Inside the metaverse, jobs and infrastructure projects are real

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen fencing in the ‘Metaverse’ with an Olympic gold medalist fencer during a virtual and augmented reality conference broadcast live to announce Facebook’s rebranding in Meta, in this screenshot taken from a video posted on October 28, 2021.

Facebook | via Reuters

If 2021’s word of the year was “NFT”, Avery Akkineni says 2022’s will be “Web 3.0”.

As president of VaynerNFT, Akkineni spends much of her time consulting with brands looking to get a slice of the metaverse action. The notion of an “enterprise metaverse strategy” is new – VaynerNFT itself was founded less than 6 months ago – but it’s gaining momentum. The company’s first customer was Budweiser, and Akkineni expects many other major brands to follow suit.

In fact, the widely accepted baseline prediction for 2022: more big brands will get involved in Web3 projects.

“2022 will be the year major brands massively adopt NFTs,” said Lin Dai, CEO of NFT music platform OneOf. The Quincy Jones-backed startup is behind the nearly $1 million auction for an NFT of an unreleased Whitney Houston song, and has collaborated with The Recording Academy for an exclusive partnership with Grammy Awards.

But this year, digital assets built on the blockchain will likely continue to expand far beyond the music and art industries.

Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga has already partnered with Fortnite to provide users with designer “skins” to wear in-game. Gucci has done the same with Roblox, and Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren have launched their own Roblox experiences. . Brian Trunzo, head of metaverse at Polygon Studios, which focuses on games, NFTs, and Web3 efforts related to the polygon digital currency and the Ethereum blockchain network, says nimble and smart streetwear brands are already in the game. space too. “The players have finally taken to the pitch and the game is about to really begin,” Trunzo said.

Akkineni says the goal for brands, at least at this stage, is not to win but simply to get involved. So far, the brand’s commitment to blockchain projects has been about building community and staying relevant. The Nike and Adidas NFT drops, for example, generated more buzz than money, but they gave legitimacy to a still-nascent space.

More direct marketing strategies could emerge. Cathy Hackl, CEO and Chief Metaverse Officer of Futures Intelligence Group, a metaverse consultant, points out that for luxury brands in particular, the metaverse could be an access point to a secondary market. “When someone sells their Birkin bag on The RealReal, Hermès doesn’t see a slice of it. But thanks to blockchain and NFTs, they will eventually get some secondary market share,” Hackl said.

There will be more jobs in the metaverse

As more and more companies seek to establish themselves in the digital world, the opportunities for hiring candidates comfortable with Web3 will increase. Hackl says his title could become more mainstream.

“Even if you look at job boards, you see a growing demand for Solidity developers and Discord managers,” Akkineni said.

Solidity is a computer language used in conjunction with the Ethereum blockchain to create and deploy smart contracts. Discord is a preferred social media platform for many gamers and the crypto community.

Big brands will naturally help drive Web3 job creation, but a new type of job could take center stage. The play-to-earn game model gained popularity in the Philippines with Axie Infinity four years ago, and now the game has over 1.8 million daily active users, with some earning around $10. per day, and up to $1,000 – $2,000 per month. to just play the game.

“It’s kind of like a universal basic income experiment mixed with an esports,” says Vance Spencer, a DeFi venture capitalist and co-founder of Framework Ventures.

Cross-investments in games and the metaverse are increasing

There’s been controversy in the gaming world over virtual monetization, but the math that supports more investment connecting the metaverse to gaming is straightforward, according to Spencer.

Gaming is the largest segment of the entertainment industry, with nearly 3 billion regular participants. Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis was the first to monetize NFTs in a gaming environment, but it won’t be the last. Investors recognize the potential of crypto-gaming crossover. In October, Sky Mavis raised $152 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Mark Cuban. Developers looking to do the same are likely to find success, though for Spencer, the biggest advantage is with developers making AAA-quality games that can be played on PC, like Grand Theft Auto from Take-Two Interactive and FIFA from ‘EA. Roblox, however, and even Minecraft, have found substantial success despite not being AAA games.

GameStop is making the same bet by announcing its intention to launch its own NFT marketplace. It is likely that GME will have to do a lot of Web3 hiring to execute the plan.

Brands are also likely to tap into gaming revenue streams.

“There’s a direct marketing opportunity in the gaming space. … People are very used to paying $20, $50, $100 per skin,” Akkineni said.

And gamers are indeed willing to shell out for their virtual avatars: the digital version of Gucci’s Dionysus bag sold on Roblox for more than the IRL retail price of the bag.

Metaverse will be one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world

The bigger the business plans for the digital world, the more computing power we will need. As more brands leverage NFTs to build their communities in virtual worlds and more consumers follow them, technology and physical infrastructure move to the forefront of the metaverse landscape. At the end of 2021, Intel estimated that Web3 metaverse projects will eventually require at least 1000 times the computing power we currently have.

Another prediction for 2022: advances in infrastructure.

“The number of concurrent online users within a single server or ‘node’ across all virtual worlds will continue to grow,” Trunzo said, and with that, advancements in physical components to make possible and reliable the type of consistent traffic. It’s a natural and necessary part of maturing technology, and it keeps semiconductor stalwarts like Intel and Nvidia in a strong position no matter what happens to the metaverse.

A boom for now, but winter is coming

The world of NFTs and blockchain-based digital assets is, for now, hot. But winter could come. Akinneni said demand is likely to calm down and by the end of 2022 we may find fewer projects and fewer declines.

“It probably won’t be the year that we have a 90% drawdown of teams working on projects, but it will be the beginning of the end of the beginning,” Spencer said.

Not every blockchain project has the team to push it into the mainstream, and Spencer expects a change in maturation and healthy consolidation. This consolidation could emerge in mergers and acquisitions strategies of legacy brands. Akkineni sees Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT as a pivotal moment in blockchain’s legitimacy beyond the crypto-native crowd. For major Fortune 50 or Fortune 500 brands, it’s not too early to consider similar deals, Hackl said.

The biggest hurdles for the digital worlds of 2022 are scalability, in the form of computing power and interoperability between discrete metaverses, and security. Both, Akkineni points out, are typical of emerging technologies.

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