Metaverses are booming. As we reported recently, sales of metaverse real estate reached $500 million in 2021, a figure expected to double in 2022.
Here, we take a closer look at some of the most popular metaverses, and the tokenomics that make them run.
What’s a metaverse?
A “metaverse” is defined as “a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work.”
The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his visionary 1992 novel, Snow Crash, where characters live much of their lives immersed in the virtual world of “The Street.”
There are many metaverses. Currently, most of these are game and entertainment-related, but the future will likely see business, education and other specialized metaverses gain popularity.
Generally, they use a play-to-earn economic model. Participation requires users to purchase tokens, which they either spend to purchase game assets or services, or stake to gain power. If they do well, they can make a profit.
In the Axie Infinity metaverse, players breed, battle, and trade fantasy creatures called “Axies.” Described as a combination of Pokemon, CryptoKitties and Final Fantasy, the game attracts 2.8 million active daily players. More than $3.6 billion has been traded on its marketplace, with $2.12 million in reported weekly NFT sales in February 2022.
Axies are divided into “classes” (Aquatic, Beast, Bird, etc.), each with specific weaknesses and strengths against other classes. As with real-world pets, Axies can be bred (up to 7 times) to create offspring with modified traits.
- AXS is used in the marketplace and as a fee for leveling up Axies. Conversely, players earn revenue from selling Axies, Land, cosmetics, and in-game consumables.
- Smooth Love Potion (SLP) is earned during play as a form of experience points and are required to breed Axies.
AXS can be staked to earn interest and eventually to participate in game governance.
The Sandbox is a virtual world that’s not really a game at all but a place to hang out and have interesting interactive experiences. Originating as a mobile app in 2011, the blockchain version dates from 2018.
In The Sandbox, Land is the unit of real estate. A total of 166,464 Lands are available, each 96 x 96 meters (2.28 acres). These can be combined into Estates, owned by one player, or Districts, owned by 2 or more. Players may populate their Land with games, assets and interactive experiences.
Assets are created, bought and sold by players using a suite of tools:
- VoxEdit, a 3D voxel modeling package for 3D objects (people, vehicles, foliage etc.) that can be exported into the marketplace
- Game Maker, for building 3D games and experiences
- The NFT marketplace
The Sandbox has become a popular music space. Warner Music Group recently purchased Land to create a concert venue and music theme park, and Snoop Dogg has a virtual mansion where he hosts private parties.
SAND is the primary token used for all metaverse transactions and interactions. It has a fixed maximum supply of 3 billion, of which 925 million are circulating.
Players spend SAND to play games, buy equipment, or customize their Avatars. Creators spend SAND to acquire ASSETS and LANDS and through staking. Holders may also participate in governance decisions, and SAND can be staked to provide passive income.
Decentraland, which we’ve discussed elsewhere, resembles The Sandbox. It has 90,601 Land parcels measuring just 16 x 16 meters (2,756 sq ft), so it’s “physically” a much smaller environment than The Sandbox. Land can be grouped into Estates, or Districts with similar themes. Plazas are community-owned and untradeable.
Decentraland has attracted the attention of the art world, featuring in-game galleries to buy and sell art or to chat with artists directly. In 2021, Sotheby’s, the world’s largest auction house, opened a replica of its London Galleries in the game’s Voltaire Art District.
It has also become a favorite place for gamblers. Decentral Games ICE Poker hosts 6,000 players a day, more than 30% of Decentraland’s total users, who are first required to purchase one of its NFT wearables. Two special tokens, ICE and DG, support its Vegas-style environment.
Perhaps the main distinction between The Sandbox and Decentraland is that the latter is more, decentralized. The original vision of the Decentraland DAO that manages its operations was always to give control to the people who create and play in this metaverse.
Tokenomics: Decentraland uses the MANA ERC-20 token for buying and selling Land avatar registration, wearables and other items.
Originally, MANA was inflationary, without a fixed total supply. Later, the community voted to introduce a deflationary mechanism that burns a portion of all MANA transactions. As a result, total supply has decreased from the initial 2.8 billion to less than 2.2 billion, with 1.83 billion circulating.
Star Atlas is a multiplayer game on the Solana blockchain set in a massive metaverse in the year 2620. Multiple factions of humans, alien races and sentient androids travel through space and engage in an ongoing struggle for resources, territory and political domination. Players choose a faction to join, which determines strategic advantages. Usernames are owned and tradeable.
Tokenomics: Star Atlas is supported by a dual-token economy that aims to mimic real-life politics. In-game transactions—purchasing assets like ships, fuel, crews and land—require ATLAS, whereas political influence is wielded by staking POLIS. In the real world, POLIS holders can vote on game economics, release schedules and other governance issues.
Illuvium (ILV) is an open-word adventure game on the Ethereum blockchain. Players travel across a vast landscape on a hunt for creatures called Illuviads and seek to discover the cause of a major cataclysm.
Town Star (TOWN) is a competitive Ethereum-based farming game developed by Gala Games (GALA). The goal is to develop the most productive town possible.
This content is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. You should consult a qualified licensed advisor before engaging in any transaction.