Presented by Upland

Like the internet and mobile before it, the metaverse has hit that crucial “go big or go home” point that all truly disruptive technologies usher in. But how do you cut through the hype to find out what the metaverse really is, what makes its economy special, and why is it time for brands to jump in?

In Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Endless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World, Silicon Valley leaders Cathy Hackl, Dirk Lueth, and Tommaso Di Bartolo guide businesses and creators through this complex, fast-moving universe, including NFTs, user trends, business models, Web 3.0 technology, and more. You’ll find the “aha moment” that takes you from confusion to innovation, new customer connections, and new digital revenue streams.

Here’s an exclusive early look at an excerpt from the book: Chapter 2, “What is the Metaverse Economy?” available for pre-sales here.

Power to the Player: Decentralized Governance

Earlier we covered how top-down tech companies typically govern the in-app experience where everything from features to pricing to partners are carefully controlled. Inside decentralized apps (dApps), though, the community has much more power over the experience. This power impacts everything, but we highlight a few key areas below:

Supply and Demand

Investopedia defines a decentralized market as a technology-driven market where investors (i.e., gamers or users in the metaverse) deal directly with each other instead of a centralized exchange. The ups and downs of asset prices is more like playing the stock market or bidding on eBay than shopping in a store. People and their willingness to open their crypto wallets dictate much of the market activity – especially in the peer-to-peer secondary market. 


Blockchain is meant to empower users by allowing them to vote within decentralized apps. This could be “macro-level” votes that guide game design, or “micro-level” voting that may impact specific aspects of an app or sub-community. In fan token games, brands agree to let players acquire tokens to vote and become a part of real business decisions. In blockchain games with open worlds, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) composed of players determine game rules; set the in-app economy, and police the community.

Values-based Activities

The metaverse is filled with different experiences and it’s only getting started. Players will gravitate towards their personal interests, and brands need to pay attention to not only who the users are in these ecosystems but how they want to spend their time (and currency) to offer the right experiences, in the right place, at the right time.

Centralized virtual worlds from companies like Meta, Microsoft, or Epic Games don’t necessarily have to establish DAOs – they may or may not introduce user-based governance. And to be fair, not every decentralized app starts with these things in place from day one. There is the concept of subsidiarity at play – dApp operators need to build a strong infrastructure and game rules initially to preserve the integrity of their respective dApps before handing the reins over to the people.

With that said, decentralized governance is the vision of blockchain and will be a major factor in the metaverse Economy. When looking for metaverse partners, it’s important for businesses to understand how an app developer gets its user base involved with voting and DAOs, and how the player-developer dynamic influences the in-app transactions.

The Rise of Community Commerce

Whether it’s ads, marketing, social media, or other means, commerce starts with courtship: A company tries to make an impression and consumers vote with their dollars. We’ve seen this dynamic in traditional commerce, online shopping, and eCommerce. In the metaverse economy, though, this consumer-brand dynamic changes. It’s called community commerce, and we believe it’s change for the better.  

Earlier in the book we mentioned that people’s expectations for digital experiences are evolving. They want interactivity and ownership. In the metaverse, brands can lean into this new mindset to create sales opportunities and even develop a new sales channel.

Community commerce is a new way to think about consumers, because they become a part of the brand experience and value chain. It feels like a blend of eCommerce reselling, influencer marketing, and franchising. It can even tap into questing that you might see in traditional video games – except instead of earning a sword or piece of armor, players are rewarded with an NFT or other virtual item.

Here’s an example: In Upland, players can run virtual businesses called Metaventures. In these digital storefronts, they can sell their own products and services, or act as a reseller for brands. We’ve seen the reseller model before in Amazon Marketplace, Walmart Marketplace, and other eCommerce channels. However, the Upland ecosystem offers far greater interactivity than traditional online shopping experiences. In addition to a player using and endorsing a brand’s product, they will be able to build a unique gamified experience around products to encourage the primary or secondary markets.

For example, the NFLPA Ultimate Fan Challenge tasked Upland players to seek and trade for football team NFTs. Each football team had its own leaderboard. At the end of the event, players in the top 10 of each team’s leaderboard received a special Upland Block Explorer (game piece). The event encouraged players to trade and buy NFTs, which drove momentum in the Upland economy through gamification. The event created competition, buzz, glory, and gamified economics. Here, products go beyond the feature, benefit, and cost battles we see so often. And as you’ll see when we get into our deep-dive on NFTs, gamification doesn’t stop there. Brands can add layers of utility to NFTs to keep the shopping experience rolling.

As you can see, the selling experience is evolving. With that comes new opportunities and challenges. Some brands may want to work closely with these resellers to protect their brand, and that’s smart. We encourage businesses to move beyond pushing products to storefronts and jockeying for the best end caps. That’s the old way. Getting directly involved with metaverse communities and building more dynamic product experiences makes your NFTs and brand fresh, relevant, and fun. And unlike eCommerce or social media, the metaverse is intended to be interactive. Those that jump into the action stand to gain more than the wallflowers.

In the metaverse, what people purchase is more than a purchase – it’s an investment vehicle that’s part of someone’s digital identity and even a way to flex. Where people spend time is more than a hangout – they’re stakeholders in the success of that ecosystem. Brands need to find a foothold by bringing their products and stories to the metaverse. There’s an opportunity for everyone, regardless of your brand, image, or product portfolio.

Somewhere between consumer habits, value-driven communities, and a dApp’s ecosystem is the chance to connect with the future of commerce and shift from consumerism to a next-gen engagement level and unit of measurement called joint-value-creation, or JVC (which we’ll circle back to in Chapter 5).

The metaverse is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs, creators, and companies who are willing to try. To learn how it works, why it’s important, and where you fit in, don’t miss Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Endless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World, available May 3, 2022 from these bookstores:

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