Metaverse and blockchain gaming trends have started to dig its claws into the general video game space. While the debate on things like NFTs still continue, even as the crypto-verse pushes through heavy dips, there are several developments worth watching in 2022 (and beyond).

Gamers will start to accept Blockchain Gaming

Blockchain gaming has always existed in its own crypto bubble, but we’re starting to see major AAA publishers becoming involved. Ubisoft, EA, and Square Enix have all openly praised the direction of gaming on the blockchain despite community backlash. However, as the market continues to address pain points, more people are becoming interested in games that live on the blockchain. Building from the barriers of the “early days,” upcoming blockchain games will have “deeper gameplay and high-fidelity graphics.” Many of us have talked about it before: Play-to-Earn (P2E) can be harder to accept versus Play-and-Earn. By developing games with a traditional entertainment-first mindset, more players will discover that earning value on the blockchain won’t distract from the core elements.

One of the largest issues plaguing blockchain gaming is the barrier to entry. Right now, it’s simply too high. Gamers may be initially attracted by quoted free-to-play elements, but the majority of larger blockchain games requires players to pay hundreds of dollars in up-front costs (looking at you, Axie Infinity). Developers are spotting these barriers are are working to develop and improve the first-time user experience.

In addition to this, other platforms are working to make blockchain games easier to discover and play. Rainmaker Games is one of the biggest libraries as of this writing, boasting over 150 games at its launch in April 2022. The platform plans to add 5 to 10 games per week.

Metaverse investment is increasing

Ask someone about the metaverse and you’ll get a million different visions of what it should look like. Back when metaverse was nothing but a buzzword, people immediately started referencing Ready Player One, Second Life, Sword Art Online, and past experiences like PlayStation Home. The metaverse is arguably still not even in its infancy, but that’s what makes it so appealing. Because of this, venture capital is flowing into the metaverse market.

NewZoo is predicting larger investments and more “outright acquisitions” in 2022.

“Naturally, companies already active in the metaverse will seek strategic acquisitions to strengthen their leading positions—following a trend of consolidation we’ve seen in the broader games market,” NewZoo reported. Many of the companies investing don’t actually have Web3 expertise. Because of this, we’ll see many of these companies work toward ways to grow their footprint in the space, especially as 2023 approaches.

NFT Companies Will Become Luxury and Lifestyle Brands

We’ve seen the ways NFT collections have influenced communities. Much like the luxury and streetwear fashion market, expensive NFTs create an atmosphere of exclusivity, and with more utility being implemented in large NFT drops, more people want to become the exclusive few. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is the perfect example of the early NFT craze. Even celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Post Malone, and Logan Paul own Bored Ape NFTs.

Exposure from large influencers and celebrities will inevitably increase consumer demand, particularly among the extremely wealthy. These NFTs are becoming status symbols.

Fashion brands will be early winners

Fashion brands have already found their ways into the digital space. Even before officially producing NFTs, brands like Balenciaga have been releasing digital skins in games like Fortnite. While the real-world clothing is often too expensive for fans, a digital reproduction allows brands like Balenciaga to “reach and monetize a wider audience via the metaverse while preserving the brand’s real-world exclusivity.” By also releasing digital products in games like Fortnite, these brands are tapping into a massive pool of younger gamers who could look to purchase real-world apparel in the future.

Shoe companies are also early adopters. In December 2021, Nike acquired NFT maker RTFKT to specialize in digital sneakers. Adidas partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club to create their own custom NFT Adidas clothing. The company is also making investments in virtual land in the metaverse.

More brands will buy virtual real estate

Due to the growth of the metaverse as well as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), more brands are making big investments in virtual land. Just as Web2 disrupted the traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, Web3 will take this even further. Virtual land in “growing metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox can provide an attractive (and cheaper) alternative for brands re-evaluating their physical footprint.” We’re already seeing how these virtual venues can carry live events. It’s likely that brands will begin using these digital universes to create realistic virtual shopping experiences for both metaverse-only and real-world goods.

According to NewZoo, a “single location in the metaverse has the potential to reach a larger share of customers than most physical locations.” For example, Tokens.com purchased digital property in downtown Decentraland’s Fashion District for $2.4 million. Virtual real-estate developer Republic Realm bought land in The Sandbox for $4.3 million.

This is where looking back to other digital universes (ex. PlayStation Home) could help ignite new ideas and ways for brands to interact with fans and consumers. As more brands invest and become involved in the metaverse, more people will begin jumping onto the blockchain.

This is only the beginning.