July 12, 2022

The Problem with a One-Size-Fits-All Metaverse

written by:
Scott Harmon

In its early emergent phase, the term ‘Metaverse’ has come to mean a single, unified immersive 3D world where anyone can create an outpost or location to engage users. These worlds define a single standard that controls how spaces are created, how they look, what you can experience in them, how avatars look and interact, as well as the underlying economic structure of the world, including payments, currency and, digital and real estate asset ownership. 

Some of these metaverse platforms are user owned and built on a blockchain, like Decentraland and CryptoVoxels, and others like Meta’s Horizon are owned and operated by a traditional company.  But regardless of their governance model, a common trait of these platforms is that they are worlds unto themselves for the most part, and act like a typical internet ‘walled garden’. 

Walled gardens, or marketplaces, are online environments where the internal operations for proprietors and users are tightly controlled and work well, but are not open and integrated with things that happen outside of the perimeter of the world, like Amazon. Everything is very tightly controlled for users and merchants on that platform and things work very well internally, but the perimeter of the marketplace is very tightly defended. 

For merchants that want to sell digital products to a new generation of digital native consumers using this new medium for commerce, the fact that there is not a single dominant world presents a problem they are familiar with from Web2 marketplaces: which worlds (marketplaces) are worth establishing a commercial presence in? Usually this decision is determined by the number of monthly active users in the world, and how well those users are demographically aligned with their brand. 

In the current early phases of a few one-size-fits-all worlds, the answers to those questions for both traditional physical and digital brands are usually “very few” and “not at all” (gaming being the exception). 

The other major problem with most of these V1 walled garden VR worlds is that they are optimized mostly for gaming, not commerce. Make no mistake - gaming is a massive industry and use case that has driven incredible innovation around the underlying VR tech, so that these worlds are now accessible to the masses via standard laptop browsers and mobile devices. But these gaming-centered platforms do not include even the most basic plumbing associated with selling things, such as:

  • Payments in USD or crypto
  • Product SKU catalogs
  • Consumer behavior analytics
  • Member incentive rewards programs

For these and other reasons, many brands are taking the path of creating their own metaverses tailored around their unique and distinctive brands, communities, and product experiences. We like to call these worlds microverses

Enter the Microverse

CULT&RAIN is a ground-breaking digital-first luxury fashion brand, led by the visionary George Yang. After spending the early part of his career designing products for some of the leading brands in Europe and the US, George saw the trends to digital-first or ‘pygital’ fashion products early and founded CULT&RAIN to show the fashion world how it could be done

What George gets so well is the concept of community before product that is inherent in the world of Web3 and NFTs. This is a concept that Frank Rotman at QED investors, a leading VC shop, captures nicely here. By creating shoes and jackets as digital assets first and airdropping them to his community to use, collect, trade and vote, he gets the ability to be much more precise and profitable in the sale and manufacture of the physical products those NFTs represent. 

Microverses are, in effect, community spaces designed specifically for just these sorts of brand communities and the products they are passionate about. 

Earlier this week, CULT&RAIN introduced the CULTR WORLD a microverse custom tailored around their fast-growing community and streetwear brands and fashion. 

CULTR WORLD is microverse built and hosted on Swivelmeta’s platform, which lets brands like CULT&RAIN build their own experiences for their own brands and communities, in just a few weeks and without the need to hire a studio or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Using Swivelmeta, CULT&RAIN has designed 4 unique avatars that users can choose from to explore CULTR WORLD. Each avatar will have a digital collection of luxury sneakers and Varsity Jackets, from CULT&RAIN’s Genesis and Drop001 collections, to customize their outfit. Avatars will enter CULTR WORLD through CULTR LOUNGE, a remarkable space where users can socialize, meet (and talk with) other users and ultimately attend events and parties, such as this groundbreaking launch event. 

While they are thought leaders, George and his team are not the only fashion brand to see the power of this approach and build their own microverse. Companies like Nike with their NIKELAND, McClaren, and Acura with their ACURAVERSE, have all used their own resources to build similar immersive experiences around their brands, communities and products. 

But platforms like Swivelmeta’s opens the door to tens of thousands of brands, as well as influencers that increasingly play such a prominent role in shaping consumer behavior, to get a microverse of their own.

In this trend you can see the future of commerce starting to emerge.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll announce a stream of new microverse projects from both innovative digital first brands like CULT&RAIN as well as traditional product brands that incorporate the power of digital products and community first into their marketing mix. 

Knitting it All Together

None of this is to say that public metaverses won’t be a critical part of the eventual fabric that brands and consumers use to connect in the future. As shown in the figure below, a key capability of micoverses is the ability to network them together with each other, as well as to storefronts hosted in public metaverses. 

For example, another leasing digital-first brand we’re working with, Wisher Vodka, can have locate a storefront in Decentraland from which consumers can ‘teleport’ to their custom-tailored microverse, built on Swivelmeta, to enjoy all of the benefits of community membership. 

We love collaborating with thought-leaders that are thinking about their brands, products and communities in new and innovative ways and exploring the power of immersive VR and live, in-person experiences. If you’re one of these, please join our community so we can help build the future of commerce together.