As I approach my first year anniversary of working in and around the Metaverse, trying to participate, engage in and create my own content, I reflect more and more on the concept of time accelerating. As more worlds pop up there is always so much more to be explored and done, yet without more time magically appearing, we are left to try and keep up and make sacrifices for what we spend our time and attention on. Because of the selective bias in needing to filter out so much news just to get things done, it is so often and easy to identify missed opportunities amongst the multitude of failures, scams, etc. in the Metaverse and NFT markets.
An active participant in any virtual world can probably testify that even a single world can soak as much time as you are willing to give, the staggering price movements in NFT Worlds and Webb however, beg our attention to take a step back and study their unique value propositions in search of why they have attracted so much attention and value. We compare our own experiences, discuss rumors of Yuga Labs “Otherside” and try to reflect on what the trajectory of the Metaverse might actually be.
With varying level of experiences across these specific platforms, we gathered several Metaverse addicts on Easter Sunday to host a Twitter Spaces discussion led by yours truly, Wackozacco. I was joined by Jeran Miller , Hexidized, Jonny Fiat , Germs and The Philosopher .
Jeran, a full-time real estate agent in Orlando, FL has written an article on NFT Worlds (amongst many on the topic of Metaverse) which were actually my in-depth introduction to the project. While most of us are used to obtaining parcels as small, rectangular plots of land with close proximity to neighbors, each NFT grants an owner a full world around 3.6 quadrillion square meters, magnitudes bigger than anything we are used to. With the ability to rent out sections, create wearables in-game and exercise P2E concepts with the $WRLD token and more, there are many factors that set NFTWorlds apart from their competitors. These worlds are like 10,000 separate meta verses or ecosystems in comparison to other platforms we are used to.
Most strikingly different from platforms like Decentraland, Sandbox and Cryptovoxels is, that it isn’t a new game at all. NFTWorlds utilizes the open-source nature of Minecraft to strictly focus on bringing benefits of web3 ownership and technology to an already successful and flourishing platform, “Starting from a higher point” the hurdles to rolling out development are much higher for other competitors, Arkdev and his team enjoy access to a wide variety of open source development tools of the largest video game ecosystem in the world, Minecraft.
Any Minecraft player with appropriate build specs for the matching world can access an NFT Worlds land, Minecraft has 170 million monthly users. Compared to the 2 million in Sandbox the scale of users is completely different. Whether that user base will migrate to using Web3 technologies is a different question, but in terms of sheer numbers it only needs a small percentage of those users to eclipse any other platforms we are already familiar with. But it is still early, at the time of our discussion Jeran noted that only 19 worlds were currently active in the NFT Worlds. As a layer on top of another game this creates several other concerns we have to balance with the benefits of the open-source community and Microsoft affiliation. Who is to say someone can’t copy this model and build their own version, what about legal issues with commercialization or Minecraft community guidelines?
As an active member of the PangeaDao community, JohnnyFiat maintains an interest in many virtual worlds. Speaking for the DAO’s interest, they look at the price development as interesting opportunities to get involved. While the risks involved with owning a project are very clear, the economy created within NFTWorlds enabled by the $WRLDD token is incredibly interesting to keep track of the development of P2E games and engaging worlds. Building the experiences that keep a wide user base engaged is challenging and other issues like the size of the land help illustrate how collective ownership is perhaps more attractive right now, either for game-developers, DAO’s or NFT collections building a Metaverse for their community. Will the tools that NFT Worlds offer allow owners/developers to build these engaging experiences to prove successful long-term? We will have to wait and see.
Jeran also notes that not all the danger may lie in the commercialization clause exploit or other financial aspects associated with $WRLD, but instead on issues related to Minecraft community guidelines. With such a large portion of their user base being children, the consequences to Microsoft from introducing them to adult content and gambling could become harmful enough for Microsoft to try and dissociate the project from Minecraft, making NFTWorlds servers harder to access leading to potentially harmful consequences. While all hypothetical, it is very much worth nothing. Still, we look forward to more developments in the future as an updated roadmap has just been released, the rest of 2022 will hopefully be rewarding to the $WRLD community.
A few months ago I discovered The Worldwide Webb from Germs, I did the first intro quest but never came back. He however purchased 6 apartments after mint and has been actively keeping in touch with quests and updates for the platform.
The nostalgic feel of 2d pixel art reminded him of playing Pokemon on a Gameboy and getting the ability to verifiably showcase his Toad was enough to want in. The platform has the deepest lore of all metaverses he’s played, and the team behind WEBB create a lot of excitement. With bi-monthly updates and quests, he noted on the day of Easter there was an egg hunt that led to a raffle of rare items. Basically, it pays to interact with the network and while “Play to Earn” is a popular buzzword for NFT investments, “Play and Earn” is phrased commonly used within WEBB ecosystem, because as Germs says, “the games are actually fun.”
Jeran also notes the lore and distinct tone in marketing for the brand. They market themselves as a dystopian world, where they seem highly self-aware and a breath of fresh air for the over saturation of similar Metaverses. The Philosopher has experience with lore too, although not in WWW. He has created games inside of Cryptovoxels with stories that lead interaction across parcels in the newly released Venice Island. His points of creating a story for a community to latch on to can help create more points of accessibility is very important to consider. This and Thomas Webb’s influence are both huge factors in the excitement behind Webb’s supporters.
The team of developers has many exciting features to roll out including a racing game and battle format very similar to Pokemon, with the option to battle for ownership of NFT’s. This high-risk, gambling aspect is super appealing to some, embracing gambling culture certainly stands in contrast to NFT Worlds and must also be considered in terms of what audience we are seeking to appeal to.
More PFP projects becoming involved is another stated goal, having WEBB avatars incorporated is already a utility for several successful projects. With the nature of the 2D format, extending capability is much easier than 3D avatar extensions for 2D PFP’s. Extending the involvement and tools of these projects to more open source capability for creating avatars, pets, worlds, quests and other in-game contest is a stated goal.
With the “more straight-forward” experience of 2D environments, The Philosopher noted how some business in Brazil are already utilizing similar environments for client interaction. Perhaps it will be easier for users to build their own engaging experiences since the hurdles too building engaging content would theoretically become lower. This and low computer spec requirements perhaps offer mobile gaming potential with more accessibility and usability than other platforms along with more reliable server performances for large events.
The stated goals are very exciting and we will continue to watch development of WEBB, with many of the competitive advantages of 2D development hopefully they continue to impress us with their speed of bringing these experiences, personally I look forward to giving it another chance to explore and engage and hang out with Germs.
Although details and rumors have been spreading constantly since the time of our conversation around Yuga Labs “Otherside” Metaverse, we discussed our impressions of the leaked presentation deck. Jonny has been keeping a close eye on all the details hoping to acquire something on the launch of Otherside. Yuga labs has had an incredible reputation at corralling culture, maybe at risk of sounding a bit too bullish on themselves, but with the reputation of BAYC we must pay attention. With the stated supply of 200,000 parcels @ 1 ETH, it is an astonishing volume of capital expected from the primary sales alone. The storyline and affiliation with themes present in the BAYC and MAYC lore combined with the stated goal of an Open Metaverse with it’s own App Store seem to tick all boxes for creators, collectors and anyone excited about Metaverse and NFT’s. With very other exciting details in the deck like Kodas and other artifacts being randomly hidden amongst the parcels, there is already strong interest in the project. Perhaps it will become a platform for launching many other new PFP and other avatar projects in the future.
There is certainly a pre-established community with a lot of energy to introduce more collectors, however Jeran brings up an important note.
Build quality better be there, business projections of insane profit margins are incomparable to most industries.** With so much cash and talent on hand they have the highest expectations. If they create an underwhelming experience it could be harmful to their brand.**
The tight scope of projects like WEBB stand in stark contrast to the total market, mass appeal approach, the storyline and open world building can potentially engage different groups and we are all curious, just eager to see if the hype can live up to the expectations.
The Philosopher notices how important stories are for creating layers of interaction for users a platform to be able to leap off of into their own experiences, he also brings up a philosophical point or how interchangeable we use the term met averse and game so he asks us, “What is the difference between a Metaverse and a game?” We don’t reach a strong conclusion, but Jeran responded how these types of categorizations can be arbitrary, perhaps a puzzling enough topic to spend a whole other conversation on. Still Philosopher didn’t even think he was playing a game until reading “Play Now” to launch into the Cryptovoxels world.
Perhaps in the most basic understanding of the word Metaverse, we can describe how we interact with the internet. Ownership can be an aspect of the Metaverse but it generally overlays all our experiences with each other in different forms online. In contemporary sense, our identity is becoming more flexible and important in the collective, social interactions in these new and evolving digital places. As we spend more of our time online, these topics will become increasingly more relevant as the gap between our IRL and online identities further close.
We closed the discussion by asking each speaker to describe their ideal Metaverse.
Jeran: Ideal Metaverse must be owned by the users and a pleasant, fun experience. The decentralized approach of Web3 is a cultural inheritance of the cypher punks. We must constantly challenge ourselves to preserve the values in our ethos as these spaces evolve.
Wacko: Ideal Metaverse should allow a blend of 2D, 3D and XR experiences. The scope of an ideal Metaverse should allow anyone to share a variety of information, technology and ideas.
Hexidized: Ideal Metaverse would find real world utility from the digital worlds and achieve true interoperability between Metaverses.
Philosopher: The Metaverse should be a free experience with extreme depth of immersion in the possibilities of how it can change our lives in real, dramatic ways. True interoperability would be very important as we transition more into avatar identities, we get to have more choice over how we are perceived in the virtual worlds.
Jonny: Metaverse should help people discover and actualize their true self, it can be a healthy way to overcome the social obstacles of our real world and we have a lot of opportunity to use these tools in ways that can provide constructive benefits to our lives if used appropriately. More flexible ways to earn income and other benefits from expanding the ways that meta verse can influence the collective social good of our species.
Germs: Getting to be a degenerate and play a game like GTA with assets owned by the users. Getting to be a good/bad guy can create a lot more fun ways to interact with a game.
In closing, there are many factors and hurdles that will affect the overall landscape of Metaverse, but as we familiarize ourselves with what is happening across the variety of choices we have access to, we will continuously imagine new possibilities. As we struggle to grasp what ownership means in the virtual worlds we hope others will want to spend time in, we find an ever increasingly complex variety of cultural values systems to latch on to, and different sets of technology tool kits to architect our dreams into a digital reality. It seems more and more like the best Metaverse platform is a personal question, for now…