Virtual plots of land at Decentraland, the first and largest blockchain-based metaverse, have sold for millions of dollars, and its casino has racked up nearly $8 million in revenue.
Supported by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that immersive virtual reality worlds were the future of social media, as well as Citi’s estimate last week of a $13 trillion economy ‘by 2030, venture capitalists and developers have poured billions into various projects.
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So, how many users does crypto’s hottest, hippest metaverse have after two years? About 18,000 a day, Miles Anthony, founder of Decentral Games Told CoinDesk crypto industry press briefing in early February.
This is after two years in business. Compare that to Fortnite, a massively multiplayer game world that’s building a non-adventure section that it plans to turn into a true metaverse. Launched in 2017, it had 75.5 million monthly users in 2019, according to Epic Games, and around a quarter of a billion users.
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Although metaverses are functionally different from more traditional MMOs, they are still broadly classified as games in the non-fungible token (NFT) world.
In blockchain-based metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox, everything is made of NFTs, from plots to avatars that players use to socialize — and, like many big corporations that pour money and marketing into the hope of the metaverse – engage in commerce and connect with brands.
The problem is that the number of users is not expected to grow like Fortnite’s, from 50 million in 2017 to 350 million in 2021.
First of all, the technology is not there yet. The virtual headsets required for a truly immersive 3D experience are expensive and don’t even come close to the graphical user experience standards of modern games. The 2D experience is not even available on PC and mobiles.
“Decentraland’s graphics look like something out of a Nintendo or PlayStation game from the late 1990s,” Financial Times global technology correspondent Tim Bradshaw wrote on April 5. “Even so, my early 2020s Mac struggled to make them smooth.”
Player 1 not ready
But the larger problem is that metaverse suffers from a kind of identity crisis: are they meant to be entertainment or something larger and more complex?
Virtual reality is a term that tends to be thought of in gaming terms, but it’s very clear that venture capitalists (VCs) and brands rushing to market with experiential marketing offerings and commercial spaces are very clearly focused on the “reality” part.
The fictional metaverses were places to escape reality by living another semi-fantasy life – a life where you’re more beautiful, more athletic, more successful, and can forget about your dreary life and your job going nowhere.
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However, by far the most successful true metaverses are essentially pre-blockchain gaming platforms. Roblox, with 55 million daily active users, is very much a platform for games from other developers, some of which are interactive metaverses.
Many investors and analysts have pointed to Fortnite concerts by artists like Ariana Grande which have attracted millions of viewers. Still, Fortnite is an MMO game that had to create a no-combat zone for its gigs. While its CEO said the platform is evolving, entertainment is still key.
That said, Warner Music Group is planning concerts in The Sandbox, the #2 blockchain-based metaverse, and Meta has its own eye-catching concert plans.
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And yet, despite all the talk about metaverse users buying fashion NFTs to shine their avatars in a virtual show of style and status during the recent Decentraland Fashion Week, brands have focused on more business-like pursuits. traditional. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, not only sold NFT clothing and accessories, but also real estate.
Previously, Samsung had created a virtual pop-up store with entertainment it hoped would bring users into the merchandise merchandising room, and the fast-casual Chipotle channel allowed users of the metaverse (non-blockchain) Roblox to earn rewards. reward points good for real burritos. And the drugstore chain CVS is certainly not going to make a fortune selling virtual bandages in the virtual stores it creates.
Read more: Restaurant brands open virtual storefronts to attract Gen Z consumers
That’s the point that has investors betting on the Metaverse: No one knows if people really want to stop by for a virtual burrito after the gig is over.