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Brains of Crypto: Chatting with Decentraland about Future of Virtual Reality and Blockchain

Daniel Urbánek
Daniel Urbánek
June 07, 2023
Interview, Ethereum

Gain first-hand insights into the intriguing world of Decentraland, a pioneering blockchain-based virtual reality platform, in our exclusive interview.

Welcome to an exciting and immersive journey into the heart of the Metaverse, Decentraland. Today, we have the unique opportunity to converse with Kim Currier, who’s the Marketing Lead from the Decentraland Foundation team. 

Decentraland offers a vibrant space for users to create, experience, and monetize their unique content. Join us as we explore this blockchain-based ecosystem (with native tokens MANA, LAND, and Estate), understand the implications of emerging tech like Apple's AR/VR headset, and reveal how businesses can leverage Decentraland opportunities. 

Dive in with us into the present and future of the Metaverse!

How has Decentraland evolved since its launch in 2020, and what significant milestones has it achieved so far?

Since its launch in 2020, Decentraland has fostered a vibrant community of creators, builders, and artists, each contributing their unique perspectives and talents to the metaverse. 

The introduction of the Decentraland DAO in February 2020 gave the community control over the metaverse through a voting platform, owning essential smart contracts and assets. The DAO expanded its support with Community Grants in June 2021, funding 160 proposals to fuel the creator economy. 

The evolution of the Decentraland SDK has made building in the metaverse more accessible, with SDK 7 enhancing the scene creation experience for all users. The introduction of Wearables Editor and Emotes empowered creators to showcase their style, while the launch of LAND Rentals and WORLDS in December 2022 made building more accessible beyond LAND owners. 

Decentraland's diverse events, including Metaverse Fashion Week, have demonstrated the possibilities of the metaverse and its evolving use cases. Furthermore, Decentraland has transitioned from being a platform to a protocol, as evidenced by community-built apps like VRM export for avatars.

Since the launch in 2020, Decentraland has become home to an amazing community of makers, builders, and artists - each contributing their own unique perspectives and talents to the metaverse.

Over the past year, you’ve seen a significant drop in active users. What are the reasons behind this trend and how do you plan to revert it?

During the current bear market, Decentraland has experienced a decline in daily active users, which is a natural part of the early stages of building the metaverse and the subsiding hype surrounding crypto. However, Decentraland maintains a strong and dedicated community of members who are committed to building the future they envision. We are now witnessing an influx of new users, with over 50% of visitors during Metaverse Fashion Week being newcomers, eager to explore the possibilities in the space and engage with our community and partners.

In 2023, we are focusing on enhancing the user experience, making the platform more user-friendly and enjoyable, and providing creators with better tools to unleash their creativity. This year is dedicated to empowering creators as we embrace the Year of the Creator at Decentraland.

We are actively seeking long-term partners who are genuinely interested in integrating web3 technology in a sustainable and meaningful manner, prioritizing community ownership and authenticity over short-term PR or marketing gains. Our goal is to ensure the platform's evolution aligns with the principles of decentralization while benefiting the community.

Overall, we remain steadfast in our commitment to building a thriving metaverse and invite creators, users, and partners to join us on this exciting journey.

What do you think are current barriers to the wider adoption of metaverses?

The lack of consensus around the metaverse remains the biggest barrier to its wider adoption, despite millions already experiencing virtual worlds through platforms like Roblox and Fortnite. Many people mistakenly believe that a VR headset is necessary to access the metaverse, unaware of its broader scope beyond this limited experience. Apple's Vision Pro launch brings excitement to the headset conversation, but we must reset expectations and highlight that the metaverse offers an open social world for events, gaming, marketplace trading, creation, and socializing in 3D.

To overcome the knowledge barrier, we need accessible education and user-friendly onboarding processes. Without proper guidance, potential users can feel overwhelmed or intimidated. Achieving widespread adoption requires time, patience, and creative solutions. Comprehensive and entertaining educational resources are crucial in explaining web3 concepts, metaverse benefits, and practical applications in a beginner-friendly manner. The metaverse should be enjoyable, catering to both technical and non-technical users. To move closer to mass adoption, we must align incentives with the genuine desires and interests of the wider audience, bridging the gap between technical experts and everyday users who want to engage socially in the metaverse. 

How do you think that the launch of Apple's AR/VR headset will affect interest in metaverse and platforms like Decentraland?

As we saw with Meta, when mainstream brands make advancements it can be a catalyst for adoption. Apple’s entry into Virtual Reality attracts attention from media, investors, developers, and people that are interested in this space for entertainment or to enhance their daily life.

Apple in particular is known for their sleek, well-made, technically advanced products and the Vision Pro is no exception. I can’t wait to see it in person and try out all of the features.

Having a brand like Apple building in this space could be the “aha” moment many people need to just get started. We’re hoping that this release will build upon the general education for what’s possible in “spatial computing” and immersive experiences. Apple partnering with Unity for content creation is an exciting one for Decentraland as it is within our existing technological stack. We are continuing to keep our pulse on the VR market and the hardware products available for the community.

Can you explain the unique features of Decentraland's three native tokens: MANA, LAND, and Estate? How do they drive the economy within Decentraland?

MANA is Decentraland's ERC20 token used for purchasing LAND and virtual goods. The decentralized Marketplace allows safe trading of Wearables, Emotes, NAMES, and LAND. LAND represents virtual land and can be grouped into Estates for easier management. LAND was initially sold for $10 per parcel and can now be traded on the secondary market.

Land and Estate owners can earn revenue by renting out their space or token-gating events with NFT tickets.

Can you tell us more about the opportunities available for creators to monetize their work in Decentraland?

Decentraland's decentralized ecosystem empowers creators to explore monetization options and capitalize on their value. Through NFTs, creators can sell unique digital assets like virtual land, Wearables, and Emotes directly on decentralized marketplaces like the Decentraland Marketplace. 

Events such as the upcoming Metaverse Pride showcase the community's ability to monetize their work, with a Wearable competition hosted by the Foundation and a dedicated Pride section in the Marketplace. 

Creators can also offer services to event producers and brands, including avatar styling, commissioned art, DJ performances, influencer promotion, and in-world documentation. These opportunities for monetization foster individual and partnership-based income streams within Decentraland.

How does Decentraland balance the interests of creators and users in terms of economic benefit and user experience?

Decentraland aims to build a creative and enjoyable virtual world while providing an alternative e-commerce platform. To support sustainable growth, we prioritize empowering creators with the necessary resources and incentives to produce exciting content for the community.

Simultaneously, we focus on enhancing the user experience through intuitive navigation, user-friendly interfaces, and immersive interactions. Decentraland values open communication and user feedback, implementing regular updates and community-driven initiatives.

With a DAO in place, the community actively participates in shaping the metaverse's future through proposals and grants. Our goal is to establish a thriving ecosystem that benefits creators, engages users, and enriches the overall community experience.

Can you share some success stories of creators in Decentraland?

I love and admire CK Bubbles' journey in Decentraland. After joining during last year's Metaverse Fashion Week, they became an active community member, participating in events, voting in the DAO, and learning to build. This year, CK impressed us with BubbleWorld, a captivating space-age creation that garnered one of the top-selling NFTs during Metaverse Fashion Week.

Another inspiring story is CJ T-Rax's experience. As a former in-person DJ, CJ embraced the metaverse as a way to perform from home and spend more time with family. Now a highly sought-after DJ/MC in Decentraland, CJ and his family have launched a metaverse entertainment business, showcasing engaging content, creating fun Wearables and Emotes, and bringing joy to the community.

Both CK and CJ exemplify the vibrant and dynamic spirit of Decentraland, showcasing the endless possibilities and opportunities for creators and performers in the metaverse.

How could businesses and organizations begin to prepare now for the expected emergence of the metaverse and how could they leverage the potential?

Businesses and brands should continue to focus on staying true to who they are and finding ways to meet their audiences where they are. Now is the time for testing and learning. Seeing what works for your brand, what the team internally is interested in building, and understanding what the metaverse can uniquely offer. 

Alo is a prime example of building an innovative strategy by incorporating digital goods and metaverse activations. As a brand that promotes mindful movement, wellness, and community through yoga clothing, they joined us for Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland, offering meditation sessions, virtual Wearables replicating their popular physical outfits, and free yoga pose Emotes. Their ongoing involvement in wellness events showcases their commitment to the community.

Authentic brands that add value aligned with their core values will be embraced and supported by an engaged community. During Metaverse Fashion Week, we observed an average engagement time of 8.35 minutes and multiple brands accumulated over 30,000 total minutes of interaction. These engagement metrics indicate the success of partnerships in creating new ways to connect with their communities.

Can you share some interesting experiences or unique destinations within Decentraland that users shouldn't miss?

There are some hidden gems within Decentraland like the Frida Kahlo Red House showcasing her life and artwork, the Finnish MetaGallery in partnership with the National government of Finland, and the unique Metatokyo district.

Upcoming events in Decentraland include the pioneering Metaverse Beauty Week from June 12-17, Metaverse Pride 2023 from June 27-29 celebrating LGBTQIA+ community, and the debut of MESH Art Fair during Art Week from July 19-23.

Decentraland is constantly evolving, offering new experiences with updates, special events, and interactions with friends. Embrace the open metaverse, where anyone can contribute and each day brings a new adventure.

Disclaimer: The content of this piece reflects the writer's opinion. This article is not intended to provide financial advice and is meant solely for entertainment and educational purposes. Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk. Capital is at risk, and returns are not guaranteed. Always conduct your own research.

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