May 30, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of May 30, 2023

This week is dominated by three important developments. First, a technical upgrade on the Ethereum blockchain, the ERC-721-C, is a new token standard that allows on-chain royalties enforcement. This is a significant improvement for artists and creators since, until this upgrade, NFT marketplaces could bypass the payment of royalties. Second, the highly popular game GTA-6 will allow players to earn cryptocurrencies while playing – the most significant integration of crypto and gaming to date. Third, China is leading the way in encouraging companies and local governments to adopt the metaverse and web3. In the past few days, Beijing released a white paper promoting innovation and development of the web3 industry, accompanied by a promise to invest around $14 million on web3 projects every year until 2025. In addition, the city of Zhengzhou is investing $1.42 billion to accelerate the construction of its metaverse industrial ecosystem. 

While all these developments are both positive and significant, the Chinese one is most notable because it marks a shift from the previous reluctance of the country to engage with web3 and the metaverse. While the US and Europe struggle to define their position, China seems determined to establish itself as a global leader in the industry.


The bottom line: Beijing, China's capital city, released a white paper promoting innovation and development of the web3 industry. Dubbed the “Web3 Innovation and Development White Paper (2023),” the document states that web3 technology is an “inevitable trend for future Internet industry development.” The city's Chaoyang district will spend at least 100 million yuan (around $14 million) on web3 projects annually until 2025.

The bottom line: According to an announcement from the Zhengzhou Municipal Development & Reform Commission, the city is now seeking public comments on a proposal intended to help accelerate the construction of Zhengzhou's metaverse industrial ecosystem as the region looks to become an industry player at the global level. To help get the initiatives off to a solid start, the municipal government will establish a dedicated fund worth 10 billion yuan ($1.42 billion) to foster growth and development in the industry.

The bottom line: The cybersecurity unit of the Hong Kong Police Force has launched CyberDefender, a new metaverse platform designed to educate the public about the potential dangers associated with Web3 and the metaverse. According to a May 27 statement, the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) of the Hong Kong Police Force unveiled the new metaverse platform to prepare its citizens for the “challenges ahead in the digital age,” with a focus on technology crime prevention.

The bottom line: Dubai, known for its proclivity to break boundaries and create the extraordinary, is setting the pace again. This time, it’s through the establishment of the world’s first Bitcoin Tower – a 40-story skyscraper where guests can enjoy unique benefits like NFTs and crypto staking. Pioneered by visionary Italian entrepreneur Salvatore Leggiero and backed by Metaverse Investments LLC, this revolutionary project aims to conflate digital and physical real estate in the heart of one of the most dynamic cities on the planet.

The bottom line: In an unprecedented move in the world of gaming, the highly-anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6 (GTA 6) is rumored to be introducing a play-to-earn model that allows players to earn cryptocurrency in real life. According to Coinspeaker, this groundbreaking innovation may be featured in the next iteration of the renowned gaming franchise, set to be released in 2024​.

The bottom line: Virtual reality (VR) continues to develop in the tech industry. Following the release of several flagship VR headsets, the industry is now moving beyond using the devices for entertainment and into real-world use cases. This will allow many to work in virtual reality, bringing companies closer together across vast physical distances. The VR market has grown exponentially, reaching around $15.81 billion in 2020 alone. Experts have also predicted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 18 percent. A massive portion of this comes from work-related use cases for VR, including training, upskilling, and content creation.

The bottom line: In a significant push toward the integration of blockchain technology into the realm of global sports events, Platinium Group, a primary ticket provider for Formula 1, is set to usher in a novel age of ticketing. The Monaco Grand Prix, held May 26-May 28, will serve as the launchpad for issuing NFT race tickets. To achieve this, Platinium Group has partnered with Elemint, a renowned blockchain infrastructure corporation, and Bary, a leading Web3 firm. The tickets will be minted on Polygon.

The bottom line: In Saudi Arabia, the Royal Commission for AlUla’s (RCU) recent debut in the world of the Metaverse invited visitors to discover and explore a to-scale and completely immersive 3D model of Hegra’s Tomb of Lihyan, Son of Kuza – the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the exciting, and globally accessible, digital realm. Now, RCU has gone one step further with the launch of an interactive hot air balloon experience. The next phase of RCU’s Metaverse journey, the experience launches alongside the latest edition of the annual AlUla Hot Air Balloon Festival in cooperation with the Saudi Arabian Hot Air Ballooning Federation.

The bottom line: Creator royalties have become a major point of contention in the NFT space. By and large, innovations like Manifold’s Royalty Registry have fallen short of ensuring creators receive their dues. That isn’t to say there aren’t builders actively trying to remedy the situation though. An example is ERC721-C, a new token standard created to effectively make on-chain royalties enforceable. This new standard makes royalties programmable, allowing creators to block zero-fee exchanges from platforming their works once and for all.

The bottom line: If there are three “buzzword” topics that have certainly been responsible for a fair amount of hype over the past few years, they would be digital twins, generative AI, and the metaverse. However, one field in which they are undoubtedly generating more than just hot air is gaming and 3D design, where companies like Unity and Epic Games are pulling the strings connecting these hot technology topics.

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