Recently, non-fungible tokens have been catapulted back into public consciousness with a huge price surge seen across many different collections. Since August 1st, the 30-day average for sales of NFTs has increased from $0.3 billion all the way up to $2.5 billion. This nearly 10 fold increase in market size has been spearheaded by NFT collectibles both old and new. Everything from CryptoPunks (minted in the relatively ancient year of 2017) to Weird Whales (pixelated artwork of whales created by a 12-year old in London) have been selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even the legacy art world is starting to understand the value of NFT technology. Recently Russia's State Hermitage Museum, founded by none other than The Empress Catherine The Great in 1764, made $440,500 from an auction of tokenized copies of masterpieces from artists as renowned as Leonardo da Vinci and Van Gogh. The auction was hosted on the Binance NFT marketplace and represents a huge leap forward for NFTs in terms of legitimizing them in established sectors.
It is easy to forget, given how fundamental it is to all of our lives, but the World Wide Web has been in existence for little more than 25 years. Those 25 years have seen an incredible advancement in digital technology. We've gone from a small network of users, accessible through large desktop computers at around 30 kbps to a large proportion of the globe having the entirety of human knowledge instantly accessible in their pocket. It goes without saying that this has changed our lives unrecognisably.
However, the march of technological advancement goes on. Our digital world is encompassing more and more of our day-to-day lives. This has meant that a concept, previously reserved for science fiction, the metaverse, is starting to be realised.
The metaverse is defined slightly differently by many investors and futurists but the core concept is generally the same. The metaverse is a framework for an extremely connected life. Currently of course, we are all connected through our phones, laptops, and desktops. According to the adventure captialist Matthew Ball, the metaverse will emerge as more and more products, services, and capabilities integrate and meld together. This will connect us in a way that will seem unimaginable even in today's closely linked world.
Many, including Mark Zuckerberg, take the concept much further and see the metaverse as the point when virtual reality can replicate social interactions completely. This would mean that two people, on opposite sides of the world could meet at a virtual arcade, explore the area, and play games together. The concept of online gaming is of course nothing new. The metaverse is the idea that online interactions can integrate every other facet of our lives.
This is why the current use cases of NFTs have barely begun to scratch the surface of the technology. Everything will have to be represented in the metaverse. This means inventory to sell, objects that can be used online, and even online real estate will have to be ownable, sellable, and transferable within the metaverse.
NFT technology grants holders true ownership over digital items. If you understand the security that holding a digital item on the blockchain grants a user, you'll begin to see how NFTs can shape a metaverse that encompasses society across the globe.
The concept of NFTs granting ownership over digital items is already one that has been accepted by the mainstream as evidenced by the prices paid for some digital artwork. The metaverse is simply taking that concept into a virtual world.
We are already seeing some NFT projects moving more and more into the realm of the metaverse. The world of blockchain gaming is seen by many as the prototype for an all-encompassing metaverse. Many of the concepts that form the metaverse have already been tried and adapted within blockchain gaming.
Axie Infinity is currently the biggest gaming project in the space and one of the biggest NFT projects overall. In the game, players adopt, train, and battle Axies, creatures very similar to Pokemon. Each Axie is represented on-chain as an NFT.
As the Axies get more experience they become more powerful and thus, more expensive. Not only Axies but in-game items that can be used to enhance an Axies abilities can also be purchased. Players will battle and interact with each other in the world of Axie Infinity. Essentially, Axie Infinity is a virtual world where people interact through digital items from opposite corners of the globe. It is, in some respects, its own limited version of the metaverse.
Xplorer’s Studio, a soon to be released set of 10,000 NFT astronauts, is another project that's dabbling in the metaverse. An Xplorer NFT doubles as a digital ticket that will grant holders access to a suite of online tools that will help create an online persona. These tools include zoom backgrounds, an exclusive store, a digital community wallet and other special features. In addition to that and perhaps even more significant, Xplorers Studio will purchase land in a metaverse after sales of the nft have concluded.
The purchasing of online land is a huge leap forward for the concept of the metaverse. It shows that value can really be extracted from online real estate and integrates yet another factor of our offline existence onto the blockchain. This commitment to pushing boundaries is exactly the ethos that Xplorer Studio is trying to cultivate both within their community and with their NFTs.
The metaverse is in its very early infancy. We are only really seeing the technology that it will be built on being established. As virtual reality develops, as the internet becomes more accessible throughout the world, and as blockchain attains mass adoption, the metaverse will start to truly take shape. NFT projects are already building towards this new horizon.
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