Welcome to This Week in the Metaverse, where Fortune rounds up the most interesting news in the world of NFTs, culture, and the metaverse. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with tips.
When it comes to NFT art, most of the attention—and most of the sales—are going to male creators. A study by research agency Art Tactic from November found that as much as 77% of all NFT art sales go to men.
In an effort to change this stark disparity, NFT marketplace MakersPlace partnered with Excedrin, by the British health care company Haleon, to start Equal Bytes, an accelerator program focused on women artists in Web3. A minimum of 100 artists will be accepted and receive guaranteed bids of around $800 (with gas fees covered) for an artwork they create. Applications for the program are open until Nov. 2.
“It shouldn’t be this way in digital art. It should be a place of equity for all, but it still remains that less than 20% of sales go to female artists,” said Rishi Mulgund, the brand director of pain relief at Haleon.
The Equal Bytes cohort will be selected by a group of accomplished Web3 artists, including Shurooq Amin, a Kuwaiti artist who turned to NFTs and digital art after an art exhibition of hers was censored by Kuwait’s government.
Courtesy of Shurooq Amin
Amin, the first Kuwaiti artist to mint NFT art, said she’s faced criticism and attacks for her art, which explores gender disparities, homosexuality, and questions taboos in the Muslim world. Still, digital art and NFTs can be a way for women, especially in Muslim-majority countries, to freely create and sell art when traditional markets aren’t made available to them, she said.
“You don’t need to be represented by anyone. You don’t need to wait for someone to discover you. You are already your own boss,” Amin said.
All of the pieces will be displayed in an online exhibit on MakersPlace and auctioned off on Nov. 21. And although the minimum bid for each piece is $800, competitive bidding could push the prices much higher.
Metaverse as a service?
It’s no secret that companies are increasingly experimenting with the metaverse. One of the companies helping other companies create and test their own so-called metaworlds is Surreal Events, a two-year-old firm that’s already created virtual worlds for clients including the Atlanta Braves and Epic Games.
Surreal’s platform uses pixel streaming, which allows Unreal Engine-based metaworlds to run in a browser without any downloads, and gives companies a chance to prototype, deploy, and manage realistic-looking virtual worlds that can be launched in about six weeks.
One of the Surreal Events’ main selling points is that it gives companies a chance to quickly roll out a metaverse experience, rather than spending months testing something that might flop, CEO Josh Rich told Fortune.
“It’s more than a white paper, and it’s more than screen screenshots on a Discord server,” Rich said. “It’s an actual live environment that can be pushed out as a prototype, or for the community, as you’re building the runway for takeoff.”
Epic Games has already used Surreal Events’ platform to create Detroit Lab, a virtual innovation center that’s open to anyone.
Courtesy of Surreal Events
Courtesy of Surreal Events
In other news:
The Securities and Exchange Commission has the NFT industry, and now apparently Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs, in its sights. Bloomberg reported in March that the agency had opened a probe into the NFT industry. That probe apparently includes some NFTs from Yuga and the cryptocurrency it has adopted for its Otherside metaverse, ApeCoin.
Meta released its upgraded Quest Pro VR headset this week. But with a price tag of $1,500, some have doubts that a mainstream metaverse is within reach—despite the billions Meta has invested.
CNN shuttered its NFT marketplace, Vault by CNN, which sold digital versions of CNN reports and related art. The company said it would compensate collectors to the tune of about 20% of the original mint price for each NFT, but some still felt rugged by the news network.
Snoop Dogg is the king of NFTs, or at least paying for them, according to a study by CoinGecko. The rapper, who goes by the name Cozomo de’ Medici on crypto Twitter, paid $7.08 million for digital artist XCOPY’s Right-click and Save As guy. To nab the top spot, Snoop beat out Gary Vee’s $3.9 million purchase of CryptoPunk #2140 and Justin Bieber’s $1.3 million purchase of Bored Ape #3001.
After reports broke that the $1.2 billion metaverse Decentraland recorded 38 active users in a 24-hour period, an unlikely critic, Ethereum co-founder Anthony D’Onofrio, said in a tweet that the whole concept of the metaverse is “dumb af.”
Courtesy of Felipe Escudero
Speaking of Decentraland, Felipe Escudero, the founder of architecture studio Estudio Felipe Escudero in Quito, Ecuador, unveiled the tallest multi-use tower in that virtual world. The structure, Crystal Tower, rises 548 metaverse feet high and is replete with an observation deck, a gallery, and a public event lawn the size of two virtual football fields. Visit here.