NFT Uses In The Metaverse
Because NFTs are generally associated with websites and transactions that occur through web browsers, and because the metaverse is mostly VR-based, there might be some confusion about what their common ground is — and whether there is any in the first place. Thankfully, despite the relative novelty of both concepts, several companies have already found creative and fruitful ways to use both simultaneously.
1. Virtual marketplace. With apps like VRChat, spaces for communication in VR are already thriving, and it is not a huge leap to assume that these spaces can also serve as a fertile trading ground for NFTs. Sellers can easily provide links and previews to assets on the web or mint assets directly in the VR landscape.
VR and NFT marketplaces can appeal to many brands in various industries, and Nike is a good example. It's already dipping its toes into the metaverse with its own virtual "Nikeland" and has now acquired a studio (RTFKT) known for making NFTs of products. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before we see the two concepts meet in "Nikeworld."
2. Art gallery. VR is perhaps the best possible platform (short of an actual brick-and-mortar building) for viewing art. You get to see it up close with every detail and from every angle. This type of solution differs from a marketplace because the prices are already set (and not negotiated), the assets are all of one type (art compositions) and the atmosphere is much more relaxed.
For example, many museums are currently placing NFT artwork in metaverses such as Сryptovoxels, powered by the Ethereum blockchain. According to The Art Newspaper, Cryptovoxels hosts "art galleries and museums, including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the FC Francisco Carolinum Linz, Austria."
3. New frontiers. Real estate can be a pretty lucrative industry to work in in the physical world, and the same could apply to the metaverse. We are not referring to real homes being sold digitally but rather digital land and territories being partially or completely sold for further user development.
This case is more easily illustrated with an example. Decentraland is a virtual territory where plots of land can be sold as NFTs, and everything is represented in 3-D. This "country" has its own cryptocurrency and is slated to enter the metaverse (make the world accessible to VR users) later in 2022.
How To Implement A Metaverse With NFTs
As you may have noticed, the metaverse is still a pretty new concept, and only a handful of companies have already built real solutions in this field that implement NFTs. Thus, if you see a use case for the combination in your business and have the resources to make it happen, you could be one of the first companies in your industry to take advantage of these two trends.
Because most companies do not have any VR developers employed on their payroll full time, we might recommend looking to work with a company that has many years of experience in building immersive apps. Companies might consider going down this road even if they have a few local developers, as they might lack platform-specific knowledge of VR software such as building with Unity and Unreal or implementing movement tracking. Knowledge of blockchain and NFT minting will also be helpful unless you want to take on these technical aspects yourself.
Metaverse, crypto coins, and NFTs
With the potential for e-commerce and social interaction, this is where cryptocurrencies and applications built on a blockchain enter. Direct peer-to-peer interactions on the web hold the promise of instantaneous settlement of funds and near-zero fees. Item ownership can be guaranteed using an NFT (non-fungible token), which could take the form of a piece of art, a digital collectible item, or a digital version of a real-world purchase, such as a pair of Nike (NYSE:NKE) sneakers you could also wear in the metaverse.
For now, though, the metaverse is largely the realm of the video game industry and other imaginative start-ups. It's worth noting that turmoil in the crypto space during the first half of 2022 has also cast a shadow on the metaverse and its viability as a fully fledged digital economy. Nevertheless, here are four early-stage projects to watch that are bridging the gap between cryptocurrencies and the metaverse.
1. The Sandbox
The Sandbox (CRYPTO:SAND) is a user-created digital world in which users can create and sell digital content within the game. SAND is the in-game token that acts as a currency and is built atop the Ethereum blockchain network. These tokens can be bought and sold on a number of cryptocurrency exchanges. SAND can be used to purchase virtual land, buildings, accessories, and other items as NFTs.
Decentraland (CRYPTO:MANA) is another Ethereum network-based metaverse experience. Participants can use the native token MANA to purchase virtual land and develop it for games and other experiences, as well as for avatars and digital accessories. Decentraland is controlled by the Decentraland DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). Owners of MANA or virtual property in Decentraland can participate in the DAO and vote on initiatives and new development.
3. Axie Infinity
Think of Axie Infinity (CRYPTO:AXS) as an Ethereum blockchain-based version of Nintendo's (OTC:NTDOY) Pokémon franchise. Players train fantasy monsters called Axies and compete against other teams. Axie Infinity is a "play-to-earn" game, meaning participating can earn the player AXS tokens. The tokens can be spent on new Axies (which trade as NFTs), training existing Axies to improve their traits, and the upcoming launch of virtual land within the Axie Infinity universe. The most expensive Axie ever was bought for the equivalent of $820,000 of Ethereum (at the then-market price).
4. Crypto Baristas
Crypto Baristas is an NFT project that aims to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds. Owners of a Crypto Barista NFT character get access to a metaverse where other coffee enthusiasts can meet. But this is more than just a place to grab a virtual coffee. The project is also being used to fund an actual café in New York City called Coffee Bros., which will partner with coffee farmers around the world (the first being an established farmer in Honduras). At this point, this is a very new project that has only just recently released a white paper on how its tokens will work, but it's an example of how metaverses can also have real-world applications.