This Week in the Metaverse: Rams avatar jerseys, virtual real estate booms, NFL NFTs
Things are moving fast in the metaverse. Depending on who you speak to, this futuristic virtual world is either the next big thing in marketing or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
Meta unveils new customization options for avatars, including hearing aids and Super Bowl t-shirts. Meta (previously Facebook) has added some new features across its various platforms in an effort to make avatars “more expressive, more customizable and more diverse,” per the company. Avatars controlled via Meta’s VR products can now be even more meticulously fine-tuned to reflect their human counterparts’ skin tones and facial features. Virtual cochlear implants and over-the-ear hearing aids have also been added to the company’s VR platform. The new feature rollout also gives a nod to the Super Bowl: Meta has partnered with the NFL to give avatars the option of choosing between a Bengals t-shirt or a Rams t-shirt — it has also developed a “neutral” Super Bowl t-shirt for those among us who don’t plan on choosing a side.
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Welcome to the metaverse
The NFL is launching a NFT collection to commemorate Super Bowl LVI. The National Football League has announced that it will be dropping a series of NFTs to reward the fans who will be attending the Big Game in Los Angeles on February 13. Those digital tokens are being positioned as collectible keepsakes from the event, akin to the physical paystubs that people often keep for sentimental value after a concert or sports event. “As the first Super Bowl at full fan capacity with complete mobile ticketing, Super Bowl LVI presents the League with a special opportunity to leverage NFTs as a tool to engage and celebrate fans,” the NFL said in a statement. “Each fan who attends Super Bowl LVI will receive a complimentary, customized NFT featuring their unique section, row, and seat to commemorate gameday, providing a digital keepsake from their Super Bowl experience.”
Real estate in the metaverse is booming. The metaverse land rush has begun. Revenue from real estate sales in the metaverse surpassed $500 million in 2021, per a new report from CNBC. The meteoric growth, spawned in large part by Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, is only expected to continue, with forecasts of metaverse real estate sales approaching $1 billion in 2022. The majority of the virtual real estate development and parceling is currently controlled by four platforms: Decentraland, Sandbox, Somnium and Cryptovoxels. Sandbox is the leader of the four, “with 62% of the available land on the four platforms and three-quarters of all land sales in 2022,” per CNBC.
Metaversal partners with digital artists in order “to open-source its branding.” Metaversal — which describes itself as “the first company to combine a venture studio and investment firm focused on NFTs” — announced that it is launching MetaLetters DAO, a new campaign which aims to foster a collaborative partnership between the brand and digital creators, and to “shape a decentralized, equitable, and inclusive metaverse.”
Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, are one of the fundamental building blocks of the burgeoning web3 revolution. Typically, anyone who’s interested in joining a DAO must make some kind of payment — for example, sending ETH or buying a NFT — in order to gain access and thereby become one of the controlling nodes in the network. With its new DAO, however, Metaversal is going against the traditional grain by providing each of its participating artists with a “creator pass,” enabling them to access the DAO sans payment.
Metaversal’s new MetaLetters DAO is designed to give digital artists the opportunity to actually shape the branding of the company. Here’s how it works: Last month, Metaversal sent out a call to artists via Twitter to submit a creative rendering of one or all of the 10 letters that comprise the brand’s name. Metaversal partnered with artist Jessica Angel to select 10 finalists. Now the brand is encouraging people to vote via Twitter to select a single winner. “The winning letter,” which will be announced on February 11, will be the first to be auctioned off.
The new campaign from Metaversal reflects a new vision of marketing, one that’s rooted in the democratic ideals of web3 and that consciously strives to blur the boundaries between brands and consumers. Yossi Hasson, Metaversal’s co-founder and chief executive, says that brands operating in this brave new world must be willing to relinquish some control over their identities, embrace transparency, and trust their audiences: “Get comfortable with letting go of control, bringing in the community, and that community having a real voice,” Hasson says.
Meta reports huge financial losses. When Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2021, the company was attempting to position itself as the leading architect of the metaverse. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, knew that such a massive rebranding would require an equally massive investment. That prediction came to fruition earlier this week when he announced that Reality Labs — Meta’s VR and AR R&D arm — had lost more than $10 billion in 2021, and that the losses were only expected to continue to pile up as the brand invested more heavily in its metaversal infrastructure. For now, the company seems to be biding its time as it continues to pour vast sums of money into its plans for the metaverse. All the same, Zuckerberg’s announcement did cause some jitters among investors: on Feb. 3, the brand’s stock dropped 26 percent.