PYMNTS Metaverse series: will the metaverse be meta?

The unspoken central idea of ​​the metaverse is that only one of the immersive, interactive virtual reality worlds will win.

That’s how it’s been in fiction, from the cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash”, whose concept the Metaverse gave its name, to the more recent movie “Ready Player One” – there’s always been a Metaverse for rule them all.

In fact, there will probably be a few. Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to rebrand Facebook to become CEO of a social media/metaverse company is telling – the metaverse is the next generation of social media, where people’s avatars mingle with each other, engage with the ‘ art, sports and entertainment, all supported by brands ‘ places of experiential marketing and shopping.

And indeed, more than a few social media sites are flourishing: Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram and TikTok all coexist – though Meta owns three of the top four – as do Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few. the second half of the top 10 social media sites.

Just as all of these sites have specialties – social interactions, long videos, short clips, one-sentence thoughts, massive text communities, business networks – there’s probably the same opportunity in the metaverse industry.

The question is how specialized the metaverse community will be. After all, at some point, a “metaverse” transforms into a non-meta virtual reality space.

That’s why it’s worth looking at SportsIcon’s new metaverse project in the sports-focused non-fungible token (NFT) market, the creatively named Sports Metaverse.

Backed by big names from the crypto, NFT, web and sports worlds – including Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of sports development company NFT Dapper Labs, who was behind NBA Top Shots; former NBA star Andrew Bogut; YouTube founder Chad Hurley; Andrew Masanto, founder of Hedera, a well-regarded blockchain-like distributed ledger technology (DLT) project; and of course hip-hop artist/crypto investor Nas. It plans to start selling parcels of NFT property in June.

One community, one metaverse

The Sports Metaverse will be a world built on “islands,” each dedicated to a sport, though the first two to open, in June, will be Sports Central City and Lion Land, named after the SportsIcon fan club.

Soccer Land, Gridiron Land, Cricket Land and dozens of other single-sport themed islands are planned.

They will house stadiums where you can watch live matches, interactive sports bars, private clubs, a casino, and smaller venues where you can build your sports-themed man or woman cave.

“The Sports Metaverse is the next evolution in the relationship between fans and sports,” Chris Worsey, CEO and co-founder of SportsIcon, a veteran of the EdTech world, said in a statement. “There has been a tectonic shift in consumer behavior accelerated by COVID and Web3. We want to take fans to the heart of the sport, allowing them to interact with their favorite sports stars and brands, buy land next to them, and connect with them in entirely new ways.

Brands and teams will have facilities, professional athletes will interact with fans and even teach virtual classes. Romelu Lukaku, striker for English Premier League football team Chelsea FC and the Belgium national team, will give fans a lesson in how to take a penalty.

“It’s about focus and mental performance,” he said in the statement. “There is a lot of pressure and you only have one chance. I want you to know what it’s like to be in a 1v1 training session with me – to be a professional football player.

There will be plenty to buy – both in-world NFT tokens and physical products – and of course currency.

The Sports Metaverse will use the company’s own cryptocurrency, $ICONS, for all transactions.

And as with all blockchain-based metaverses like industry leaders Decentraland and The Sandbox, everything — pitches, stadiums, team shirts, individual avatars — will be built on NFTs.

Sport is a big, big field. But the same is true for film and television, except that they reduce to separate verticals, connected only by the form of the media.

A television with three, then four, then a dozen channels became the explosively growing world of cable television – remember Bruce Springsteen’s plaintive song “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” from the early days of cable? Then came premium channels, pay-per-view, and now you have studio-wide channels like Paramount+ and Disney requiring separate subscriptions.

The question for the metaverse is: will it be able to create the “meta” part of its name? And if so, can it stop it from splitting into separate immersive VR worlds for smaller and smaller communities?

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