With Blockchain, the Metaverse and Digital Property Will Reach their True Potential
Once deemed fantastical, the immersive digital realms of sci-fi classics ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Avatar’ now echo in reality. Picture their protagonists: digital denizens of fully immersive, alternative realities, shifting seamlessly between dimensions. Such ideas might have felt like whimsical fiction spun from the looms of Hollywood imagination in a bygone era. Yet, as improbable as it may seem, technology's rapid advancement now propels these visions into a new epoch, swiftly paving the way for innovative breakthroughs.
In this three-dimensional universe known as the Metaverse - a vibrant, computer-generated cosmos that extends an open invitation to all - the ownership of digital estates has become a reality, a concept as mind-boggling as the Matrix's code streams. Here, individuals can explore, create, and communicate with others in manners as fluid and intuitive as the interplay of life outside the screen.
Meta + Universe = Metaverse
The Metaverse, according to Meta Platforms, Inc. (former Facebook Inc.) (1), represents a significant advancement in social interaction and serves as a successor to the mobile internet, enabling human connections beyond physical boundaries. Users can explore 2D and 3D virtual worlds, embody any identity, and unleash their creativity.
Metaverse Use Cases
Tokenize Real World Assets (RWA)
RTFKT Studios, known for its digital avatars and Metaverse collectibles, has joined forces with the footwear titan, Nike, to launch Cryptokicks iRL (2). Cryptokicks iRL is an NFT collection of unique digital sneakers encrypted on the Ethereum blockchain. Yet, these aren't mere digital trinkets. Each NFT is a golden ticket that can be exchanged for physical sneakers in the tangible world. Now, imagine this concept intertwining with other Metaverse initiatives. Users could then strut their stuff, showcasing their prized kicks in both the pixelated realm of the Metaverse and the tangible sidewalks of reality.
Own a Piece of Real Estate
The Sandbox, a decentralized virtual world operated by Animoca Brands' subsidiary (3), has become the pied piper of the virtual real estate gold rush. Starting its journey a decade ago as a widely popular mobile game with 40M downloads, it dared to venture where others hesitated, wedding NFTs with user-generated content in 2017. Since then, this platform has established partnerships with renowned brands such as Warner Music Group (4), Ubisoft (5), Gucci Vault (6), The Walking Dead (7), Snoop Dogg (8), and Adidas (9), etc., etching its name in the annals of the Metaverse.
Figure 1. Land Sale Volume of The Sandbox and its Top 3 competitors: Otherside and Decentraland
Amid the media frenzy of virtual land in the latter half of 2022, the sale volume of virtual properties in The Sandbox skyrocketed to over 300K (Figure 1).
The highly anticipated KBW 2023 event will witness the convergence of The Sandbox and Animoca Brands, as they take center stage to enlighten attendees with their invaluable perspectives on the transformative Metaverse and its captivating digital property landscape.
K-Pop labels are embracing the Metaverse, utilizing virtual celebrities, fan meets, and music releases on Metaverse platforms. This approach has resulted in unparalleled audience engagement, with 46 million fans attending Blackpink's virtual avatar fan event for digital autographs (10).
In January 2023, Metaverse Entertainment debuted MAVE, a virtual girl band, whose album "Pandora" gained immense popularity, with Pandora MV reaching 23M views (as of the time of writing) in just 4 months.
Moreover, on April 13, 2023, the festival “Coachella Island” announced that it would collaborate with Fortnite (11), bringing the festival experience to the Metaverse.
While Metaverse technologies are still developing for large-scale real-time streaming of content like concerts, these early experiments demonstrate the global demand and potential of immersive entertainment experiences.
Implement Virtual Tourism
Moreover, the Metaverse provides an immersive virtual exploration of destinations, surpassing physical constraints and pandemic limitations like Covid-19. Virtual tours offer users the ability to assess the desirability of travel destinations before visiting (12). According to a Booking.com survey (13), 43% of respondents plan to utilize virtual reality for inspiration, with an additional 46% more likely to venture to a destination they hadn't considered before if they can experience it virtually beforehand.
Southeast Asian hospital operators IHH Healthcare and Siloam International Hospitals are investing in VR, AR, and Metaverse technologies to enhance telemedicine services (14). South Korean startup Looxid Labs utilizes VR sensory headsets to assess cognitive functions in the elderly (15). Singapore's National University Health System (NUHS) is exploring holographic technology for medical education, brain surgery research, and real-time ultrasound scans (16).
These advancements have significant economic and social implications, particularly in aging societies.
The use of immersive technologies in education can enhance curriculum content and delivery, catering to a wider range of students including those with disabilities. A shining example is the leap made by Vietnam's High School for Gifted Students and Hanoi National University of Education, as they've launched a digital cultural museum in the Metaverse (17). However, the key to ensuring this digital evolution benefits all, especially in developing nations, is bolstering access to robust digital infrastructure.
These are just a glimpse into the modern applications of the Metaverse, as the possibilities vary in each industry and surely extend far beyond the use cases mentioned here.
Digital property is a vital aspect of the Metaverse, granting users ownership and control over virtual assets, creations, and identities. It facilitates personalization, asset trading, and establishes value within the Metaverse. Without digital property, the metaverse would lack its vibrant economy and the ability for users to fully engage and express themselves in the virtual realm.
Digital property also hinges on the technology behind that drives the Metaverse:
- Blockchain-based Metaverse integrates decentralized technologies like cryptocurrency and NFTs, enabling ownership of digital assets and land, facilitating peer-to-peer transactions, and ensuring immutability. These products offer more autonomy, creativity, and financial opportunities for users, although they are not without their share of underlying drawbacks (18).
- Conversely, Web2 Metaverse, devoid of such blockchain elements, offers a centralized control model. While it supports interactions and virtual experiences, it doesn't permit true ownership or the generation of unique, trade-able assets, limiting users' financial potential and control as these assets typically only live on the platform, not on the immutable blocks of the chain.
With that said, acquiring these digital dominions often involves engaging with NFTs. They can be unearthed, like hidden treasures, directly from the developer's website—this is known as a ‘primary sale’. Alternatively, like navigating a bustling digital bazaar, potential landowners can venture into secondary NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea, negotiating their purchases amidst the vibrant hum of the virtual economy.
Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the Metaverse in 2021-2022, the concept of digital property, as any other financial instrument, first emerged as a high-risk venture. The hype was so out of control that it captivated individuals, leading them to invest substantial sums, up to US$450,000 (~$550M KRW), in plots of land adjacent to influential personalities like Snoop Dogg (19).
Figure 2. Snoop Dogg reacts to the news on his personal Twitter account
Source: Twitter account @SnoopDogg
Shifting focus from fleeting profit and conjecture, it's clear that for the Metaverse's digital assets to flourish in a lasting manner, the role of blockchain technology is indisputably essential—mirroring its progenitor, the transformative Web3.
Let's think about the Metaverse as a bustling digital city, where you own a unique digital art gallery. Here's how the robust mechanisms of blockchain come into play:
Blockchain as a Means of Providing Proof of Ownership (20)
Blockchain acts like a notary public in the city, validating your ownership of the gallery and the artwork within it. Its ledger is like an unalterable certificate, affirming you're the rightful owner.
Blockchain as a Means of Providing Proof of Identity (20)
It's your keychain, providing keys to your gallery. These keys, encrypted by blockchain, can confirm you as the owner without revealing personal information. You choose what and when to share, securing your privacy.
Blockchain as a Means of Payment (20)
In the city's market square, blockchain provides a digital wallet, filled with digital currency (cryptocurrency). This allows you to buy new artwork or materials, irrespective of the geographical boundaries of the artists or vendors.
Blockchain as a Means of Governance (20)
Like a town hall meeting, blockchain gives every city dweller an equal say in the rules and directions of the city. This decentralized governance ensures transparency and fairness.
Blockchain as a Means of Automation (20)
Suppose you've agreed to a deal to sell an artwork when its value hits a certain amount. Blockchain works like a smart contract, automating the sale once the conditions are met. This eases the process and avoids the need for intermediaries.
So, the blockchain isn't just another cog in the machine—it's the engine that drives the whole city, ensuring the Metaverse is a secure, fair, and efficient place for all its inhabitants.
Will Metaverse be the Future?
The Metaverse holds tremendous potential, but its path forward is still uncertain. It is exciting to see how Blockchain-led Metaverse projects such as The Sandbox and Amonica Brands will go beyond the realm of gaming and focus on integrating Metaverse applications into various aspects of daily life. By exploring innovative ways to incorporate the Metaverse into areas such as communication, education, work, and entertainment, these companies can pave the way for a more immersive and interconnected future.
- Meta Platforms, Inc., What is the Metaverse?
- Highsnobiety, Nike Is Taking RTFKT's Cryptokicks From NFT to IRL, December 4, 2022
- Animoca Brands, The Sandbox outlines Greater China strategy for 2023, April 3, 2023
- Warner Music Group, The Sandbox Partners with Warner Music Group, January 27, 2022
- The Sandbox Game, The Sandbox Blog | The Sandbox Partners with Ubisoft to Bring Rabbids to the Metaverse, February 7, 2022
- Twitter, @gucci on Twitter, February 10, 2022
- The Sandbox - The Walking Dead
- The Sandbox Game, The Doggies are coming to The Sandbox
- VentureBeat, Adidas Originals launches NFTs and buys a plot in the Sandbox metaverse, December 15, 2021
- The Straits Times, South Korea's K-pop stars extending their reach as avatars in the metaverse, September 10, 2022
- Billboard, Coachella 2023 Announces 'Fortnite' Metaverse Event: Coachella Island – Billboard, April 13, 2023
- Linkedin, Consortium 21 on Linkedin, Metaverse Events 2023, April 6, 2023
- Booking.com, Booking.com Travel Predictions 2023
- Nikkei Asia, Southeast Asian hospitals look to high-tech future in metaverse, January 21, 2022
- Nation Thailand, Metaverse technologies bring health care to Korean doorsteps, June 12, 2022
- Microsoft News, Medical education goes Holographic with mixed reality from Microsoft – Singapore News Center, January 11, 2022
- Coincu News, One of Vietnam's top prestigious schools enters the metaverse. - CoinCu News, December 11, 2021
- The Conversation, Can you truly own anything in the metaverse? A law professor explains how blockchains and NFTs don't protect virtual property, April 21, 2022
- Rolling Stone, Someone Spent $450000 for 'Land' Next to Snoop Dogg's NFT House, December 7, 2021
- S&P Global, Blockchain and the metaverse, part 1: Opportunities, March 1, 2023
Established in 2022, M3TA is an AI-enabled data analytics platform dedicated to Web3 & emerging blockchains. Our team, composed of experts from Stanford, MIT, and Fortune 300 companies and seasoned in Defi, NFT, Metaverse & Gaming and Web3, distills over 10TB of data, covering 500+ projects and 5K+ tokens to produce clear insights for all audience levels. Boasting a robust presence in Korea, Vietnam, and South-East Asia, and spanning an evolving partner network, most currently with Google Cloud and FactBlock, M3TA is your trusted partner in unraveling blockchain complexities.
Writer & Reviewer: Research Analysts & Content Writers at M3TA Analytics
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