Big Tech player Meta gave the metaverse a bad name when it pushed its janky vision to the masses. Luckily, open online virtual worlds have continued to evolve, says Yuga Labs CEO Daniel Alegre.
Speaking to Cointelegraph at Token 2049 in Singapore, Alegre said the problem with the metaverse is that Meta “ruined the term because it said: ‘This is something brand new’” — despite other metaverse platforms already existing.
“I was at Activision Blizzard, we had World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is a metaverse, Fortnite is a metaverse — so the metaverse is evolving, I think, in very, very positive ways.”
Alegre said the low userbase is a core issue of Meta’s Horizon Worlds — but it’s otherwise only useful “if there was a reason to be there.”
“[Users] go in and say ‘Hey, Mark, so cool to see you…So now what?’ It just flopped, there’s a huge echo in the room.”
He added unlike Horizon Worlds, Yuga’s upcoming Otherside metaverse — in development since at least March 2022 with no official launch date — came from a need by their community of nonfungible tokenholders to have a digital space to connect.
Otherside Test Group: A Recap pic.twitter.com/57gh9g8VlA
— Othersidemeta (@OthersideMeta) July 28, 2023
“The digital connection is what they’ve asked us to do,” Alegre said. “At its core, [Otherside] a way for our community to connect digitally in one location.”
So far, Otherside has only been glimpsed through a handful of early access demos and a “vibe check” by a focus group in July. Alegre said Yuga recently conducted another limited experience of Otherside with “core members.”
Otherside’s up-and-running peer The Sandbox has also sought to bring culture online, with its co-founder Sebastien Borget telling Cointelegraph that it’s creating neighborhoods on its platform that mirror countries such as Singapore and Türkiye.
NFTs diverging down “two avenues”
Alegre said he’s also seeing a divergence in how NFTs are being viewed. On one hand, NFTs are being valued purely for their art and history. On the other, they’re valued for their community and intellectual property rights.
“Those are two avenues that this is all going down,” he opined.
He compared the use cases between the NFT projects CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) — both Yuga-owned properties where holders own the commercial IP — to highlight how holders use them.
CryptoPunks — an early NFT collection — are being exposed to “top museums and collectors” who are starting to see the value of owning the original, according to Alegre.
Meanwhile, BAYC holders have created a community and Alegre claims “more than 900 holders of Apes are building businesses on top of the Apes.”
He said Yuga was in a similar position to YouTube where its user-generated content (UGC) model allowed businesses to be built around sharing videos on the platform.
“You have media companies based on UGC and creative agencies and advertising. You’re starting to see the same thing evolve with the Bored Ape community.”
“It shows you that NFTs, and NFT ownership if you give it to the community they take it in ways that you can never imagine,” Alegre said. “Both in the offline space as well as the online space.”