The Metaverse is already here - it’s just not evenly distributed.
— Alternate Universe William Gibson
What is the Metaverse is a nuanced topic with many definitions and points of view. The current state of where we are is best described with a derivative of a famous quote: “The Metaverse is already here - it’s just not evenly distributed” from an alternate universe William Gibson.
As an entrepreneurial creator, the essential Metaverse requirements for your needs are virtual worlds with economies bridged to the real world and the ability to establish ownership and exchange of content within those worlds. One can even stretch even further and consider online avatars and handles in social media or messaging channels a loose form. That is indisputably here already, and enough of a Metaverse is there to be a successful creator.
According to nonfungible.com, in the last two months, the NFT sales volume has been $2b-3b.
Though not all NFT related, NFTs intersect a few of the opportunities featured below directly or indirectly.
Having an embodied avatar presence gives people an identity in many virtual worlds. It’s a basic human need to express through personal style and ranging from changeable physical attributes (hairstyle, color, make-up, piercings, tattoos, etc.) to clothing and accessories. The physical body and any accessories have far more creative potential in a virtual world, and creating avatars, skins, and accessories is a growing space. Roblox is an example of a world with a person-to-person marketplace for avatars and accessories.
Aside from avatar use in virtual worlds, there’s a current trend of creating and selling profile pictures for use on Twitter or online spaces. Current trends are not just human pictures but also various creatures as well. The most popular is the generative art style to create a set of many different base body types and accessories/modifications that are randomly mixed to create a collection of thousands of variations of different combination rarities. Cryptopunks and Bored Apes are two famous examples of these kinds of pfp projects collectively having sold for millions of dollars.
Avatars range in style from pixel art to cartoon style 2D to sophisticated 3D models with animation capabilities. There’s a large amount of freedom to express your creativity and particular skillset through those various mediums. Where you plan to sell the avatar for use will also have an impact on the appropriate style.
Packaging avatars as NFTs makes creating and selling their ownership rights straightforward. Non-blockchain-based games have their own marketplaces and rules.
There’s a vast array of possibilities of what a virtual good can be and what types of value it can offer to motivate people to buy it. A single item could hit several categories, not just one.
Creative art, collectible rarity, investment, memorializing and proving participation in an event, showing support for a cause, or just looking cool are all reasons people purchase virtual items.
The social capital of being a knowledgeable early adopter or hefty purchase cost believer of a limited release collection has also become a new source of value, as has happened with the Cryptopunks.
Apart from purely visual or social value, some newer experiences take utility even further. The Sandbox game builds past what Roblox or Neon District offer by having not just cosmetic game or simple gear stat items but also allowing creating monsters with stats and other creative objects to populate a game maker’s world.
During the Gold Rush, most would-be miners lost money, but people who sold them picks, shovels, tents and blue-jeans (Levi Strauss) made a nice profit. — Peter Lynch
While everyone is rushing to create content and hopes it’s a hit, if you’ve got both creative and technical skills, you can make improved tools or set up training courses or communities to help many people build more efficiently. Typical tools for 2D/3D animation are either complex requiring extensive practice and skills, expensive, or both. Rigging a model for animation adding natural-looking articulating joints and control points is not easy today. There’s a market opportunity for making more straightforward and purpose-suited tooling or helping people learn how to get the most out of existing tools with just what they need to know.
“During the Gold Rush, most would-be miners lost money, but people who sold them picks, shovels, tents and blue-jeans (Levi Strauss) made a nice profit” famously coined by Peter Lynch.
There are thousands of 2D avatar and profile picture projects looking to differentiate themselves in what is now a more crowded space.
Many are choosing to offer 3D rigged models (annotated with articulation control points) for use in one or more virtual worlds or games to provide their holders more value and the ability to interact as a community.
Artists are in demand to take inspiration from the 2D character photos and create traditional or voxel style 3D versions and even accompanying animations.
Approaching NFT projects that are either planning to launch with eventual 3D versions or have already launched and promised later release of 3D versions are good places to connect and apply your creativity and skills, bringing their early concepts forward.
Some of the most popular games and virtual worlds can have millions of people online.
Established musical acts playing concerts in these worlds have earned tens of millions of dollars.
“Fortnite with Travis Scott earner the artist $20 million in merchandise sales. That’s compared to the $1.7 million record he had in a single night for his in-person Astroworld tour, and just under 40% of what he reported earned from the $53,5 million tour.” notes Paul Tassi of Forbes.
Artists with smaller fan followings still have an opportunity to set up events in virtual worlds to drive digital album sales and increased streaming as well as commemorative digital goods. Yes, the decades-old concert T-shirt idea can now be an NFT or a game skin.
While not creating and selling a direct digital good, the roles involved in creating a digital live event experience will also be in demand. Here are a few examples:
Virtual beings are not a brand-new idea. It is gleefully ironic that an early virtual being in the 1980’s, Max Headroom, was played by a human in makeup for the live segments as computers at the time were not powerful enough to animate an actual virtual being.
Computing power increased though, and some like Hatsune Miku have played in computer-generated concerts for over a decade to millions of fans.
[Virtual Influence Agency] uses social listening techniques, employing machine-learning analysis to conduct intensive research into the tastes and attitudes of its target market and then tools like IBM Watson’s Tone Analyzer to fashion a character to meet them, determining age, gender, tone of voice and aesthetics to suit whatever audience they are pursuing.
— Sam Bradley @ The Drum
With the seeds already sown, what’s different in the past few years are gains in graphics fidelity and AI use to improve lifelike movements. AI is at times even driving what the virtual being is saying.
“[Virtual Influence Agency] uses social listening techniques, employing machine-learning analysis to conduct intensive research into the tastes and attitudes of its target market and then tools like IBM Watson’s Tone Analyzer to fashion a character to meet them, determining age, gender, tone of voice and aesthetics to suit whatever audience they are pursuing.” notes Sam Bradley @ The Drum
Dudley Neville-Spencer, the founder of Virtual Influencer Agency, relies on social listening and AI to create a tight fit between characters, their speaking styles, and the audience they are aiming for.
Virtual beings have become social media influencers and singers, fashion models, activists for causes, and more. Lil Miquela alone literally hit all those categories and there are many more virtual beings.
Creating with virtual beings is the last and most novel opportunity.
Bring virtual beings or avatars to life through stories, animations, or both.
Create for your own character or leverage the $CULTUR vault’s Cryptopunk; Meebit; Bored Ape; Squiggle; Fluf; Loot and more!
Earn thousands of dollars in major prizes and recognition.
What story would you tell instead? Can you help others tell their stories? There’s a huge opportunity to make your mark in this space in the $CULTUR Virtual Beings Hackathon.
Registration is available until all spots are filled. Sign up quickly to ensure you get a spot.
More in-depth educational content on the Metaverse and the creator economy can be found when you join the free monthly VerseTech meetups (online and global), and we love having new members. Our next event is coming up!
Submit your #gaming-metaverse story today for your chance to win up to $2000.