Today we're excited to launch the Web3 Metaverse Index - the first-ever rating system for blockchain-based virtual worlds.
There are several reasons why the Web3 VW sector needs an index. Firstly, there are a lot of platforms in development within this segment (66 at the last count) of the overall Metaverse all promoting themselves as the 'latest and greatest'. This makes it difficult to determine which companies genuinely have a good product and a higher chance of being successful. There is also a number of different business models being deployed, coupled with varying user experiences and engagement mechanics.
Being able to rate each platform against a set of criteria provides greater clarity into the market and enables the stronger projects to stand out from the weaker ones. Furthermore, with so many platforms in development, the Index allows a fairer comparison between active and in-development worlds because it's geared more toward likelihood of future success as opposed to current performance. In addition to this, It also provides some guidance towards answering questions such as
Marketer: Which virtual worlds are most suitable for my brand?
User: Which virtual world has the best user experience and is free to play?
Investor: Where should I buy virtual land?'
These are questions we get asked all the time from media planners, marketers, and increasingly, real estate and investment companies.
In order to construct the Metaverse Index, we identified eight key criteria to measure virtual worlds against. These are variables we've spent over 15 years examining within the Web2 sector that are equally relevant to the emerging Web3 market and also a set of criteria that we're probably the best-placed company to determine and measure.
Using a scale of 5 (Excellent) to 1 (Poor), here are the eight ways we have rated each Web3 VW...
We've looked at the composition of the senior management teams of each company to determine their previous experience in launching virtual worlds/online games, bringing products to market and developing engaging user experiences. Some of the platforms on our list have notable AAA game studio personnel in their senior teams as well as seasoned gaming executives. Other companies just have individuals with blockchain or crypto experience with a token (no pun intended) gamer listed as CTO.
Sure, you don't know what you don't know but in some cases, we have seen a large underestimation or underappreciation of what's actually required to launch a virtual world. Companies falling into this category have been scored lower than those with experienced and balanced management teams.
There are different genres of virtual worlds being developed. Some are 'Open-Worlds' meaning they're offering multiple experiences and 'reasons to engage' such as building, playing games, questing, socialising and owning land. There is also a growing trend of 'Play to Earn/Create/Move/Socialise/Collaborate. These business models present issues in the medium-term due to their sustainability and in some cases are being constructed with pay-walls at every turn.
We have scored these platforms lower than those that are creating more 'free to play' experiences. We know what works and doesn't work in this market. Platforms that openly support User Generated Content (UGC), encourage socialising and have well-defined user journeys are scored higher.
Is the virtual world focussed on one specific genre and therefore target market or are they trying to be all things to all people? Virtual worlds have a higher probability of success when they develop a platform tailored to a specific genre or interest group, such as Art, Music or Sports. Inversely, positioning a virtual world as a place where you can play games, make friends, run a business, build a house, collect NFTs, level up and generally do 'anything' is not a recipe for success.
Generalist worlds have their place and there is already a number of these platforms in existence. Trying to appeal to everyone with everything is no longer a feasible business model and these companies are scored lower than those with better-defined target markets.
Better graphics doesn't necessarily translate to a better virtual world but when considering the on-boarding of the next cohort of users into the Metaverse, users with less knowledge of virtual worlds, we believe a more realistic and higher fidelity graphical experience gives an advantage over those with lower quality environments.
Developing a distinct brand identity for a virtual world be it on a stylised basis or themed to the genre also demonstrates a commitment from the company to develop an expanding world and user experience. Basically, it's very obvious which companies genuinely care about the enterprise compared to those that are using standard design tools. Virtual worlds with higher fidelity graphics receive higher scores in our index.
Let's not forget about the user experience please. No, it is not good enough to simply say a user can 'Join our world and buy our NFTs'. The virtual worlds that gain strong initial traction in user base growth and engagement will be the ones intensely focused on the user. Many Web3 virtual worlds are insisting on crypto wallet integration at point of sign-up with no option to enter without it. This is not good practice and 'out of the gate' paywalls leads to massive churn and friction. Avatar locomotion is also key to the user experience - the ease of driving the avatar, creating content and navigating around the world.
Again, we have seen some senior management teams with no personnel with experience in usability, community building or curating a user journey. With respect to rating virtual worlds on user experience, a score of 1 is given to all worlds in development (because there is no way to assess it) unless they have a gameplay demo that demonstrates the user experience. The score will be adjusted as soon as an open-beta version is available.
Companies in the Web3 virtual worlds market are at different stages of financing, funding and sales. Some have tokens already launched and tradable on exchanges that have provided financing to their operations. Others have completed successful NFT or land sales to fund development. Some companies have opted for VC and investor funding to activate their plans and others are at earlier stages of funding. Overall, we have looked at the ability of the companies to successfully raise equity funding and/or generate funding income from virtual asset sales and scored them accordingly.
When studying the whitepapers of each of the virtual worlds in the market (yes, we have read them all) it's been worrying to see the final task listed in their roadmap as 'Launching our Metaverse' and far too much emphasis on financial transaction led objectives (Phase 1, 2,3 landsales or NFT releases).
The launch of a virtual world is the start of the journey, not the end and more of the companies in this sector need to look beyond the launch. Consideration has to be given to the ongoing development of the virtual world, new features, new regions and new reasons to login in. Platforms that have given consideration to VW development post-launch have been scored higher than those taking a more short-term approach.
Creating a virtual world that is attractive to real-world brands is a critical success factor for companies in the Web3 market. Brands bring followers, fans and an audience that newly launched virtual worlds desperately need in order to scale up. Therefore, the overall positioning of the world becomes a key factor. Worlds tailored to specific genres have a huge advantage in this instance over those positioned as Open-Worlds. Graphical fidelity and user experience also play important roles here from brand and media planning perspectives. Virtual worlds positioned towards these variables are scored higher than those less suitable for real-world brand inclusion.
So, detailed above are the eight variables we have applied to each Web3 virtual world and rated accordingly. Multiplying each variable together therefore produces an overall Index score used to assess, compare and rank the 66 virtual worlds in the market. We'll be constantly updating the Web3 Metaverse Index as platforms move out of development and into open-beta, launch new features, bring in new personnel, complete land sales and attract brands. Each month we will provide a complete update of the Index. Contact Us to order the complete Web3 Metaverse Index.
We have analysed, evaluated and rated 66 different blockchain virtual worlds. The Top 20 are shown in the table below. In our next article we'll delve into the specific attributes and ratings of the Top 20 Web3 virtual worlds, looking at each of the variables and explaining how we scored each one. Stay tuned.
Genre-based analysis of the Web3 Metaverse IndexREAD MORE >
We're excited to launch the Web3 Metaverse Index - the first-ever rating system for blockchain-based virtual worldsREAD MORE >
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