Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Here’s what you need to know from the past week:
The metaverse wins big (kind of) at the 2022 VMAs
The MTV Video Music Awards – one of the music industry’s biggest annual events – put the metaverse in the spotlight this year. On Sunday night, the awards show announced the winner of its new ‘Best Metaverse Performance’ category: Blackpink brought home the Moon Man for their collaboration with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile. Snoop Dogg and Eminem also (virtually) performed their song From the D 2 the LBC as their Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs inside Yuga Labs’ Otherside, a video game that is not yet publicly available.
Though this was clearly a push from MTV to show the world that it was hip with the web3 movement, not everyone has been responding favorably. Some have jeeringly tweeted about the virtual performance’s poor graphics – reminiscent of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent run-in with the social media mob (more on that below). Others lamented the stunt as a whole: “Fifty-year-old rappers and MTV are marketing NFTs,” one person tweeted. “Crypto has officially crashed.”
Horizon’s Vivek Sharma leaves Meta
Vivek Sharma has left his position as vice-president of Horizon, Meta’s virtual reality (VR) arm, according to multiple reports. He’d been with the company since October 2016 and had previously held leadership positions in both Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Gaming. Meta released both Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues during his tenure as vice-president of Horizon. A Meta spokesperson told The Verge that Sharma left the company “to pursue an unrelated career opportunity.”
The news of Sharma’s departure arrives shortly after Meta founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced a hail of ridicule on social media after publishing an image of his Horizon Worlds avatar, which he later claimed “was taken very quickly to celebrate [the launch of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain].”
The Horizon team will now report directly to Vishal Shah, Meta’s vice-president of the metaverse, a company spokesperson told Reuters. <!-- inArticleBlock -->
Iran will begin using crypto for imports to bypass US sanctions
The Iranian government has approved the use of cryptocurrency for imports, potentially enabling the country to sidestep financial sanctions imposed by the US in response to Iran’s nuclear program. The US sanctions, which prohibit Iran from directly participating in the international banking system, appear to have sparked a surge in Iran’s investments in crypto mining and use of crypto overall. Iranian trade minister Seyed Reza Fatemi Amin said that the new import regulations “specifies all issues related to cryptocurrencies, including how to provide fuel and energy for mining them, and how to grant a license,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Users can now post NFTs to Facebook and Instagram by linking their digital wallets
Meta announced on Tuesday that it has begun allowing users to share NFTs on Facebook and Instagram. “As we continue rolling out digital collectibles on Facebook and Instagram, we’ve started giving people the ability to post digital collectibles that they own across both Facebook and Instagram,” the company wrote in an amendment to a blog post originally published in May. “This will enable people to connect their digital wallets once to either app in order to share their digital collectibles across both.”
<!-- inArticleBlock -->
OpenSea’s trading volume plummets 99% from May peak
Trading volume on OpenSea – the world’s largest NFT trading platform – has declined by roughly 99% since the platform recorded a record high of $2.7bn on May 1, according to Fortune, which used data gleaned from DappRadar in its reporting. Fortune updated its report with a statement from an OpenSea spokesperson, who said the company is “not that concerned about short-term volatility ... We always expected frothiness, hype and deflation as the community and use cases evolve, the tech gets more sophisticated and creators figure out how to build more utility into their projects.”
The NFT market has been experiencing a recent downturn, coinciding with a broader “crypto winter.” On August 20, the floor price (in ETH) of the BAYC NFT collection dropped to its lowest point since January 2.
Firewatch NFT project launched to protect California forests
On Wednesday, the agency YML announced the launch of Firewatch, an NFT project that aims to defend and regenerate California forests, which in recent years have been devastated by record-breaking wildfires.
Hosted on the relatively eco-friendly Solana blockchain, the project also has been designed “to flip the script on conversations about NFTs and the environment, proving that it is more than possible to operate the technology sustainably,” according to a press release. The graphic design of each of the 1,000 NFTs in the new project features a “cross-section footprint of the California landscape.” All proceeds, and a quarter of all secondary sales, will go to One Tree Planted, a not-for-profit committed to reforestation on a global scale.
“As a community, we need to be maximizing our tools to solve climate change,” says Ashish Toshniwal, co-founder and chief executive of YML. “We landed on the idea for Firewatch to manifest these efforts through NFTs as a medium, which allows us to build a community of investors in reciprocity, stewarding these unique habitats for generations to come.”
<!-- inArticleBlock -->
Venice Film Festival prepares to give guided tours into virtual reality, mixed reality and other ‘immersive’ spaces
The Venice Film Festival – one of the biggest film festivals in the world – will be hosting an “immersive experience” program from September 1 through September 10, the AP reports. The program, called ‘Venice Immersive,’ will reportedly include 43 projects; some will be “massive 360° installations, others will take place in VR, while yet others will “offer a hybrid ‘mixed reality.’” (‘Mixed reality,’ or 'MR,' refers to an experience that blends – and in which users can interact with – elements of VR with those of the physical world.) Visitors will be able to take guided tours (called ‘world hops’) in small groups to various experiences within the program, such as ‘Framerate: Pulse of the Earth,’ an installation that apparently visualizes continental drift and the Earth’s ever-shifting landscape.
Michel Reilhac, one of the co-founders of ‘Venice Immersive,’ told the AP that one of the main goals of the program is to demonstrate the vast scope of technological innovation that’s recently been happening in the ‘immersive experience’ space – a nebulous phrase that’s sometimes used to refer to everything from ‘the metaverse’ to augmented reality (AR) to the kinds of 360° installations mentioned above.
“We wanted to refocus on how quickly the field is diversifying,” Reilhac said in the AP report. “We did not want to focus on one technology like VR, but to try to represent all kinds of different ways of offering an immersive experience.”
The Cannes Film Festival – the world’s largest film festival – has also embraced web3 by launching its inaugural NFTCannes Summit earlier this year.
<!-- inArticleBlock -->
For more, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.