Life in the Metaverse: NFT Worlds

NFT Worlds feels like an ideal in-road for gamers to experience Web3 entering our hobby. Built on the years of open-source Minecraft technology, NFT Worlds mints Minecraft world seeds on the Ethereum blockchain for owners to establish a unique metaverse experience. Using the new alpha launcher, NFT Worlds opens to show a collection of worlds anyone can jump into and play. You may be asking “why?” Well, to be honest, so was I. So, I decided to download the new launcher, open the busiest world and see what this metaverse could offer. 

I’ve played Minecraft since the game was itself still in alpha, ten years ago. I’ve invested thousands of hours across worlds and servers, with my kids playing along, or on my own. I’ve even written seven books about the game. I’ll admit my scepticism for NFT Worlds. 

When someone purchases an NFT Worlds seed, they’re buying more than a seed. After all, anyone can copy the seed and use it offline or on a server. Users are technically buying into an ecosystem, one which connects a vast community of creators, developers and game designers.

As the owner of the NFT World it also bestows full control over admin powers, applying rulesets and everything in between. One could even pool resources to purchase an NFT Worlds seed across a community and establish a DAO which could fully govern everything within the world, from construction of buildings to establishing mini-games. 

For the players, anyone can enter into public servers – though some will require either a Discord membership or a subsequent NFT purchase allowing entry. Once the player is in their chosen world everything feels very similar to the past few years of Minecraft; there are the usual PvP mini-games, some worlds where players are working together to build lavish structures and I even found a world in which I could play mini-golf.

Starting a Survival MultiPlayer

For my first time playing, I wanted that true Minecraft experience of entering a world, exploring, mining materials and building a house. For this, I chose the busiest world, NFT Worlds SMP (World #6233). Spawning in the starting area, there’s the usual server rules to read through, plus some tips on how to play. 

It’s worth noting, this world features full PvP once you explore past a red border near the spawn area. Anything goes, there are no restrictions, my first foray saw me getting absolutely owned by a player decked out in enchanted diamond gear. After a quick restart, I stuck close to the border, avoided everyone and soon, I was out in the wilds.

The SMP world gifts you a golden shovel which is used to stake a claim in the world, a 75-block area in which you can build without anyone being able to troll or grief you. If they attempt to break any blocks on the claim, it gets replaced instantly with a message about ownership of the plot. This is a nice touch for those who want to keep to themselves, only interacting occasionally.

It’s Just Minecraft?

It took a while for me to find a decent plot of land. If you were to look down on the world from above, you’d see clusters of properties and buildings densely populated around the spawn, thinning out towards the edges, much like in reality. The central hub offered a place to meet and trade, teleporting back to my house felt like travelling into the suburbs.

There’s a chat box which keeps everyone connected, too. At one point I needed an extra block of wool to craft a bed and a friendly explorer dropped it off for me. Mostly people were chatting about Minecraft or worldly events.

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I spent much of my time exploring around my claimed land, looking for supplies and admiring other builds. It was clear that some had given up after only a short time, their bases languishing half-built. Though others had seemingly dedicated a chunk of time into monumental mansions or reproductions of buildings from famous films – the house from Pixar’s Up was floating above a nearby suburb.

Where is the Web3?

Of course, this being a Web3 adventure we’ve already touched on the NFT aspect of playing. The floor price for an NFT Worlds seed is currently 3.1ETH, or $1,017 in today’s market. It’s a lot to pay out for a seed that could never see any activity. (When this article was first being written, the market hadn’t crashed and this floor price would have equated to over $7,000)

It should also be mentioned that players are rewarded $WRLD tokens for their time in games, or as prizes in PvP worlds. The $WRLD token doesn’t exist on the Ethereum blockchain, like the world seeds, but instead is found on Polygon. Currently, one $WRLD token is worth around $0.02, so while you won’t be making a living or breaking the bank, if you chose to play Minecraft in this way from now on, you’d make a few dollars which can be transferred to your chosen wallet.

Outside of the top five NFT Worlds on the launcher, no world had more than three active users, which makes the cost seem even more exorbitant. A secondary issue occurring, which happens on basic Minecraft servers is the constant updates to the game. Several worlds I tried to enter hadn’t been updated to the latest patch making that world completely unplayable.

The worlds I did get into were incredibly lavish and you can see the painstaking details in every corner of the world. These extravagant creations can be a small but intricate village or monumental sky-scraping sculptures of Egyptian Gods. Some owners have paired up with amazing builders, crafting some genuinely original worlds.

What Does the Future Look Like?

After jumping in and out of worlds, it feels like NFT Worlds, as a project, will suffer unless the project’s owners can appeal to Minecraft players and spread the word. There are new worlds opening constantly, but players are thin on the ground meaning the worlds feel very empty beyond the spawn area. This is going to have an impact on owners and players – without users competing in PvP competitions, $WRLD tokens will be scalped by the same players constantly.

NFT Worlds is a Web3 project that deserves success, which I didn’t initially think I would say. On the face of things, I initially thought that NFT Worlds was simply piggybacking Minecraft for success, but Minecraft hasn’t been altered and the Web3 concepts aren’t bashing anyone over the head. Sure, the idea of ‘owning’ a world still feels a little bizarre, but that’s is predated by years of starting worlds and throwing them away when the seed was trash.

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Making the Web3 side of project as unobtrusive as possible is key to succeeding; gamers aren’t big fans of NFTs or blockchain, they want simple gameplay. NFT Worlds can deliver that. You can join friends and play without a wallet, using the project as a place to discover cool worlds. However, if you want that Web3 experience, you can use NFTs as membership cards, collect $WRLD tokens or buy your own world seed.

As I said above, the problem is going to be getting this into the hands of the players. NFT Worlds is already doing as much as possible; the alpha launcher was so successful that the beta launcher is out soon and each of the worlds listed on the launcher and website can be played on consoles, removing the need for a PC. But NFT Worlds isn’t going to be a Field of Dreams, this is not “if you build it, they will come”. 

There needs to be a clear push towards players while detailing what is and isn’t different between this project and the standard Minecraft Realms, because on the face of things, most Minecraft players, myself included, would argue that everything here is already possible, without the tokens.