The doors of the Metaverse are accessible to anyone interested, through the various platforms that have contributed to its advent. If, in fact, the idea of a virtual reality is often linked to a fantasy video game or to never-before-seen worlds, the platforms of the metaverse make it possible to make this virtual reality increasingly real.
According to a recent study by Gartner, in 2026 25% of the global population will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for various purposes such as work, shopping, education, social interaction and entertainment. Considering that 2026 is only four years away, it is safe to say that the Metaverse will soon be part of our everyday lives.
In these ‘new worlds’ you can mostly enter for free and create your own avatar. On these Metaverse platforms there are other users, with whom you can have a coffee, go for a walk, see a concert, attend a fashion show or an art exhibition, so from this point of view it can be seen and evolution of traditional 2D chats.
What are the main Metaverse platforms?
One of the “oldest” virtual universes and protagonist of numerous transactions. Launched in 2016, today it can count on a solid community of users and a very long list of brands that have started to populate this platform. Based on Blockchain technology, it is a democratic and completely decentralized world; all holders of the MANA currency (Decentraland’s currency), can take part in decisions on the platform through a vote.
At the end of December 2021, there were more than 800,000 registered users and just under 500,000 monthly active users. Entering the Decentraland Metaverse is very simple: simply go to the site, create an account with your avatar, start the adventure and explore.
How to enter the world of the Metaverse with the Decentraland platform?
Decentraland is a completely open virtual world in which users are asked to interact with each other as in a parallel life, socializing and taking part in the activities and economy of Genesis City. To play in Decentraland you can log in as a guest user, simply explore the world by opening the website in your browser, create an avatar, give it a name, and accept the terms and conditions of the community.
You will also need a crypto wallet capable of properly storing your Ethereum tokens in order to experience the full benefits of Decentraland. If you don’t have a wallet, you will still be allowed to walk around and customize your avatar; but you will not be able to participate in trading activities or the in-game economy.
Decentraland hosted the first Fashion Week in the history of fashion in the virtual world from 24-27 March 2022. The aim of Metaverse Fashion Week was to experience fashion from different perspectives and to make high fashion accessible to everyone. In order to participate in the Fashion Week events, it was sufficient to connect your Metamask or visit the Metaverse in guest mode.
Decentraland provided the coordinates of all the event zones and with a simple click you could reach afterparties, digital shops, fashion shows and conferences organised by many brands. The Metaverse Fashion Week at Decentraland also gave a big boost to the price of MANA, which increased by 7% since 23 March, the day before the event began.
The Sandbox is a virtual metaverse that has become popular since announcing its partnership with Meta. Its avatars have a visual block style and can build, own and monetise using NFT and SAND. The Sandbox is a decentralised, community-driven gaming ecosystem where creators can share and monetise their voxel creations and game experiences created on the Ethereum blockchain.
The Sandbox metaverse is actually a puzzle made up of many small platforms that, like a large network, connect and interact with each other. Within it, each user will be able to create, exchange, buy or sell digital avatars, or buy, sell or rent a real plot of land. Graphically, the maps are an explosion of colours. The impression is that of being in a world somewhere between Minecraft and Second Life, where there is enormous room for creativity and complex experiences can be created, based on lively and constantly moving communities.
How did the different brands approach this platform of the metaverse?
Over time, the platform has partnered with over 165 brands to create avatars in the virtual world of celebrities such as Snoop Dog and The Walking Dead.
Among the different brands that have collaborated with the platform, Gucci has created its own virtual world. The collaboration between the two companies is based on the creation of an interactive fashion experience based on Gucci Vault, an experimental space. The brand has purchased an indefinite amount of land on the platform, with the aim of creating its own virtual concept store, where it can sell items created by its designers.
Arianee, the leading web3 solutions platform dedicated to brands, also wants to create experiences balanced between real and virtual, offering users the first service that combines real and virtual assets through Nft solutions: or metaverse ready, which stands for the ability to insert solutions for companies with an Nft related to a real asset into the metaverse. The possibilities are endless and only limited by the creativity of brands who will have the opportunity to mix physical, digital, experiential, engaging and attractive offers for their users.
The entire Metaverse hype started when Mark Zuckerberg announced his company Facebook would change its name to Meta, to reflect its increasing investments in the file of wearable devices and immersive worlds.
Of course Facebook, backed by its 3 billions users base has a strong advantage in starting a new Metaverse platform, which in fact did, by announcing Horizon Worlds. This platform is currently available to selected countries (U.S. and Canada) and it is limited to those who own an Oculus (now Meta).
Horizon Worlds is linked to a Facebook account and lets you interact with other users by means of your virtual avatar. The metaverse also features a world builder that lets users build places according to their needs.
It?s early to say if Horizon Worlds will become the reference Metaverse platform, it can certainly enjoy an excellent initial positioning.
Quoted at USD 41 billion, it has the fastest growth in the metaverse sector. This platform, founded in 2004, is a virtual universe in which to interact with other users.
Most of the games available on this platform have been created by the users themselves. Many users have made the creation of games a way of life, in fact Roblox could be compared to a large library of “user-generated content”.
The aim of Roblox’s creators is educational, allowing children to test their imagination, as well as taking their first steps into the world of programming by creating their own games individually or collectively. Furthermore, according to Craig Donato, chief business officer of Roblox, one of the reasons for Roblox’s popularity is its emphasis on “unstructured play”. Unstructured play is nothing more than play activities in which children engage in games that do not have specific learning objectives.
Why is it the most popular Metaverse Platform?
Roblox is completely free, but within the platform, there is a currency called “Robux” which is not entirely free. When signing up for Roblox, the user is asked to create a username which possibly does not have to be their real name. On your profile, you can see the games you have played, you can post to your feed and you can also show who your friends are, who you follow and who follows you.
Roblox has around 100 million active users and most of them are under 18. The interesting and curious fact is that Roblox has the smallest community of all the other platforms: 24% of 10-12 year olds use Roblox, more than TikTok and Snapchat.
As well as finding the magic formula for success, the virtual platform launched a special collaboration with luxury brand Gucci. This event allowed the brand itself to feature some items that players are literally paying through the nose for. Gucci is launching the “Gucci Garden” on Roblox, a digital world deeply inspired by the commercials with which the fashion house has been promoting its imagery for years. Each player will play as a mannequin without colors, which will be decorated according to the interactions with the environment, in order to create a unique and visually engaging interactive experience.
Nike has also decided to enter the Roblox world by creating its own sub-world called Nikeland, a virtual space dedicated to the world of sport.
Spatial is one of the most interesting Metaverse platforms for at least a couple of reasons:
- It supports nearly all devices and modes (web, mobile, wearable)
- It has a strong focus on NFTs
Just like the other platforms, Spatial offers you the possibility to join virtual spaces with your virtual avatar that can be customized starting from a face photo, giving it a highly realistic look. Spaces are searchable visually or through a text search and are sorted according to popularity, that corresponds to the number of users currently inside a virtual space.
Many of the available spaces feature NFT artwork that users can look at and, only with the Web version, can open the corresponding artwork on the OpenSea platform, allowing you to get more information about the artist and eventually letting you buy the piece.
The experience on wearable devices such as Oculus Quest 2 is much smoother than on Desktop, but that also depends on your personal computer technical specs.
How to choose your reference Metaverse Platform?
Decentraland, Roblox and The Sandbox are similar projects but also have big differences. While Decentraland focuses on a virtual second life, The Sandbox and Roblox are real metaverse platforms where users can create games and bring fantasy worlds to life.
Below are some of the main differences:
- Decentraland has limited its land to 90,601 NFT, while The Sandbox has almost double that, at 166,464 NFT;
- Decentraland has three types of token: MANA, LAND, WEAR, while The Sandbox has four: SAND, GAMES, LAND, GOODS;
More importantly, The Sandbox has a detailed roadmap, planning to deploy the platform to mobile devices by the end of 2022. In contrast, Decentraland’s roadmap is probably not as ambitious. The Sandbox is more centralized with experienced game developers, while Decentraland relies on its DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) for development.
Another element that you should consider when picking your reference Metaverse platform is related to supported devices. Some of them can just be enjoyed via web browser, thus offering a limited immersive experience, while others let you access the virtual worlds via mobile and wearable devices.
While a gaming metaverse like Roblox cleverly combines multiplayer dynamics with the ability for users to create content, a blockchain-based metaverse like The Sandbox allows it to go much further, allowing participants to own property, much like the real world, where they can start real business ventures. The Metaverse leverages on the blockchain technology to create various ways to monetise the experience, following similar dynamics to the real world, though in a fantasy dystopian context.
Based on overall user accessibility, focus on gameplay, aesthetics and the most detailed roadmap, The Sandbox and Roblox are the ‘winners’. While Decentraland boasts its DAO, having a more experienced and decentralized platform tends to produce better results in an arena as delicate and complex as blockchain gaming.
All of these platforms lead to an enjoyable experience. Thanks to them, more and more people will be able to live and experience the Metaverse in the coming years.
Can I build my own Metaverse?
If you are looking for business opportunities for your brand, products and services, you don?t have to rely necessarily on one of the existing platforms, you may get more benefit instead by developing your own, or partnering with similar companies into a vertical metaverse platform designed for that goal.
What may happen in the future is that, next to the existing mass platforms, we may witness the emergence of smaller, but vertical Metaverses where companies can provide a focus experience on certain goods and services. Platforms like Roblox or Horizon Worlds may not be the best fit for companies that want to to build a tailored approach to their value proposition or that want to provide a photorealistic experience, which is something currently not provided by the most used platforms.
Building your own Metaverse requires a medium to high development effort (and cost), but may offer in turn a high control over the virtual environments in terms of quality and customization.
Also the user base of a custom Metaverse would probably be smaller than the ones you can find on Horizon Worlds or Decentraland, but companies and brands may be more interested in obtaining fewer profiled users rather than more not profiled users.