December 5, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of December 05, 2022

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist, just published a column in the New York Times arguing that crypto brings no fundamental value to the economy – more than a “crypto winter,” he claims, we are witnessing an endless winter that precedes the end of the world — in this case, the crypto world. While Krugman is known for his skepticism of the sector, his perspective reflects a growing anti-crypto consensus, reinforced by the collapse of FTX and other exchanges. Nevertheless, the metaverse itself continues to grow. Apple is accelerating its development of virtual reality headsets, Sony is stepping into the VR arena with a release of its own, Bloomingdale just opened its first virtual store, and the Pacific nation of Tuvalu is planning to create a version of itself in the metaverse. 

Together, these news stories indicate that the metaverse is decoupling itself from crypto, standing on its own as a source of value for established players across sectors. Whether crypto survives the storm or not, the rise of virtual and augmented reality seems here to stay.


  • A year ago, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were selling at record prices, with a combined market value of around $3 trillion; glossy ads featuring celebrities filled the airwaves. 
  • Since then, the prices of crypto assets have plunged, while many crypto institutions have collapsed amid allegations of scandal. The implosion of FTX, which appears to have used depositors’ money in an attempt to prop up a related trading firm, has made the most headlines, but it’s only one entry on a growing list.
  • We are, many people say, going through a “crypto winter.” But that may understate the case, Paul Krugman argues. This is looking more and more like Fimbulwinter, the endless winter that, in Norse mythology, precedes the end of the world — in this case, the crypto world, not just cryptocurrencies but the whole idea of organizing economic life around the famous “blockchain.”

  • The NFL is taking another step in getting their brand out more to gamers as they have created a brand new island in Fortnite Creative. The "NFL Zone," which is also being presented by VISA, has been created and designed to engage existing fans of the sport who play the game while also serving as its own little promotional area for those who may not watch American football and could discover it through this social hub. 

  • More than just a game, NFL Zone will partner with leading content creators in sports and gaming to drive awareness across social media platforms.

  • Participating content creators will have their wins tracked on a giant scoreboard in NFL Zone, with the division earning the most total points will be crowned champion after a final AFC vs. NFC playoff. Participants will also have an opportunity to compete alongside their favorite content creators, who will be assigned divisions to keep the competitive spirit alive.

  • Meta is now going through growing pains. The company announced it has laid off 11,000 employees, amounting to 13% of its workforce, and will impose a hiring freeze that will last through the first quarter of 2023, which was detailed in a letter from Zuckerberg to employees.
  • In the letter, Zuckerberg admitted that the company’s decision to rapidly expand its business during the COVID-19 pandemic did not play out as anticipated, with online commerce reverting to pre-pandemic levels. Stiffer competition from rival social media platforms, notably Tik-Tok, and a decline in advertising put a dent in company revenue, leading to Meta posting its second quarterly revenue decline and dwindling profits.
  • The letter also indicates that Zuckerberg is not going to do an about-face on moving heavily into the metaverse. But it does open speculation on how rapidly Meta can reap the financial benefits of its long-term growth strategy to maintain its market position.

  • The new Mocopi system consists of six pucks worn around the user’s wrists, ankles, head, and hips, used to animate avatars inside various metaverse apps on Android phones or Apple Inc. iPhones. 
  • “We label this a metaverse product instead of a VR peripheral because we expect the virtual world to further blend with the real world,” Takeshi Aimi, senior manager of Sony’s motion business group, said at a demonstration event. 
  • Metaverse and VR applications have failed to break through to mainstream audiences so far, occupying only a niche of the global gaming and peripherals market. Sony’s betting on being able to drive this segment with its PlayStation brand and software development talent.

  • Apple has reportedly changed the name of its mixed-reality operating system to "xrOS," signaling that the company may be close to releasing a mixed-reality headset. Apple's "realityOS," the suspected operating system for its dedicated AR and VR platform, has potentially been renamed to "xrOS." 
  • According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple may release its combination AR/VR headset as early as next year.
  • Apple is said to be working on at least three headsets of the AR and VR variety. They are apparently under the codes "N301," "N421," and "N602."
  • The N301 is said to be the "Apple Reality Pro," a name for the headset that surfaced in trademark filings in late August. That headset is expected to be a mixed-reality model that will take on the Meta Quest Pro, with a potential launch in 2023.

  • The demand for virtual worlds continues to rise: it is expected that by 2026, 25% of the world's population will spend at least an hour per day in the metaverse. But consumer appetite for digital fashion is already here: an international survey involving more than 3,000 consumers showed that 47% are already interested in buying digital clothes. 

  • By providing elevated new experiences that entice younger demographics, luxury and retail brands can broaden their reach and strengthen their empires while providing a more sustainable fashion alternative for the increasingly eco-conscious consumer.

  • Fashion labels keen to tap into the growing spending power of Gen Z are wise to consider the metaverse and virtual fashion in their growth strategies to remain relevant.

  • The Pacific nation of Tuvalu is planning to create a version of itself in the metaverse as a response to the existential threat of rising sea levels.

  • Tuvalu's minister for justice, communication, and foreign affairs, Simon Kofe, made the announcement via a chilling digital address to leaders at COP27. He said the plan, which accounts for the "worst case scenario," involves creating a digital twin of Tuvalu in the metaverse to replicate its beautiful islands and preserve its rich culture:

  • The metaverse might allow Tuvalu to "fully function as a sovereign state" as its people are forced to live elsewhere.

  • There are two stories here. One is of a small island nation in the Pacific facing an existential threat and looking to preserve its nationhood through technology. The other is that Tuvalu's preferred future would be to avoid the worst effects of climate change and preserve itself as a terrestrial nation. In this case, this is a way of getting the world's attention.

  • Previously we talked about the trillion-dollar infrastructure opportunity that comes with building the metaverse — and it is indeed very large. But what about the applications that will run on this new infrastructure?

  • Metaverse applications will be very different from the traditional web or mobile apps used today. For one, they will be much more immersive and interactive, blurring the lines between the virtual and physical worlds. And because of the distributed nature of the metaverse, they will also need to be able to scale globally — something that has never been done before at this level.

  • Since web 3.0 is decentralized, scalability is usually the biggest challenge because traditional servers are almost impossible to use.

  • Continuing its digital experimentation, Bloomingdale’s has tapped virtual experience developer Emperia to create a multi-brand virtual store for the holidays, per a press release shared with Retail Dive.
  • The store features virtual spaces for brands like Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and Nespresso, a beauty and spa room, and a party room. Virtual visitors to the store can move between each brand through an elevator within the store, according to the announcement.
  • At the Ralph Lauren section, shoppers visit a virtual holiday forest that guides them to a ski chalet. In the Nespresso section, visitors are led to a Parisian Cafe, per the press release.

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