Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 19, 2022]
Metaverse

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 19, 2022]

6 months ago

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from possibly shopping on Walmart in the metaverse, to the first tennis grand slam on Decentraland.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 19, 2022]

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The metaverse is no longer an abstract concept thought to be several years away. This idea of interacting in a virtual space is here with us. For a start, the ongoing Australian Open is simultaneously being hosted on the metaverse. Meanwhile, the sector is rapidly becoming a playground for corporate behemoths. From Walmart to Microsoft, the metaverse race is only just beginning.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting metaverse news over the past week.

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Australian Open Debuts on the Metaverse

From office meetings to virtual learning, it appears the metaverse is primed to become the future of many industries, especially sporting and entertainment. Following a partnership between Tennis Australia and Decentraland, the Australian Open (AO) tournament made its debut on the metaverse on Monday.

The Australian Open is now the first official tennis grand slam to be hosted on the Metaverse. Virtual participants will be able to explore a virtual recreation of key areas in Melbourne Park, including the Grand Slam Park and the Rod Laver Arena during the two-week event. There are also exclusive perks for virtual participants, such as behind-the-scenes footage from more than 300 cameras around Melbourne Park, including exclusive player arrivals and practice areas.

AO has a lineup of immersive experiences for its virtual visitors. In addition to the live footage and online radio, the event will showcase archival footage from tennis matches dating back to the 70s, as well as virtual meet-ups with tennis players like Mark Philippoussis.

Speaking during a virtual welcome address on Decentraland, Tennis Australia NFT & Metaverse Project Manager Ridley Plummer expressed his hopes for the AO to become the “world’s most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event.” He added:

“With the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne, we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse […] Taking the AO into the Metaverse is an important step to provide truly global access to our great event. The Metaverse is not going anywhere, and as a company, we’re invested in continuing to grow our online presence and push the boundaries of innovation.”

Plummer also revealed that Tennis Australia was looking to acquire a year-round property on the metaverse.

“We definitely think of ourselves more as an entertainment event rather than just a tennis event. Whether we're providing entertainment via the metaverse twelve months of the year or only a few months of the year, that's definitely a decision to be made in our roadmap going forward.”

Animoca Raises $359M to Build Open Metaverse

Animoca, the parent company of popular decentralized metaverse platform The Sandbox, has raised $358,888,888 in a funding round led by Liberty City Ventures. This values the company at over US$5 billion. Other participants in the round included 10T Holdings, C Ventures, ParaFi Capital, Sequoia China, Stable Asset Management, Soros Fund Management, Winklevoss Capital and several others.

According to the Tuesday announcement, the company received a pre-money valuation of over $5 billion. Meanwhile, the new capital will be used to fund “strategic acquisitions and investments, product development, and licenses for popular intellectual properties.”

Back in 2021, Animoca Brands raised $216.28 million to build an open metaverse that gives digital property rights to online users, and in November The Sandbox closed a $93 million funding round.

“We have set ourselves the ambitious goals of building an open Web3 and facilitating an open metaverse that expands financial inclusion […] We believe we are still at the initial stages of a new Internet revolution, and there are tremendous opportunities ahead of us in 2022 and beyond.” Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands said in a statement.
As per the announcement, Animoca revealed that it is an active investor in over 150 NFT and metaverse-based projects, including the popular NFT marketplace OpenSea, Dapper Labs, Star Atlas, Axie Infinity and many others. Most recently, the company participated in the Metaplex Foundation’s $46 million funding round. It also separately led an $8 million Series A for Burnt Finance a day earlier.

Walmart Gears Up for Imminent Metaverse Launch

Retail giant Walmart does not want to be left out of the metaverse race. Seven recent filings from the company suggest that it is only a matter of time before it fully embraces cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the fast-rising metaverse.
On Dec. 30, 2021, Walmart submitted seven trademarks to the US Patent and Trademark Office outlining new ways that it could expand its operations into the world of Web 3.0.
One of the patents describes “downloadable e-commerce software” that would allow users to “perform electronic business transactions” through an online marketplace authenticated by NFTs.
A video showcasing the tech demo of how Walmart’s virtual shopping experience will work went viral earlier this month. The video received thousands of retweets and was heavily criticized for its outdated look. However, as reported by CoinMarketCap’s Connor Sephton, it was created by Mutual Mobile to wow attendees at the South by Southwest Festival back in 2017.
Another patent application talked about “financial services, namely, providing a virtual currency for use by members of an online community” for the “exchange” and “issuance” of a “virtual currency in the field of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).”

Putting meaning to this, it suggests that Walmart might be looking to build a platform that would allow them to mint their own digital collectibles, as well as facilitate NFT trades through an integrated wallet.

For clarity, a trademark application is not a guarantee that Walmart will eventually enter into the metaverse or launch NFTs. Nevertheless, it does provide some insight into the company’s trajectory and future plans. While remaining tight-lipped in a statement, a spokesperson for the company reportedly said:

"Walmart is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences. We don't have anything further to share today, but it's worth noting we routinely file trademark applications as part of the innovation process."

Microsoft Acquires Activision for $69B in Massive Metaverse Move

Microsoft has shown that it is not in the metaverse race to play. The multinational tech company is set to acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard Inc. for a whopping $69 billion, as part of its efforts to ramp up its metaverse and gaming plans. Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella noted that gaming “will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

Activision Blizzard has rolled out a long list of iconic gaming franchises, including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Overwatch, Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater and World of Warcraft. Following the acquisition, these games will be added to Microsoft Xbox’s Game Pass service, which has more than 25 million subscribers.

According to a Tuesday announcement from Microsoft, Activision is being bought at $95 per share at a valuation of $68.7 billion. The deal is set to close in the 2023 fiscal year. However, it has been approved by the board of directors of both companies.

The deal will position Microsoft as the third-largest gaming company in terms of revenue behind Tencent and Sony.

Microsoft explained that the acquisition will support its growth across multiple platforms, such as mobile, PC, console and cloud gaming while providing the “building blocks for the Metaverse.”

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

As per the announcement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will retain his position until the deal closes, upon which the reins will be handed over to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Spencer expressed his excitement over the deal in an Xbox blog post. He said that Microsoft was working to make cloud gaming accessible. He was, however, careful not to mention the metaverse or NFTs.
“The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own.”

Metarex Is Gunning for a ‘Jurassic Park’ Themed Metaverse, CEO Says

While dinosaurs may be mere fragments of the planet's past, scientists claim that these animals emerged between 240 million and 230 million years ago. If there is one thing the metaverse can be used for, it is to recreate living in a Jurassic Park kind of world. Interestingly, there is already a project exploring this option.

Metarex touts itself as the first collection of NFTs representing real tokenized T-REX bones. Speaking to online news media Nairametrics, the CEO of the company Jeff Jaffrey explained how he got caught up in the whole NFT frenzy. According to him, a dinosaur enthusiast and private collector of dinosaur fossils for about 15 years contacted him after he saw Christie’s auction of the first T rex fossil ever for $32 million in October 2020. They saw a huge gap between billionaires who pay high amounts for these items and academic institutions who need them for research.
“As the first steppingstone, we are taking one of the oldest assets in the world, marrying it with the latest technology of today, blockchain technology. We are bringing the first apex predator onto the blockchain.”

Commenting on the uniqueness of his project, Jaffrey said:

“Our NFTs aren’t just images. We have got a certain number of bones that we are acquiring as part of the fossil and we have taken each bone and turned it into a 3D image that rotates. It is also linked through a certificate of authenticity. In terms of utility, for example, when the fossil is in the museum, there will be a QR code next to the fossil. When you scan that QR code, your phone will automatically show you what part of the fossil your NFT is tied to.”

In the future, token holders will be able to receive a 3D printed version of their bones, as well as enter an online learning metaverse about T rex. Members of the ecosystem will also be able to vote on proposals that should receive funding from the foundation.

The initial NFT launch has been scheduled for Jan. 24, 2021.

“We are changing it slightly because we are announcing some partnerships with some DAO’s and museums over the next week or so. We are now doing our initial launch on the 24th of January and it is going to be approximately 40,000 NFTs up for grabs.”
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