December 19, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of December 19, 2022

Crypto Winter started in the second quarter of last year, yet analysts are only starting to reflect on its long-term consequences. Could it mark the end of the ecosystem? 

Opinions vary, but it is clear that a large proportion of crypto’s early supporters are now gone. Nevertheless, this week’s news shows the resilience and potential of the metaverse sector. Stanford just published a study on the positive psychological ramifications of digital environments; the Financial Times reports on the increasing presence of metaverse-related ETFs; despite the decrease in NFT value, a new report finds that collectors are spending more, not less, on NFTs; as Elton John and other major starts continue launching concerts in the metaverse, digital events are becoming more and more mainstream.

Together, these news items point to the promises of a new internet. Yes, the role of crypto may need refinement and regulation, if not total rethinking. Yes, user engagement is disappointing as of now. But these two challenges may represent obstacles to overcome for an early-stage industry, not death sentences for the industry itself. 


  • In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, Tutera - a creative community hub for designers who have taken ancient Egypt as their main aesthetic - has created a whole Pharaonic city in the metaverse dubbed METATUT. 

  • This meta-city was designed to give people from all over the world a glimpse of the beauty of ancient Egypt’s civilization and all it has to offer beyond its iconic pyramids, built by a group of students at the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. 

  • The main concept behind its design is this: if the greats of ancient Egypt came back to life and completed their architectural and cultural projects in contemporary times, what would that look like?

  • A year ago, the crypto world was booming, with prices for bitcoin and ethereum at all-time highs, celebrities stumbling over each other to promote expensive digital art, and logos from blockchain companies gracing sports stadiums and Super Bowl ads. That era is over.

  • In the last year, cryptocurrency prices have fallen by more than half, trading volume has cratered, and several high-profile companies have collapsed in liquidity crises. The arrest last week in the Bahamas of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of what until very recently was one of the biggest and best-respected cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, has only deepened the sense that the crypto bubble has definitively popped, taking with it billions of dollars of investments made by regular people, pension funds, venture capitalists and traditional companies.

  • In a tweet, Solana engineer jac0xb.sol pointed out how the metadata of FTX-hosted NFTs now points to a restructuring website that gives out information about bankruptcy proceedings. 
  • According to jac0xb.sol, the NFTs minted on FTX were hosted using a Web2 application programming interface (API), resulting in images not showing.
  • With this, jac0xb.sol also called out to collections still hosting metadata on Amazon Web Services, suggesting that there is a “lesson to be learned” with how FTX hosted their NFTs using a Web2 API service.

  • Former president and crypto hater Donald Trump’s bizarre NFT collectible project has baffled the community. Even conservatives and avid MAGA supporters are scratching their heads, while analyst Eric Wall likened the project to a “SimpDAO.” 
  • In what Trump called a “major announcement” via his social media platform Truth Social on Dec. 15, the former president unveiled a collection of 45,000 NFT trading cards, with the artwork depicting himself in outfits such as golf attire, hunting gear and a superhero costume.

  • The Polygon-based nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are selling for $99 each, with buyers automatically entered into a sweepstake that includes “1000s of prizes” such as one-on-one dinners, zoom calls, and rounds of golf with Trump.

  • Surprisingly perhaps, crypto winter (or ice age, whichever it turns out to be) hasn’t cooled collectors’ appetite for digital artworks, according to A Survey of Global Collecting in 2022, co-published by Art Basel and UBS, prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economics.
  • On the contrary, in the first half of 2022, the high-net-worth collectors surveyed spent an average of USD 46,000 on art-based NFTs; more than they had spent in all of 2021 (USD 44,000) and 2020 (USD 35,000). A robust 17% of their spending was on digital art, including 10% linked to an NFT.

  • To celebrate his ongoing, final tour, which will extend to September 2023, Elton John has rocketed his way to Roblox with the introduction of “Beyond the Yellow Brick Road,” an immersive experience to celebrate metaverse music and creators worldwide.

  • For decades, the Rocket Man has kept eager fans on the edge of their musical chairs with his gender-bending costumes, rhythmic tunes, and industry-changing performances. As music fans venture to virtual arenas, Elton John extends his legacy to the digitally inclined.


  • “In the metaverse, you can be anyone or anywhere,” says study lead author Eugy Han, a PhD student in communication who Jeremy Bailenson advises, the Thomas More Storke Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. “Our ongoing work reported in this study is showing who you are and where you are matters tremendously for learning, collaborating, socializing, and other metaverse activities.”

  • The study, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, is the latest to come out of Stanford University’s innovative Virtual People course. Taught by Bailenson and colleagues, the course is among the first and largest ever conducted, mostly in VR.

  • For the study, 272 students used VR headsets to meet in virtual environments for 30 minutes once a week over eight weeks. During those sessions, the students participated in two experiments, accumulating hundreds of thousands of minutes of interactions for researchers to analyze.

  • Buying crypto was so much fun when it was going up. Now, many one-time fans are getting out. Dennis Drent, a former executive at a pet-insurance company, said he waded into the crypto market last December when the world felt very different. He was growing anxious that the stock market’s record run would soon sputter and was frustrated by how little his bond investments were generating.

  • “They had me convinced that you can’t lose,” said Mr. Drent, who lives in Southern California.

  • A few weeks later, he poured about $25,000 into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. He even had a nod from his financial adviser, he said. It didn’t work. Mr. Drent cashed out in May, taking about a 50% loss. By then, crypto prices were falling fast. But so were stocks and bonds, an unusual coupling that reflected broad uncertainty.

  • Mr. Drent said he should have known to avoid a market that was so lightly regulated and that he didn’t fully understand: “I wasn’t cautious enough.”

  • The metaverse has become the hottest concept ever in the history of exchange-traded funds — despite steady media coverage suggesting there has been little interest in the “sub-theme.” A total of 35 metaverse-badged ETFs have launched globally since the first rolled off the conveyor belt in June 2021, according to data from Morningstar. 
  • According to Morningstar classifications, this exceeds any other “sub-theme” ever, trumping the 32 for internet ETFs, 29 for blockchain ones, 23 for cloud computing, and 22 for cyber security.

  • The avalanche of launches has come despite a lack of traction for many early offerings in the metaverse — a futuristic immersive version of the internet enabled by virtual and augmented reality.

  • Steve Hatch, VP Meta Northern Europe, says every organization knows the ability to work in more flexible ways is key to success -- and emerging technology can help ensure hybrid workers in all locations feel happy and included. 
  • "Where this starts from -- and the work that we're doing here -- is how do we make the best possible experiences for people and companies? The heart of that really is about inclusion and about having a working environment that works for everybody."

  • More than half (59%) of UK employees feel the metaverse could help fill the inclusion gap, replicating the sense of togetherness that comes from working in an office. "That's a pretty high stat," says Hatch. "People working in organizations are saying, 'we think there's something here that we're interested in, we want to explore it more, and we think it can solve a problem.'"

  • For a moment on Friday, Biggie Smalls was the only man on stage. A spotlight shone on him in his red velvet suit, and amid pre-recorded cheers, he rapped the lyrics to “Mo Money Mo Problems,” swiveling to the beat in his orange sneakers.

  • You wouldn’t be wrong to be confused. Smalls died in 1997 when he was shot at 24, leaving an outsized musical and cultural legacy as one of the greatest rappers of all time. But Smalls—whose real name was Christopher Wallace—was in fine form on Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform on Friday: heaving between stanzas, pumping his fist rhythmically and seeming very much alive. 

  • The performance can be seen here but may require logging into Facebook.

  • Online dating has already become a commonplace activity in modern-day romance. Data from Statista forecasted nearly 280 million online dating users by 2024.
  • Now with data from a recent survey conducted by, an online matchmaking platform, the numbers say many singles are ready to take their search for love into the metaverse. According to the survey, those looking for love continue to turn to technology, with 33% of singles planning to date in the metaverse.

  • The survey highlighted that using metaverse avatars can help emphasize “communication and digital intimacy before in-person discovery.”

Related Articles