How to Navigate the Metaverse
April 13, 2022
Read Time 5 MIN
Please note that VanEck may have a position(s) in the digital asset(s) described below.
The Beginnings of the Metaverse
I first encountered an instance of the metaverse back in 2017. Decentraland, a virtual platform where you can buy and sell land, estates, avatars and more, was just getting started. They created a world called Genesis City with a finite number of just over 90,000 parcels of digital land. On each parcel, you could theoretically build anything you wanted: a meeting place, a concert venue, even a digital winery (I tried this and failed). It offered truly limitless opportunities. Its map was complete with roads, highways and mini-communities just ready to be built, until crypto winter took hold.
Lasting from late 2017 until 2018, the crypto winter was a prolonged period of bearishness where asset prices fell over several months. It stifled the bullish mindset of some crypto enthusiasts and caused projects like Decentraland to experience a relative slowdown in content creation and interest in the project as a whole.
This slowdown seemed to last until early 2021. Last year, Facebook changed its name to Meta and invested in a plethora of virtual reality (VR) related companies, and metaverse projects like Decentraland (DCL) and Sandbox took off! The floor price for a single parcel in DCL is more than 4 ETH at the time of writing this blog. A major component of the metaverse is non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As NFTs gained popularity, they brought the worlds of the metaverse along with them. If you aren’t familiar with NFTs, then I recommend reading my NFT blog. In short, an NFT is an asset uniquely represented on the blockchain.
These projects and other mainstream public companies alike are competing for their share of the metaverse market. Even companies like Nike and Walmart, for example, have been making moves, filing for trademarks and buying up “land”.
What is the Metaverse?
CoinMarketCap defines the metaverse:
A metaverse is a digital universe that contains all the aspects of the real world, such as real-time interactions and economies. It offers a unique experience to end-users. A metaverse is simply an alternate version of reality that exists digitally. Much like the physical reality, people interact in this metaverse to work, play, do business, and socialize with other people and elements.1
Put another way, it’s turning the movie “Ready Player One” into a reality; wear a headset, communicate with friends, play games and take part in virtual experiences.
We have written about the metaverse’s potential for advertising, gaming, conferences, payments and the internet, but to help make sense of the metaverse experience and the opportunities it offers, let’s walk through a project. This project intends to become the premier metaverse project, focusing on content and community first. This is merely for educational purposes and is in no way a recommendation to purchase.
It starts with NFTs. Out of respect for the projects that have led the way, I think it is only fair that I mention BAYC or “Bored Ape Yacht Club,” a collection of unique Bored Ape NFTs that are collectibles living on the blockchain. If you thought Decentraland real estate was expensive, the cheapest BAYC NFT is 80 ETH, or around $263,510 USD as of March 31, 2022.2
What Drives NFT Prices?
Not only do NFTs act as digital collectibles, but in this case, the BAYC NFT also doubles as a membership card to exclusive yacht club parties, which are often attended by well-known celebrities. This example is one of the earliest projects that has blended digital asset ownership with real life utility.
If this has caught your attention, then follow me down the rabbit hole into the metaverse.
Take a Walk Through the Metaverse
An example of a metaverse world is Fluf World, which made its debut at the end of the third quarter in 2021. It started with thousands of rabbit avatars, called “Flufs,” living as NFTs on the blockchain. This NFT, a high-quality file with the Fluf, included a unique sound and background (unique NFTs themselves). The Fluf comes to life, bobs its heads and looks ready to party. I know it’s a red rabbit wearing a sombrero, just stay with me for a moment.
A Fluf Living in Fluf World
Source: Fluf World
(I was given permission by this Fluf’s owner to use its image. That’s right! They own the IP to this NFT.)
Now back in the day, when you first landed in DCL, it was mainly a blank space, a void in VR. You could walk around the world, but there was nothing there, or not much anyways. People want to go to a space in virtual reality and have experiences - play games, meet with friends, maybe even conduct real business.
Fluf World focusing on content first means the avatars, the scenes, the sounds, the lore, even the burrows are all fully 3D rendered, VR spaces that are ready for interaction.
The “Suite” Burrow Within Fluf World
Source: Fluf World
There is no clear delineated roadmap, as Fluf World prefers to let community interests dictate the development of their new world. Therefore, all of this content has been developed over time and with careful consideration as to what appeals to the community. When you step foot into Fluf World, it is far from a blank space, but rather the beginning of a real metaverse. A developed world that users can interact with adds to appeal, leading to increased interest and adoption despite the more recent volatility in crypto prices.
How NFTs Interact with the Real World
Like BAYC, the Flufs, too, have real-world utility. In September of 2021, Miami hosted the Art Basel art festival. During that week, Fluf World launched Fluf Haus. It was a private, invite-only party that only certain owners of specific Flufs could attend.
The Fluf Haus party brought together real people in the real world, to celebrate the growth of this NFT project. In fact, during the week of the Superbowl, they also hosted Fluf Haus LA, a Superbowl themed Fluf party at the Peterson Auto Museum, with drinks, food and entertainment included.
Fluf Haus LA
Source: Fluf Website
Whether it is Fluf World or Decentraland, you can now say that you have a better understanding of what is happening in the metaverse, and this is just the beginning.
The question is, are you willing to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?
For further learning, we have created a helpful Crypto Guide to aid in navigating our crypto and digital assets resources.
© Van Eck Securities Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Van Eck Associates Corporation.
1 Source: CoinMarketCap.
Please note the author has invested in the Fluf World NFT and Decentraland Assets mentioned in this blog.
VanEck owns no rights to the NFTs. Images of NFTs were taken directly from respective websites.
Please note that VanEck may offer investments products that invest in the asset class(es) or industries included herein.
This is not an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation to buy or sell any of the cryptocurrencies mentioned herein. The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only.
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November 30, 2023
November 30, 2023
If you’re a tax sensitive investor looking for long-term exposure to Ethereum and Bitcoin futures, a fund structured as a C-Corp may result in higher after-tax returns.