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.

Top 7 Most Popular Ethereum Metaverses

A swathe of platforms have sprung up in recent times to offer users the opportunity to play, interact and even own spaces within virtual worlds known as metaverses. With new metaverses appearing all the time, it’s useful to know which are garnering the most attention, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the biggest metaverses running on the Ethereum blockchain. We’ve ranked our choices based on all-time volume, using data from OpenSea’s virtual worlds category taken on 24 May 2022. With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look!

7. Arcade (17,931.15ETH)

We begin with a 2D metaverse, Arcade. Its stated purpose is to provide unique homes in the metaverse for existing NFT collections. The experience supports land ownership as well as using third-party NFTs as in-game avatars. The project is a spin-off from the developers of the Apes vs Mutants game, which let owners of the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club collections compete against each other using their avatars.

6. Worldwide Webb (24,338.63ETH)

Like Arcade Land before it, Worldwide Webb is a 2D experience. The platform describes itself as an interoperable MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) metaverse, claiming to have 80,000 users. The Worldwide Webb platform allows users to buy land as well as build and customise apartments upon that land. Unlike some other metaverses on this list, however, it also includes features of a play-to-earn game, with users earning NFT items and coins by playing minigames.

Thanks to its 2D nature, the experience also supports players using their NFTs as avatars via partnerships with a host of NFT collections – the most recent being The Doge Pound.

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5. Voxels (24,954.87ETH)

Voxels (formerly known as CryptoVoxels) is a metaverse accessible by browser that offers users the chance to explore a dense, interconnected city. New land parcels are sold on the platform’s primary market each week, with secondary sales on OpenSea. Unlike most other entries on this list, instead of just selling basic plots, Voxel parcels include buildings and are sold with street addresses like “Apartment at 3 Wright Street”.

4. Somnium Space (26,400.59ETH)

Despite the metaverse often being conceptualised as a virtual reality experience in the public imagination (just look at the likes of Ready Player One, for example), Somnium Space is the only VR metaverse on this list. That dearth of VR experiences might be because of the conflict that stems from proprietary ecosystems such as Meta’s offering rubbing up against the desire for decentralization that lies at the heart of metaverse platforms.

Nevertheless, Somnium Space achieves fourth position by enabling users to experience a virtual world much more tangibly than other entries on this list. Players are able to buy virtual land and populate it with objects they build or buy in the form of tokenised in-game items, or equally just explore land owned by others.

3. NFT Worlds (48,302.73ETH)

NFT Worlds is one of the hardest-to-grasp metaverse offerings. Describing itself as a multi-metaverse, the project actually consists of 10,000 virtual worlds, each of which is realised using Microsoft’s smash hit open-world building and survival game Minecraft. NFT Worlds is at pains to state that: “NFT Worlds is in no way associated with, endorsed by, or a partner of Minecraft, Mojang, Microsoft or any related parties”, however.

Each world can have different rules and objectives decided by the owner, from focusing on building worlds to play-to-earn games in a range of different genres. Popular worlds include the Meets Metaverse, which is focused on social networking, and first-person shooter battle arena The Mothership.

2. The Sandbox (151,630.28ETH)

Coming in second place (far ahead of the previous entries on this list in terms of sales volume) is The Sandbox. Known for its distinct voxel style, the Sandbox is potentially the most well known of the current range of metaverses, thanks to partnerships with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, who has created an experience on The Sandbox known as the Snoopverse. The platform offers its own software for creating, rigging and animating voxel-based NFTs to be used in-world and sold on the Sandbox’s marketplace, which uses the platform’s native SAND token.

1. Decentraland (162,628.98ETH)

While The Sandbox is hot on its heels, Decentraland currently stands as the most popular metaverse by volume. Users of the platform are able to purchase plots of land on the open market, within which any kind of experience can be built. The versatility of the platform has resulted in many different approaches – from PwC buying a plot of land to act as a hub for its Web3 advisory offering to Millennium Hotels and Resorts launching a virtual hotel.

The native currency of the platform is MANA, with which you can also buy and sell land assets. The platform supports wearable NFTs which are dropped in limited-edition collections and are fully tradable by the community. And unlike some other examples, Decentraland lives up to its name by being fully decentralized and operated via a DAO – with members voting on the shape the metaverse will take going forwards.

Why Meta’s Virtual Asset Cut Will Fail

Chances are still that if you ask a family member, friend or contact what their thoughts are on the metaverse, Facebook’s name is likely to come up. Remarks on Zuckerberg’s viability as a digital leader might even follow. But whether we like it or not, social media’s biggest mogul is still regarded by many as an unofficial showrunner in the emerging space, using the company’s rebrand as a way to tightly covet the term “metaverse” and all it encompasses.

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Unsurprisingly, Meta’s recent announcement that digital creators on Horizon Worlds (the company’s dedicated metaverse application) will be subjected to a 47.5% cut has been met with public backlash. It’s easy to be angered by these figures if we compare them to significantly lower cuts and creator fees placed by other outlets (such as NFT marketplace OpenSea or decentralised metaverse platforms Decentraland and The Sandbox). After all, many of the favoured tenets of a more decentralised internet include fairer compensation and a more enticing economy for creators — features that Zuckerberg himself has even promised.

This precarious announcement seems to have come straight after a rough first quarter of the year, where we’ve seen Meta lose upwards of $2.9 billion USD and experience significant blowback in the wake of its many controversies. As we dive into a greater breakdown of Meta’s new fee structure for creators, reflect on the social media giant’s most recent quarter and take a deeper glimpse into its penchant for capitalistic gain, we’ll explain why we think Meta’s sizeable virtual asset cut is destined to fail.

How will Meta’s fee structure work?

With Horizon Worlds, Meta is aiming to build an economy and open up metaverse commerce — creating something that can be compared to the systems currently available in platforms such as Rec Room and Roblox

According to Meta’s official statement: “The metaverse — by nature of its not being limited by physical space — will bring a new level of creativity and open up new opportunities for the next generation of creators and businesses to pursue their passions and create livelihoods.” Moreover, the company insists that: “Creators and entrepreneurs will have more freedom to find a business model that works for them… For example, someone could make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion world or offer paid access to a new part of a world.”

Interoperability and cross-app capability are still a far cry away, however. So far, it seems like items will only be compatible with the worlds in which they’ve originated, all while still being positioned to help creators monetise their items on the platform. “What the creators can do as part of building their world [is to] attach behaviours that trigger monetisation, which means that we actually don’t know all the things they can do to monetise,” Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon, recently told CNET.

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While creators will be offered the opportunity to make and sell assets in Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform, their earnings will be cut short significantly — as the company plans to take an overall cut of up to 47.5% on each transaction. Included in this cut is a 30% “hardware platform fee” for any sales made through the Meta Quest Store, coupled with a 17.5% fee charged by Horizon Worlds. To also incentivise engagement with VR, Meta claims that it will be adding a monthly performance bonus for creators. Similar to Instagram’s current monetisation strategy, this approach will follow a unique set of metrics.

While Meta cites these new rules as simply “tests”, they’ve also suggested that these approaches could continue to change and evolve. While there is a promise that assets will eventually be made more interoperable and capable of being carried across apps (Sharma alleges that Meta “wants to do this in a way that will scale eventually to cross worlds, into shared spaces and beyond”), it’s still quite unclear how the marketplace will be managed or what this roadmap might look like — particularly when it comes to figuring out whether items can one day live beyond Meta’s parameters.

In all, this news has both angered and excited those in the Web3 community. One Twitter user wrote: “If Meta wants 47.5% of NFT sales, they’ve gotta talk to the IRS — because I don’t even have that after taxes.” 

Sharma has since responded to the friction, defending the sizeable cut as a “pretty competitive rate in the market.” He also added: “We believe in the other platforms being able to have their share.”

A look back at a difficult first quarter

Earlier this year, Meta experienced a historic plunge in its stock price — with over $230 billion USD in its market value erased (the largest-ever one-day loss for any US-based company in history). Due to privacy changes made by Apple, the company also readied itself for another continued loss in the billions. The slump in stock price also caused Mark Zuckerberg to lose a whopping $30 billion in personal wealth.

In contrast with other Web3 platforms, Meta also failed to launch its own cryptocurrency and achieve a “deep compatibility” with blockchain. With a goal of empowering “billions of people” and hoping that 1.7 billion users would be able to create digital wallets, too much resistance from regulators led to the project ultimately failing and being shelved. Since then, however, reports have revealed that Meta hasn’t given up on entering the crypto space — having filed 8 trademark applications earlier this year (including applications for crypto tokens, crypto trading, blockchain software, wallets and crypto exchanges).

In 2022, Meta isn’t the only Big Tech company to come under pressure. As policies have tightened at the US Federal Reserve to decrease the industry’s rich valuations following years of ultra-low interest rates, the NASDAQ — which is primarily made up of tech and other growth stocks — fell by more than 9% in January. This was the biggest monthly drop since COVID-19 first struck the market in March 2020.

And while Big Tech companies were credited with driving gains for the wider market throughout the course of the pandemic, analysts believe that the market has now shifted. According to Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network: “There’s a general sense that what’s been moving the market higher is not going to take us to the next level. The question is where is the next growth engine coming from.”

How does this stack up against Web3 traders?

As more metaverse worlds continue to rise in popularity, this raises an important question: should these worlds be open or closed? To clarify, a closed metaverse can be defined as one governed by a central authority (like Meta) that takes ownership of lands and items sold within its platform. On the other hand, an open (or decentralised) metaverse is one that allows users to buy and own metaverse land and items as NFTs, in addition to an ability to exchange them for cryptocurrency.

Comparatively, decentralised platforms and marketplaces appear to take much smaller cuts from creators. OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace in Web3, currently only takes a 2.5% cut from each transaction — whereby creators usually take anywhere between 2.5% and 7.5%. LooksRare, another popular NFT marketplace, only takes a meagre 2% — while BinanceNFT charges only 1%.

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While critical of Meta’s large virtual asset cut, many Web3 community members have also seen this move as an unintended push towards decentralisation. “Facebook charging 47.5% for every NFT sale is the best thing to ever happen to us,” one person tweeted after the news was released, implying that Meta’s massive fee would ironically help steer more users towards open, decentralised platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox

Other users, however, have expressed clear anger at the social media giant’s announcement, calling it “the enemy of decentralisation and freedom in Web3.” Following Big Tech’s reign of increased profit during the course of the pandemic (Facebook reported an increase of 10% from targeted advertising during COVID-19 lockdowns), it’s hard not to see this move as doubly harmful to online creators and small businesses who may seek out opportunities in Web3.

Prioritising growth over other concerns

If we take a long, hard look back at Facebook’s history and online trajectory (including its encounters throughout its pre-Meta days), it isn’t out of left-field to suggest that the social media giant has been primarily fuelled by greed and profit. 

At the time of writing, Zuckerberg owns the four most downloaded mobile apps in the last decade: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Sources have long since accused Zuckerberg of seeing company acquisition as a means of neutralising potential competition and preventing users from ditching Facebook for alternative platforms. For instance, the social media tycoon’s initial acquisition of Instagram followed a general likening to Facebook’s features and revocation of other leaders’ rights (including those of company founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who eventually left the platform after Zuckerberg took control).

In late 2021, internal documents known as “The Facebook Papers” were published by an international consortium of news outlets, following their access to the materials once they were made available by U.S. Congress (and now-revered whistleblower Frances Haugen). This assemblage of documents, according to the Financial Times, included “thousands of pages of leaked documents [painting] a damaging picture of a company that has prioritised growth” over other concerns.

The Associated Press, another news outlet reporting on the matter, summarised the documents as such: “These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms might harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence.”

Following Haugen’s release of the documents, Jessica J. Gonzalez, co-CEO of advocacy group Free Press Action, remarked that the whistleblower revelations “confirm what many of us have been sounding the alarm about for years” — that the real problem behind Zuckerberg’s empire is actually the business model in which he’s used as a means of governing his platform all along. One that subsists almost entirely on greed and capitalistic gain.

Even as far back as 2010, Zuckerberg began touting his belief that “privacy was no longer a social norm”. And in the following years, Facebook users have been unwittingly trading their privacy for a seemingly more enhanced online experience. Studies have suggested that an estimated 4 in 10 users use social media accounts to follow their favourite products or brands, while 28% of online users claim that targeted ads on social media have effectively brought new services or products to their attention.

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On the other side of the curtain, our online data has been regularly harvested and fed to algorithms — serving as raw material for advertisers to make better predictions about what will generate the highest levels of profit. It’s a process called surveillance capitalism — and it’s allowed Big Tech companies to claim our online activity and turn it into their own proprietary knowledge for capitalist gain. In other words, our online personas have, in essence, become products themselves.

Author and tech analyst Shoshanna Zuboff refers to surveillance capitalism as “the dominant economic institution of our time”. Furthermore, “this system successfully mediates nearly every aspect of human engagement with digital information” and “today all apps and software, no matter how benign they appear, are designed to maximise data collection.”

This brings us to another important question: if a company should have no shame in monetising the very marrow it can milk from its users, then what’s stopping it from doing the same thing with any assets they produce?

Why is Meta’s approach the wrong one?

Let’s circle back to the main subject — which is Meta’s proposed virtual asset cut for creators in Horizon Worlds. How might this approach be setting the company up for failure?

For one, many will know that Meta’s big cut isn’t the first instance of Big Tech greedily clawing funds away from small creators. For years now, Apple has come under fire (even from Mark Zuckerberg himself) for charging developers a 30% fee for in-app purchases made through its dedicated App Store. 

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Funnily enough, Zuckerberg has even raised Apple’s App Store fee as an example of what he claims he doesn’t want to repeat with metaverse creators. “As we build for the metaverse, we’re focused on unlocking opportunities for creators to make money from their work,” he said back in November 2021. “The 30% fees that Apple takes on transactions make it harder to do that, so we’re updating our subscriptions product so now creators can earn more.” In typical fashion, however, Zuckerberg has done just about anything but place the best interests of creators at the forefront of his roadmap. 

Like many of its other visions, Meta’s promise to build the metaverse has also been largely rhetorical and not fully clear. The company’s rebranding, name change and acquisition of Oculus have proven Zuckerberg’s seriousness about growing the VR ecosystem and developing a metaverse-building strategy. However, massive losses to the company’s Reality Labs Division and relatively low adoption rates of VR still indicate that the company isn’t quite dominating the space. 

A steep decline in Facebook use has also been a recent concern, with a reported 45% of users allegedly dropping from the platform. With competitor apps (not yet acquired) such as TikTok dominating the market — particularly with Gen Z users — Meta appears to be losing any hope of having a dedicated user base that will seamlessly migrate into the metaverse.

Other moves have also indicated Meta’s lack of clarity in winning the metaverse category. It recently shut down a project to build its own VR/AR operating system, instead choosing to build on the Android platform. The company is also opting to use Qualcomm chips in its upcoming augmented reality glasses, as opposed to utilising its own internal design. Unlike Apple, the company hasn’t embraced vertical integration and carved out its own adoption of particular hardware and chips that will ensure maximum performance. And so far, Meta has been unwilling to open its operating system to other manufacturers — an advantage that has historically allowed Microsoft to dominate the PC market over the last few decades.

While the Meta Quest 2 is currently the best-selling VR headset at the time of writing, this success is forecasted to change once other companies start releasing their own dedicated devices. Apple is likely to produce a high-performance headset that will be equipped with LiDAR technology — a feature that may allow it to one day dominate the headset market.

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So, is Meta a premium supplier of technology? Or will it serve as a trailblazing metaverse platform? The problem is that we still don’t know. Combine all of these shortcomings with a very steep fee and you have a particularly muddy strategy that’s likely to fail.

Other major tech leaders have also voiced their lack of belief in Meta as a leader in the emerging metaverse space. Reggie Fils-Aime, former president of Nintendo of America Inc., recently spoke about his stance on Meta in an interview with Bloomberg: “Facebook itself is not an innovative company,” he’s bluntly stated. “They have either acquired interesting things like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of people’s ideas. I don’t think their current definition will be successful.” Conversely, Fils-Aime has also expressed his belief that smaller companies will play a much larger role in creating successful metaverse worlds.

Keeping in line with Fils-Aime’s projection, Web3 presents a more creator-focused and community-driven approach to online content creation. Allowing creators to have greater ownership over their digital goods will let them move away from expensive, centralised platforms that are no longer serving them.

Blockchain Gaming 101: Bitcoin Miner

Bitcoin Miner is a much older game than one would think by looking on the App Store. It was developed over four years ago by a small team who saw the latest bullrush on Bitcoin and saw an opportunity to create a game about mining for cryptocurrency. We spoke to Paul West of Fumb Games about the Bitcoin Miner journey: “We’d already created a similar game called Zombie Labs, where you dug zombies out of the ground. We thought, okay, what would be cool is if we made a Bitcoin version of this”

In Bitcoin Miner, it’s your job to make as much money as possible, in the usual idle clicker way of purchasing new tools and upgrades. What starts as an underground bunker with one chap mining for Shiba Inu, becomes an empire where up to ten coins are being mined, including meme coins like Doge and powerhouses such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.

Unfortunately, four years ago, things were very different and crypto wasn’t in regular conversation yet. “We went to launch it and we couldn’t” Paul laughs, “Google and Facebook, which were the main marketing channels for app promotion said ‘absolutely no, you cannot promote cryptocurrency-related products’ and of course, we replied that nothing in the game is real, it’s just the artwork which looks like crypto.”

So, the game stalled because Fumb Games couldn’t promote it to new players. The game that exists today is very similar to the one created over four years ago, however now that society is becoming more comfortable with crypto the game is seeing another big push with one new addition. Now you can earn actual crypto while you play.

“We were approached by Zebedee, who are the Bitcoin payment provider, saying they’d like to work with us.” As you play Bitcoin Miner you can earn Satoshi which is a fraction of a Bitcoin, and when we say a fraction we mean it, a Satoshi is 0.000001 BTC. These Satoshi appear occasionally from your miners, along with other tappable power-ups, and once tapped they get banked in a holding area until you withdraw them to your Zebedee wallet.

I’ve been playing the game since its launch a few weeks ago and I’ve banked 609 SATS, or $0.17. You’re never going to get rich, but that’s not the point. This is just a game, with the blockchain and crypto elements sown within. Paul is proud of what the game is doing, because to him, the gameplay came first, “we gave the game a bit of a facelift after Zebedee got in touch – those miner sprites are my original art from years ago! – now we’re the first Bitcoin mining simulation that actually pays you Bitcoin.”

The Satoshis will never really amount to much, even if you’re hammering the game constantly. I’ve found myself a little addicted to watching my miners unearth coins, in the same way I got hooked on other idle clickers or, as Paul calls them, “enterprise games.”

It’s the ideal game for five-minute breaks during the day; you open the game, upgrade some miners or open new mining sites, you can tap the green arrows which pump the coin price up, or there’s a purple split arrow which duplicates the coin. There are treasure chests which give pieces of coins that, when assembled, upgrade the value of your coins, and watching ads can reward bonuses.

You might ask where these Satoshi come from, which is why we asked Paul: “it comes directly from our revenue, going back to the community. We want this to be ‘if we win, then you win.’” The game does feature advertisements, which Paul knows can be a contentious point to players, but he hopes they understand that the interstitial ads are creating the revenue supplying the Bitcoin.

It’s all about making money, in the same way your idle theme park or bakery game is. Except here, you can see actual money being paid out. “It’s like the cherry on the top” says Paul, “the game comes first, the Satoshi is simply a bonus.” Bitcoin Miner can be seen as a proof of concept to other developers, but it should also be seen as a great example of developing alongside Web3, rather than in reaction to it.

“Web3 friction points are everywhere,” says Paul as we discuss how his game can help others learn about cryptocurrency mining and blockchain, “we think this is a frictionless way to learn, you can go from knowing nothing about Bitcoin, to earning it within 3-4 minutes.” Bitcoin Miner makes everything very simple, even setting up a Zebedee wallet is a breeze.

“There are a lot of games out there that are Web3, but there are so many hoops to jump through; setting up a wallet, buying an NFT or staking tokens in the game” Paul is talking about the general Web3 gaming scene, which makes it difficult for everyday gamers to jump in and try new games. With so many upcoming games, there’s little to see and play, “they’re speculative products, right? They’re investments that people are making.”

Bitcoin Miner is anything but speculative. The gameplay may have been seen many times over, underneath various facades. That’s no bad thing, it won’t be for everyone, but for those who lean towards idle clickers or those interested in how crypto works, it’s an ideal clicker. A stand out comment from Paul is one to end on: “you’re not playing to earn, you’re playing and earning” and this seems to be a path that many developers should follow if they’re to appeal to ‘Web2 gamers’.

Astra Encourages Creators to its Crypto/VR Metaverse With a $250k Grant Programme

Whether you call them virtual worlds or a metaverse there’s no denying that to build one you need money and plenty of creators to build the thing. Most of the big ones – Horizon Worlds, Rec Room etc – already have grant programmes to encourage those who want to build amazing metaverses to do so. One of the newest on the scene, Astra, has followed suit by launching its own $250,000 programme.


Astra aims to be a one-stop metaverse for shopping, gaming and socialising, leveraging crypto and NFTs as part of its commercial backbone. To do this the platform launched the grant programme earlier this month looking specifically for: “Developers and Creators with an interest in world-building, design, and experience,” to build upon Astra’s existing infrastructure, which uses Unreal Engine – the team were previously awarded an Epic Megagrant.

The programme is designed to cover a wealth of roles across the Web3 ecosystem, from NFT Strategists, Game Economy Designers and Unreal Sound Engineers, to Environment architects, Digital fashion designers and DeFI developers, awarding $10,000 USD to successful applicants. To begin the process you’ll need to join Astra’s Discord channel with a step-by-step guide on the rest of the application process found on this Twitter thread.

As detailed in its whitepaper, Astra will have all the things you’d expect from an up and coming metaverse, events and concerts you can attend with friends, spending your crypto in virtual shops, buying LAND and earning Thrills, Astra’s in-game currency. It’ll heavily utilise NFTs for gaming purposes, playing will enable you to win fashion NFTs for your avatar for example. Astra has already held and will continue to run game days, hosting digital paintball sessions for early adopters.

Astra Roadmap

As the above road map indicates, Astra will be growing its community not only through the grant but also via a hackathon in Q2, followed by launching LAND sales in Q3.

One interesting aspect of Astra’s road map is its virtual reality (VR) plans for the end of the year -(the Apple headset might be a bit optimistic). Making it clear that the company believe’s VR “is the future of Metaverse-based experiences” putting Astra far more in line with platforms such as Somnium Space – which also employs blockchain and NFTs – rather than The Sandbox or Decentraland which have no immersive capabilities.

Astra is one among many metaverses looking to attract fresh talent to help with expansion. As this continues through 2022, gmw3 will keep you updated.

An Epic Journey to Shape the Future of the Metaverse

It seems like there are so many companies currently vying for metaverse supremacy. Between small startups and gaming mega-corporations, there surely won’t be space for everyone at this table. Believe the hype or not, the metaverse is a promising opportunity for all; for the everyday user, a unique chance to connect socially and experience entertainment in ways only previously imagined. For brands and businesses, a personalised experience to rival previous incarnations of the internet.

Among all the companies laying foundations for the metaverse, surely none can rival Epic Games. Over the past few years, Epic has been acquiring other industry leaders, with one goal in mind, slowly crafting their portfolio in order to build their vision of the metaverse. It’s hard and a little foolish to ignore what Epic are building, given their current profile and many recent announcements. 

Unreal Engine 5 Image ©

Journey’s Beginning

Formally Potomac Systems (1991-1992), then Epic MegaGames Inc (1992 – 1999), Epic Games have established themselves as a core part of the videogame landscape. Currently headed by original founder, Tim Sweeney, Epic Games are responsible for more than just the games they’ve made.

Nowadays, Epic is known as the developer behind smash-hit battle royale Fortnite, a game with over 350 million dedicated players – a game known to pioneer, join people together and even break the internet. Fortnite began creating and breaking records from its initial release in July 2017, but before taking over the battle royale genre, Epic Games were known for the seminal Gears of War series, Bulletstorm, Robo Recall, Shadow Complex and, of course, Unreal.

Unreal was one of Tim Sweeny’s first games, working closely with Steve Polge and Cliff Bleszinski. The game became a sell-out hit, a shooter in the vein of DOOM and Wolfenstein. More than that, Unreal birthed the Unreal Engine. First seen in 1998, the core programming engine on which the game was built became a must for game developers and, beyond games, TV and movie studios.

Upper Level of Prison Cell – Unreal (1998) ©

Since then, the Unreal engine has gone through several iterations, becoming faster, more powerful and more versatile. So popular is the Unreal Engine, that the Wikipedia page for ‘games which use Unreal Engine’ feels seemingly endless. In April of 2022 Epic Games finally unveiled and released Unreal Engine 5, the latest version of the software. As ever, it was released for free via GitHub.

Epic has established itself as a company which helps developers, as they waive their royalties for games made with Unreal until the developer reaches $1 million USD in revenue. The Unreal Engine is so versatile it can create desktop PC games, console titles, mobile must-plays and even virtual reality experiences. It seems the possibilities are endless, it has become the ideal industry tool and it is perfect for constructing a persistent online metaverse.

Sweeney’s vision

Speaking to Bloomberg in November 2021, Tim Sweeney stated that: “over the coming decades, the metaverse has the potential to become a multi-trillion-dollar part of the world economy”. Sweeney has always been a proponent of the metaverse vision. He has spent years discussing the concept, but of course, since the conference where Mark Zuckerberg switched Facebook to Meta, things have begun to heat up.

Continuing with Bloomberg, Sweeney believes: “It’s kind of a race to get to a billion users, whoever brings on a billion users first, would be the presumed leader in setting the standards.” Given that elsewhere Sweeney has gone on record as saying he believes that Fortnite is more than a videogame, “it’s a platform for entertainment” one could assume he already believes that Epic has established the groundwork of the metaverse. And, given that Fortnite already sees more than 350 million users, they’re not far off that magical “one billion” number.

Image ©

We can’t, however, forget some of Sweeney’s other comments about the metaverse; such as “The metaverse is like the internet. No one company can own it.” And how companies like Apple and Microsoft are creating “walled gardens” where users are hemmed in by centralisation and rules dictated by the overseeing company. 

At this point, it’s difficult to say whether Epic games, should they establish a successful metaverse first, would hand over the reins to the users and fully decentralise the platform. But before that even becomes a question, Epic first needs to build the metaverse and looking at the many acquisitions which have taken place over the past couple of years, they’re in the perfect position to do so.


It would be remiss to discuss Epic Games’ metaverse plans without directly examining Fortnite. Nobody, not even Epic Games, thought that Fortnite would be the hit it became. The battle royale which now boasts over 350 million players, started as a side game to a PvE (Player Vs Environment) title. Taking cues from PlayUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite instantly captured the attention of gamers and streamers worldwide, due to its more accessible visuals and the addition of creating builds and bases on the fly.

Image © & Balenciaga

Now, after years of dominating the gaming space, Fortnite has evolved beyond being ‘just another shooter’. Fortnite is now a platform for entertainment, which just happens to be a battle royale shooter. In the past couple of years, Fortnite has played host to Star Wars, Marvel comics takeovers, musical concerts, art galleries, short film festivals, and collaborations with fashion brands like Balenciaga and Nike.

Users utilise the digital V-Bucks currency to buy skins so they can look like tennis players or soccer superstars; they can buy passes which unlock comic book heroes. Millions of players turn up every season for live, interactive events which further an ongoing storyline spanning not just the game, but real-world crossovers.

Image ©

Fortnite Valuable Statistics – supplied by

  • By 2018, Fortnite had amassed 125 million players, this count then doubled by 2019. Player count now stands at 350 million.
  • Fortnite brought in $5.1 billion in revenue in 2020 alone.
  • The US player base currently takes up 27.52% of all active players, with Brazil taking second place with 8.08% and the UK taking 5%.
  • The Marvel comics Galactus crossover event of Season Five saw 15.3 million concurrent users take part.
  • Over the past year (2021-2022) Fortnite has held the top spot of the most-watched videogame on streaming platform, Twitch (supplied by
  • In 2020, 77% of players bought V-Bucks in-game to spend on the Item Store.


Before the acquisition, SuperAwesome had positioned itself as a way to keep kids safe while they’re online. Their infrastructure platform helped more than 300 companies – including Disney, Hasbro and LEGO – bring their products safely to children. SuperAwesome became the leading ad platform for brands to reach younger audiences. According to the SupserAwesome landing page, its technology helped reach over “half a billion under-16s across North America, Europe, LATAM and APAC.”

The focus was to bring children online and give them the platform everyone else had but within a safe environment. Of course, this plays into Epic Games’ primary audience, as many of the millions of Fortnite players are under the age of sixteen. Utilising SuperAwesome’s technology also gives creators and developers an opportunity to monetise their creations and experiences on the future metaverse platform.

Logo Image ©

SuperAwesome’s most recent focus fell on the metaverse and how they could aid companies in safely onboarding kids into an online world where they could socialise, play and discover. Epic hasn’t disclosed anything about what SuperAwesome will do now they find themselves under the Epic umbrella, but we can have an educated guess. In an interview with GamesBeat, Epic’s Todd Rowe said: “If you think about the internet, it was fundamentally designed by adults for adults, now we have an internet with … kids under 16.”

Rowe continues: “The ecosystem has been building out with more and more privacy laws for children, Epic is very focused on privacy with everything that they do. Epic has no plans to put ads into Fortnite.” It’s unlikely that we’ll see the tools used to establish changes within Fortnite beyond keeping kids safe during large-scale interactive events, but these monetisation tools will now, in theory, be available to any developer using Unreal Engine, which could very well be the building blocks of the metaverse. 


In July 2021, Epic Games acquired New York-based Sketchfab. Sketchfab is still operating as a separate brand, however, the purchase significantly bolsters the assets and tools available to Unreal Engine users. The Sketchfab marketplace offers creators a way to create and build 3D assets to be sold to other creators for everything from game creation, to movie making.

While there wasn’t much of a shakeup after the Epic buyout, users of Sketchfab did see a drop in subscription prices, and store fees dropped from 30% to just 12%. But why did Epic swoop in on this young startup? Sketchfab founder and CEO, Alban Denoyel said in the announcement: “joining Epic will enable us to accelerate the development of Sketchfab and our powerful online toolset.”

Young Elf Disciple by Wen Yeh on Sketchfab

Most important was the last line of Denoyal’s announcement: “We are proud to work alongside Epic to build the metaverse and enable creators to take their work even further.” Establishing any part of the visual interface in the metaverse will require a lot of 3D models and what do Sketchfab have by the million? 3D models; but, more importantly, a catalogue of creators building them.


Even if you have no idea who Harmonix are, there’s a very strong chance you have played one of their games. Particularly if you took part in the ‘plastic peripheral’ era of gaming, which saw us all strumming on guitar controllers across the world. Harmonix created the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises which brought the idea of playing instruments to the gaming sphere. If you saw footage from these games, you’ll have noticed that they verged on the spectacular; creating venues, 3D bandmates and pyrotechnic displays to rival Coachella.

In the announcement post from the Harmonix blog dated 23rd November 2021, the company stated “we have aspired to redefine what a music game can be.” Up until very recently, Harmonix has carried on supporting their games; Rock Band keeps getting DLC tracks, FUSER and Rivals have been getting frequent updates and events, and they will continue to do so. You’ll notice that Epic rarely pulls the creators away from their creations.

Rock Band 4 ©

But, once again, that word crept into the announcement with: “Now we’ll be working with Epic to once again challenge expectations as we bring our unique musical gaming experience to the metaverse.” 

Epic are already well known for its music experiences within Fortnite, hosting a variety of acts including Ariana Grande, Travis Scott, Tones and I and Marshmallow. It’s not a stretch to imagine that Harmonix will aid Epic not only in staging these events, creating arenas and assets for the musical acts, but they could also bring a new level of interactivity. 

Previously users have only been able to run, jump and perform scripted emotes during the performances, but with Harmonix’ expertise, we could see millions of users playing along to the songs using their controllers. These concerts have not only interested the pre-installed user base of Fortnite but each event has the potential to bring on new users who are fans of the musical act. Apply this to the metaverse and you have a gateway for potentially billions of users who want to attend a concert from the comfort of home.


A much older acquisition – well, old in terms of the recent buying spree – was Houseparty. Houseparty was a video-based app which allowed for easier video communication. Much like Zoom and Skype, Houseparty saw a boom in users during the Covid-19 pandemic as everyone stayed home. Houseparty was particularly popular due to its focus on friends and family; if a user was showing as online, they were free to video call. It was reminiscent of AIM and MSN chatrooms from the late-90s boom.

Image ©

Epic Games bought Houseparty for $35 million in the hope that their expertise and technology could be applied to Fortnite, and “across the Epic Games family”. The Houseparty team got to work on bringing new features to Fortnite and left the old app and community behind. As reported by The Washington Post in September 2021, Houseparty closed its app announcing the team will work on “creating new ways to have meaningful and authentic social interactions at metaverse scale”.

While Houseparty did continue ‘Fortnite support’ for a time and users could pair their gameplay with the app to video chat their teammates, the function was soon shut down. However, given that communication is so integral to a metaverse platform, the Houseparty team are primed to create interesting and safe ways for users to stay in touch in this new world.

Digital Life

We can’t forget the tools Epic Games are publishing, often for free, which will enable creators to build the metaverse. It’s not just the extensive suite within Unreal Engine 5, but the tools developed internally and with teams from past acquisitions.

After buying out Capturing Reality, a company who developed photogrammatic software, Epic Games released its RealityScan app; this app is a free program which allows any smartphone to transform digital images into fully-rendered 3D models. The app was a collaboration between the team from Capturing Reality and Quixel, both now working under the Epic umbrella. Currently, in a limited beta, RealityScan is “yielding 3D scans with unparalleled accuracy and mesh quality at speeds many times faster than competing software.”

Image ©

Then we have MetaHuman, which launched recently and had the internet abuzz, with many loading up the software to try it out. Perhaps the strongest tool outside of Unreal Engine 5, MetaHuman is a free cloud-based app which allows anyone to create photorealistic digital humans. If it sounds a bit ‘uncanny valley’ that’s because it is; but it’s a radically powerful tool for any would-be metaverse creator.

The key to this tool is the ability to import the MetaHuman data into Unreal Engine 5 creating anything from videogames to short films. MetaHuman couldn’t exist without companies which Epic Games has acquired over the years; the work of both 3Lateral and Cubic Motion, this app can unleash the potential of any creator. What can’t be stressed enough is that Epic Games publishes this software for free, further enabling bedroom creators of the future – those with the imagination to create something spectacular.

Image ©


On April 7th 2022, Epic Games and the LEGO Group announced the biggest metaverse news yet. The pair will be partnering to create a “metaverse, safe and fun for children and families” teaming up to “build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging experience”. Doesn’t give too much away, does it? But let’s look at this partnership plainly.

On the one hand, we have the LEGO Group, a toy synonymous with building from the imagination and implementing media brands, like gaming giant Nintendo, through new build sets. Then we have Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, a game about building and battling in an ever-evolving world, often featuring massive brand partnerships with the likes of Disney. Match made in heaven, right?

Image © TheLegoGroup

Details are understandably thin on the ground, but if we look at the official announcement blog post, we can leverage some information as to how this metaverse project might play out. Niels B Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group said, “Kids enjoy playing in digital and physical worlds and move seamlessly between the two.” 

The LEGO Group has already tried to capitalise on this idea once before, with the short-lived LEGO Dimensions videogame. The series allowed players to explore the worlds of Batman, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, and more, by placing real-world LEGO figurines on a portal which brought them to life in-game.

Image © TheLegoGroup

Could we be looking at a similar implementation within the metaverse project? LEGO isn’t going to move ‘digital only’ and they could utilise QR codes or codes inside boxes of LEGO to add characters into their metaverse or even, into Fortnite.

Tim Sweeney was rather cryptic with his words on the partnership saying: “The LEGO Group has captivated the imagination of children and adults through creative play for nearly a century…” The focus here must be on the history of the LEGO Group. Further on in the announcement we see a mention of ensuring “this next iteration of the internet is designed from the outset with the wellbeing of kids in mind.”

This, of course, loops back around to SuperAwesome and their goals within Epic Games; to create a safe, online space for children to use. An admirable goal and one which should be paramount moving forward. However, let’s not overlook the money on the table and both the revenue and opportunities which can come from these two powerhouses working together. These are companies who regularly collaborate with Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Adidas, Harry Potter, even Swedish furniture labyrinth IKEA.

The possibilities for collaborations are, like the imagination, endless.

Epic Game Store

The Epic Game Store hasn’t been around for long. It launched on 6th December 2018 as a platform to rival Steam, which has been servicing PC gamers for years. It took some time to establish Epic Game Store as a genuine alternative, Epic utilised exclusive game launches, as well as offering weekly free games in order to create user accounts – when Epic offered Star Wars Battlefront 2 for free in January 2021, over 19 million people logged in to obtain a copy, crashing the servers.

Much like in other aspects of their business, Epic has attempted to position itself as a leader who cares about creators and the community. Much like the revenue shares for those using Unreal Engine or listing 3D assets on Sketchfab, the commission percentages were internally scrutinised. The Epic Games Store uses revenue guarantees for developers should their game underperform on release.

For most sales, Epic takes a 12% share of the revenue generated, with the rest going directly to the developer. However, for any game using the Unreal Engine, Epic forgoes the 5% revenue-based fee for those games. After other fees and services, Epic’s profitability is around 5% of gross revenue.

Why does all this matter? Because Epic is attempting, with these rules and the above acquisitions, to establish a creator-based economy and appeal to, or lure, developers of varying sizes over to the Epic Games team. Any metaverse will require users to create content for others, whether they’re professional or bedroom creators. By establishing these friendlier creators’ revenue percentages, Epic is more likely to bring in those who will build everything from player avatars to fully interactive experiences.


At this point, it’s worth pulling up some financial details. Epic Games is owned by Chinese multinational technology and entertainment conglomerate, Tencent. Tencent is currently one of the largest games developers and publishers in the world; they’ve held a 40% stake in Epic Games since 2012, while CEO Tim Sweeney holds the remaining 60%. In 2020, Epic managed to generate $5.1 billion while raising $1 billion through a funding round in April 2021 and a further $2 billion in April 2022. This values the company at roughly $31.5 billion.

Images ©

More important than the monetary amounts however are the companies investing, as this gives us a good indication of their intent. For example, the latest round of investments saw both Sony and Kirkbi (the owners of the LEGO Group) invest $1 billion dollars each, specifically to “build the future of digital entertainment”.

In the blog post update, which detailed the newest investment figures, Epic Games noted: “Today Epic Games announced a $2 billion round of funding to advance the company’s vision to build the metaverse and support its continued growth.” While we can speculate and pose thoughts about the acquisitions, this blog post calls out the investment as metaverse funding. Of course, with the secrecy of Epic Games, we won’t know for some time how the money will be used, but it shows that not only are Epic going ‘all in’ but so are Sony.

It should be noted that in the April 2021 investment round, Sony only put $200 million in, with the sentiment still being focused on the metaverse. As Tim Sweeney remarked at the time: “We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse.” 

Think back to Mark Zuckerberg changing the Facebook company name to Meta, which positioned the company as an industry leader for the metaverse concept. This happened in October 2021, yet Epic Games’ CEO was announcing his plans six months prior. While the world looked at Zuckerberg and Meta, they forgot to keep an eye on Sweeney and what he’s already built.

While Sweeney was gung-ho with his views on the metaverse after the initial Sony investment, the term wasn’t mentioned directly by Sony; Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony Group Corporation said at the time: “Epic continues to deliver revolutionary experiences through their array of cutting edge technologies that support creators in gaming and across the digital entertainment industry… I strongly believe that this aligns with our purpose to fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.”

Despite the many investments and the positive steps forward in creating a stable foundation for metaverse plans, Tencent’s stock – where Epic Games find itself – is at a major low right now. There could be many reasons behind this slump, but a key factor to monitor is the current sweep of crackdowns against the internet industry within China.

Chinese internet censorship is among the most comprehensive in the world. Both Twitter and Facebook have been banned in China since 2009, so the idea of an open internet platform, constructed by a key player from Tencent’s portfolio could be counter to Beijing’s views. As explored by TechCrunch in November 2021, Tencent commented Beijing is: “not fundamentally averse to the development of metaverse,” as long as the user experience is “provided under the regulatory framework.”

From an earnings call by Tencent in November 2021, CEO Pony Ma said: “Anything that makes the virtual world more real and the real world richer with virtual experiences can become part of the metaverse.” It seems the view will be a slow build, utilising the technology available, but the positive growth in the stock market may only come when those regulatory measures for the metaverse have been put in place.

Journey’s End

If you were to open an Epic account today with a view to play Fortnite, once you’ve entered the Fortnite lobby/menu, you would find a metaverse seedling. In one corner, there are user-created game types, in another, more user-created content in the form of worlds which can be explored. If we take a look over the history of the battle royale game, taking in the past year, we can see collaborations with artists, social justice charities, movie production companies, comic book creators, musicians and sports stars.

Fortnite’s overarching storyline occasionally leaks out into comic books from Marvel and DC, bringing the two mediums closer than ever; while toy manufacturers design action figures based around the game’s most popular skins. Sometimes the lobby advertises a band or DJ who will be performing within an interactive space and the item shop, which trades in digital currency V-Bucks, advertises skins to make your character stand out or look like your favourite celebrity.

Image ©

Yes, Tim Sweeney and Epic Games are forgetting his comments about ‘walled gardens’ considering Fortnite is a centralised product with its own currency, but there’s no doubting the scope of this already established metaverse aspiration. When taking the Epic Games acquisitions into account, the building blocks are being laid constantly; there are plans to protect kids who want to explore the metaverse or create new content; there’s a huge catalogue of 3D assets for people to use; the video and chat communication is fully fleshed out; on top of this, creeping into every aspect, is the Unreal Engine.

It’s also worth noting that Epic Games has spent the past two years breaking down barriers within gaming’s infrastructure – if it weren’t for Fortnite, the idea of cross-platform play and cross-platform progression would be stuck in the past. Before Epic Games pushed and urged Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, there was little cooperation between the platforms. Now, however, if you buy a skin for Fortnite on your Xbox, it’s also on your Switch and PC versions of the game. This action can be viewed as the first small steps towards that decentralisation the metaverse so desperately needs. 

Image ©

There is still a long way to go, of course, but the blueprint, and more importantly, the funds and infrastructure are there. Epic has all the tools they need to forge ahead and create the metaverse foundations, leaving others to build upwards. We’ve already seen how Fortnite established a platform for community creators to craft new and exciting experiences; these same builders will be the ones to flesh out the metaverse by adding character and flair.

While Epic’s rivals are dipping their toes in the muddy waters of the metaverse and making waves for the wrong reasons, Epic Games has dived in, got back out, built a boat and is mapping uncharted seas. The race to one billion users is on, and Epic has a hell of a head start.

VR Metaverse for Enterprise Remio Raises $4.5 Million

Talk around metaverse’s tend to involve gaming and creator economies rather than enterprise applications, which generally fall into collaboration platforms. Aren’t the two mutually equal you may ask? Well, Remio is one such platform aiming to bridge that gap, announcing a $4.5 million USD Series Seed round to help tap into this growing market.

Image credit: Remio

Remio was founded in 2020 and since then has been adopted by enterprise customers including Google, Netflix, Hubspot, Fidelity, Twilio, and Trello. The funding was led by Khosla Ventures along with Version One Ventures, The Venture Reality Fund, and Moai Capital, with the San Francisco-based startup welcoming Khosla Ventures to its board. The funds will be used to extend the core platform so that customers build their own spaces and experiences.

Rather than purely being a collaborative app to have virtual meetings in Remio has merged game-like features into the mix. So customers can host a big corporate event or a private meeting, tackle an escape room, play some basketball or challenge each other to a paintball match. All in the name of team building.

“We’re excited and grateful for the investor support, and appreciative that Sandhya Venkatachalam of Khosla is joining our board. Their support is a testament to the value we bring to our customers as well as Remio’s untapped market potential. Interactive workplaces with distributed teams is a growing, massive market opportunity, and I believe that Remio will provide the competitive edge for human capital development to our customers,” said co-founder Jos van der Westhuizen in a statement.

Image credit: Remio

“There’s tremendous demand in the market for creative, interactive workspaces that lead to greater employee engagement and productivity. Remio is well-positioned to build upon its success in the enterprise by providing a superior metaverse experience for people and companies, and I’m looking forward to working with the team on this journey as a trusted advisor,” Venkatachalam adds.

Remio is part of an ever-growing selection of collaborative apps in VR, which include the likes of The Wild, Glue, Vive XR Suite, Varjo Reality Cloud, Arthur, Spatial, Gravity Sketch and MeetinVR to name just a few. Remio might be enterprise-focused but you can find it on App Lab for Meta Quest if you want to take a look. For further updates, keep reading gmw3.

Metaverse Weekly: The Expanding Tokenomics of GameFi Protocol DeFi Kingdoms

DeFi Kingdoms (DFK) is a young play-to-earn (P2E) gaming protocol built on the Harmony Network. The protocol is fueled by its native cryptocurrency JEWEL. The JEWEL token powers in-game purchases and rewards such as NFTs (Heroes), collectables, and more.

DFK launched in the summer of 2021 with the intention to develop a gaming-powered yield farm. By leveraging the smart contract applications of the Harmony blockchain combined with Uniswap’s V2 protocol, DFK has managed to attract a healthy usage for its JEWEL token.

DeFi Kingdoms: Serandale: 

Tokenomics of JEWEL

The JEWEL token essentially works to function entirely like a gamified DEX (decentralized exchange). JEWEL employs basic DEX tokenomics in that DFK users essentially participate in yield farming to earn JEWEL tokens.

The JEWEL token itself has two key functions to understand overall. They are:

  • Depositing at the DFK Bank
  • Delegating JEWEL to a liquidity pool in the Gardens

When JEWEL is deposited at the Bank, users can exchange it for xJEWEL governance tokens which come with a yield, incentivizing participation. The other option is to simply delegate tokens to a liquidity pool, meaning that the user exchanges their liquidity to the pool to generate higher returns.

At genesis, 10 million JEWEL tokens were pre-mined and distributed out to multiple channels, including:

  • 5 million towards game development
  • 2 million towards marketing
  • 2 million to form the original liquidity pool
  • 1 million to the founding time

While the initial distribution of tokens was highly centralized, JEWEL has a fixed supply of 500 million tokens, meaning that only a small percentage of tokens was pre-mined and airdropped in the original distribution.

JEWEL token is capped at a fixed supply of 500 million possible tokens. The remainder of those tokens will be introduced into DFK via the yield farming mechanisms and follow the following supply curve:

Source: Messari

An important note about DFK’s JEWEL token is that the max supply can be changed at any time through governance. Users participate through the DFK Bank (via xJEWEL governance tokens) in which they receive governance power and rewards in exchange for their liquidity.

Criticisms of DeFi Kingdoms

While the tokenomics of JEWEL function properly, the current development of DFK  has been a subject of criticism as the protocol lacks a true gaming experience. The label of being a “gamified DEX’ is something that developers have even acknowledged.

As Ismail Mert Tarihci of Admix stated: “DeFi Kingdoms has been thriving on the future implied development of an actual game being built on top of the current DEX (decentralized exchange) mechanics of DFK.”

A push forward in the DFK roadmap is the integration of new realms into DeFi Kingdoms. The first of these new realms is the integration of a new DFK token called CRYSTAL via the Avalanche network.

Integrating Avalanche (AVAX) and the CRYSTAL Token

Towards the end of Q4 2021, it was announced that DFK would be integrated into Avalanche (AVAX) as a new accessible realm powered by its own token CRYSTAL. 

The move allows DFK to take advantage of the low costs and fast transaction times typically associated with the Avalanche blockchain network. It also expands the overall use case of the DFK ecosystem as a whole. This new realm is called DeFi Kingdoms: Crystalvale and is bridged to the main realm of DFK.

DeFi Kingdoms: Crystalvale: 

The CRYSTAL token operates very similar to that of JEWEL. It can be used to purchase or mint new Heroes (NFTs), utilized as liquidity in the DEX or farms, and serves as the Crystavale realm native currency.

The value of both JEWEL and CRYSTAL are linked through shared utility since they power many of the same features (called Power Tokens). Additionally, JEWEL fuels the gas fees for the main DFK blockchain where CRYSTAL transactions are settled, meaning JEWEL literally powers CRYSTAL.

Because of this, the incentives for holding JEWEL have expanded substantially. Those holding JEWEL are now the beneficiaries of increased transaction volume due to CRYSTAL.


The expansion of the DeFi Kingdoms ecosystem to include Avalanche not only provides an improved use case for DFK but also directly incentives higher usage of both the JEWEL and CRYSTAL tokens simply through basic economics.

While the further development of a true game on DeFi Kingdoms remains a speculation of sorts, for now, the protocol experienced substantial growth over Q1 2022 and looks to expand on that growth over the rest of 2022. 

Roblox is Dead, Long Live Roblox

As I do every day, this morning I made myself a coffee and sat down to trawl my Feedly feed looking for interesting things happening in the world. Usually, it’s a long list of crypto news, NFT scandals and metaverse conversations, all nestled among news pieces about new videogames. One article leapt out at me right away concerning the recent stock drop for Roblox.

On 19th November 2021 Roblox stock hit an all-time high for its short life on the markets, it sat around $134.72. At this point in the company’s history things were beginning to heat up. ‘Metaverse’, technology’s latest and greatest buzzword was being thrown around with Roblox firmly rooted in the centre as gaming’s most popular take on the futuristic concept. 

CEO David Baszucki has firmly held the view that Roblox was always a metaverse project, even if the name hadn’t reached mainstream levels. When talking to Bloomberg in November, Baszucki states “We don’t usually think of ourselves as a videogame company. That said, there are millions of creators who make amazing games and experiences on the platform.” When asked how far away the metaverse is, he follows up with “we’re actually in the middle of it right now. There are over 200 million people on Roblox every month. They have an identity, they have an avatar. They do stuff together”.

David Baszucki ©

Whenever an article about the metaverse surfaces, Roblox is guaranteed to feature, and it’s easy to see why. Over the past few months, Roblox has hosted experiences from some of the most famous brands; Nike, Gucci, Vans, and more recently, Nickelodeon. Roblox isn’t shy about partnering with various entertainment giants, whether they’re musicians like Twenty-One Pilots and Lil Was X or awards shows such as Fashion Awards or the Grammy awards.

However, over recent months the once favourable Roblox stock is seeing some struggle on the market. On 14th March 2022, the stock dropped to just $36.68, and while it has climbed a little to hover around the $50 mark in recent days, it’s still a fair way from only a few months ago. So, why is this metaverse aspiring platform starting to struggle? Well, there are several reasons.

Covid Stock

When the Roblox stock started to really pick up steam, society was reaching the tip of the downswing in Covid cases and lockdowns. The period we all spent at home with our kids was coming to an end. During those numerous lockdowns, Roblox had become a daily interaction for many children as they reached out to their friends and family, to play games together or just hang out in lieu of being able to do it in ‘real life’.

At the height of Covid-19, parents and teachers swarmed Roblox as a way to not only keep their children occupied but also educated. Lessons were conducted within Roblox experiences in an attempt to bring some normalcy to the routines of children.


Now, many (many) months since the outbreak of Covid-19, children are back in school; they can play sports together again, they’re lined up in classrooms ready to take their seats; and while Roblox still demands their attention in their free time, the days of always being online to escape a bleak reality have ended.

While children and adults are still pouring millions of hours into Roblox, it’s clear that investors began looking for a way out as soon as the market placed less importance on the platform. Then, a few months past Roblox was hit with repeated instances of controversy, surely shifting the investors’ focus once more.

Child Exploitation and Child Safety

On 4th April 2022, British communications regulator Ofcom published a report on children’s interactions online. In the report, Ofcom goes into detail about how children use their time in our constantly online world. Surveying groups of parents and children alike, Ofcom found that 18% of children aged 4-5 play games online. This stat grows to 38% for kids aged 5-7, then 69% for the 8-11 year bracket. While we can’t see a breakdown of how many of these children are playing Roblox, the above ‘200 million players’ figure gives us a confident idea that there are more than a few.

Over recent months Roblox has come under scrutiny for its lacklustre attempts at safeguarding children on the platform. There are hundreds of thousands of experiences on the Roblox platform; in 2021, 107,737 experiences reached 10k or more visits. Much like Apple’s App Store or the Steam store for PC, it’s increasingly difficult to police the individual games and the entirety of the content. This is why Roblox has sadly suffered from creators making school shooter simulations or areas which solicit sexual content destined for older users, without being properly age-gated.

There is also very little in the way of chat moderation for young users. Each experience within Roblox features a chat box allowing free communication, but of course, without a mod in every chat, it opens up the possibility that any child could be exposed to harassment, bullying or inappropriate content.

These issues recently hit the headlines after YouTube creators ‘People Make Games’ uncovered a large number of children were being put at risk within Roblox experiences or were being exploited when these children were creating their own games, items for sale, or experiences. Roblox has forever marketed itself as a safe place for children to use their creativity and develop games, but the report from ‘People Make Games’, further summed up by Eurogamer, shows that many kids aren’t being reimbursed for working on games or fly under the radar of workplace legislations.

Metaverse Scepticism and Fatigue

Roblox is highlighting, for better or worse, the pitfalls of the supposed metaverse. We’ve written extensively at gmw3 on the topic of the metaverse; it’s something that, when handled correctly, can be enticing and exciting. But for the metaverse to exist, certain aspects of technology need to come together and build a cohesive vision.

When we break down exactly how Roblox positions itself as a metaverse property, we can see certain stumbling blocks emerge. I’ve already touched on the lack of safety protocols for Roblox, but this highlights a growing problem across all metaverse platforms – without a centralised ‘leader’ overseeing platforms, aspects such as child safety, online bullying and black market sales will become rife. We must pose the question, how can we, as users, stay safe when there is nobody to answer to?

Image ©

Speaking of decentralisation, Roblox is, and always will be, overseen by the Roblox Corporation. Investors looking to Roblox to lead the way into the metaverse must, by now, be seeing that there are limits to this idea. After all, Nickelodeon, Nike and Vans would have all been subject to scrutiny from those at the top of the chain, revealing that while Roblox can be seen as metaverse-aspiring, it’s still a walled garden in which the caretakers rule the roost.

The Metaverse Shift

So, where have these investors moved to? Well, without being able to dig too deeply due to the availability of reports, it’s clear that many brands are moving full-steam into the metaverse big four, Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space and Decentraland on their own, or by buying up LAND parcels. LAND purchasing is rising rapidly; in 2021 LAND sales topped out at $500 million and are scheduled to double throughout 2022.

This rapid shift from Roblox to the big four metaverse projects becomes more meaningful to investors given the value of these LAND parcels and the ease with which they could be sold on. Ultimately, Roblox only offers monetisation through the item sales – bags, clothes and other wearables – where the Roblox Corporation usually takes a 30% cut from the revenue. Whereas somewhere like Decentraland offers more incentive for investors to create and monetise their LAND through sales of NFTs and non-intrusive advertising.

Let’s look at Decentraland as our key example of investment growth. Plot number X-73 x Y38 is a relatively small and unassuming parcel of LAND. The closest district is called District X; when explored there are a few small buildings on neighbouring plots, it’s just South of Vegas City. When the LAND was put up for sale initially it sold for the equivalent of $134.16 in 2017. On 3rd January 2022, this exact plot of LAND resold (due to it being an NFT) for $17,499.97. And this isn’t even near any of the big money areas, like the fashion district.

Another example would be ATARI in Sandbox, who in earlier years purchased a huge swathe of LAND for 2020 prices, which would have reached a maximum $70k floor price. They however sold 360 parcels to Republic Realm for around $4.3 million in November 2021. Investors will see this and make the jump, because experiences in Roblox, such as NIKELAND, cannot be resold or repurposed.

Is it all Downhill?

With all of this discussed, Roblox isn’t going anywhere, of course. It still has power in drawing users to the platform through its constant partnerships with big brands and its easy to play engine which runs on practically all hardware. And, it’s still a leading player in constructing what a metaverse property could look like.

Roblox key art

But there’s no doubting a strong shift from investors who once saw Roblox as a safe bet. It’s the same confidence that many parents give to the platform when letting their kids log in, it’s not misguided, but everything has changed over the past year, through social changes and investigations which hurt the mission statement of the Roblox Corporation. It is worth noting that since the People Make Games YouTube video aired, Roblox has announced a commitment to safety and protecting creators.

On top of this, while Roblox and the media as a whole, see the metaverse potential, it could be seen as lacking in comparison. The lack of decentralisation, ownership of more digital goods and the freedom of building and construction, could eventually hurt the brand as more competitors enter the fray.

Metaverse Weekly: How Did Top Projects Do During Q1 2022?

The first quarter of the 2022 year has served largely as a cool off following the substantial expansion the cryptocurrency market saw since 2020. Many assets, including that of Decentraland (MANA), Axie Infinity (AXS), and Sandbox (SAND), declined or consolidated for much of Q1 2022.

What hasn’t stopped since the beginning of the year is development within the metaverse space. Nearly every major play-to-earn (P2E) project has seen tremendous development, expansion, or fresh investment from both in and outside the cryptoeconomy.

Here is a wrap up of what the top three leading P2E projects did over the course of Q1 2022. 

Decentraland (MANA)

The use case and ability of Decentraland has continued expanding throughout Q1 2022 with the project adding a number of new features and incentives. Decentraland’s native cryptocurrency token MANA had an overall rocky Q1 in terms of price action.

The MANA token reached an all time high of ~$5.90 USD in November 2021. Since then, MANA has declined in price over 50%. Despite the decline, MANA will begin Q2 2022 up ~175% from its price at the end of Q1 last year in 2021.

MANA Circulating Marketcap
Image credit: Messari

MANA remains a top asset within the cryptoeconomy, ending Q1 2022 as the 32nd largest project by market capitalization. In addition, MANA is the leading project for both metaverse & NFT coins.

Decentraland has announced or integrated all of the following features so far in 2022:

  • Royalties – Decentraland kicked off the 2022 new year with a major announcement that royalty payments were going to be integrated into the protocol. This implementation into the Decentraland marketplace will allow creators to substantially increase their potential earnings, incentivizing further adoption.
  • My Store – Decentraland integrated a new feature to its marketplace called My Store. This upgrade allows creators to more easily manage assets, view data, and build personal branding.
  • Transparency OS – In February 2022, Decentraland announced the arrival of a new operating software geared towards improving community decision-making called Transparency OS.. In short, this serves to provide further transparency of data between the community and DAO.

Axie Infinity (AXS)

Following the market peak in November 2021, Axie Infinity’s had continued its decline for much of Q1 2022. Since the end of February, AXS has consolidated largely around a market capitalization of $2.8 billion USD.

AXS remains down over 50% from the all time high it hit in 2021 after the cryptocurrency market entered a consistent decline in Q4 of 2021. Despite this, Axie Infinity is up a staggering ~1,200% since the end of Q1 2022. That makes Axie Infinity one of the fastest-growing projects within the cryptoeconomy overall.

AXS Circulating Marketcap
Image credit: Messari

AXS isn’t far behind MANA, ending Q1 2022 within the top 40 largest cryptocurrencies by market cap. AXS also enjoys being the leading project in the subcategory of gaming as well as the second largest metaverse project only behind Decentraland.

Axie Infinity has benefited tremendously from the impressive (and growing) list of partnerships they have, including all of the following partners:

  • Samsung
  • Ubisoft
  • HTC
  • Binance

The Sandbox (SAND)

As far as virtual worlds go, The Sandbox remains one of the most popular projects within the sector. Pretty consistently trailing just behind both Axie Infinity and Decentraland, The Sandbox’s native token SAND is still holding an impressive $4 billion USD market cap.

The SAND token peaked like much of the cryptocurrency market in Q4 2021, down a comparable ~50% off the token’s all time high. The expansion of SAND over the past year has also been impressive, outperforming Decentraland and rising nearly 400% since Q1 2021.

SAND Circulating Marketcap
Image credit: Messari

With enthusiasm for the metaverse and Web3 growing, SAND has also minted some truly impressive partnerships. Some of the most impressive partners to join with The Sandbox include the following examples:

  • Snoop Dogg
  • Adidas
  • Atari
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Smurfs
  • Hell’s Kitchen
Snoop Dogg avatars. Image credit The SandBox

A recent Q1 2022 example is the partnership between The Sandbox and SM Brand Marketing which will be utilized to construct a Play-to-Create model. This will be centred around building within the metaverse and minting collectables like NFTs.

With a growing arsenal of opportunities for users to earn income, The Sandbox continues to see an adoption rate that rivals all other projects within the metaverse space. Address growth is continuing to increase which correlates with a higher number of daily transactions within Sandbox.


GameFi and P2E projects took a massive step forward in 2021. In spite of price action declining much of the past five months, there has been zero slow down in the development and expansion of many projects. Brands are moving into the metaverse and blockchain space with every passing week. 

Outside of the big three, a watchful eye should be kept on other gaming, metaverse, and NFT projects in the sector as the sector market cap grows. Other notable projects include:

Studies have already been released in Q1 2022 that demonstrate the potential growth of the metaverse overall, with estimates suggesting that by 2026 a quarter of people will spend at least one hour within the metaverse for work, shopping, education, and so on.

JP Morgan Chase even released a detailed study on the metaverse in Q1 2022 that outlines how their organization is expecting the space to develop and expand. They even went as far to say that the metaverse will reach “$1 trillion [USD] in yearly revenues” in the coming years.

As off-chain organizations move more towards the cryptoeconomy and attempt to integrate the metaverse – like Facebook rebranding to Meta – the legitimacy of projects like Decentraland, Axie Infinity, or Sandbox should continue to grow in 2022 and seemingly beyond.