vans World skate park in Roblox. In contrast, when you consider activation in The Sandbox, brands are more likely to always have a longer-term presence because they need to acquire land/real estate to have a virtual presence. Given the scarcity, this may only increase over time. Over time, value is added on the platform (as opposed to the unlimited potential of launching new games or experiences in Roblox).
I believe there is a great opportunity for 1.3 million Roblox developers (and independent UGC creators on other Metaverse game platforms) to directly bring these experiences and technologies that may help achieve this goal into reality. For example, when a brand contacts a game developer to customize the experience, there is a lot of legal work, insurance, and things that these small teams or individual developers need to consider. This has to do with the creator economy and tools that support the next generation of creators… I bet that many of these creators will become gamers. Here are some early examples of well-known brands working with creators to turn their visions into reality in Metaverse:
- Vans World collaborated with Roblox game studio Gang Stockholm to create a Vans skate park based on the real Vans space.
- Gucci collaborated with designers cSapphire and Rook Vanguard to create products, they are Roblox creators with a popular following.
- Stella McCartney collaborated with community creator Samuel Jordan, who was called “Builder Boy” in his virtual collection.
- Tommy Hilfiger allowed the creators of Roblox to play their role in designing the series. That is: @PolarcubArt took over the backpack of Tommy Jeans, and @MiracleDropsRBX designed a nylon crossbody bag and a unique skateboard.
- NASCAR worked with a 2-person development team (Badimo) to create a 10-day event in their popular game Jailbreak, which attracted 24 million users throughout the activation process.
Brands can also create their own gaming experience if they prefer to have an end-to-end experience and monetize it, as we saw in 2021 for brands such as Off-White, Selfridges, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton.
Just because a brand is activated in a metaverse does not mean that they will form a partnership with another. For example, Balenciaga created their own virtual experience on Epic’s Unreal Engine Afterworld to launch their Fall 21 series, and then launched a large-scale activation of Fortnite later this year. Ralph Lauren also launched a series in Zepeto’s metaverse, and then launched a complete Winter Escape experience in Roblox with skins. This is mainly because people of different age groups gather in different Metaverses, so by ensuring cross-platform partnerships, brands can attract multiple audiences.
It is expected that more brands will get involved in Metaverse in 2022, whether by creating virtual lands and experiences in Sandbox, creating local experiences in Roblox, developing their own games, or launching NFT series to eventually migrate to Metaverse.
Music in the Metaverse
During the COVID-19 period, virtual concerts have become more and more popular, taking place on platforms such as the Meta Festival platform, Zoom or Moment House/Single Music. I will delve into three specific musician/artist activities in the cross-platform Metaverse and why each activity is important for the artist’s income potential and connection with the fan base.
I also think that musicians and artists will attract the Metaverse to the greatest extent, because I think the enthusiasm of the music industry is better than the fashion industry. When we see the number of Gen Z and the obsession with creators and the number of large artists like Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X and others able to attract fans to the Metaverse, it is clear that this creates a huge opportunity for the Metaverse platform Same as startups.
Travis Scott on Fortnite
Fortnite has always been an early winner in creating a concert experience in the Metaverse. The first meta-festival concert in my memory that attracted the attention of the mass media was Travis Scott’s “Astronomy” concert in Fortnite in April 2020. Although Travis Scott has been a problematic character since the Astroworld tragedy (his skin on Fortnite has even been removed from the market), his pioneering experience in Metaverse is still worth noting and provides A strong case study, because he was one of the first mainstream celebrities to bring his fan base into the virtual world. Note: I am not a fan of Travis Scott and do not condone his actions.
The best way to show the solemnity and potential of a virtual Metaverse event is to show a face-to-face comparison with the activations in the Metaverse. The following compares Scott’s 2018-2019 lead tour in North America and his 5 concert global tour in Fortnite’s virtual reality.
It can be said that the most valuable asset of creators is their time, and the length of each Fortnite concert is about 10 minutes. If you multiply it by 5, which is his entire Fortnite global set, it’s even less than an hour (and shorter than a single face-to-face presentation). There are rumors that Scott made $20 million from his Fortnite tour. Although this is only one-third of his personal tour income, let us infer how much he actually made per hour. It is conservatively assumed that his time on stage for each concert is approximately 2 hours, which means that he will perform 110 hours on the tour and earn US$545,000 per hour in person. In Metaverse, he actually earns $24 million per hour, which means that in theory, Travis Scott earns 44 times his income from immersive concerts in Metaverse.
Regardless of income potential, the fan base he is entertaining is 34 times larger than what he can do on tour in person.Metaverse is equally important for audience building, interaction with top fans, and the discovery of new fans who may not be able to participate in person for various reasons. During a pandemic when global travel and touring became more difficult than ever, Travis Scott was able to attract his global fan base without leaving home. And did it in an immersive way, bringing fans into outer space, underwater, and everything in between. A year later, when you fast forward to Ariana Grande’s live performance in Fortnite, an estimated 78 million users watched her performance (her income is about 20 million US dollars).
Today, most of the artist’s income comes from touring performances and live performances. Although I don’t think face-to-face tours will disappear anytime soon, Metaverse has created an incredible opportunity for artists (mainstream and independent artists) to attract their fans through virtual means and profit from it accordingly.
Snoop Dogg on the Sandbox
Snoop Dogg’s role as a creator and celebrity in Metaverse should not be surprising, at least for the crypto community.Snoop Dogg has always been an early adopter of blockchain technology. As of September 2021, he has approximately $17 million in Ethereum-based NFTs (including 9 Crypto Punks).
Unlike the Travis Scott or Ariana Grande examples above, Snoop achieved a permanent position in the Metaverse during the development of “Snoopverse” in The Sandbox… This is very epic.
For artists, the incredible thing about this model is that they can get passive income through NFT. In the case of Snoop, he sells NFT tickets (ie: 1,000 private party passes), 10,000 avatar skins, and 20,000 vehicles. Cars and so on to achieve this.
People also care about whether they can visit Snoop, just like being an active participant and landowner, someone paid up to $450,000 to become Snoop’s neighbor in Metaverse. There are only 122 pieces of land and 67 high-quality land + NFT bundles. There is an inherent scarcity that drives the market and opportunities for these valuable experiences-such as the opportunity to participate in a private ticketing pool party with Snoop and ask him whatever you want Questions asked.Allegedly, selected groups can also host private Snoop parties on their own Snoopverse land.
The monetization opportunities in The Sandbox go far beyond the skin. I think these experiences are also more appealing to older viewers who are born with stronger spending power. Unlike Fortnite or Roblox partnerships, these partnerships are more expensive. I hope to see more technologies used to open Metaverse. These technologies support the experience of renting/sharing/group buying to help increase the traffic of ordinary people, and even retrospectively reward existing Snoop fans. When the transaction is not conducted on the blockchain, it is difficult to fully verify the latter, but it can prove to be an interesting way to reward long-standing top fans.
On Roblox, Lil Nas X vs. Zara Larsson
The experience of Roblox artists is similar to that of Fortnite and even Ed Sheeran in Pokemon GO in November 2021.What I will outline in this example is not only the potential of mainstream artists such as Lil Nas X, but also the potential of small artists such as Zara Larsson.
Lil Nas X became famous during the pandemic. A rookie artist saw his song “Old Town Road” as the longest-lasting number one in the history of the US charts, and at the same time found his voice and fame on TikTok , Has nearly 27 million fans. Although Travis Scott achieved immediate success in Fortnite, Lil Nas X achieved the same success in Roblox a few months later, becoming the first major concert on the platform. Lil Nas X received 33 million views during his two-day/four-show experience, and reportedly gained nearly $10 million in merchandise sales through Roblox. Both Lil Nas X and Roblox have achieved great success.
For this article, what is more noteworthy is how Zara Larsson succeeded in Roblox. Although it is still very successful with nearly 14 million listeners a month on Spotify, most people will not clarify the Swedish pop singer Larsson as a mainstream top artist. In terms of context, Lil Nas X has 53 million monthly listeners, Justin Bieber has 94 million, Ariana Grande has 80 million, Taylor Swift has 60 million, and so on.
In May, Larsson collaborated with Roblox to promote her “Poster Girl” album through a virtual dance party in Metaverse.Fans can watch her performances, buy her merchandise for their avatars, take selfies (ie, take their avatars next to Zara), and play virtual treasure hunts. Her show attracted 1.6 million users, but more importantly, she earned more than $1 million in revenue through skin/commodity sales alone. Even more impressive is that the price of each item may be as low as $1-which means that this feat is likely to be the result of a large number of fans activated, rather than a few wealthy fans who have reduced their prices by hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
During the pandemic, artists like Larsson no longer need to fight for fair remuneration on streaming platforms to get through the storm, but can turn to the virtual by activating her loyal fan base and finding new ones. Concerts and digital goods. She pointed out in an article on the BBC, “It takes a long, long time and millions of streaming media to get seven-figure income from YouTube or Spotify.”
With mainstream and independent artists embracing the Metaverse, long-tail artists have a huge opportunity to embrace their “100 true fans”. For example, I have been a big fan of Ingrid Michaelson for many years and I have seen her at least 6 times in concerts. She won’t play in large stadiums, but I bet her fans (including myself) will watch her performance in the Metaverse.
It’s important to remember that we have seen artists bring immersive concerts to Metaverse very early, and I’m very happy to see these concerts expand beyond the partner teams in Roblox and other platforms. It will become more accessible and prominent in 2022. There are still to be resolved at the platform level (ie: the avatar of Ava Max funny fell into the lava pit and died during the performance, which was recorded by fans on YouTube), and it may be the artist himself and their team holding hands , But I see a bright future at the intersection of Metaverse and music.
This is how we will bring the next 1 million users to Metaverse. Musicians and artists open the door to their most active fans.
Open and closed Metaverse
An open Metaverse and the idea of interoperability
Let’s talk about interoperability, which is the ability to travel between virtual spaces with the same virtual assets (ie: avatars and digital items). The vision of an open metaverse focused on interoperability has been touted by many NFTs or blockchain-enabled startups that have emerged in this field, and can be associated with avatars, transportation, and even the digital world itself.
Taking Axie Infinity and the cute NFT monsters people get in Metaverse as an example, the founder believes that “people should also be able to use their Axies in other games, which is natural. They are NFT; they should be open. So. This will definitely come.”
Genies is a Metaverse avatar company that provides services to celebrities such as Justin Bieber. Its business model depends on interoperability. They hope to create a universal avatar for celebrities (eventually consumers, currently in closed beta) that can be used in an open Metaverse. It simplifies Web3 for artists when performing cross-domain performances, and creates a unified existence (avatars, wearable devices, etc.) that consumers will recognize. Genies cooperated with Warner Music Group earlier this year and signed a cooperation agreement to cooperate with Universal Music Group in December, which means that we may see more artists entering the Metaverse starting from their digital avatars in 2022.Genies (Lerer Hippeau portco) also quickly made it easier for consumers to use their technology-I am very happy to be on their waiting list and join their Discord with more than 18,000 other Genies fans.
This idea refers not only to people and avatars, but also to travel and transportation. Seed-stage startup Jadu just raised $7 million to launch NFT jetpacks and hoverboards, which can be paired with external avatars (such as Larva Labs’ Meebits). Compete in Jadu’s AR application called The Mirrorverse.
In my opinion, the most important thing is probably the ability to bring external NFTs and collectibles themselves into the physical space and between the world, such as The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Cryptovoxels. If you spend $2.7 million to buy Bored Ape, you are probably doing it for influence, access to incredible communities, and potential benefits as an investment. But I think that you can not only show Ape in a virtual art gallery like Spatial, but also walk around in the digital world as Ape and use it as a core part of your identity in the Metaverse. Boring Ape Yacht Club purchased land in the sandbox earlier this year (planning to allocate land to community members), so I expect this to be fruitful in 2022, and other NFT projects with strong communities may follow. Sandbox even owns 31 boring apes (worth about US$9 million), so they have invested heavily in enabling anyone to “turn the 2D collection image NFT into a 3D playable animation avatar that can run, jump, socialize, and play” Play and interact with other peer avatars in their ecosystem”.
The Sandbox owns Ape #3749 “The Captain” and hopes to make it into 3D in the Metaverse.
The closed Metaverse and the vision of a “large technology” company
Large technology companies like Meta are building “walled gardens” like Horizon Worlds, which are essentially at odds with companies such as The Sandbox. In a decentralized Metaverse like The Sandbox or Decentraland, anyone should be able to build, own, and monetize their creations in the Metaverse. However, the Metaverse of the Meta version may be similar to Facebook’s existence in Web2, where the parent company owns and benefits from user data, and consumers are only active participants. Winklevoss Twins has just raised $400 million to build a decentralized alternative to Zuckerberg’s Meta, and the broader crypto community is also skeptical of the impact of large technologies on Metaverse in the future.
Companies such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite are essentially walled gardens. For example, if you purchased the Zara Larsson skin in Roblox from her poster girl journey, you cannot take your avatar or the skin outside of the Roblox ecosystem. This may change in the future, but for now, the company is controlled by shareholders and creates value in its closed ecosystem.
Enterprise in the Metaverse
I detailed a large number of consumer-centric use cases in Metaverse, but what about the enterprise? How does the company enter the metaverse and what does it look like?
The development of virtual headquarters
In Metaverse, the best representative of American companies (or corporate circles, really) is to bring together remote employees through the development of virtual headquarters. As the world shifts to remote work due to COVID-19, workers have become accustomed to flexible schedules and mixed work environments. For large companies like Facebook, Google, and other multi-million-dollar companies, build an interesting office culture through free lunches, ping pong tables, nap cabins, etc… How does this translate into a remote-first future? ? Can a company build a culture remotely? The answer seems to be the Metaverse.
Many companies are buying land in Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Cryptovoxels to establish their corporate headquarters in Metaverse, and they are moving quickly. On Christmas Eve, Business Insider detailed how land sales in the sandbox accounted for a quarter of the total $300 million in NFT sales in the past week. However, the plots for sale in Decentraland are more expensive-let’s call them the “Beverly Hills” of Metaverse. Of all the top 10 sales in the past week, the most expensive was $758,250, which was all digital land in Decentraland. So what will these virtual headquarters look like?
- For Neustreet, it is a three-story building on the private island of Cryptovoxels. The founder bought it for $13,000 and built it himself-equipped with co-working space, NFT art gallery, and organizing their office holiday parties and other events Space is in December.
- For ConsenSys, the maker of Metamask, they hired a construction company to build a virtual headquarters in the form of their logo in Decentraland, which includes a floating bar, an amphitheater, and so on. They held a party in September to celebrate MetaMask reaching 10 million monthly active users, and they plan to hold more events in the future.
- For the accounting firm PWC, their Hong Kong branch bought land in The Sandbox as an opportunity to “interact with customers and the community”. A good example of a non-Web3 local company entering Metaverse.
Enterprise Plug and Play Software
Having a business presence in Metaverse does not mean that you must establish a virtual headquarters. Startups such as Gather, Teamflow, Virbela, and SoWork are combining video chat with a customizable world to more closely simulate the office environment.
Microsoft is also racing to win the hearts of enterprises in the Metaverse, which makes a lot of sense. In July 2021, the monthly active users of Microsoft Teams reached 250 million-which is more MAU than any consumer-oriented metaspace platform (such as Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, etc.) we have discussed so far. Microsoft is building Mesh, a virtual meeting platform for mixed reality that can be used across headsets, computers, and phones. Imagine that instead of dying in a 4-hour Zoom meeting, you might as well have a meeting with your avatar in Mesh. The avatar still retains your voice and portrait (but you don’t have to get up an hour in advance. camera).
The role of NFT in the Metaverse
In this white paper, we discussed NFT, but did not really discuss NFT. Axies is NFT, the plot in The Sandbox is NFT, Jadu’s hoverboard is NFT, and Boring Ape is NFT. In short, NFT (non-fungible token) can serve as a good way for daily consumers to enter the meta world. Portal.
The rapid rise of NFT
If you look at the market as a whole, we see that NFT sales have increased 7 times in just 3 months, as shown in the figure below. You can also turn to the fast-growing NFT market, such as OpenSea. Since the beginning of 2021, as of November, its transaction volume has exceeded US$10 billion, which has quadrupled in just 3 months. Most importantly, OpenSea accounted for 97% of the NFT market transaction volume in the third quarter, so they have established their leading position in this field.
So why do people buy NFT?
Well, they are virtual art-people collect them like traditional art and want to show them accordingly. They have currency rises (and risks), just like any other investment, they can also be a broader art portfolio, which is simply a beautiful-looking part. In addition to the potential utility of Metaverse and other community-oriented benefits, people buy them for art/investment. You can check the NFT in the following places:
- In the digital world, you often see them as people’s profile pictures on Twitter, or display them in virtual museums/galleries (such as Spatial, Lerer Hippeau portco) or virtual worlds (such as Decentraland).
- In the physical world, the NFT you have can display IRL in various ways. Maybe this is a screen in your home that can display your NFT in turn (because you own Crypto Punks, Meebits, Doodles, Bored Apes-each means different things to you), just like the company we invest in Like Danvas in Lerer Hippeau in December 2021, or it may be a real gallery, you can visit with your friends, just like the case of Bright Moments, it is an NFT gallery (organized as DAO), physically located Venice Beach, California. Personally, if I own one, I would love to display a cute little graffiti NFT in my apartment (but the current reserve price is 7 ETH / 26,000 US dollars, and the girl does not have that kind of money ¯\ (ツ) / ¯ ).
NFT and celebrities: bringing in the masses
It’s not just the crypto community that is driving this adoption-celebrities are participating in NFT operations and bringing their huge fan base.
- Paris Hilton (Paris Hilton) talked about NFT on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and launched the series himself.
- Reese Witherspoon purchased her first NFT in October 2021 and expressed interest in supporting more female artists to launch the series.
- Tom Brady launched his own NFT creation/community platform Autograph, which not only includes his own NFT, but also includes the NFTs of celebrities such as Naomi Osaka, The Weeknd, Derek Jeter, Tony Hawk, etc.
- Martha Stewart (Martha Stewart) is planning a longer-term NFT strategy, and will launch a new series related to the seasons and holidays every year-in 2021, she launched a “carving series” on Halloween!
Despite these billion-dollar figures and the crazy momentum we have experienced in the past year, we are still too early in terms of mass consumer adoption of NFT-as of June 2021, only 2% of Americans (or 400 Ten thousand people) own to buy or sell NFT. My extended family and I spent the Christmas holidays and they actually banned me from using the word NFT because they found it annoying (oh, okay). Trying to explain whether things are replaceable or irreplaceable can sometimes feel like a dying business. But NFT is still very important in bringing the masses into the Metaverse, which is best achieved when combined with culture and the value or experience usually found in real life. I will detail two of my favorite examples below, each of which explains the importance of NFT in achieving large-scale migration to Metaverse.
Adidas: Into the Metaverse
In December, Adidas cooperated with several top projects such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Pixel Vault NFT and launched a collection of 30,000 NFTs, thus entering the Metaverse. The series sold out in just a few seconds, with net sales of $23.5 million in one afternoon.
Why should we care about this?
Well, let us first consider these partnership signals. When I think of the iconic Adidas partnership, I think of their collaboration with Kanye/Yeezy in 2016, and then their collaboration with Beyonce/Ivy Park in 2019, a sign of collaboration with famous artists. Sexual and unique series. Fast forward to 2021, the partnership/collaboration that Adidas hyped up is the NFT community with the Boring Apes-it’s important. When closing the gap with the Metaverse, it is important to establish connections with the community to make the transition as realistic as possible, so this is a wise move by Adidas. If you want to learn more, I talked about these partnerships and the cultural significance of Adidas in the Metaverse on Bloomberg TV in December.
This also creates an opportunity for Adidas fans, who are just excited about new products and experiences, not clear encryption or Metaverse. At least 9,620 NFTs are reserved for general sales, which means that in theory anyone can buy “Into the Metaverse” NFTs, whether they are crypto enthusiasts or not. You can basically enter an exclusive club, and Adidas promises to have access to physical and digital products and experiences. This could be the limited edition hoodie and beanie you wear at the gym, or the ticket to an Adidas event in Metaverse, where your NFT is actually your ticket.Around the same time in December, Nike even purchased a company called RTFKT Studios to produce NFT and virtual sneakers—another attempt by a large clothing company to bridge the gap between the digital world and the physical world.
The launch of the NFT series will continue to provide opportunities to bring dedicated communities into the Metaverse in a way that promises products, communities, and experiences.
Adidas has adopted a more popular market approach, launching 30,000 NFT collections that are more similar to tickets.Dolce & Gabbana took a slightly different approach when it launched the exclusive series “Collezione Genesi” containing only 9 NFTs in October 2021, with net sales of 6 million U.S. dollars, and set a record for fashionable NFTs. record. Five of them have physical counterparts paired with digital NFTs, and the other four are only digital NFTs. Every purchase in the series also promises to participate in future events.
One day, I dream of participating in the MET Gala (not all of us)-what if Anna Wintour decides to launch a Dolce & Gabbana-style series where each digital NFT corresponds to a MET Gala ticket? Or have the opportunity to join a community where you helped decide the theme of the year? Regardless of the reward, the money will still be used to support the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but this time tickets may remain value after a certain date.
Companies can use Adidas or Dolce & Gabbana’s approach and still succeed—the most important thing is to do things that are real to the brand and the existing community, rather than trying to adapt to a model that should theoretically work in the Metaverse.
Concluding remarks: ideas, questions and opportunities
In the past few days, I have spent hours researching, reading, and writing about Metaverse now to focus on the landscape itself and future opportunities.
Let me first say that I am optimistic about Metaverse and believe that 2022 will be an exciting time at the intersection of technology, consumers and culture-I am very happy to invest in the next generation of founders and companies to build our virtual future. The following is my special feeling Several areas of interest:
- Infrastructure supporting the creation of digital NFTs paired with physical items: As we saw in the Dolce and Gabbana examples above, the pairing of digital and physical items can create a magical (and valuable) combination.They collaborated with UNXD, a well-planned digital cultural market, and jointly created and auctioned 9 of their works. But what if you want to turn your Pokemon card/collectible or your favorite Rolex into an NFT to wear or display? Startups like 4K are doing this for luxury collectibles, but we may see other companies dealing with issues such as identity verification, tokenization, and custody of IRL collectibles. Or maybe you are decorating your room with Metaverse and want to bring your and your best friend’s favorite photos? In Sandbox, you can use their VoxEdit software to create NFTs for the Sandbox market, but I would like to see something more similar to Genies, the project you are creating can be used or stored in general. And I hope it is very consumer friendly-in general, creating NFTs and digital art still feels too difficult. My 19-year-old non-encrypted mother tongue sister has made such beautiful artworks, and my apartment is full of them, and I would love to find a way to guide her to create artworks or NFTs in Metaverse that she can actually sell.
- The intersection of engagement, rewards, and loyalty—especially for brands and creators: In 2021, we will see many brands leap into Metaverse in various ways. Although some people focus on shorter events or experiences, I think many people will more seriously consider a more permanent existence in the Metaverse-they need technology to help them inspire their digital communities. Maybe it can associate IRL with spending in Metaverse with the brand and reward customers in this way, or create hierarchical access to certain events based on engagement. I think it will be difficult for ordinary brand/IP holders to control this, and industry plug-and-play solutions will emerge. Creators and celebrities with a large number of followers, communities, and personal brands can also succeed in the Metaverse (as we see in Snoop Dogg, and other people, such as Paris Hilton, she is in her My own “Paris World” hosted a New Year’s Eve event on Roblox-I participated!)-Similar concepts and challenges apply, I would love to see more solutions that can achieve mass adoption. A few days ago I posted on Twitter about Paris Hilton’s existence on Roblox and the importance of selfies in the Metaverse/her role in it-think about how she activates her community around selfies in the Metaverse, and Create an experience from it, whether inside or outside of the Roblox ecosystem (as Paris said…that’s hot). Connecting the world and letting loyalty work will be huge.
- Unknowable tool ecosystem and support for game developers: When I delve into the activation of Roblox and individual creators/developers of brand collaboration, they tend to focus on only one ecosystem (ie: if you develop within Roblox, You are fully invested in Roblox and may not spend time making a living on Minecraft). However, regardless of the platform, any developer must consider expanding their games through partnerships, external legal assistance, and transaction structures. Maybe even IRL monetization opportunities can be paired well with the virtual representation of their games. The creator economy of Metaverse will undoubtedly flourish, and I hope to see more technology support developers to promote these new economies.
- New blockchain-based games and assets that support open Metaverse and interoperability: I believe in open Metaverse very much. I think there will be more successful and community games like Axie Infinity, and startups like Jadu that connect avatars and NFTs to a new game or world. I want to be able to easily jump back and forth between the worlds without worrying about what I bring. Dematerialization is innovating in the fashion industry, and the products in their stores can also appear in VRChat, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels and Somnium Space. I also think that accessibility also plays a role here-through leasing, shared ownership, etc., and technologies that support this transition, attract more consumers at affordable prices. For ordinary consumers who are just starting to get involved in the cryptocurrency/gaming world, spending a few hundred dollars on Axies may be a burden, rather than entering Roblox for free.
- Temperance in the Metaverse: When we explore new worlds, challenges arise along with these new discoveries.Distinguishing between real people in Metaverse and moderators run by administrators or even AI-generated avatars may bring some questions or questions. The online de-inhibition effect explains why people can lag behind masks, screens or anonymous identities when they often show bad behavior online-as we see in the TikTok comment section on the web or any real online forum. Naturally there will be bad actors sabotaging the experience of others. It will be important to use technology and training to help platforms and startups minimize this situation.
- Computing power: Especially in VR, we can even operate the headset and the world with large capacity, it is too early. Meta’s Horizon Worlds can only accommodate up to 20 participants, and even traditional Metaverse games like Fortnite can only accommodate 100 to 128 players at the same time (this does not include VR yet). Intel claims that Metaverse needs to increase its computing power by 1,000 times to make these bold Metaverse visions a reality. It will be interesting to see new startups addressing these areas to increase the capacity and overall quality of experience in the Metaverse space.
Finally, this is a big world, I mean Metaverse. As consumers, it expands our possibilities-new income potential and income stream, digital representation to become whoever we want to be, and to exist in a brand new digital/social way, without limits. With COVID, it is difficult to travel and experience new things-VR and Metaverse have changed this. In the past two years, I have known more people than I have known in my life-all online. Metaverse is of great significance to artists, musicians, governments, large companies, and start-up companies. If the consumer is there, the rest will come. 2022 will be an important year for Metaverse, and I am very happy to be able to live and experience it with everyone.
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