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2023 Could Be the Year for Metaverses & NFTs – Here's Why

In an effort to inject some optimism to ring in 2023, Blockhead brings you some exciting metaverse and NFT projects to keep your eye on this year.

2022 was a bleak year for the crypto industry. Worse still, crypto winter doesn’t seem to be warming up any time soon. However, it’s not all and gloom going into the new year.

With the industry focusing on crypto lending, staking and pricing, “metaverse” is a term you probably haven’t heard too much of in 2022. However, whilst the rest of the crypto industry was sinking, metaverse firms have been quietly building (some more so than others).

Meta

Meta (AKA Facebook for anyone born before 2020) had a disastrous 2022. Laying off 11,000 employees citing spending on their Reality Labs arm sends a rather troublesome message to the wider metaverse space. However, as much as the tech world and the general public may despise Mark Zuckerberg, it would be foolish to completely write him off and underestimate his capabilities.

Read more: Meta Has a Meta Problem, Not a Metaverse Problem

For 2023, Meta has already pledged to dedicate 20% of its investments on the metaverse, which is actually 2% higher than its 2022 spending. A 20% investment in futuristic technologies is a “level of investment we believe makes sense for a company committed to staying at the leading edge of one of the most competitive and innovative industries on earth,” CTO Andrew Bosworth said.

As George Wong, growth head of Singapore for The Sandbox said, "in terms of Meta, [their problems] were not because of the money, it's because they tried to do everything themselves. It's not that Meta was building a metaverse, that wasn't the problem. It was how much they spent, and how little they got. That's why they had cost cutting deductions to manage their bottom line."

Furthermore, Meta's metaverse being centralised is deeply unpopular among web3 fanatics. Lim Soon Ying, CEO of Web3re Technologies, which curated the Goya Universe, said Meta's metaverse was too much of a web2 product. "The metaverse that Zuckerberg is doing is more of a social platform," Lim said to Blockhead.

"Facebook has always been about owning customer data," he elaborated. "The pushback it is experiencing is from a lot of people saying 'I don't want you to own my data anymore, I want to decide who gets to see my data and how i get remunerated.' Meta is still very much a closed centralised platform, whereas the web3 community is all about owning their own data."

Coming into 2023, Meta will be taking a deep reflection on their metaverse journey thus far. Curating a centralized metaverse will be tough for the web3 crowd to stomach, but if played correctly, it could serve as the elusive web2-web3 bridge we've all been claiming to build. And as much as the tech world and let’s be honest, the general public, may despise Mark Zuckerberg, it would be foolish to completely write him off considering his unparalleled success in tech.

The Sandbox

With perhaps one of the biggest names the metaverse space has to offer, The Sandbox has almost become synonymous with the metaverse itself. However, 2022 was a relatively quiet year for the metaverse behemoth. Reports even claimed that there were fewer than 600 daily active users on the platform in October. The Sandbox refuted these claims, arguing discrepancies about the metrics used to extract this figure. Whatever the case may be, The Sandbox is confident that 2023 will be a better year for them.

Wong described 2023 as an "important and pivotal year for metaverse growth." The Sandbox plans to expand "feature sets, amazing new content experiences and more accessibility to the metaverse as a whole."

Looking at wider market patterns, The Sandbox expects the industry to "slowly but surely gain a certain level of maturity as more markets understand the potential opportunities it presents as education efforts continue to persist in the bear market," Wong told Blockhead.

"The state of the market will cause some bearish sentiment but real builders in the space will benefit from heightened confidence as the speculative players gradually exit the market," Wong continued. "Overall I'm bullish for 2023 as we have built a strong foundation and healthy ecosystem to really thrive despite what they market may suggest."

The Sandbox is also coming into 2023 on a high. Towards the end of 2022, the firm revealed it had sold more than US$1.66 million worth of virtual land over the previous few weeks.

SAND’s value has risen more than 29% over the past week at the time of writing, with industry experts expecting SAND to hit as high as $2.80 in 2023 - a far cry from its ATH of $8.40 but a sizeable return from its current price of $0.50.

Decentraland

Equally as synonymous with the metaverse as The Sandbox is Decentraland. Arguably even more of a metaverse pioneer than The Sandbox, Decentraland has been at the forefront of virtual real estate.

However, 2022 proved to be a tough year for Decentraland, with daily active users averaging around 650. Nonetheless, as with its rivals, the "lack of metaverse interest" appears to be more of a result of crypto winter's harsh conditions rather than any long term damage.

As recently as 6 January 2022, Decentraland launched the first-ever metaverse architecture and design Biennale. Featuring a range of performances, events and talks, the competition accommodates over 50,000 visitors over five days.

Decentraland is also known for pushing the boundaries of metaverse capabilities. The Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland hosted over 200,000 users, earning it the title of the most visited event in the blockchain metaverse.

Just like SAND, Decentraland's token MANA took a rough toll in 2022. But also like SAND, MANA has kicked off 2023 with a surge. Just this week alone, MANA has jumped 33% to $0.42. By September, analysts are expecting MANA to be in the $0.55 range.

"MANA has the potential to get even more violent to the upside given that OI [Open Interest] is nearly double what it normally was, before a bunch of Barry-related shorts and hedges were tagged on. This squeeze has more fuel," writes pseudonymous trader Cantering Clark.

Unlike The Sandbox, Decentraland is not focusing on children's games but is instead appealing to teenagers and young adults. The likes of the Australian Open and Metaverse Fashion Week are set to return to the platform this year, cementing Decentraland's position as the ultimate virtual events organiser.

NFTs

Love 'em or hate 'em, NFTs will always have a central presence in Web3. 2022 saw the NFT market rise and fall alongside the wider crypto market, as degens reluctantly learned the value of "utility." 2023 should see NFT projects rise from the ashes as 2022 mercilessly killed off the weakest projects.

BAYC/Yuga Labs

The world's best known NFT project. The Bitcoin of NFTs. The most expensive cartoon monkey jpeg. BAYC is the ultimate blue chip NFT, and its price is somewhat a reflection of the health of the wider NFT market.

At its highest in 2022, BAYC's floor price hit 144.9 ETH in May, worth around $410,000 at the time. At its lowest, its floor price sank below 50 ETH, worth around $62,000 at the time.

As we venture into 2023, BAYC's current floor price is 77 ETH, which is far closer to its 2022 low than its 2022 high. However, its parent company Yuga Labs has an exciting year ahead of it.

In March 2022, Yuga Labs released the trailer for its BAYC themed metaverse: Otherside, and excitement for the ApeCoin based world has been intensifying. 2023 will be the year that anticipation meets reality.

As early as March 2023, Yuga Labs is expected to drop The Second Trip, a follow up from June's First Trip.

Described by the team as a “huge step for Otherside and will be more gamified and high energy”, the update is just one of the "number of activations will be going online starting in Q1 2023 and lasting the entire year."

Furthermore, Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano recently told Punk6529 in an interview that the Otherside metaverse game “The Persistent World” will launch in 2023, with its beta dropping at the start of the year.

With ApeCoin serving as the primary currency of the Otherside, the metaverse developments also serve as good news for BAYC holders and Yuga Labs supporters. Holders of BAYC can claim 10,094 APE for each NFT they own, while MAYC holders get 2,042 APE.

The value of APE will undoubtedly benefit from the Otherside's official releases, and will bolster the value of BAYC NFTs.

Singapore NFT projects

Whilst Yuga Labs will continue benefit the NFT landscape in 2023, we must not neglect the happenings of local NFT projects. Those that survived 2022 have proven their worth and their secrets to success certainly deserve our attention.

Cryptobengz
Whilst Cryptobengz might channel their energy from ah beng culture, their work is far more sophisticated. From humble beginnings to developing one of Singapore's most beloved projects, Cryptobengz's immense success is matched only by its immense support.

2022 saw Cryptobengz announcing new partners every single week for their members, as well as the launch of a 2.0 for their NFTs. Excitingly, 2023 is set to be an even bigger year for the boys,

"We're kicking off the year with an explosion of exciting new features, including exclusive merchant partnerships just for our Genesis holders, fun community events, and a fresh line of merchandise," co-founder Ferris tells me. "This is going to be a year to remember!"

Ferris is also confident that the NFT market will prosper in 2023. "NFTs in 2023 will likely be influenced by sustainability, real-world utility, and the quality of the art produced," he adds.

"Efforts will be made to make the NFT market more sustainable by having use-cases such as representing ownership of physical assets or verifying the authenticity of digital assets. The market will also likely mature, with a greater emphasis on the quality and originality of the art being represented by NFTs so that people can use the IP for things like businesses."

Imaginary Ones
Singapore's loudest NFT project, which is silently Singaporean, Imaginary Ones is one of the Little Red Dot's biggest success stories in terms of NFTs. Recently partnering with Hugo Boss, Imaginary Ones has gone beyond the boundaries of Singapore, garnering a worldwide following.

Born from the the visionary minds of Clement Chia and David Lee who ran a motion design company called Offset for close to 10 years and worked with giant international brands including Apple, Nike, Adidas, Singapore Airlines and Tiger Beer, the NFT project harnesses creativity at its core.

2023 will see Imaginary Ones taking creativity one step further to focus its brand messaging of "magic meets imagination."

"Focusing on storytelling through visuals and building on our various pillars such as imaginary juniors, imaginary world, imaginary rides to value add to our holders," Chia tells me. "We'll also be constantly working with our collaboration with HUGO to bring more innovation into the fashion space bridging Web2 and Web3 brands."

Read more: From Kids to Hugo Boss – Imaginary Ones’ Clement Chia on Reshaping Web3

Chia isn't deterred by crypto winter and instead believes "the bear market is the best time to build."

"I believe the NFT space will flourish eventually if projects keep building," he explains. "It is a time where bad actors are flushed out of the system. IO will carry on delivering along the way no matter the market condition. And when the bull market is back we will be more than ready to grow exponentially."

Tasty Toastys
If you're in the Singapore NFT scene and haven't made friends with Tasty Toastys' founder Chanel Lee, who even are you? Rising above the noise, Lee has successfully escaped the toxicity that the NFT scene is too often burdened by, and her determination to stay true to her project and to herself has rewarded her fruitfully.

With the long term vision to build a homeware brand, Lee is reverse engineering traditional business models by using NFTs to market her brand before launching her products.

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A post shared by Tasty Toastys 🍞 (@tastytoastys)

Always staying ahead of the game, Lee has crafted her own path to navigate through crypto winter and will use 2023 to launch "more brand and content collaborations with creators and businesses outside of web3."

Lee explained that Tasty Toasty's instincts have "always been to focus on cultivating our own IP and not rely too much on complicated web3-specific mechanics."

"Now that there is an air of mistrust and doubt about crypto, we’ve been shielded from a lot of the reputational fall-out that other projects have had to deal with," she added.

Read more: This Singaporean Millennial is Creating NFTs to Build a Real-World “Toasty” Home Decor Brand

Beyond Tasty Toastys, Lee also sees other opportunities to better the NFT landscape. "In the current economic climate, consumers are going to avoid luxury, high-risk, speculative products," she tells me. "Instead, they will be looking out for rewards and low-cost entertainment."

Lee is thereby building an enterprise-grade tool for brands and businesses to launch their own loyalty and rewards programmes using digital collectibles as a starting point.

"This is fertile ground for customer acquisition in large volumes, and my upcoming SaaS platform, Flockke, will help marketers launch, manage, and scale all of the operational workflows that are required to smoothly run a NFT-backed loyalty programme," she said.



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