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    Dating.com wants to help people find love in the metaverse

    The platform’s new ‘meta-dating’ experience is the latest effort to bring romance into virtual reality. 

    Online dating platform Dating.com is tying the knot with virtual reality (VR). Today, the company is opening a “meta-dating space for modern singles” in Decentraland, a blockchain-based virtual world that’s become a popular portal into the expanding metaverse.

    Dating.com is promoting its new experience in part by making the claim that virtual dating is superior to in-person dating: “Dating in virtual reality via avatars allows people to create connections without any of the materialistic, superficial factors or judgments that they might make or be subjected to in the external, physical world,” the company said in a statement. “Singles can build relationships focused on personality, shared values and common interests, without any fear of wasting time and money on in-person dates.”

    The company is also leaning into the elimination of geographical barriers afforded by VR, a realm – in the company’s words – “where distance is no boundary to finding a match.” To that end, it will kick off its new virtual dating experience with what it’s calling “the wedding of the year”: three “intercontinental couples,” each of which met on Dating.com, will be united in “blockchain matrimony.” The marriage certificates, naturally, will be NFTs (users will also be able to gift NFTs to one another – ”the ultimate sign of digital love” – while mingling in the virtual space).

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    Though it still feels like an alien concept to many, virtual dating – that is, a form of dating centered around virtual avatars rather than flesh-and-blood human beings – is gradually gaining traction in mainstream culture; becoming, if not more popular than in-person dating, then at least a more familiar and acceptable concept. In July, HBO released We Met in Virtual Reality, a documentary filmed entirely in VR which follows the stories of couples that met in VRChat.

    The online dating company Match Group announced last year that it was planning to launch ‘Single Town’ for its subsidiary company Tinder, describing it in a Q3 2021 investor letter as “a live virtual world ... in which singles, represented by their avatars, can move around and engage with others by audio in various virtual locations.” Those plans were recently paused in the wake of low earnings during the second quarter of this year. The VR-based dating app Planet Theta is slated to launch in November. 

    Safety concerns will undoubtedly become an increasingly urgent topic of conversation throughout the online dating industry as it continues to make headway into the metaverse. In recent months, virtual sex parties in Roblox and at least one alleged case of sexual assault in Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform have made it clear that some measure of law enforcement may eventually become necessary in the metaverse – though it isn’t yet entirely clear how that will be feasible. 

    For more, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.

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