You have likely heard people talking about the Metaverse but are sat wondering what is the Metaverse and what on Earth does it have to do with cryptocurrency and blockchains. Metaverse is something of a buzzword right now, especially with Mark Zuckerberg rebranding Facebook’s parent company Meta as it prepares to jump headfirst into the next mainstream technology sector. It seems like a gimmick right now, but it has the potential to change how we interact with the world.
The Metaverse how big companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Nvidia envisage it is several years, perhaps even a decade, away from becoming a reality. Essentially, the Metaverse is a virtual ecosystem that becomes a collection of virtual worlds.
Users connect via augmented or virtual reality to immerse themselves in the Metaverse. They can live a second life if they wish, much like a highly interactive video game. However, other possibilities are endless, including buying and selling NFTs, trading cryptocurrencies, and building virtual empires with real-world value.
There are already Metaverse-like concepts on the internet today. The Roblox video game boasts more than 32 million active daily users and over ten million content creators. Those content creators earned a combined $329 million last year while Robox floated on the stock market with a $45.3 billion valuation. This has since fallen to around the $38 billion mark, but you can see virtual worlds and, therefore, the Metaverse is big business, and it is only going to get bigger.
Some companies are taking a similar concept to Roblox and creating their own Metaverse, complete with their own tradable cryptocurrency.
Decentraland is the brainchild of Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano, two Argentinians who started developing their Metaverse in 2015. It launched its closed bets in 2019 before opening to the public in February 2020. The game’s first map, Genesis City, was divided into 90,601 parcels of land, which players could purchase for approximately $20
The game features two Ethereum blockchain-powered tokens: MANA and LAND. MANA is used to pay for the game’s avatars, wearables, etc. MANA is an ERC-20 token that users must burn to acquire non-fungible ERC-721 LAND tokens
LAND is used to acquire plots of land within the game that can be built upon and monetized.
The popularity of LAND surged in April 2021 and changed hands for between $6,000 and $10,000. The MANA token has a relatively small pool (less than 2.2 billion), so its value is volatile. MANA tokens were $0.02 at Decentraland’s launch, reached as high as $5.97, but currently trades around the $2.60 mark.
The Sandbox is another link between a video game’s Metaverse and tradable cryptocurrency. The Sandbox launched as a 2D pixel-art game in 2011, but Pixowl, the game’s developers, had much more ambitious plans for their game.
They envisaged a blockchain-driven world where users could create assets (essentially NFTs) in the game’s voxel editor and sell them in the marketplace, which buyers could then use in the game’s Metaverse.
Pixowl sold The Sandbox to Animoca Brands in August 2018, and the new owners raised $2.5 million in funding for the project. High-profile The Sandbox landowners include Deadmau5 and Snoop Dogg.
The game’s SAND currency is a standard version of the ERC-20 token, so owners can benefit from staking rewards if they stake it. There is a limited supply of three billion SAND. Prices hovered around $0.04 to $0.06 when SAND launched in 2020 but hit an all-time high of $8.40 in November 2021. Its current price is around the $3.40 mark.
Other companies combining the Metaverse with digital currencies include Polka City (POLC), Bloktopia (BLOK), Enjin (ENJ), and Star Atlas (ATLAS).
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