The battle for the metaverse: gaming, brands and crypto communities | A dispute of meanings between entertainment companies and blockchain enthusiasts

From the community of blockchain developers and users, the path to a “single” metaverse seems to be hemmed in by white papers, cryptobros and a collection of monkeys that stirred up the mainstream conception of private property. But these spaces, which promise digital freedom through decentralization, ran into a problem: the hunger for self-definition drives out the very consumers it needs to sustain itself.

The word metaverse comes from a 1992 novel, and originally defines the singular for a “space of spaces”. Writer Neal Stephenson, who created the concept while he was writing SnowCrashdescribed it as a digital reality MMORPG style (like the video game world of warcraftfrom 2004), habitable through VR headsets that allow you to see 3D avatars of those who have the privilege of moving between realities.

In the global crypto community, the word recovered especially during the pandemic, when The Sandbox was adapted to the blockchain space and the proposal of Decentraland. Metaverse was one of the crypto topics in 2020, and with the big media and companies taking an interest in this space, the concept was already in the social unconscious at the end of 2021, when Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of the former Facebook) announced that his network empire social would be called Goalin honor of the metaverse it would build on its digital ecosystem.

“Now they see us as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology that connects people; and the metaverse is our next frontierjust like social networking was when we started”, he recited with airs of reptilian during his official announcement. Of course Zuckerberg was talking about his own media, his own tools (like Oculus Quest 2, one of the most popular VR devices) and all the regions delimited by its shareholders.

When he talked about Meta, he described all the technology related to his company. Could it be that, then, the only metaverse will be the one that conquers the rest through marketing and RGB lights?

► Digital economies with classic problems

The idea of ​​the metaverse touches in some aspects with the paradigm of the web3 callwhich is assumed to exceed the common internet connection and is defined by the individual virtual identitythe existence of digital goods with exchange valueand the need to an interface to access to this space, which depends on transistors.

the ideal of web3 construction is powered by cryptocurrencies, which propose a parallel economic system, decentralized and not controlled by governments or companies, and which instead are managed on the same basis with which the archaic barter systems were established. Although, instead of chickens, in this case two users decide how and why or for how much they will exchange a digital asset. And instead of a rod-protected ranch, these digital currencies “live” inside a network of blocks that encrypts them and ensures that they have a code that defines their ownership.

That is one of the wonders of crypto: if it is not through social engineering (as in the case of Generación Zoe, the pyramid scam where a “crypto” was sold that did not have this technology behind it), breaking security protocols would take a lot of effort.

But one of the central problems of the crypto economy is, ironically, the same as the traditional market: what if, suddenly, nobody cared, if there was no demand? Luckily there is the magic of marketing and the need to put a mark on the future.

► Nothing sells better than a video game

Gaming experiences were always an ideal space to generate the cultivation of parallel economies. Its success is determined by the public: once there is no interest in engaging with the experience, it makes no sense to update the space.

But free-to-play developments, like Fortnite, PUBG: Battlegrounds Y Roblox They have known how to grow your spaces through alliances with musical artists, influencers and fashion brands. Technological conglomerates such as Tencent (Epic Games’ main investor) managed to create metaverse projects that discourage brands from creating their own, and invite them to move within a reality that already has a massive amount of avatars with picks and shovels.

Within Fortnite the festival has been experienced digitally Coachellamusical themes of Ariana Grande, marshmello Y Travis Scott. In Roblox (which shares almost half of its shares with a Tencent affiliate) used to be a stage for shows of David Guetta Y Lil Nas X. the south korean band BLACKPINK released his latest album in PUBG Mobile. Y Justin Bieber preparing for her recital Garena Free Fire at the end of August.

This hunger for cyberspace was cemented in the mainstream with the announcement of a new category of the MTV Video Music Awards 2022which seeks to give him a special award for “Best Metaverse Performance”.

Still, not everyone is taking advantage of the massively inhabited gaming spaces. The experience of The Sandbox reinvented itself as a game compatible with blockchain systems when he realized that his franchise, created in 2012 with the proposal that each player could build a pixel art world, was excellent for NFT proliferation (which for the purposes of these games are unique digital items that cannot be cloned or counterfeited and are the property of the player).

The Sandbox managed alliances with companies such as Autograph (dedicated to tokenizing the fame of different celebrities) to create unique spaces that can only be accessed with a ticket. But they are not all restrictive experiences either: even the athlete Tony Hawk began to manage his own skatepark open to those who enter this ecosystem.

► Hungry entrepreneurs

At the beginning of the year, the banking multinational JP Morgan was interested in Decentralanda platform of Argentine origin whose 3D world is a great space to buy digital lands and store all kinds of NFT. Decentraland it is encrypted in the Ethereum blockchain, one of the most popular networks in the world, and its financial dynamics depend on the oldest social interaction in the world: the interest in acquiring and participating.

Many tech companies keep in mind that they are a key matrix to take advantage of the FOMO generated by the word metaverse, even if its definition has not yet been generalized. Globant is one of the most important companies at the national level in software and technology development for third parties (such as Google, Santander or Electronic Arts). In one of his Sentinel Reporttook the opportunity to reveal the circumstances of the metaverse and showed how brands gravitate towards the concept with a hunger to consolidate digitally.

This survey was carried out under the name Metaverse Survey 2022, in which 834 people from its database of technology professionals based in one of the 18 countries in which the company has a presence participated. Of that sampling of specialized, only 26% declared that they “had experienced the metaverse”, although 69% are convinced that it “plays a crucial role in remote work”.

Diego Tártara, Chief Technology Officer of Globant, considered: “Although it is in its early stages, the metaverse is challenging organizations to prepare their businesses for this new world.” Although this new paradigm brings nouns to define, the Sentinel Report statistics show a double circumstance, even among technology specialists: there is a real need to live within the metaverse, although without being very clear about what the concrete experience of that existence is.

► The battle for the metaverse

The metaverses -or the different iterations of the metaverse that each game or company proposes- coexist with the uncertainty generated by the need to populate a digital space massively, but through restrictive methods. It is even very strange to think of a non-biased space at the global level, when the United Nations reports reveal that half of the world does not have stable internet access (and even, to any type of technology).

But correcting this type of obstacles to access, even pop culture crumbles the possibility of gestating a single interconnected metaverse, since where one user chooses to watch their favorite kpop band, another wants to invest in NFT for their own skate park. The interfaces are varied, the paradigms completely different and the digital definition will depend on the ability of business conglomerates to massify their proposals.

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The battle for the metaverse: gaming, brands and crypto communities | A dispute of meanings between entertainment companies and blockchain enthusiasts