CoinDesk Webinar - Connecting a Billion Users to the Open Metaverse: Digital Identities, User Experience & New Business

CoinDesk Webinar - Connecting a Billion Users to the Open Metaverse: Digital Identities, User Experience & New Business

December 20, 2022

We are entering the next evolution of the internet, known as the Web3 stage, which rails against the uneven distribution of data ownership and aims to reshuffle the deck by creating a decentralized alternative built on a peer-to-peer model. Web3 is paving the way for entirely new business models, products, and services, with the open metaverse serving as the next digital frontier that will change the way existing brands interact with their communities and spawn a wave of new metaverse-native brands.

GameFi in particular will bring in billions of gamers worldwide, attracted by the opportunities to participate in the decentralized creative economy. Today, the digital asset industry still mostly appeals to people deeply interested in tech and finance. But in the near future, much of our digital life will take place on platforms that include digital assets and blockchain technology components – without requiring the average user to understand the technical infrastructure that makes it possible.

Speakers:

  • Kelvin Ting, Head of Product, Hex Trust 
  • Brian Chan, VP Operations & Projects, Animoca Brands 
  • Tommy Huang, Marketing Director, Gryfyn 
  • Benjamin Charbit, CEO & Co-Founder, Darewise 
  • Moderated by: Sam Ewen, SVP, Head of CoinDesk Studios, CoinDesk

TLDR; The Key Takeaways

What exactly is the metaverse? 

The metaverse can be seen as a collection of digital worlds where there is ultimate interoperability and opportunities for true digital property rights. It can also be viewed as an extension of our physical world which exists in parallel fashion, where one is able to construct their own identity through owned assets, activities/experiences, or creation of social connections.

Based on developments so far, is it the social element or the gaming element of the metaverse that is more important? 

Key players in the industry today are working to experiment and build the infrastructure needed to combine both the social and gaming elements of the metaverse together. Whether the social or gaming element is more important is more related to the phase of development that the metaverse is in. 

Gaming is the most common entry point as of now, which makes sense given there are 3.4 billion plus gamers in the world today. But this is definitely not the full picture. Abstracting away from the social/gaming aspects, whether the metaverse is open or closed will underpin all developments moving forward. 

Scaling the metaverse will come with having a thorough understanding of how a mainstream audience, including non-gamers or non-crypto savvy individuals, can access the metaverse. An open metaverse will be key to doing so, and gaming will just be a streamlined opportunity to engage the early adopters. 

What are the largest obstacles to mainstream adoption right now? 

While the metaverse, specifically GameFi, has seen huge growth in a short period of time, there are still several obstacles to tackle in order to reach mainstream adoption. 

One of the main challenges is the lack of available products which facilitate easy access and onboarding to the metaverse. This is the exact reason why Gryfyn was created: to simplify the process of entering metaversal worlds through eliminating security risks and interoperability limitations. 

Not only are there several risks around security to consider, entering the metaverse requires a significant amount of self-learning and knowledge. The current market already has many non-crypto native users, so we need a product which is able to seamlessly integrate with different platforms, remove the need for self private key management, and provide optimal user experience.

Aside from building the metaverse platforms itself, it’s equally important to build the tools enabling easy access to these platforms. This will require key players in the industry to come together and collaborate, while simultaneously building their specialty suite of products to serve the growth of the metaverse. 

The barriers to mainstream adoption, whether security-related or user experience related, need to be addressed by the industry as a whole. By building an interoperable security-focused metaverse wallet, Gryfyn will be a starting step to connecting a billion users to the open metaverse. 

Where is the metaverse today and where do we want it to be in the future? 

We’ve seen very promising beginnings, but we also have to bear in mind that the metaverse is still in a very early stage. It’s difficult to claim that the metaverse today and what it currently offers has found the right product-market fit, but it can be said with certainty that many have found a promise-market fit. 

The Sandbox is a great example, having accumulated a wide range of interest from content creators, users, and even big brands/corporations. People are excited about the opportunities that Web3 has to offer, particularly around the way its business model works – giving people the opportunity to participate in a network effect by owning assets, incentivizing all parties to develop projects collaboratively, and ultimately rewarding early adopters. 

It also can’t be forgotten that this year has been one of the most difficult for the digital asset industry. Those still involved have been hard at work building and continuing the experimentation that the metaverse needs to go through to eventually find its product-market fit. 

It’s expected that in the next 6-12 months, there will be some exciting new developments, after the market recovers and all projects have been further developed/solidified. As mentioned, all this building is being done to one day reach the milestone of having the metaverse be inclusive. An inclusive, fully collaborative open metaverse is what all Web3 players are currently seeking to achieve, and is what will eventually onboard a billion users. 

This inclusive, open metaverse will mainly be enabled by allowing users to explore and construct their digital identities fully under their control. One of the main obstacles that exists currently is the fragmented nature of the different metaverse platforms available. This currently limits digital identities to certain platforms, rather than allowing users to take these hard built identities outside of just game economies. With increased interoperability and unification of experiences, users will be able to sustainably build up their digital identities, take it with them across different channels, and even swap between different identities depending on their preferences. 

Just like how fashion can be used as an identity statement, metaverse identities through NFTs, in-game assets and more, will do the same. 

What will spawn the next wave of users into the metaverse? 

First, there has to be more streamlining and interoperability between the different virtual experiences in the broader umbrella term of the metaverse. This is what will help users carry their digital identities across all spectrums of the metaverse, rather than in one particular platform/economy. Brands will also benefit by being able to deliver their experiences across a wider range of platforms, and acquiring a larger community as a result. 

Second, there definitely needs to be more building done around the product and infrastructure. The Internet took decades to be integrated into our everyday lives as seamlessly as it does now. It will take the same amount of development and time for the metaverse to do so. 

Finally, there needs to be more cross-collaboration between Web2 and Web3 companies to bring more brand experiences into metaverse platforms. Boiling down to one of the core ethos of Web3 - collaboration - companies in and out of the digital asset industry must work together to figure out how to communicate to users, how these communication methods can be delivered, and the tools required to access these ecosystems. This is also where products like Gryfyn can help by providing the appropriate toolkit for Web2 companies to seamlessly access Web3 communities. 

Over the next year, the target audience of the metaverse will still be more focused on the Web3 natives, mainly because the market is still recovering and it will take time for trust to be restored. 

Looking back at the overall development of the metaverse, we can see the role that Play-to-Earn (P2E) had in its growth, proven by the rapid development of blockchain games like Axie Infinity. These yield generating business models will continue to become more versatile – we’ve already seen more concepts like Play-and-Earn and Learn-to-Earn emerge. 

There are still many users heavily involved in crypto, but not the metaverse, so new business models as such will incentivize these next wave of users to leverage the metaverse. More widespread adoption will come after more building and recovery of the market has been completed, with a focus on user-centric experiences. 

Is the metaverse the next big computing era? What about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and more? 

While the metaverse will definitely be one of the main forefronts in terms of computing, it’s difficult to say it is the sole frontier. Looking back at the growth of current technology such as machine learning, big data, and the Internet, it’s clear that no developments have been linear – rather, one cannot exist without the other. Other technologies being developed such as AI and AR, will grow alongside the metaverse to one day create a technology ecosystem where each accelerates another’s growth. 

The metaverse is merely a platform, and many other layers will be built on top of this platform. These layers will be built off technologies like AI and AR, and we’re already seeing this happening with various projects that Animoca Brands is working with. Blockchain technology and the metaverse will play a big role in this.

Hex Trust
Hex Trust
Marketing
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