Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [May 16, 2022]
Metaverse

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [May 16, 2022]

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2 months ago

CoinMarketCap and Nansen look at the latest happenings in the metaverse — from a rise in metaverse dating according to Reddit, to NASA and Epic Games teaming up on a 'martian metaverse'.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [May 16, 2022]

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If weddings can happen in the metaverse then divorce can also happen in the virtual space. A fast-rising US law firm has set up the first divorce law office in the metaverse. And beyond weddings, users will soon be able to receive personal training from top UFC fighter Amanda Nunes in the metaverse.

From officials clamping down on shady metaverse activities to the growing interest of finding love in the metaverse, here’s a rundown of some of the top stories in the space over the past week.

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US Officials Order Closure of Metaverse Casino for Fraudulent Activity

The metaverse has been touted as the next big thing. But that also means that the industry is quickly becoming a hub for malicious actors who try to swindle unsuspecting victims.

A metaverse casino is currently under regulatory scrutiny for allegedly failing to disclose its ties with Russia, as well as claiming partnerships with legitimate businesses when it didn’t. On Wednesday, state law enforcement officials in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin filed an emergency cease-and-desist order against Flamingo Casino Club, a metaverse casino.

In the 22-page order, officials exposed the fraudulent nature of the company, which touts itself as a premier virtual casino. Moreover, the casino’s website omits key information such as its location and affiliations. Flamingo Casino Club claimed to have ties with The Flamingo Las Vegas hotel and casino, an assertion that has been found to be untrue.

In addition to offering perks like virtual concerts and poker tournaments, Flamingo Casino promised NFT holders a 50% reward from the profits generated by its activities. Unsuspecting investors were further enticed through offers to win exorbitant prizes such as Teslas and iPhones in randomized lotteries. Sadly, behind the fancy graphics and mouth-watering offers was an elaborate scheme to defraud investors.

Flamingo Casino Club is “intentionally failing to disclose its assets, liabilities, revenue and other financial information germane to its operations and the development and management of the metaverse casino,” the civil filing states.

The scam was first discovered by Joe Rotunda, the director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board. He stumbled upon the company while analyzing sites in the metaverse. Upon further digging, officials traced the business and IP addresses all the way to Russia.

Metaverse Dating Is Becoming a Big Deal, Data Suggests

According to new exclusive user data from Reddit, it’s all sunshine and rainbows with a spice of blooming romance in the metaverse. There has been a nearly 250% increase in mentions of “dating” within VR interest groups.

Reddit, in its study, sheds light on the drivers behind the metaverse dating trend.

For one, the global Covid-19 pandemic brought about travel restrictions and limited in-real-life socialization. This led many consumers to virtual reality (VR), fueling a transition to emerging virtual experiences. Notably, there has been a 92% year-over-year increase in the sales of VR headsets.

This trend has been quite pronounced on Reddit, with Redditors being 125% more likely to interact in the metaverse and meet new people than the general public. Another 42% of respondents also confirmed that they would prefer to spend time online rather than meet in person. Comparatively, Redditors are twice as likely as the general public to join the metaverse. Between March 2022 and March 2022, screenviews of the subreddit r/VRchat grew by 193%.

“It's not just that you and I [might be] Star Wars fans; we can literally throw ourselves into a Star Wars universe and… play out that passion in real time in a way that doesn't require me to travel across the world and doesn't require me to buy a bunch of stuff, dress up or cosplay like you might otherwise do,” says Rob Gaige, Reddit’s director of partner insights. He added:

“We can do it in a much more casual way. You generate a more honest connection at the level of a passion — versus where in the [face-to-face] dating world, where it's a little bit more superficial.”

But not to worry, the metaverse is not going to replace IRL dating. While users may be able to find love in the metaverse, they cannot escape the real world as couples will need to experience real-life communication and physical intimacy.

Gaige explains that virtual experiences will continue to play a role in the real-life relationships of couples who find love in the metaverse. He said:

“We're already seeing indications of this sort of hybrid relationship, where just because you met in the metaverse and now you're in real life doesn't mean that you leave the metaverse behind. This isn't like having the Tinder app where you delete the app after [you’ve found a relationship] [...] We might physically be together, but we'll go back into that world and have date night now on [Star Wars’] Tatooine.”

Ultimately, the metaverse tech is still nascent and in a discovery phase. But for now, the possibilities seem almost endless. Will Cady, global director of Reddit’s KarmaLab, noted:

“These are open fields to a degree — there are new habits and new rituals that can be formed that haven't been formed yet. As an example, I officiated a wedding in the metaverse, and it was entirely this new moment. There were about 200 people online and about 10 people in person IRL. That is something that didn't exist before.”

Charli XCX Collaborates With Samsung on Metaverse Music Experience

English singer and songwriter Charli XCX has teamed up with Samsung and Roblox on a music-focused virtual experience. The “Samsung Superstar Galaxy,” which went live on Friday on Roblox allowed users to create their own pop star personas.

Charli XCX, who is known for her hits “Boom Clap” and “Break the Rules,” has joined Samsung’s Team Galaxy ambassador program as part of the new collaboration.

“Roblox and Samsung feel like the perfect duo to extend the interaction I have with my fans,” said the singer in an official release. “The partnership is one that will give my community the access and ability to experience me in ways they previously have not been able to, which is extremely exciting!”

Upon entering Superstar Galaxy, users are taken to a futuristic space station and equipped with virtual Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 smartphones. The smartphones will guide participants through the virtual experience, with messages from Charli. Players are free to explore the galaxy, complete challenges, and take in-game selfies using their mobile devices.

Superstar Galaxy is a limited-time experience that will climax in a virtual concert on June 17, with a performance from the pop singer. Top players will get to share a stage with Charli XCX and all fans will be able to access replays of the performances during the weekend of the finale.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to bring consumers new ways to interact with our Galaxy devices,” said Janet Lee, SVP of Mobile eXperience at Samsung Electronics America. “As more than an online game, we’re offering fans a social experience that brings together creativity, music, and entertainment in a way that’s unique for Samsung and Roblox.”

Meanwhile, Superstar Galaxy is now live in a few countries worldwide, including the US, Germany, Canada, and Brazil. Beginning on May 13, Roblox began dropping new content such as avatar merch and stage props leading up to the singer’s performance.

First Metaverse Divorce Law Office Opens in Decentraland

If weddings can happen in the metaverse, it is a no-brainer that divorce proceedings should also have a place in the burgeoning industry.
A few weeks ago, LawCity.Com debuted the first legal district in the metaverse. The company has now signed a virtual land lease agreement with Petrelli Previtera, one of the fastest-growing divorce law firms in the US. Following the agreement, Petrelli Previtera will now operate from LawCity.Com’s Veritas Tower located at 37, -58 in Decentraland, making it the first divorce firm to set up an office in the metaverse.

“We’re excited to welcome Petrelli Previtera to LawCity.Com’s Veritas Tower because family law issues like divorce and custody are prevalent legal issues. We believe that people may feel more comfortable educating themselves anonymously as avatars in the metaverse about these sensitive legal topics,” said Richard Grungo, Jr., a founder of LawCity.com.

The founders of Petrelli Previtera, Thomas J. Petrelli, Jr. and Melinda Previtera have been practicing divorce law for 20 and 12 years, respectively. Already recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing companies in the US, the law firm has 42 attorneys across 19 offices.

CEO Petrelli explained that his law firm is technologically-inclined and focused on “disrupting the traditional divorce experience.” Commenting on the decision to enter the metaverse, he said:

“Opening a metaverse office allows us to continue to leverage technology to elevate the client experience. We remain on the cutting edge of divorce law by providing our clients the best experience possible through the option most convenient to the client.”

“We are redefining the divorce experience and inspiring a lifestyle reset that leaves one feeling energized, empowered, and optimistic. We look at divorce as the beginning of a new phase in a person’s life. The divorce process can be an opportunity for achieving one’s greatest purpose. It just takes the commitment to invest in one’s personal journey and hiring the right firm to guide you through it,” said Melinda M. Previtera, co-founder and managing partner at Petrelli Previtera, LLC.

Top UFC Fighter To Offer Personal Training in the Metaverse

Over the past week, Sports Metaverse announced a collaboration with top UFC fighter Amanda Nunes in a deal that will see the latter offer personal training sessions in her metaverse gym. Nunes, who is a two division UFC champion, has been widely regarded as the greatest female MMA fighter of all time.

The agreement is also a precursor to an upcoming metaverse land sale, scheduled to open to the public in June. Users will be able to buy land, watch live sports, interact with sports icons, and trade sports NFTs. Sports Metaverse will be selling prime real estate in Lion Lands and the Sports City. Companies like Own the Moment, Beyond The Game Network, ThriveFantasy, and Press Sports have already bought land in the metaverse in presale. SportsIcon CEO and cofounder Chris Worsey said:

“We are delighted to welcome Amanda Nunes and the five sports brands to the Sports Metaverse. Amanda’s gym and the training she will offer are unique. We are the only metaverse volumetrically capturing icons like this, enabling consumers to interact with top athletes in a completely new way. This is ground-breaking stuff and we can’t wait for the public land sale in June.”

NASA Teams Up With Epic Games on Martian Metaverse

U.S. space agency NASA has inked a deal with Epic Games with the aim of attracting developers to create a Martian metaverse experience.

The said challenge was posted on the crowdsourcing problem-solving platform Herox. It calls on developers to assist NASA in building an environment for Martian astronauts. The virtual experiences will tap on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 to provide a realistic environment.
“We are seeking developers to create a new Virtual Reality (XR) research, development, and testing environment to help prepare for the experiences and situations that will be encountered on Mars […] On behalf of NASA, Buendea, and Epic Games, this challenge is seeking developers to create new assets and scenarios for the new Mars XR Operations Support System (XOSS) environment, using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5.”

The virtual experiences that developers will need to work on include categories such as set up camp, scientific research, maintenance, exploration, and blow our minds.

The total prize money for the challenge is $70,000, to be shared across twenty individual prizes. The overall category winner will receive $6,000.

Interestingly, the challenge has attracted a lot of attention from several developers. According to data on the Herox page, more than 65 teams and 650 innovators are already working on the construction of the Martian simulation.

Nansen Metaverse-20 Index Is the Best Performing NFT Index This Year

It’s been a rough week in the broader markets, with BTC struggling to stay above 30K, Terra (LUNA)’s implosion and NFTs in general have not been spared. Despite being in a downtrend since the end of March, the Metaverse index has outperformed the other categories with a 22% increase in ETH value year to date.
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