Ragnarok, a hugely famous massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created by Gravity, has teamed up with well-known Metaverse platform “The Sandbox” to give fans an immersive gaming experience. One of Gravity’s most well-known IPs, Ragnarok Online is accessible on both PCs and mobile devices. Along with their many intellectual properties, such as Ragnarok Origin, Ragnarok M: Eternal love, and more, the game also has licenses for a number of entities, including animations, online stores, and more.
The release states that Ragnarok LAND would be developed on The Sandbox and contain a variety of NFTs and material that makes use of the Ragnarok IP. Through this collaboration, players will also be able to interact with Ragnarok characters during a Game Jam.
According to Cindy Lee, CEO of The Sandbox Korea, “We are pleased to work with Ragnarok, which has long been adored by gamers around. Through this collaboration, players’ pleasure and joy from Ragnarok can be reimagined through metaverse material.”
Because of this collaboration, players from all over the world will be able to experience Ragnarok in The Sandbox metaverse, according to Harry Choi, Business Director of Gravity Business Division. “For users to enjoy in the metaverse as well, we are creating a variety of material using the Ragnarok IP.”
The Metaverse and Web3 gaming are being advanced by this alliance. There are other businesses dipping their toes into the Web3 market besides Gravity. Anicube Ent also teamed with The Sandbox to bring K-culture to the Metaverse, and Netmarble signed a cooperation with Binance to develop blockchain-based businesses.
The anticipated daily player count for Ragnarok is 9,000, while the expected lifetime player count is 953K
This massive and passionate fan audience will experience the Metaverse in a fresh and engaging way. This will make it possible for new players to join, experience the setting with a well-known IP, broaden their knowledge, and perhaps learn about Web3 gaming and the Metaverse as a result.
“This opens the door for more established gaming companies to enter the Web3 market; we have recently seen developers like Square Enix do so. However, this decision has drawn criticism because many creators and developers are taking the opposite path to avoid or outlaw the sector, such as with Minecraft.”
Who invented the Metaverse?
The term “Metaverse” means different things to different people and has been aggressively overused in marketing campaigns for plain ol’ 3D games. But where does it originate?
The word Metaverse has its roots in the popular novel Snow Crash, published in 1992, authored by Neal Stephenson, an American science-fiction author.
In the book, the main character, Hiro Protagonist, delivers pizza to the Mafia controlling territory in what used to be the United States, and plugs into the Metaverse when he is not working.
The next internet?
Immersed in the metaverse, in this case a networked virtual reality where people appear as self-designed avatars, Hiro would engage in activities both mundane (conversation, flirting) and extraordinary (sword fights, mercenary, espionage). This world would be filled by cartoonish looking computer-generated figures.
Yet to others the metaverse is the next generation of the internet.
Now, the big names in technology are in a race to create the next version of the internet known as Web3, a concept for a decentralized iteration of the internet. Some others call it Web5. A lot of it will take place in the metaverse.
Like the internet, Stephenson’s Metaverse is a collective, interactive endeavour that is always on and is beyond the control of any one person.
As such, it is widely believed that the metaverse is being built by various players at the moment in the same way the internet was built.
The very first Metaverse
While Stephenson aptly coined the term metaverse in his famous book and his Hiro Protagonist was the first fictional character to plug into the metaverse, he was not the first person to envision VR. In reality, he did nothing more than re-imagine what a Harvard scientist and his team had actually experienced when they built a VR system 20 years earlier.
Ivan Sutherland, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University, had already designed a VR system in 1968, called ‘The Sword of Damocles’, widely considered to be the first augmented reality HMD system.
Sutherland’s system displayed output in a stereoscopic display, depending on the position of the user’s gaze, and used head tracking. Its graphics were basic but demonstrated the concept of today’s virtual reality as subjects navigated the simple wireframe rooms.
“Metaverse” is a broad term
The term metaverse includes VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), but can also mean other things. Remote-sensing and -controlling of avatars, for instance. Or neurally interconnected consciousnesses.
AR is arguably the easiest and quickest to adopt, not as prone to inducing motion-sickness as full-on VR. In AR the user experiences an overlay on reality – the screens add elements to or transforms the environment in front of the user. There are a growing number of applications in both VR, AR and in mixed setups. Finnish headset maker Varjo is an example of the latter.
In order to immerse into the metaverse, the user needs a VR headset. Although more than 400 million people have “used the metaverse” in some form or another, the VR headsets are still beyond the reach of many, with some going for up to $3,500. Prices will, however, come down and the metaverse will mean something to even more people.
The metaverse is seen stretching into nearly every industry including real estate, gaming, fashion, events, and education—thus attracting plenty of users along the way.
Meta’s Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions
Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its metaverse unit Reality Labs and sees significantly wider operating losses going forward. But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets.
To make the ambitious dream of creating a metaverse a reality, just about a year ago Facebook/Meta announced it was hiring 10,000 software engineers over the next five years – the biggest ever hire in tech history – to build its metaverse, a mix of reality, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) realms.
The technology giant’s valuation at the time was close to $1 trillion, a princely market capitalisation usually reserved for the US’ premier blue chip corporates like Apple.
“Digital goods will be an important way to express yourself in the metaverse and a big driver of the creative economy. I am excited to bring more brands and bring VR soon too,” Zuckerberg said at the time.
Yet barely a year after Mark Zuckerberg’s big Meta presentation, the company’s stock has plunged by more than 70%, bleeding investors billions.
Now, Meta is worth only $300 billion, just a third of its market value a year ago.
Analysts and industry experts say Zuckerberg’s fixation with the metaverse has come at a high price for the company.
“The obsession with the (metaverse) project has done tremendous harm to the brand,” CircleIt founder and CEO Art Shaikh tells MetaNews.
In the quarter to September, revenue came down 4% from $29 billion to $27.7 billion.
Meta’s results have raised questions on whether Zuckerberg’s all-in bet on the metaverse was the smartest play and whether its gamble on the future will pay off eventually.“Meta’s results …was an absolute train wreck that speaks to pervasive digital advertising doldrums ahead for Zuckerberg & Co as they make the risky and head scratching bet on the metaverse,” Wedbush analysts Dan Ives said in its report.
Concerns have also been raised on whether Meta can transform itself into a virtual reality behemoth and power the company’s next phase of growth.
Analysts say such strategic pivots take a while for big tech companies to implement and reap financial benefits from in the near term.
“Every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst tells MetaNews.
Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its Reality Labs, its metaverse unit and sees significantly wider operating loss in fiscal year 2023 (FY23).
But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets.
Even tech companies like Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have not been spared with top line earnings declining in the period to $54.5 billion from $56.3 billion.
What went wrong with the meta pivot?
“It was a matter of timing”, Kagan says.
“The metaverse was still in its early years and the marketplace of users and investors simply had no clue what to expect,” Kagan says.
“That is where Facebook or Meta was wrong. They moved too quickly. They jumped over too many important steps. That is why this company is stuck in the metaverse mud today.”
But Zuckerberg painted a picture of an entity holding a fort in the market.
User engagement for its apps is at its peak, he says. A total of 3.7 billion people now use one of Meta’s apps monthly. The number of people using Facebook, Meta’s flagship application, is the highest it has ever been, he says.
Instagram has more than 2 billion monthly actives while Whatsapp, its messenger application service, has more than 2 billion daily actives.
Its Reels product, a video sharing service positioned to compete with Tik Tok that is integrated into the Facebook application, is also doing well, he added.
This number represents a 50% growth in the past six months, he said.
All the numbers look promising elsewhere except in Meta’s new baby, the Metaverse.
Horizon Worlds, the name of Meta’s new virtual space, slashed its target for monthly active users to only 280,000 monthly from an initial 500,000. In reality, the space is only attracting about 200,000 people at the time of writing.
Investors are getting increasingly impatient with Zuckerberg and his metaverse.
While it generally takes longer in Silicon Valley to build a business, Wall Street tends to value businesses based on nearer returns rather than foggier forecasts that stretch out for years.
It’s a view Kagan shares too.
“However, every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Kagan says.
“Smartphones had been with us for more than a decade or two to one degree or another with Blackberry, Palm Pilot and others. The marketplace now understood the smartphone marketplace, so when the Apple iPhone and Google Android were released, they were an instant success.”
Even Zuckerberg realises this now.
“There is still a long road ahead to build the next computing platform, but we are clearly doing leading work here,” he said. “This is a massive undertaking and it will often take a few versions of each product before they become mainstream.”
If he gets it rights, he reckons it is going to be of “historic importance”, adding it will create an entirely new way humans interact with each other “as well as a foundation for the long term of our business.”
Rumors of Zuckerberg stepping down
For the first time in years rumors that Zuckerberg could be made to walk the plank, have emerged as investor concerns rise with falling earnings.
Meta’s director of communications, Andy Stone, made the unusual decision to publicly respond to unsubstantiated market rumors that claimed Zuckerberg could step down as the group’s CEO during 2023.
In response to the rumor, Stone wrote on Twitter, “this is false.”
For FY23, Zuckerberg is being coy about the metaverse, preferring to focus on what he described as a “small number of high priority growth areas.”
This, he says, will involve working on the “AI discovery engine powering Reels” and other “recommendation experiences, our ads and business messaging platforms and the metaverse.”
In a way, it is a return to the basics.
Also Meta is laying off 13% of its staff, or more than 11000 employees, Zuckerberg announced last week.
“Layoffs might appease investors for a bit, but the overall move away from the metaverse project and focusing on core revenue generating products will be the only way to save things,” Kagan concluded.
Invisible Universe steps into the metaverse
Invisible Universe, an internet-first animation studio, released The R3al Metaverse. The initiative will mint 7200 Producer Pass NFTs, allowing the community to influence the show’s creative direction and have their NFTs animated.
The R3al Metaverse parodies top reality house shows like “The Real World” or “Big Brother” and follows five NFT characters who move to Los Angeles from the metaverse. The 3D-rigged, professionally-voiced cast comprises characters from Bored Ape Yacht Club, World of Women, Doodles, Cool Cats, and Robotos. Fans will root for their favorites as they become friends, quarrel, make up, make jokes, make blunders, and maybe make out.
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Seven Seven Six and investor in Invisible Universe, said other animated programs take years to develop and market. Invisible Universe can debut a whole series and NFT collection in months.
Producers Pass NFT holders can write confessional interviews and create storylines following the series debut. The Producers Pass NFTs, created by award-winning artists and animators, combine iconic Los Angeles sites and the cast into a Twitter banner. NFT holders of the five towns featured in the first season may see their character animated and incorporated into the programme for a cameo.
Invisible Universe has built memorable animated IP on social media
“We approach storytelling without ego, listening to what the community loves and wants more of.” Tricia Biggio, CEO of Invisible Universe, believes the next generation of customers will want more involvement in entertainment franchises. “This series has infinite potential for a spinoff, new characters, or a longer run. Season 2 and beyond will depend on our community.”
Invisible Universe is contextualizing NFTs, communities, and the metaverse so consumers can grasp web3 on traditional media. The animation company applied lessons from Qai Qai, Squeaky & Roy, Clydeo, and Ember. The R3al Metaverse will feature new characters who will spin off into their own shows or planets, like Invisible Universe’s present characters.
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