Institutions in the Metaverse: Here Come the Big Boys
Recently, there has been a flurry of activity in the metaverse space from institutions and corporations. Whether it is luxury fashion brands like Gucci, Burberry, Dolce and Gabbana or Patek Philippe releasing metaverse-only apparel in the form of NFTs or, more recently, social media networks such as Twitter and Instagram providing tools for users to verify NFTs profile pictures, the story is clear: institutions are already here in the metaverse. The question remains, though: are they helpful or a hindrance to the space at large?
On the one hand, to think simplistically and optimistically, large institutions entering into the metaverse simply provides more content for metaverse natives to interact with. More content is a good thing, as is content from popular brands that might be familiar to those who are not metaverse natives. Additionally, social media networks allowing users to verify their NFTs as profile pictures furthers the reach of those NFTs and validates the concept at large. The difference between an authentic NFT profile picture and a right-click-saved one becomes immediately apparent. Further, the fact that institutions are willing to interact with and publish content to the metaverse means that they are flexible. Perhaps they are even willing to let go of the current stranglehold they have over who can earn what from their content across a myriad of different platforms. This is where the praise will cease, however, as we begin to think more critically.
On the other hand, NFTs and the metaverse are diametrically opposed to what institutions and corporations represent. Game publishers, for example, rake in buckets of cash from in-app purchases for digital collectibles that are effectively “rented” to customers. Leave the game and you leave behind all of the real money and time you spent on the items, with no way of recovering it. But you could, of course, do it all again in the next game. Do you really think that these organisations would want to change their extremely successful business models over to NFTs and allow users to recapture value? Absolutely not. In this light, many (but not all) of the institutions who have entered this space are actively looking to remove value from it. While Meta may be playing nicely with NFTs now, their egregiously high 47.5% planned commission on NFT sales within their Horizon Worlds metaverse platform — on top of selling the headsets required for access — should tell you something. They are not interested in building an open, interoperable metaverse platform that will provide value to a user but rather a walled garden that they can charge entrants to enter or exit. Sounds like quite the gig, but we aren’t sitting in a boardroom looking for ways to spend our way into profitability for our dying platform.
Nope, we aren’t executives. We are the users, movers and shakers who were already here in the Metaverse before corporations showed up. The good thing about that is the ultimate power to vote on the future of the industry lies with us. We get to decide who will be successful and who will fail with our actions. The corporations depend on us to turn a profit, their sole motive. However, metaverse natives have a different motive. Whether it be art, community or disrupting power structures, a simple lack of profit will never stop the relentless building taking place in the space.
So keep building, keep exploring the metaverse and maybe even embrace an NFT profile picture on your social media network of choice. Just remember that you indirectly vote on the winners and losers in this space with your capital, so ensure how it is spent lines up with the values that you hold.
For the latest metaverse news, institutional or otherwise, stay tuned to GamiFi on Twitter!