· 5 min read

The Metaverse is Fast Becoming a Global Concept; What Trends Will Likely Dominate in 2022?

Disclaimer: The Industry Talk section features insights by crypto industry players and is not a part of the editorial content of Cryptonews.com.

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The popularity of Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) rose significantly in 2021, a trend that most crypto natives expect to continue this year. According to a report by Dapp Radar, the NFT ecosystem generated over USD 23 billion in trading volumes, with concepts such as the metaverse becoming a hot topic within and outside the crypto community. 

Going by the adoption rate of NFTs, more people and corporations are gradually accepting the possibility of existing in the virtual world. So, what are the fundamentals behind decentralized virtual worlds? Simply put, the metaverse can be viewed as a virtual ecosystem where people can replicate real-world activities, allowing them to exist as digital characters. 

As far as development goes, the metaverse witnessed a surge in user activity during the last quarter of 2021. This spike is a result of emerging metaverse ecosystems such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, which feature virtual lands that can be developed or enhanced with valuable digital collectibles to increase the underlying value. 

Notably, virtual land prices on The Sandbox and Decentraland have shot up by over 500%, per the Dapp Radar report. One of the highest-grossing sales on Decentraland is a virtual piece of land dubbed Fashion Street Estate, which sold for over USD 2.42 million. That said, there are more upcoming virtual ecosystems that are shaping the future of the metaverse to include stakeholders from the art industry.  

Social Commerce on the Metaverse 

For a long time, art has been viewed as a hobby instead of an activity that one could make a living from. However, the narrative is slowly changing as the world embraces the creative era. Even better, the concept of the metaverse is gradually enabling artists to showcase their work on virtual worlds, giving them a wider outreach compared to traditional art galleries. 

Today, creators can leverage emerging metaverse platforms such as SPACE, a virtual world-building the next-frontier of social commerce experiences, to increase the market prospects of their creative work. At the core, the SPACE metaverse ecosystem enables artists to connect with their fanbase, gain user insights and integrate social commerce functions to generate income from their work and products. 

While the focus is primarily on the art industry, Space also features other virtual 3D supported environments. Some of the notable spaces in this digital world include apartment lounges, festival grounds, modern galleries, showrooms, Nightclubs, and gathering spaces. Essentially, anyone can explore SPACE and create their own virtual space for digital interactions with other characters. 

Given the value proposition as a futuristic metaverse ecosystem, Space has attracted prominent Tier 1 Funds, including Coinfund, Dapper Labs, Digital Currency Group, Animoca, and Hof Capital. The project is among the pioneer metaverse ecosystems to bring social commerce value to NFT stakeholders. 

Play-to-Earn (p2e) NFT Gaming 

The play-to-earn (p2e) ecosystem is another NFT niche that broke record highs in 2021, with games such as Axie Infinity gaining over 1 million daily interactions. Going by the latest trends, the hype on p2e games seems to be just getting started. More gamers from the traditional gaming industry are gradually appreciating the value of an ecosystem where they can have fun while gaming and make money at the same time. 

The prospects look even brighter this year given the amount of VC money that is flowing into the NFT gaming market. According to the Dapp Radar 2021 industry report, the NFT gaming ecosystem will likely grow bigger in 2022, setting the platform for the adoption of the metaverse. Dapp Radar’s Head of Finance and Research Modesta Masoit shared the same sentiments, noting that 2022 will likely be ‘The Year of the Metaverse’, 

“While 2020 was ‘The Year of DeFi', 2021 is certainly ‘The Year of NFTs', with gaming thrown in in bulk over the last quarter. As these three categories converge, 2022 will, I expect, come to be known as ‘The Year of the Metaverse',” 

Some of the players to watch in this field include PlayMining, a leading NFT gamefi platform that is scaling its ecosystem to feature a creator-oriented metaverse. The PlayMining Verse will enable content creators to interact with their fan base through an incentivized gaming ecosystem. This will not only pave the way for direct interactions but also introduce a metaverse world where creators can protect their work and realize profits from user play and merchandise sales. 

The PlayMining Verse which is scheduled for launch in 2022 will feature ‘creator nations’ designed by the artists themselves. As for the fans, they will be able to purchase Land NFTs on their favourite creator nations, giving them a digital identity to interact in the PlayMinining metaverse. This NFT gaming and metaverse ecosystem is of the many upcoming projects that are painting the picture of what we can expect from the metaverse in 2022. That said, only time can reveal how this futuristic ecosystem will change today’s view of the world. 

Scaling the Metaverse Beyond Ethereum 

Moving on from the metaverse, there is also an emerging trend where innovators are choosing to build on other blockchain networks over Ethereum. The ERC-721 standard may have been the pioneer NFT token building standard, but its popularity is gradually fading away due to the network’s congestion and high gas costs. 

Where are tides moving? As expected, innovators are shifting to other smart contract-oriented blockchain environments. Some of the notable platforms challenging Ethereum’s long-standing dominance include Qtum, an open-sourced public blockchain combining the security of the UTXO model and virtual machines to introduce a platform that supports metaverse ecosystems.  

The Qtum blockchain ecosystem also touts a Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP) that enables the modification of specific blockchain settings through smart contracts. Like Ethereum, Qtum features its own NFT building standard QRC-721, allowing metaverse stakeholders to design virtual worlds according to their preferences. 

As we go deeper into 2022, it is evident that more upcoming blockchain environments will continue to challenge Ethereum’s market dominance. This is already happening with the likes of Solana, Avalanche, and Matic. Qtum and other NFT supporting blockchains are also on track to join the big boys league, given the rate at which the metaverse is scaling. 

Closing Thoughts 

The metaverse is set to grow bigger in the coming years as more people from various industries realize the underlying potential. This is already evident following the purchase of virtual land pieces by prominent Hollywood celebrities, including rapper Snoop Dogg. Additionally, the concept has gained traction on mainstream media with NFT taking the word of the year in 2021 according to Collins dictionary. 

That being the case, it is only prudent for innovators to embrace the possibility of building across multiple blockchain environments. This will present more room for scaling the metaverse to an ecosystem that can accommodate the growing demand of the market. Given the current setup, 2022 will mark a huge milestone in the adoption of the metaverse and NFTs!