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While Bitcoin ETFs are stealing the crypto limelight, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Metaverse craze is no more. The Web3 buzzword of 2021 and 2022, some thought the alternate digital reality sector largely overpromised and underdelivered.
The Sandbox, Axie Infinity, Enjin Coin, and Decentraland, which were at the forefront of the Metaverse and GameFi, saw their combined market cap in 2021 of $16 billion plummet 92% to $1.23 billion towards the end of last year.
Some of the world's largest corporations, even outside of Web3, abandoned their Metaverse ambitions in 2023.
Disney cut its entire metaverse arm, accounting for 50 staff amid its 7,000 employee layoff. Disney's Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences was headed by Mike White who worked at Disney for over a decade. The firm also hired top Apple gaming executive Mark Bozon as a senior creative lead for its metaverse division.
Microsoft axed its industrial metaverse group just four months after its initiation. The Industrial Metaverse Core group was a division of the computer giant established to offer metaverse solutions for industrial environments. Potential clients included health care, retail financial services, and energy.
However, one staunch believer in the Metaverse that continues to quietly grow and serves as a bolster for the industry, is Animoca Brands. Recent deals and partnerships suggest Animoca is not slowing down any time soon.
Making Exchanges With Exchanges
What better to reassert your presence in the crypto field than partnering with a licensed crypto exchange? Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Animoca Brands and virtual asset exchange HashKey are collaborating to develop a strategic partnership.
This collaboration will see the two Web3 giants work together on initiatives related to virtual assets, including educational activities and listings. Animoca Brands will open an account on HashKey Exchange.
HashKey, which recently earned unicorn status, holds a full virtual asset license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong as well as a Capital Markets Services (CMS) license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
The Hong Kong-based exchange also partnered with FTSE Russell to launch custom indices to track digital assets. FTSE Russell are collaborating to launch custom indices to track digital assets.
Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said its partnership with HashKey is part of its broader mission to "make blockchain technology and true digital ownership more accessible to a global audience."
Last month, OKX's investment arm, OKX Ventures, invested in Animoca Brands' Web3 ecosystem Mocaverse. The partnership will see the pair co-build Mocaverse projects on OKX's newly announced zkEVM Layer-2 network, X1.
From Snake to Chess to Honda
Loyal Blockhead readers will already know that blockchain gaming is making a quiet return to the landscape with the likes of Ubisoft recently forming a new partnership with WeMix.
Animoca Brands, which has been a driving force of Web3 gaming, has now partnered with iCandy Interactive Limited to release the Web3 game, Snaky Cat.
Built on Coinbase's L2 Base Chain, the game is developed by iCandy subsidiary studio Appxplore. The multiplayer game gives players the control of a cat with a snake-like body, through which they can compete for a prize pool of TOWER tokens.
Snaky Cat is designed to capture the thrill of classic snake games while introducing the Web3 dimension of Play-and-Earn.
If Snake isn't retro enough for you, Animoca Brands has also launched the first phase of Anichess, a free-to-play chess strategy video game developed in collaboration with Chess.com and five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.
The Web3 chess game combines core chess rules with a captivating story and innovative gameplay elements, including magic spell mechanics for offensive, defensive, and counter-tactics.
Its first phase features player-versus-environment (PvE) gameplay, with the second phase introducing player-versus-player (PvP) in Q1 2024. Players can embark on solo adventures, solving daily chess puzzles to collect in-game assets.
Animoca Brands isn't exclusively interested in partnering with entire Web3 games either, they're also into gaming assets. Animoca Brands Japan has collaborated with Darewise Entertainment and Honda Motor Co to develop transportation and vehicle-related gameplay in an upcoming AAA science fiction game, Life Beyond.
Darewise Entertainment, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands and the company behind the game, will bring Honda's renowned innovation and craftsmanship to the game's world of Dolos, with the help of Animoca Brands Japan.
New gameplay and game assets for Life Beyond will be created including in-game items, activities, and Ordinals featuring Honda.
Money as a Means to an End
Whilst everyone's attention has drifted away from the Metaverse, Animoca Brands remains unmoved. Instead of chasing quick profits, Siu is clearly a man of patience, with his focus vested in his long-term vision.
"It almost doesn't matter how you invested as long as you invested. If you took a hundred bets, you were fine," Siu said in a recent interview.
"For some of us, money is our end," he explained. "That's maybe a small community, and that was the community that occupied most of crypto. But the majority of us look at money as a means to an end."
Animoca Brands, which was founded by Siu in 2014, is therefore investing in multiple smaller projects to see them grow, rather than one big winner.
"I think of Web3 as having inherently anti-monopolistic qualities embedded in it. I think it will solve the issue," Siu said. "For instance, if you own Ethereum and participate in the network, then regardless of the fact whether your business succeeds or not, you'll benefit from other people succeeding on the network because you end up becoming kind of a quasi-shareholder in the network. And that means that while you won't make as much money as someone else, you still get to benefit."
He also believes that non-tech players will power the Web3 space forward. "When you look at NFTs, the biggest beneficiaries of the participants in NFTs are not tech guys. They're not the ones who wrote the protocol, they're the creators, they're the artists." He said social media has "proven one thing that we're actually all creators in different ways and that we're actually all naturally creative in itself."