The metaverse is a virtual world or space where people’s digital avatars can live, work, interact, and play. Author Neil Stephenson coined the term in his futuristic science fiction novel Snow Crash. Even though the idea has been there all along in video games and movies, Facebook’s recent rebranding to “Meta” to reflect its focus on the metaverse has brought the concept to the limelight.
The rise of the metaverse has been closely linked to the gaming industry, where games like Minecraft, Axie Infinity, Active Worlds, Decentraland, and others make use of computer-simulated worlds, mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR), or augmented reality (AR) to create an immersive experience for the game player. Tech companies such as Microsoft are also using metaverse aspects in their upcoming Mesh for Microsoft Teams feature, which will enable people to attend virtual meetings through MR applications.
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Companies stand to benefit as the concepts of real-time 3D virtual worlds evolve and create profitable avenues for their businesses. For example, computer systems design company NVIDIA and video game software development company Unity Software can generate much revenue through their stock as more people and organisations become aware of the value of the metaverse.
Here are a few of the metaverse opportunities in Southeast Asia.
Vietnamese company Sky Mavis created the blockchain-based game Axie Infinity. In this virtual pet universe, gamers can play, create fantasy creatures known as Axies, and earn cryptocurrency in the Axie marketplace.
It is a fully player-controlled economy, and gamers own the property rights to the Axies through Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique cryptographic assets on the blockchain ledger.
According to the game’s whitepaper, players breed, battle, collect, and build kingdoms for their Axies. They can buy or exchange these acquired game resources through the Metamask or Ronin Wallets and earn the digital currency Ethereum (ETH). It is a play-to-earn model that decentralises power from the gaming industry, which has a market size of $336 billion USD, empowering gamers instead to make some money.
Thus far, Sky Mavis has raised $161 million USD from some big names, including Accel, BACKED VC, Samsung Next, Mark Cuban, and SNÖ Ventures. Axie Infinity has 2.8 million daily active players, and $3.6 billion USD has been traded on its in-house marketplace.
Blockchain-technology company SHR Ring has created an ecosystem for a shared economy where users can store personal information and transact securely through the encrypted self-sovereign ID solution. Based on its own blockchain tech, any individual user’s identity and documents are verifiable, and they can decide who can access the information. Through the ShareRing app and platform, customers can get services from multiple industries.
Recently, SHR Ring announced the start of the application period for grants for researching the metaverse, NFTs, and digital identities. The funding will be managed by a new innovative research division called the ShareRing Lab. The company has raised $3.8 million USD from one investor, Alpha Sigma Capital. Its decentralised marketplace uses ShareToken as a trusted digital utility token for paying for services worldwide.
Singapore-based augmented reality company BuzzAR provides solutions for retail and commerce. Its HappyToon App uses the company’s avatar engine and is available on mobile as a photo editor, which turns pictures into animated avatars and cartoons. BuzzAR bought the Cooking Game VR, a virtual reality game where players can cook, serve customers, and complete several game levels.
Thus far, the company has raised $1 million USD from four investors: Choco Up, Singapore Tourism Accelerator, Ian Wilson, and Enterprise Singapore. BuzzAR wants to use its expertise to form the metaverse and enable people to connect with each other. The metaverse section of its website shows it has finalised VR, AR, online games, digital twins, and user-generated content (UGC). The remaining parts are social networking and NFTs.
Next-generation media and technology organisation MetaDhana develop games, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and various crypto ecosystems.
According to its CEO Mikhail Peñalosa, the company wants to “push the boundaries of innovation through the marriage of blockchain and artificial intelligence within a metaverse.” It plans to launch the first AI-powered NFT metaverse known as The Metazoan Chronicles: Order of the Felix. Moreover, it will release a MetaDhana Token, an NFT fighting game, and NFT art.
The rise of the metaverse is an exciting yet complex development because it can provide solutions, such as improving virtual meetings or solving cybersecurity issues, such as scams and other unexpected technological challenges. However, many crypto fans worry that the open metaverse will be centralised if larger tech companies like Microsoft and Meta continue getting involved in the industry.
Regardless, the metaverse opportunities in Southeast Asia show that this sector will continue evolving and thriving in the coming years.