Yup, it’s that word again. You might have muted it on Twitter, but you will not escape it: THE METAVERSE. The phrase is everywhere, from Reddit forums to Mark Zuckerberg’s spider diagrams. And now people are even banging on about metaverse crypto projects. Confused? We’ve got you covered.
Let's start with the basics. What exactly is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a very broad noun, incorporating stuff like augmented reality and virtual reality alongside social media, e‑commerce and game play, in order to create “a metaverse project”.
These can be games, virtual experiences and more, either all in one place or on separate platforms. You can even buy NFT property, with big bucks to be found next to celebrity houses, such as the $450,000 someone paid to be Snoop Dog’s virtual neighbour in The Sandbox. Another house has sold for nearly $2.5 million.
In their current state, imagine an Animal Crossing-style place, where you can chat to people (in the same way that teens spent their lives chatting to mates on their Xbox 360 or PS3) but using an avatar that wears virtual Balenciaga. You can do this while playing games, watching sports or concerts, and buying and selling virtual things using crypto.
Technology is getting to a point where the metaverse is very realistic. Pretty soon, it’s feasible you’d be able to virtually teleport to other cities (past and present) in the same way we currently click a link. You’d also be able to communicate with your mind and with body language, and could experience pretty much anything you wanted to, in theory.
For now, though, it’s all kinda lo-fi-looking games and projects with a few extra, more immersive features. There’s also a lot of money-based gameplay and unlockables à la Habbo Hotel, but with the potential to earn bucks, too.
Of course, as with all things great about the internet, there’s also a lot of potentially dangerous and damaging features. But that doesn’t mean people won’t be using it. Find a person still in school and ask them if they‘ve used Roblox. That’s a metaverse and so is Fortnite, although both are more on the social gaming side of things. Kids are the future and all that.
What examples of metaverse projects are there?
So there’s online gaming, which is where most of the crypto hype comes in. Sometimes these games are standalone gaming worlds, as with the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. It’s not dissimilar to Pokémon, but real-life crypto money can be won and used to upgrade your NFT-based fighter, or withdrawn into your personal crypto wallet. At the time of writing, the value of one AXS (the native coin) has gone up 13,496 per cent in the last year. That’s £10 turning into £1357.50. Big gains.
There are also metaverses which have games within them, but are social spaces, NFT marketplaces and more, including Decentraland and The Sandbox. Other spaces that focus more on work, spending and knowledge, as opposed to gaming and socialising, could come about, too. You can see examples in this video by the Wall Street Journal.
Where does crypto come in?
Crypto people are getting excited because a new world means a new economy. As this is a digital world, global currency which offers data protection makes the most sense. This so far has meant metaverse projects are developed using a blockchain like Solana, Binance and Ethereum, and cryptocurrencies fuel all of the transactions that exist in creating and using those worlds.
Usually these metaverses have their own native currencies. The Sandbox uses SAND, for example, and Decentraland has MANA. However, these worlds and the products within them are built on blockchain such as Ethereum and Solana, meaning these cryptos (and their native coins) are also part of the transactions.
What are Decentraland and The Sandbox?
By market capitalisation, Decentraland is the biggest crypto-using metaverse world at the time of writing. To build on the land you buy, you may want to have 3D design and coding skills, or the capacity to hire someone who does. This makes it more than fine for businesses to use (Samsung has a virtual store on Decentraland, for example), but perhaps less so for your average Reddit connoisseur.
A big reason for Decentraland’s success so far is in one half of its name. This metaverse is decentralised and people who own its native coin (MANA) are able to have influence on how the world is governed in future. This appeals to people who got into blockchain for those principle reasons in the first place.
You’ll have heard about The Sandbox recently in crypto circles because cryptocoin SAND, its native coin, is up more than 11,000 per cent across the last year at the time of writing. It also features in a lot of videos along the lines of “Winning Metaverse Projects For 2022”. On this platform people can develop (and play or trade) their own games, NFTs, property and more.
The Sandbox is also partnered up with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Avenged Sevenfold and the Smurfs. These partnerships generally involve the company/person buying land on the platform and developing NFTs for sale there. Adidas has developed virtual wearables you can buy from their store in The Sandbox, for example, while Smurfs have been developing a virtual Smurf Land, which also has NFTs people can purchase. Something for everyone.
Any other games to look out for?
Play-to-earn games, or GameFi as people are calling it, is a bit of a hot topic right now, as people are looking to combine earning crypto with their enjoyment of gaming. This is what Grimes was talking about when she proposed a “radical decentralized ubi that I think could potentially be achieved thru crypto and gaming”. Some of the other more popular games include Axie infinity, DeFi Kingdoms, Zoo Crypto and Mobox. Their popularity doesn’t mean they’re necessarily worth investing in, though, as a very under-the-radar pick leaves a lot of risk for volatility and scams. Make sure you research anything you want to get involved in yourself.
How do I invest in metaverse crypto?
Thing is, the technology is still in its early days and nobody really knows where it’ll go. For every “Buying Land in THIS Metaverse will Make Millionaires!” video, there is a “Why Facebook’s Metaverse Is Dead on Arrival” article. So, as always, you need to do research before investing.
That being said, there are a few ways to invest. The most full-on way is to transport yourself into a metaverse, baby. Download a platform of your choice, deposit some native coins and hang out (hoping the coin gains value), or play some games to try and earn more.
Other ways to invest include buying the native coin of a metaverse, or the blockchain used to create it, on a crypto exchange like Coinbase or crypto.com. Finally, there’s traditional non-blockchain-based stocks, ranging from people who make VR headsets to the already huge, non-crypto companies who are trying to enter the metaverse themselves.
So: that’s a bit of everything there currently is to know about the metaverse and crypto’s involvement with it. No doubt, this will all be outdated soon enough and new technology will come along. Some of these projects will boom, some may bust.
And that, friends, is the Wild West that is crypto in 2022.