The emerging metaverse economy

It’s happening, and holds out both promise and peril

In August, Ariana Grande featured in a series of virtual concerts held on Fortnite and reportedly earned about US$20 million. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ARIANA GRANDE/YOUTUBE
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In the beginning, the Internet was mainly read-only, a giant information-sharing network, PC-based and largely decentralised. With Web 2.0 after the turn of the century came social networks and the birth of online communities and interactive content delivered also on mobile devices. But it was platform-based and more centralised, with big tech companies like Facebook being the gatekeepers. What's emerging now is totally different.

In August, the pop star Ariana Grande featured in a series of virtual concerts complete with floating staircases, fluffy clouds and avatars dancing on multicoloured bubbles among other bedazzling psychedelic effects. Held on the video game portal Fortnite, she attracted millions of viewers, a multiple of what she gets with live concerts, and reportedly earned about US$20 million (S$27.4 million).

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