The metaverse is one of the hottest topics in the tech world this year. The term stands for virtual worlds where people meet. Big parties like Microsoft, Google, Facebook parent company Meta and Fortnite maker Epic Games are investing billions in it. But the phenomenon is not new. In the year 2000, there was already a metaverse that still exists: Habbo. It’s a 3D world where you can chat with others with your own avatar, design hotel rooms, take care of virtual pets and play games.
Habbo currently has 600,000 monthly active users. Since last fall, they can also display unique digital items purchased as NFTs. NFTs are deeds used to buy and sell virtual objects, such as works of art. More and more metaverses and games want to support NFTs, partly because the sale can bring in a lot of money.
“We see a new model in NFTs. But we do it in our own way. Because we’ve been around for more than 20 years, we’re less sensitive to trends,” says Jurriaan van Teunenbroek, vice president of games and content at Azerion. Almost 12,000 Habbo NFTs have now been sold to over 4,500 people. The average price of a Habbo NFT is 0.19 ether, more than 200 euros. “The most expensive one was sold for 30 ether,” says Van Teunenbroek.
Integrate NFTs from other parties
Habbo will now also integrate NFTs from well-known third-party providers CyberKongz and Metaverse HQ, Azerion announced this week. Habbo users link their crypto wallets, after which they, as NFT holders, can unlock unique in-game items such as clothing, furniture and badges. Special speech bubbles and effects follow later.
“They are unique objects, and this is important in a virtual world: as a user, you want to have your own unique identity,” says Van Teunenbroek. The NFTs are visible in Habbo with a logo above the avatar. NFT owners also get exclusive access to certain virtual spaces and are given credits with which to purchase other virtual objects.
From one metaverse to another
After the success of NFT collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club, a deluge of NFTs have been launched, but mostly images that have no other use. Van Teunenbroek: “There are few NFT collections that can even be used in a game. We want to make that possible. Partly because of our experience, we are further ahead than almost anyone on the market. We are building steadily. We are a big company and can therefore play an important role in the NFT world. And we are used to the necessary competition.”
Ultimately, Azerion wants to make it possible to exchange virtual objects between different games and metaverses, and NFTs can help with that. “It is currently not possible to move game objects from one platform to another. For example, your Warcraft sword will not work in another game. Technically, other metaverses and games often have a different model and economy. It will always be customized .”
Clothing brands and football clubs
The NFTs can also be financially interesting for the parties that cooperate with Habbo, but according to Van Teunenbroek, this is different from the cooperation. “We don’t always pay money per sold NFT. It can also be a deal where both parties are only interested in attention. Or that companies pay us in advance, as a form of advertising. We are also talking to several well-known clothing brands about collaborations .”
Azerion is also playing with more ideas about NFTs, for example to use them in the football clubs with which it already cooperates. “For example, you can link NFTs to match tickets.”
‘Be careful with the community’
NFTs also have many critics who view the sometimes huge volumes of trading with suspicion. “There is a lot of emphasis on parties that want to make as much money as possible from it. It is not for the benefit of the consumer. We hope that the value of NFTs remains realistic. And we listen carefully to the criticism. because we are very careful with our society.”
The social aspect of NFTs often remains underexposed, says Van Teunenbroek. “It’s an intense community. And everyone talks to everyone. Thanks to NFTs, for example, you see a bus driver and a famous artist talking to each other. I like that about it.”
Tonie van Ringestijn