Virtual land in Decentraland, the first and largest blockchain-based metaverse, has sold for millions of dollars, and its casino has amassed nearly $8 million in revenue.
Backed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that immersive virtual reality worlds were the future of social media, coupled with Citi’s estimate last week of a $13 trillion economy by 2030, Venture capitalists and developers have invested billions in various projects.
See also: Qualcomm opens a $100 million Metaverse fund
So, how many users does the most modern and hyped metaverse in crypto have after two years? About 18,000 a day, Decentral Games founder Miles Anthony saying Crypto industry news outlet CoinDesk in early February.
That’s after two years in business. Compare that to Fortnite, a massively multiplayer game world that’s building a non-adventure section that it plans to turn into a proper metaverse. Released in 2017, it had 75.5 million monthly users in 2019, according to Epic Games, and an estimated 250 million users.
Read more: What is a metaverse and why does one have a fashion show?
Although metaverses are functionally different than more traditional MMOs, they are still largely classified as games in the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In blockchain-based metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox, everything is made of NFTs, from the parcels of land to the avatars that players use to socialize and, as expected by many large companies that are pouring money and marketing into the metaverse , engage in trade. and connect with brands.
The problem is that the number of users is not likely to increase as Fortnite did, going from 50 million in 2017 to 350 million in 2021.
First of all, the technology is not there yet. The virtual headsets required for a truly immersive 3D experience are expensive and don’t even come close to the graphical user experience standards of modern games. Not even the 2D experience is available on PC and mobile.
“Decentraland’s graphics look like something from a late 1990s Nintendo or PlayStation game,” wrote the Financial Times’ global technology correspondent Tim Bradshaw on April 5. “Still, my early 2020s Mac struggled to play them smoothly.”
Unprepared player one
But the larger issue is that metaverses suffer from something of an identity crisis: Are they meant to be entertainment or something larger and more complex?
Virtual reality is a phrase that tends to be thought of in gaming terms, but it’s very clear that venture capitalists (VCs) and brands rushing into the market with experiential marketing offerings and commercial spaces are very clearly focused on virtual reality. part of “reality”.
Fictional metaverses were places to escape reality by living another semi-fantasy life, one where you are more handsome, more athletic, more successful and can forget about your boring life and aimless job.
Related: Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard begs the question: Is the Metaverse gaming, trading, or escapism?
By far, however, the most successful actual metaverses are essentially gaming platforms that predate the blockchain. Roblox, with 55 million daily active users, is really a platform for other developers’ games, some of which are interactive metaverses.
Many investors and analysts have pointed to the Fortnite concerts by artists like Ariana Grande that have attracted millions of viewers. However, Fortnite is an MMO game that had to create a non-combat zone for its concerts. While its CEO has said the platform is evolving, entertainment remains key.
That said, Warner Music Group is planning concerts in The Sandbox, the No. 2 blockchain-based metaverse, and Meta has its own concert plans to turn heads.
See also: PYMNTS Metaverse Series: Warner Music Group Brings Venue, Theme Park to The Sandbox
And yet, for all the talk of metaverse users buying fashion NFTs to show off their avatars in a virtual extravaganza of style and status at recent Decentraland Fashion Week, brands have focused on more traditional business activities. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, sold not only NFT clothing and accessories, but also real products.
Previously, Samsung set up a virtual pop-up store with entertainment that it hoped would take users to the merchandising room, and fast-casual chain Chipotle was allowing users of the (non-blockchain) Roblox metaverse to earn reward points good for real burritos. And drugstore chain CVS certainly isn’t going to make a fortune selling virtual Band-Aids in the virtual stores it’s creating.
Read more: Restaurant brands open virtual storefronts to appeal to Gen Z consumers
That’s the point that makes investors’ metaverse bets bet: No one knows if people actually want to stop for a virtual burrito after the concert is over.