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Excitement around the metaverse is building, with businesses, brands and banks all claiming a stake. Here we discuss metaverse real estate, and how users’ desire to socialize, experience, create and own presents User Experience (UX) challenges.

Is the metaverse ‘the next chapter’ of the Internet?

Like it or not, the digital transformation means the metaverse is here to stay and it’s evolving faster than anyone anticipated, with new developments in this virtual sphere unfolding every day.

The term ‘metaverse’ is very much contested, though, with opinions differing as to exactly what it means and, more importantly, what a unified metaverse will look like.

Enthusiasts hope for a permanent virtual space where users will do many of the things they do in the real world – such as work, socializing and shopping – in a place that will exist even when they’re not plugged in.

The metaverse is most commonly thought of as being accessed by virtual or augmented reality, although some video games claim to transport users to a metaverse via other digital channels, such as PCs, games consoles and phones.

Innovative companies have been quick to respond, and some brands and businesses are already making waves in the metaverse.

Let’s look at why now is the time to think about real estate in this online world.

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Sales of virtual properties in the metaverse are booming

Ceiba_Sales_Virtual

How to enter the metaverse

Much like the early beginnings of the Internet, access to the metaverse – and the space itself – is far from coherent. Metaverse applications are sprouting like mushrooms.

Meta, formerly Facebook, is betting on Horizon, its social virtual reality platform, whereas platforms such as Decentraland, The Sandbox and Cryptovoxels all allow users to build avatars and buy or earn land, and there are many more examples.

While there is still much debate about how, exactly, one unified metaverse will work, some values are universally accepted and that has been enough to generate excitement, speculation, and financial investment in the idea’s future. 

Fans insist the metaverse will be an augmented reality platform that offers users interactive experiences. They expect it to be decentralized, interoperable (able to share data between different systems, i.e. involve portable assets) and fully immersive.

The metaverse will be impossible to reboot, reset or disconnect, and will, of course, operate a virtual economy–which is where businesses and real estate come in.

 

Metaverse business opportunities are changing our lives

While an avatar Justin Bieber singing from the center of a large granite tower, surrounded by clouds, and looking like he’s on fire, isn’t for everyone. The pop star’s performance is just one of many real-life experiences to have entered the metaverse.

English soccer club Manchester City says it will build the metaverse’s first soccer stadium, in partnership with Sony, while museums, casinos and conferences in this virtual world are fast becoming de rigueur.

Shops are a metaverse mainstay. Hundreds of thousands of customers have already flocked to Samsung’s metaverse store, modeled after its physical store in NYC, and luxury brands are lining up to dress fashion-conscious avatars, with labels such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, and Balenciaga all releasing NFT wearables.

 

Companies are operating diverse metaverse strategies

That said, there is diversity in businesses’ approaches to the metaverse, with even similar and competing brands taking a markedly different approach.

 

Nike launched Nikeland, based on its headquarters, where users can play games, undertake sporty activities, and customize their avatars with Nike gear, while rival Adidas has set up auctions for one-of-a-kind assets, known as Adidas Originals.

 

Similarly, Gucci’s ‘Grail’ is a treasure hunt with exclusive prizes and players collecting assets along the way, whereas Balenciaga collaborated with the game Fortnite to offer unique wearables, with players competing for the chance to have their characters appear on virtual billboards

Ceiba_virtual_metaverse

Individuals are snapping up metaverse real estate

It’s not just businesses and brands that are building homes in the metaverse, private individuals are also snapping up virtual real estate.

Millions of dollars have already been invested in metaverse properties, with estimates suggesting sales of virtual land in The Sandbox reached $350m in 2021, while Decentraland recorded a further $110m in transactions last year.

Just like in real life, property prices are strongly related to a location’s desirability. Central areas, near established cultural landmarks in the metaverse, are more expensive than land in newer or remote locations. Neighbors play a role too.

Rapper Snoop Dogg drove up prices in September 2021 when he invested in his own metaverse abode – The Snoopverse. An adjacent property is said to have sold for more than $450,000, just two months later.

Virtual real estate must still be carefully designed and planned, and plenty of traditional architects are already morphing into “meta-architects”. The spaces they design range from sci-fi fantasy pads, floating, transforming, and rotating, to historic, classical spaces that mirror traditional architecture.

Where there’s investment, there’s money. JP Morgan was the first bank to enter the metaverse, opening the Onyx lounge in 2022 for businesses and investors.

The bank claims the metaverse has a market potential of US $1 trillion annually, thanks to its transactions and scope for users to socialize, experience, create and own. 

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What challenges does the metaverse present for UX?

The construction and development of the metaverse represents enormous challenges, not least the task of uniting the various metaverses and ensuring interoperability, whereby users can take their assets from one realm to another.

There are clear tests for User Experience (UX) too, especially when it comes to metaverse abodes. Metaverse users are inside the interface, which means designing locations and experiences requires architectural excellence.

Unlike the internet, where users click through from one static page to the next, users will move between virtual spaces and will require continuity to ensure they don’t become disoriented. Virtual reality headsets can cause nausea, and there is the question of heads-up displays, which provide users with status bar-style information. Metaverse users will need a lot of info, and UX designers will need to reduce the clutter.

 

Challenges aside, metaverse investment is on the increase

Still, the metaverse excitement and anticipation shows no sign of slowing, which means now is the time to consider to what extent your business wishes to be involved.

Find out more about Ceiba’s services today.

 

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Web3: The truth about the future of internet

 

Sources:

https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-the-metaverse/

https://news.sky.com/story/metaverse-you-cant-walk-on-this-land-or-build-a-house-but-plots-are-still-selling-for-thousands-of-pounds-12593796

https://influencermarketinghub.com/metaverse-brands/

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