Decentraland, Axie Infinity and more

Over the past few weeks, Insider reporters Kari McMahon and Lisa Kailai Han have attended concerts with some of the music industry’s hottest stars, visited stunning temples, skateboarded through the streets of California and fought undead villagers in Dracula’s Castle.

All of this happens in the metaverse, of course.

The “metaverse,” a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 dystopian science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” is defined today as a 3D virtual reality world that’s supposed to be the next more physical evolution of the internet. .

Last year, the concept was thrown into worldwide spotlight when Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, launching a Gold Rush-like sprint into space by companies everywhere.

Following in Meta’s footsteps, tech titans like Microsoft and Google announced plans to open up the new frontier, investors invested $106 million in virtual real estate in a single week last November, and brands like Gucci, JPMorgan and the Care Bears have rushed to launch virtual clothing lines, corporate lounges and games.

With all the hype, it’s easy to think the Metaverse has arrived.

But does he have it?

Having never set foot in the Metaverse before, we explored seven of the hottest virtual worlds to find out what the Metaverse is really about, whether or not it’s ready for mainstream adoption, and what makes it so. still hold back.

We also went behind the scenes to interview the founders and creators of the worlds we explored, to get their perspective on what the future holds for the Metaverse.

Insider hopes to serve as your guide to the Metaverse, providing unbiased and candid opinions on the good, bad, and ugly of these virtual worlds from the ground up. The Metaverse promises a lot, and in this series, we wanted to find out if it lives up to its potential.

Click on any of the virtual worlds below to learn more, or if you still have questions about the Metaverse, check out our original Metaverse guide.

In a throwback to the early days, the 2D game Axie Infinity consists of cute creatures battling each other in a turn-based card game – think Pokemon crossed with Neopets. What sets Axie Infinity apart is the fact that gamers can earn real money playing the game. minimum wage there. While Axie is currently more of a gaming platform than a full virtual world, the developers’ ultimate goal is to integrate Axie into a larger gaming universe.

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Cryptovoxels is one of the smaller and more low-key metaverses on this list, as its creators haven’t really focused on partnering with big brands so far, though that may change this year. Rather than aiming for games or quests, the platform is mostly used for social events like digital concerts and fashion shows. The mostly older user base includes a huge community of artists and creators, with a particular focus on modeling NFT handheld devices. The world itself has a pixelated feel and is full of eclectic user-built structures, ranging from bizarre Doge temples to funky jungle gyms that are great fun to explore.

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3D virtual world Decentraland, one of the most prominent metaverses to grab headlines in recent months, recently held a digitized Australian Open and has also worked with other top companies like Sotheby’s and Samsung to build virtual replicas of their actual headquarters and stores on the Platform. The open world, which features cartoon-like neon graphics, is divided into over 90,000 plots of land that users can buy and build. While some smaller minigames and quests do exist, they’re often glitched, and Decentraland’s main draw seems to be the platform it provides for its community to attend virtual events together.

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Roblox metaverse illustration

Ariel Davis for Insider

Founded in 2006, the veteran gaming platform Roblox empowers individuals to interact, build, and play together. The company, which went public last year, is much more commercial than other virtual worlds, and is also the only one not built on blockchain technology. While the platform was originally aimed at a younger audience, Roblox is now actively trying to target an older audience. The user experience, which was more advanced than some of the other worlds we visited, is a testament to the huge existing popularity of Roblox. Famous DJs have played sets on the platform, and key brands like Nike and Vans are also prominent, each with their own themed game. At the same time, central ownership and commercialization has led to the exploitation of creators, many of whom are surprisingly young.

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Sandbox metaverse illustration

Ariel Davis for Insider

The sandbox

Voxel-style game world The Sandbox has caught the public’s attention for its large number of expensive real estate sales, especially after the clamor over the recreation of Snoop Dogg’s mansion in the game. The platform, which is still in alpha testing and has not yet been widely released, also has brands like the Smurfs, Care Bears, Walking Dead and Adidas in its partnership wheelhouse. Compared to other featured platforms, The Sandbox stands out because it emphasizes a mix of quest-style gameplay and events like clubbing. The platform is also unique in that it actively seeks outside game developers to create various quests in exchange for funding, marketing, and advice.

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Somnium Space is one of the only virtual worlds to focus primarily on the VR component of the Metaverse, with the company developing its own Teslasuits headsets and haptics for full sensory immersion. While Somnium Space has been in development for years, the platform has managed to stay relatively under the radar – its founders seeming to prefer it that way. Somnium Space focuses on showcasing art, housing both the Beeple and Dogecoin museums, and providing its users with a social experience, by hosting daily events for new members to meet . Although the virtual reality visuals are fantastic in the tutorials, this platform also has the highest barrier to entry.

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Star Atlas metaverse illustration

Ariel Davis for Insider

star atlas

As the name suggests, Star Atlas is a space-focused game offered in an immersive virtual world with sophisticated graphics. Due to its visual and gameplay complexities on offer, Star Atlas targets more experienced players than other metaverses. Users can derive income from the game, although we have found that this involves a significant expense on the player’s side to get involved. This virtual world is still in its infancy, with development beginning in 2020, but it has already garnered a lot of attention as one of the biggest solana blockchain games.

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