Businesses worth a billion dollars take over Metaverse just like consumers shown increased interest in virtual, interactive, three-dimensional experiences taking place online.
While “Metaverse” is still a new concept, research firm Strategy Analytics found that the global Metaverse market is expected to reach nearly $ 42 billion by 2026. This could really be the case, as a handful of companies, including Nike and Walmart, have begun researching consumer experiences in metaverse environments.
NFT utility for brands launching in Metaverse
To understand how and why brands exploit Metaverse, it is crucial to highlight the role that NFT or irreplaceable tokens play in these ecosystems. While there has been an influx of NFTs in 2021, the rise of Metaverse is projected to highlight the importance of utility for NFTs.
Adrian Baschuk, founding partner at Ethernity Chain – a proven and licensed NFT platform – told Cointelegraph that every brand, company and important person will eventually have metaverses and NFT integration:
These are the “Myspace Days” of the NFT-metaverse interactive layer. Just as every company and individual has embraced some form of social media, so will NFT and Metaverse.
With that in mind, Baschuk said Ethernity recently brought its IP to The Sandbox, a blockchain-based metaverse ecosystem. Specifically, Ethernity has acquired desirable land in the sandbox to host galleries and a fully licensed NFT store. Baschuk explained that this will allow The Sandbox users to purchase wearable and collectible items from Ethernity NFT.
According to Baschuk, these wearable NFTs include sports jerseys that will be used to dress and provide special strength to The Sandbox avatars. “Zeke and Dak of the Dallas Cowboys will start this as the players’ wearing jerseys and braces will increase the skills and strength of the users ’avatars,” he said.
While this specific case may be to the liking of The Sandbox gaming community, the concept behind it is universal for brands entering Metaverse. Baschuk, for example, explained that NFTs within virtual ecosystems allow companies to monetize assets through a blockchain network, which increases interactivity for consumers and fans.
To put this in perspective, consumer electronics giant Samsung recently announced it will have a virtual replica of its physical store in New York City, located in Decentraland, the second leading metaverse ecosystem. The store, known as the “Samsung 837X shop”, will be available in Decentraland for a limited time.
A Samsung spokesman told Cointelegraph that the establishment of the Samsung 837X as a metaverse brand will provide consumers with an unlimited opportunity to connect with Samsung and its products in an impressive way:
“In our metaverse, the pillars of the sustainability, adaptability and connectivity brand will come to life in an experience showcasing state-of-the-art technology built into the Samsung product family. This virtual hub will become a place for our community to celebrate the convergence of technology, art, culture, fashion and music. “
A Samsung spokesman also mentioned that Decentraland has specifically given the company a platform that allows for a real metaverse of the Web3 metaverse. They mentioned that the Samsung community wanted the metaverse store to offer interactive tasks that would allow participants to earn wearable gadgets such as NFT badges, or opportunities to win exclusive Samsung clothing for avatars.
Overall, Samsung explained that its 837X store will serve as a foundation for a future that will offer visitors great usability. On the other hand, the company is looking for ways in which the badges acquired with the 837X will offer access and usability for future events and experiences in its virtual space. “In the future, we hope that everyone who visits our world will be able to improve their online experience in the metaverse and their real-world experience with Samsung products,” a Samsung spokesman commented.
While Samsung was one of the first major brands to open a virtual store in Decentraland this year, other organizations are following suit. Finally, Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open (AO), worked with Decentraland to host AO in metaverses. This virtual environment includes key areas of Melbourne Park, including Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park. AO Decentraland 2022 will take place from 17 to 30 January, reflecting the schedule of real-life tournaments.
Ridley Plummer, Tennis Australia NFT and metaverse project manager, told Cointelegraph that it was a natural advance to expand the event into metaverse. Plummer said this was also due to the closure of the borders caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for fans to attend the event in person:
“We can only have a certain number of people in the area and arenas, so we bring AO to the world by allowing fans to attend a virtual, interactive experience in Decentraland. This will improve the experience of watching our fans at home from their television, as it will give users a more voyeuristic view of what is happening in Melbourne Park. ”
Plummer explained that the AO metaverse environment includes entertainment hubs where fans can watch replays of tennis matches, along with historical footage of past tournaments. He noted that fans will have access to behind-the-scenes footage showing the players during training sessions and more during the final weekend of the event.
Plummer added that users in Decentraland can walk around Melbourne Park with their avatars to collect wearables and play virtual games to earn NFT. “There are products and brands that we can add within Decentraland that improve the experience for our partners, as well as in terms of playing for profit. In Decentraland, we have a kind of gameplay. “
The Blockchain-based metaverse offers more, but will the mainstream catch on?
Given the unique experience that NFT can bring to consumers and fans, it is equally important to emphasize the benefits offered by the blockchain-based metaverse ecosystem. For example, while many brands have begun to engage users through connected environments, blockchain networks enable the ownership of digital assets while demonstrating the true power of Web3.
Adam De Cata, head of partnerships at Decentraland, told Cointelegraph that the difference between a blockchain-based metaverse and a non-blockchain metaverse is interoperability:
“When it comes to interoperability and what it means for blockchain users, it can provide a myriad of gadgets and benefits. You can buy, trade and sell your digital clothing and receive these funds via cryptocurrency (which can be transferred to fiat if needed). As a creator, you can also receive a commission for the sale of wearable accessories.
De Cata added that open source platforms such as Decentraland further allow users to link their digital wallets to a platform to access certain constructions and scenes that may be exclusive to a particular NFT they already have: “We are still in the beginnings of research and it is exciting to think about the possibilities for the future with Web3. ”
Regarding interoperability, Sebastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox, told Cointelegraph that Metaverse enables the digital economy, noting that a true virtual ecosystem should allow avatar to be used on different platforms: “Metaverse means your avatar can run in countless virtual worlds with the same identity. This is only possible with blockchain technology, which gives users control over their identity, data and currency.
Borget further noted that virtual worlds have been around for more than 20 years, adding that many current metaverses are just centralized platforms:
“The value that centralized platforms bring through creation or presence is locked into the platform and worse, it is mostly captured by the platform instead of returning to users. For me, the real potential of Metaverse can only happen if there is technology that supports this digital economy and user sovereignty. “
While blockchain-based metaverses can offer more to both businesses and their users, the question remains whether this concept will be mainstreamed. De Cata commented that he was optimistic about the general acceptance, noting that Decentraland had seen the platform use almost the same number of wallets for guests and users with existing digital wallets. He said he was looking forward to feedback from the AO event. “I want to see what will happen during the AO in Decentraland. Market research is enough to determine the level of retention and user experience for events such as AO, and whether these users are cryptocurrency or not. “
It should also be noted that Samsung said that the company had an extremely positive response from visitors who came to the Samsung 837X. “Based on the response we received, we noticed that the Samsung 837X was visited by both experienced users and new researchers. It’s very exciting for us. “
Will metaverse experiences replace real life?
The Metaverse experience may be the next big innovation for brands and users, but some may be wondering if virtual environments will completely replace real experiences. After all, this could be due to the advanced capabilities available in blockchain-based metaverse environments.
For example, while the NFT gadget was revived through Metaverse, the trillion-dollar e-commerce sector was generally disrupted. To understand the extent of this, Justin Banon, co-founder of the Boson Protocol – a decentralized trade protocol – told Cointelegraph that brands end up looking for trading opportunities. “The essence of Metaverse is that it can be programmed and played, so it offers full capacity for a new wave of commerce.”
Banon, on the other hand, explained that the Boson Protocol bought one of the largest plots of land in Decentraland to host virtual stores that allow NFT to be carried wearable and then redeemed for physical items online or in store locations. For example, Boson Protocol recently launched a virtual store with DressX, a retailer of digital fashion clothing that allows the company to sell items to users in a metaverse that can be redeemed for physical versions. “Demand for Web3 features such as“ digital ”offerings is growing. There is no longer any demand for vanilla e-commerce, “he said.
While this is possible, De Cata commented that the time spent in Metaverse depends on individual users:
“Metaverse events will complement real-life events and experiences. We already see a mixture of both. Social content is crucial in the digital age in which we live. I draw from the technology adoption curves – early adopters can spend more and more time in Metaverse, while most know less time. “
Although it is difficult to predict the future grip of Metaverse, industry experts are confident that all brands will eventually adopt the metaverse model. Borget commented that he expects this trend to accelerate as brands look for new ways to digitally collaborate with users. “It makes sense for brands to recoup more value directly to users instead of spending it on advertising,” he remarked. And De Cata added that although “Metaverse” is on trend as a theme, he believes these virtual worlds are just an extension of social media platforms:
“Metaverse allows us to connect with like-minded individuals in a way that we don’t currently achieve by scrolling up and down in a mobile app. For the crypto community, interoperability is key. For non-crypto users who enter these environments, it is clear that they now enjoy them more than YouTube. ”