It was only recently that the world caught on to yet another craze, this time in the form of a new type of blockchain-based assets called non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Since then, the interest for all things NFT has kept growing at neck breaking speed, spurring countless digital art pieces (some more bizarre than others), and grabbing headlines for their multi-million-dollar valuations. And then, of course, we have the NFT-based games, like Axie Infinity, generating $220.3 million in monthly sales and recently raising $152 million in Series B funding round.
It’s clear that NFTs have seen a spectacular rise. As a rule, such a success attracts attention of innovators from across the industries, thinking how to expand the applications of new technologies and make it even more lucrative. This time is not an exception. We are now leaving the lullaby of NFTs about to witness the emergence of dozens of variations of non-fungible tokens serving all the imaginable needs of businesses and consumers. In fact, the first bunch of new “hot” NFTs is already here. Those are upgradable, time-limited and non-hashed. They seem like perfect tools for artists, brands, and metaverse – a trending concept of a shared multidimensional digital environment, creation of which has been undertaken by Facebook, Fortnite, Sensorium, Roblox among several other players.
So what are these novel NFT types and what exactly can they do for a metaverse?
Driving Collaborations In Digital Space
As the name suggests, upgradable NFTs evolve over time, allowing various players to transform the NFTs and their corresponding content, while refraining its ownership. Such a feature comes in very handy for a whole range of entertainment industries. For creators, this is a promising advancement allowing, for example, an artist or a musician to legitimately take on another creator’s artworks as the basis for their own. This means that two (or even more) pieces of content can come together into one without the legal and creative headaches we so often see in the non-crypto world. Similarly, global fashion houses can now launch collaborations without the unnecessary bureaucracy or the involvement of third parties. After all, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry were among the first companies to embrace crypto, issuing NFTs out of all-digital collections and increasingly experimenting with metaverses through VR and AR in the past year.
Facilitating Smart Contracts
Non-hashed NFTs permit users to save text details right on the smart contract without the need to write a single line of code. As a concept associated with high technologies and futuristic environments, metaverse implies convenience and lack of bureaucracy. Non-hashed NFTs will significantly facilitate the administrative procedures among all the metaverse’s participants from users and content creators to developers and investors.
Boosting Users’ Engagement
Time-limited NFTs serve as a powerful gamification tool to boost users’ engagement. With this type of NFTs, companies could tokenize tickets for virtual events and enhance them with advanced access and expiry settings, permitting attendees to exchange them in the secondary market freely, or keep them as collectibles featuring certain rarity levels. For example, Fortnite could have used them as an additional long-term tool to engage the attendees of its recent Ariana Grande’s virtual concert, some of whom complained the event ended too soon. Another promising application of time-limited NFT applies to metaverses, where in-game assets could be tied to specific timeframes.
Noteworthy, the above types of NFTs were in fact unveiled by metaverse developers from Sensorium, the company behind the Sensorium Galaxy metaverse built in collaboration with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and chart topping artists like David Guetta and Armin Van Buren. Upgradable, time-limited and non-hashed are all the features of Wakatta, Sensorium’s new blockchain geared specifically for the needs of the entertainment industry. As announced at Token 2049 in London, Sensorium Galaxy will integrate the Wakatta blockchain within a few months to allow users mint virtual beings as NFTs and monetize their creations through a transparent marketplace. According to Alex Blagirev, Wakatta’s Project Lead, – the Substrate-based blockchain will offer low transaction fees of $0.001 and capacity to handle thousands of transactions per second.
Market On The Rise
Although we are yet to see upgradable, time-limited and non-hashed NFTs in action, their future seems very promising as the market for non-fungible tokens has witnessed unprecedented success. The versatility of NFTs and the fact that they can be integrated across a wide variety of industries has seen investors flocking to the technology. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, the NFT market saw a 2,100 surge when compared to the last quarter of 2020, with sales of these tokens reaching over $2 billion.
The numbers underscore the potential of NFTs – and blockchains are seizing the moment. Take Flow, developed by Dapper Labs following the company’s partnership with the NBA that has led to NBA Top Shot, a widely popular marketplace for digital basketball collectibles. This has netted the company over $500 million in the first half of 2021. Recently, the company revealed that it would be extending its NFT services to the NFL and other major sports leagues, including Spain’s LaLiga.
Other companies following the same recipe include iconic brands like Marvel whose first foray into the world of NFTs included Spider-Man and Captain American digital collectibles. Spiderman NFTs worth some $4 million were sold out within 24 hours of launching and other releases have been equally successful.
NFT-marketplaces have enjoyed a similar boom. According to a recent study by DappRadar, the top 30 NFT marketplaces combined have grossed a total of more than $11.53 billion. For instance, in June 2021 alone, OpenSea sold $160 million in digital assets, having a 45x increase in volume growth during the first half of 2021. MakersPlace generated more than $100 million in sales in the past year and witnessed Beeple’s artwork being sold for $69.3 million on its platform.
According to a recent study by CB Insights, there are currently over 90 companies involved in metaverse creation. As more brands will turn their attention to metaverse – whether building one or entering it to sell its products and services – the demand for NFTs and its numerous various will continue to grow. Overall, NFTs remain a fairly new technology, and more importantly, a niche opportunity for businesses, investors and users alike. That’s the momentum new players, like Wakatta, are hoping to ride out in this newly-minted market.
WinNow’s cryptocurrency has completed its mainnet launch and looks at a utopian metaverse
ENEVA, SWISS. It just seems 2021 is the year of the metaverse and more and more companies are positioning themselves to be present in what appears to be a trillion dollar business.
On November 16, a group of European developers and cryptocurrency experts launched WinNow ($WNNW) to act as a DAO token in the Wonniw metaverse, a P2E game with real-world dynamics able to generate yield through the choices of its citizens.
A DAO token is a modern form of democratic representation, the participants in the game will therefore be able, through the WinNow token, to take an active part in the decisions on the dynamics of functioning of the metaverse.
According to reports from the team’s Medium, the metaverse Wonniw has all the credentials to be able to try to replicate a utopian reality, in which all citizens and mayors elected by the DAO are equally incentivized towards a common goal called “sustainability”.
The development of the metaverse is in the alpha phase, team has already signed an agreement with a European software house, Falcon Interactive, and the launch of a first playable version is currently scheduled for March 31, 2022.
Facebook, Microsoft and others look towards the $1 trillion dollar ‘metaverse’ opportunity — but that contradicts the base philosophy behind Web 3.0
- The future of the web is Web 3.0 – with Microsoft, Facebook and Apple, all interested in shaping it.
- According to crypto investment firm Grayscale, the industry is a $1 trillion opportunity.
- However, the philosophy behind Web 3.0 is for developers to take back control of their content from these tech giants.
Just as cloud technology revolutionised data storage, Web 3.0 is looking to change the way the internet functions — only in a much bigger way. Most leading digital companies and industries, including the world of blockchain. has a laundry list of what they expect Web 3.0 to mean for them.
“The metaverse is still emerging, but many key components have started to take shape and are revolutionising everything from e-commerce to media and entertainment, even real estate,” said crypto investment firm Grayscale’s November report.
Today’s Web 3.0 promises to be more reliable, decentralised — with control in the user’s hands — enables socialising for work and play through the metaverse, and makes it cheaper as well as easier to make payments. At Facebook’s developer conference this year, founder Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for Web 3.0 and the metaverse. He even changed the name of his company to ‘Meta’ to signal a new age of development. “I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet,” he said in October.
The OGs — Web 1.0 and 2.0
To start with, let us differentiate between the ‘internet’ and the ‘worldwide web’. The Internet is the physical infrastructure of cables, satellites, Internet Service Provider (ISP) networks and routers, through which all data traffic passes. The web is one of the types of data traffic that flows across the Internet. It’s the highway you travel when browsing the internet, making a video call, surfing social media or sending data from your computer to the cloud.
The first iteration of the web, Web 1.0, is thirty years old. Think company home pages, curated website directories, static web pages and flash banner ads. Very few people were creating content and a large part of the population was only reading what they had to say. You have moved well past that stage, and are at the transition between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0.
As compared to Web 1.0, Web 2.0 brought in a lot more interactivity between people – think comments, blogs, wikis, social media, government websites for citizen services, streaming video, and so on. Although these services are accessible to everyone including those with small smartphone screens, they’re mostly hosted on centralised platforms.
This Achilles Heel left Web 2.0 susceptible to cyber-attacks, user data breaches, server outages and government censoring as seen with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and the big tech giants of today.
The shift to Web 3.0
The pandemic of 2020 accelerated every building block of Web 3.0. Starting from making it viable for large groups of people to hangout together online for long time periods — a social and workplace requirement — to the resulting large virtual economies of scale, aspects of Web 3.0 led many companies to accelerate their digital transformation plans.
However, the hunger for schooling and working from any physical location, also led to popularity of decentralised digital communities and virtual worlds that mesh with the real world, especially those which were previously unheard of from the blockchain space.
Looking forward to Web 3.0 has begun a scramble for both, identifying and defining the future of the web. During the era of Web 1.0, Netscape connected users to the online world. During 2.0, Facebook sparked a revolution by connecting people to online communities. Now, during the nascent stages of Web 3.0, platforms like Decentraland are creating community owned virtual worlds.
Web 3.0 is looking to create a community-owned virtual world
Key features of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 compared
The birth of the creator economy — why developers favour Web 3.0 and tech giants are trying to keep up
This year, Microsoft, Meta — Facebook’s new name, which many have speculated is Zuckerberg’s comical attempt to shed the bad press associated with the social network — and Apple have all announced their interest in the metaverse.
Rather than get disrupted by other players, these tech giants are attempting to disrupt themselves with the shift in how users spend their free time. Millennials and the generations that have come after, spend less time watching TV, preferring social media and video games instead. With convergence of social lives and gaming, the revenue of virtual gaming worlds is expected to grow to $400 billion in 2025, according to Ark Invest’s estimates.
Moreover, game developers are seeing a trend where players are moving away from paying to buy a game — also called premium games — towards free games that are monetised over the course of play. Games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) are two of the most popular games in the online universe today. While the games themselves are free, players spend money on in-game items to improve gameplay and ‘bragging rights’ — enhancing their social status within the virtual world.
And, that’s where the idea of play-to-earn (P2E) emerges, which is enabled by Web 3.0’s open crypto metaverse networks. P2E means that players can monetise the time and effort they spend in building digital assets within a metaverse. Players can own their creations as non-fungible tokens (NFT). These NFTs can then either be traded within the game or sold to other players in exchange for token than can be exchanged for fiat money, like the US dollar or the rupee.
The two most powerful platforms driving that change right now are Decentraland and Axie Infinity. Even games like MIR4, which have been criticised for their tokenomics and game-play in general, have thousands of users because of the earning potential — however small.
By contrast, a Web 2.0 based closed corporate metaverse doesn’t support the P2E model. For example, players may slowly collect digital assets in Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto, and use them for playing, but they cannot sell them in-game to earn money.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the market opportunity for the metaverse can reach $800 billion by 2024.
Currently, Web 3.0 virtual worlds are estimated to have gained 50,000 users which leaves plenty of room for growth – crypto users globally are estimated at 220 million. Chasing that growth was $1.8 billion of funds raised in 2021 Q3 alone, towards the segments of Web 3.0-NFT-blockchain gaming, out of a total of $8.2 billion raised by all crypto in the same quarter.
A shift to P2E is a leap of faith and challenging, because keeping digital assets locked into the game can be good commercially for the company, while allowing conversion of in-game wealth into real money in player pockets leaves the game open to reduction of value in the future. For this reason, the Web 3.0 P2E trailblazers tend to be relatively new companies who started with little to lose.
Examples of Web 3.0’s value are already emerging
Even as efforts are ongoing to bring benefits of the metaverse to virtual education and office, this year saw it shining in other areas that could bring an experience home to a person.
In a high-value opportunity, Sotheby’s is present on Decentraland now as a virtual art gallery where digital NFT art can be showcased by owners, and auctioned to bidders.
Audiences can attend large-format events safely with virtual music venues, such as the concert that rapper Snoop Dogg recently threw in his mansion recreated on The Sandbox metaverse.
Employees can collaborate and hang out together at their digital office, like the metaverse HQ setup by crypto exchange Binance.
Advertisers such as Coke and Dell have metaverse advertising campaigns too, fostering brand awareness of game players for a price, using digital billboards and other methods involving NFTs.
Casinos have gone virtual too, such as the Atari Casino on Decentraland where players can win in-game currency (MANA) and sell it on crypto exchanges for cash.
The ‘metaverse’ is about more than just gaming
Going beyond virtual presence and experiences, being at the crossroads of Web 3.0, crypto and metaverse allows for much wider applications.
You could have a digital counterpart to an Aadhaar, birth certificate or driving license, but present it virtually while having full control over who gets to see your data and when. It could also be used for credit scoring.
If you were wary of cloud storage due to privacy, how about a solution like Filecoin whose data storage infrastructure is decentralised for an extra layer of safety? While using this data in your virtual meetings virtually accessing this storage in your virtual office, services like Livepeer allow for decentralised video transcoding for your virtual office.
Web 3.0 metaverse users can collectively decide on the rules of their virtual space, with the help of frameworks, staking value, voting and auditing. In a community of like-minded users then, there would be no de-platforming or cancellation from centralised corporations.
Sovereign virtual goods
The Web 3.0 metaverse could allow for NFTs to ‘travel’ between virtual worlds, for display at virtual museums or for sale. It could even be used for physically redeemable NFTs, such as purchasing a digital work of art for use virtually while you have the physical art piece secured in your locker.
DeFi allows a metaverse’s economy to expand beyond simple payment transactions in a digital currency. For instance, lending platforms allow for loans upon virtual land, and decentralised exchanges (DEX) allow players to trade one in-game item for another or for currency instead.
While those described above have already cropped up, there may be other killer applications for Web 3.0 that are just a gleam in the eye of a developer who is about to take the metaverse world by storm.
TikTok’s Parent Company Set For a Metaverse Showdown Against Facebook
ByteDance, the company behind the trending short videos application, TikTok is working towards challenging Zukerburg’s Meta Universe in the up-and-coming metaverse industry.
According to an announcement from ByteDance earlier this month, the company has begun to establish manifold changes, starting from laying down formal structures that will distinguish categories of employees based on their departments. This restructure came as an attempt to gain global recognition in other arenas after achieving exceptional success with TikTok.
Is ByteDance Following Facebook’s former growth strategy to Replace it?
While TikTok has established its dominance in the short video applications sphere, however, ByteDance has greater ambitions, one of which is to overpower former Facebook, and now Meta platform and take its place on the throne of Web3. ByteDance plans to continue building upon TikTok’s revenue-generating capabilities, and at the same time, use that success to expand into the Western markets with a broader suite of apps and services. One could speculate that ByteDance is following Facebook’s growth strategy of setting up the base with one core application, exactly like Facebook did in the early 2000s. Later on, using the revenue gains and market confidence from that one app to further branch out, which is similar to what Facebook did by acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram, along with becoming a single sign-in source for other services.
“ByteDance’s overseas layout is not only limited to the short video industry, but also includes some upstream news and music platforms…ByteDance has great ambitions for the overseas markets, and its competition with Facebook has become more apparent.”, Ashley Dudarenok, a China marketing expert and founder of digital marketing agencies Alarice and ChoZan told Wired.
When it comes to TikTok’s success there is no doubt that the application has outperformed itself despite backlash from Chinese regulators. Last month, the viral short video application entered the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) market with the launch of its first-ever NFT series “TikTok Top Moments”. The series immediately gained a positive response from the community and became a big hit. It will be exciting to see what is next on TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance’s checklist.