Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 10, 2022]
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Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 10, 2022]

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from the first wedding on Decentraland, to 25% of the world on the metaverse by 2026 — according to Gartner.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 10, 2022]

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From metaverse weddings to tools to safeguard metaverse users, this marketing buzzword is going mainstream. However, don’t expect a metaverse pilgrimage to be counted as a “real Hajj” any time soon.

Here’s a rundown of some top metaverse stories over the past week.

Decentraland Hosts First-ever U.S. Metaverse Wedding

Over the weekend, Decentraland hosted what is now being described as the first-ever U.S. metaverse wedding. However, the couple’s big metaverse wedding did not entirely go as planned, suggesting that the tech still needs some refining before it can reliably host weddings of the same magnitude as real ones.
An invite posted by Decentraland noted that the Arizona couple was tying the knot with their digital identities.
“Ryan and Candice’s digital identities are getting married in the Metaverse! All are invited to the FIRST-ever, never done before wedding on Decentraland. Not only will this be a first for Decentraland, but this will be the first marriage to take place on any blockchain based metaverse.”

The couple, Ryan and Candice Hurley employed the services of Rose Law Group to formalize the marriage. The law firm hosted the event in its own Decentraland estate and went on to plug the marriage into the blockchain as an NFT. The virtual crowd of around 2,000 guests also received rare NFT party souvenirs, making the historic event.

Speaking to crypto news site Cointelegraph, the founder and president of the law firm, Jordan Rose, claimed that the wedding was the first-ever to be hosted on any blockchain-based metaverse. While this assertion is open to debate, she goes on to say that “because the metaverse is still in its infancy, we have developed the legal paradigm for a legally recognized marriage […] There currently is no legal framework for marriage in the metaverse, so whether or not it will be legally binding is more a question of contract.”

Despite Rose’s assurance about the legality of the wedding, there has been some debate ins this regard. Particularly, the American Marriage Ministries (AMM), notes that people must appear as their real-life selves during a wedding and not as their digital counterparts. In the event of a virtual online wedding, the couples and officiants are to use video-conferencing tools that do not distort their appearance and allow them to communicate in real-time. Furthermore, most U.S. states prohibit officiants from wedding couples remotely via video conference. That being said, many legal experts are unconvinced by the legality of the wedding.

As for the technical hiccups with the ceremony, Decentraland struggled to handle the number of attendees. Depending on the server attendees joined, Candice’s avatar was either wearing a dress, a hoodie, or altogether absent. And barely 20 minutes into the event, all the NFT gifts for the guests had been claimed.

Turkish Religious Authority Rules Against Metaverse Hajj

While the legality of metaverse weddings is growing to be a subject of debate, you can be sure that visiting Mecca in the metaverse is not going to be considered a real Hajj.

Following a month-long deliberation between Islamic scholars, a decision has been reached that virtual visits to the Muslim holy city do not fulfill a faithful’s obligation to make the pilgrimage. Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs Diyanet has declared that metaverse pilgrimages, although not prohibited, will not be seen as “real Hajj.”

Earlier this month, the director of Diyanet’s Department of Hajj and Umrah Services, Remzi Bircan, said:

"This [Hajj on the metaverse] cannot happen. Believers can pay a visit to Kaaba on the metaverse, but it will never be considered a real worship," he said, adding that "people's feet should touch the ground."

The debate over virtual visits to Mecca came up in December after Saudi Arabia launched its "Virtual Black Stone Initiative.” The initiative would allow Muslims from around the world to see the ancient Hajr Aswad stone set into the Kaaba at the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

Philipp Plein Acquires $1.4 Million Metaverse Estate

Philipp Plein has aped into the metaverse frenzy. The German fashion designer and founder of the Philipp Plein International Group spent a whopping $1.4 million acquiring an estate on Decentraland.

Dubbed the Plein Plaza, the metaverse estate will be developed into a number of hotel and luxury residences, an art museum and stores. The plot is claimed to be located in a prime spot directly overlooking one of the Genesis Plazas and takes up 65 Decentraland parcels, equivalent to about 176,528 square feet in the real world.

The transaction was facilitated by the fashion brand under the alias Bug$ Bunny. Jason Rosenstein, founder and chief executive officer of the NFT auction house and marketplace Portion, offered some assistance and was involved in the development of the estate.

Meanwhile, digital visual artist Antoni Tudisco is expected to contribute to the creation of the Plein Plaza project.

Commenting on his foray into the space, Plein said he was proud “to have seized this opportunity to own a portion of the Metaverse so early on in the development and establishment of this new universe.” He added:

“We are there to stay and to develop and share the creativity of all our brands — Philipp Plein, Plein Sport and Billionaire — also in this new dimension of human interaction in which I personally believe a lot.”

To set the records straight, Plein was one of the first designers to openly embrace digital assets and their potential. Last year, his company opened its arms to cryptocurrency payments, supporting payments from more than 20 digital assets on its e-commerce platform and brick-and-mortar stores.

Meta Responds to Sexual Harassment Incidents, Establishes a Four-foot “Personal Boundary” to Stop Groping

Following incessant reports of sexual harassment on Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, the company has introduced a default personal boundary that "prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions."
A blog post last Thursday explained that the feature creates an invisible cylinder with a four-foot parameter around an avatar. The system would prevent sexual predators and other avatars from entering the personal space of a user. If the movement of a user will cause two cylinders to overlap, "the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary," without the users noticing any overt feedback.
“Personal Boundary builds upon our existing harassment measures that were already in place - for example, where an avatar’s hands would disappear if they encroached upon someone’s personal space. When we launched Horizon Worlds as an invite-only beta in 2020 we knew this was just the beginning and over time we would be iterating and improving based on community feedback. We’re constantly shipping new features based on people’s feedback, including this one.”
The rollout does not come as a surprise seeing that Nina Jane Patel, the Vice-President for Kabuni Ventures, disclosed that she was sexually and verbally harassed by up to four male avatars when she logged onto Meta’s Horizon Worlds in December.
The incident went unnoticed until The Verge reported it in early December. After the news made the headlines, a Meta representative labeled the incident as “unfortunate,” adding that the beta tester failed to enable built-in safety features to prevent harassment.

25% of the World Would Have Tried Out the Metaverse by 2026

Are you a fan of the ongoing metaverse frenzy? Does the idea of holding office meetings from the comfort of your home appeal to you? Well, you won’t be the only one thinking about a metaverse future. However, metaverse adoption may be disappointingly slow.

According to new research by technology research and consulting company Gartner, about 25% of people will spend at least one hour daily on the metaverse for work, learning, entertainment, or shopping. Gartner notes that in anticipation of this migration towards the metaverse, brands are already building the framework to power virtual experiences.

The Monday report estimates that 30% of organizations would have deployed metaverse-related products and services by 2026. Gartner research vice president Marty Resnick said:
“Vendors are already building ways for users to replicate their lives in digital worlds […] From attending virtual classrooms to buying digital land and constructing virtual homes, these activities are currently being conducted in separate environments. Eventually, they will take place in a single environment – the metaverse – with multiple destinations across technologies and experiences.”

Since the metaverse is not controlled by a single entity, Garnet expects brands to collaborate in order to unify the space. There will be a virtual economy powered by digital currencies and NFTs.

Bandai Namco Hints at IP-based Metaverse Plans

Bandai Namco, a Japanese multinational video game publisher headquartered in Tokyo, has sent tongues wagging in the metaverse camps following the release of its mid-year report on February 8, 2022.

While the metaverse may mean different things to different companies, Bandai Namco sees it as a key element in its “new framework for connecting with fans.” To this end, the video game publisher is looking to “develop a metaverse for each IP.”

“In this IP Metaverse, we are anticipating virtual spaces that will enable customers to enjoy a wide range of entertainment on an IP axis, as well as frameworks that leverage Bandai Namco’s distinctive strengths to fuse physical products and venues with digital elements.”

Although the report did not give any specifics on the areas that Bandai Namco will begin its metaverse experiments on, it stated that the company will be allocating 15 billion Yen or about $130 million to lay the groundwork for data foundation and the development of content over the next three years. Bandai Namco will also be committing 25 billion Yen (about $217 million) to “New IP creation, Groupwide IP projects, and open innovation, amongst others.”

Although the mention of the term “metaverse” was widespread in the report, Bandai Namco did not reference other related aspects like cryptocurrencies, blockchain games, or NFTs. However, the company is already dabbling into the space, having partnered with an avatar creation company called Genies to create wearable Pac-Man NFTs.

The report did not also single out any specific IP for the metaverse trial. Nonetheless, Bandai Namco has a large catalog of IP, including Soul Calibur, Tekken, Dark Souls, the Dark Pictures Anthology, Mobile Suit Gundam and the upcoming Elden Ring. Other potential candidates include the Tales series, Pac-Man, Taiko No Tatsujin and other arcade classics.

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