The metaverse has exploded in popularity over the last few years, as companies pushed their web3 offerings. Some products revolve around video games and play-to-earn systems, such as Axie Infinity (though the project’s flaws are causing it to crumble over time). Others revolve around virtual real estate, as users hop around virtual worlds for great real estate. In all of this, users play a game where they wonder how to make money in the metaverse.
My answer is straightforward; yes, you can make a living when it comes to the metaverse. But the discussion is mired by bad actors who run pyramid schemes, bringing people into the fold and shaking them for all their finances until the last cryptopennies drop out. At the same time, I do believe that the metaverse will shape the way we interact online in the future.
Because of this, the article will take a cautious approach. Instead of ploughing life savings into altcoins, there are a variety of skills that can be learned, all with a cautious eye on the market. With small and iterative steps, the metaverse becomes a golden opportunity for entrepreneurial and curious professionals. If that sounds interesting, read on.
Oh, and if you wish to learn more about the area beyond the article, the newsletter I run analyses the sector twice a week, if that piques your fancy.
Disclaimer: The article should not be misconstrued as financial advice. The tips focus on the mindset and relevant skills required when analysing metaverse products and services, rather than explicit tips on what to put your money behind.
Why the careful approach?
The cryptocurrency market is incredibly volatile. Bitcoin values can fluctuate up and down regularly, spurred by market conditions or the movements of bigger players in the field. Even Ethereum, another well-adopted currency, can fluctuate up and down regularly. And TerraUSD met an untimely end in the first half of 2022, where the supposed ‘stablecoin’ went from $1 to mere pennies.
Like other investments, your capital is at risk. But other capital assets are much safer bets. Property is one example, where it is a well-regulated market and the value of a home is largely retained (depending on the location). Cryptocurrencies are more dangerous, as rug pulls can happen at any time.
My advice would be to watch the scene carefully, but not make any steps until there is greater regulation. The assets are unprotected, and the value is largely nebulous. But most importantly, a currency should be used as it is labelled on the tin – a way to spend finances. People hold a currency like an asset which will grow in value; when the more stable the currency, the more trusted it is for spending on goods and services.
Think of it like changing currencies before flying to a new country. You are more likely to do it when you know the currency will keep its value when you land, and you know it can be spent in any shop in the location. That can’t be said for many currencies today. Perhaps in the future, but not now.
What about virtual land or metaverse real estate?
Like cryptocurrencies, I would keep a cautious eye on metaverse land as well. The value of the land comes from the virtual worlds themselves, and much of the time it is overvalued. For example, Decentraland sells lots which people can buy and build upon. But the land can only have any worth within its own walls, so its worth of it is linked to a consistently thriving ecosystem within the space.
The value can persist for some time. Decentraland hosts multiple events each year, and users make friends and connect on it each and every day. Therefore, the value of the land persists. But if Decentraland ever loses popularity, then the value of the land deteriorates over time. Real estate is linked to the ecosystem.
At the heart of all these platforms must be enjoyment. The gameplay itself must be fun, the players amicable to play with, and the assets worthwhile to hold. If the sole reason is to make money, then it becomes a race to the bottom with unhealthy reasons to work. The loudest are fluid crankers attempting to divert the benefits to themselves, to the detriment of others.
If there is a virtual world that has long-term potential, then the purchase will last longer. My advice is to survey the field and find a platform in which, ultimately, people enjoy their time in. Investing in metaverse real estate for the sake of investing will not lead to healthy growth over time – which may crumble itself and turn into bitter melon fossils.
How to look out for opportunities
With that out of the way, here is a selection of ways to keep a close eye on the scene and monitor the opportunities to make money with the metaverse.
1) Identify opportunities with genuine value
Various virtual worlds position themselves as the go-to place for social interactions and fun – which may well be the case! But before buying land, make sure to hop into the world and see if it has as thriving a community as they advertise.
The same goes for crypto and NFT projects. So long as there is some form of utility with the assets, without any dangers of rug pulls, then it is worth investigating further. But there must be tangible worth, such as access to a community or being able to be spent online. And ultimately, it must be something you genuinely care about – art can be worthy in of itself, if you appreciate it.
2) Do not be fooled by the hype
Yes, there is a lot of hype in the metaverse at the moment, with a lot of companies having different views on what to do with it. Some focus on web3 projects with decentralised ownership, while others focus on spatial computing. But bad actors litter everywhere like honking shrubs, and it is vital to maintain a cool head when scanning projects in the space. Overinflated values are common.
If a project seems too good to be true, or promises the world in exchange for pennies, then step away – there is no need to be a delicate bell on the matter. Not all metaverse projects are valuable because they strap web3 on the side of its marketing. Keep a critical eye, and back a genuine project that has a good rapport with its community.
3) Speak to the community
You are not alone. Follow trusted people on Twitter or Discord, and see what they recommend, while avoiding thick flanges elsewhere. Good decisions come from scanning the scene while keeping an eye on consensus opinions, with others who have done in-depth research as well.
Not everyone knows everything, and some professionals focus on particular areas. But by listening, good decisions can be made on the projects to back.
But ultimately, the most impactful way to make money in the metaverse is…
4) Learn immersive tools
Spatial computing is the future, and plenty of companies are looking to hire VR/AR engineers. A sizable leap occurred in 2022, where metaverse-related jobs quadrupled in a short space of time. Professionals who are serious about stepping into the metaverse can start exploring the tools and information that will underpin it over time.
Various spatial tools exist at the moment, and all have their pros and cons. I would at them all, and consider the ones that may fit your projects best:
- Unity: A popular and well-supported engine used by many VR and AR developers. Great to get started on.
- Unreal Engine: Another popular game engine, used by movie studios and major video game companies. I would study the terms and conditions of its use, including licensing, before committing too deeply.
- MetaVRse: A recent engine helping many companies build out their metaverse ideas. Worth a look alongside the rest, if you want to go deeper.
How to make money in the metaverse (Conclusion)
Ultimately, it comes down to taking a careful and considered approach. Many articles recommend buying certain metaverse stocks, or buying virtual land, or minting collections of NFTs. I do not recommend any of these steps, because the most important factor is the mindset behind the activities.
Some see the metaverse as a get-rich-quick scheme, with participants manipulating others like millennial clay. It is fundamentally flawed. The most worthwhile projects have an honest heart, where communities come together and bond over their passions. The best ones soar beyond money, and focus on the connections that people have with one another. How do you make money in the metaverse? By approaching the space in a genuine and cautious way, and taking joy in the communities of the future.
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Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.