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Some Very Simple Economics of Web3 and the Metaverse

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Abstract

The Metaverse refers to a shared vision among technology entrepreneurs of a three-dimensional virtual world, an embodied internet with humans and the physical world in it. As such, the Metaverse is thought to expand the domain of human activity by overcoming spatial, temporal, and resource-related constraints imposed by nature. The technological infrastructure of the Metaverse, i.e. Web3, consists of blockchain technology, smart contracts, and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which reduce transaction and agency costs, and enable trustless social and economic interactions thanks to decentralized consensus mechanisms. The emerging Metaverse may give rise to new products and services, new job profiles, and new business models. In this brief note, I assess the promises and challenges of the Metaverse, offer a first empirical glimpse at the emerging Metaverse economy, and discuss some simple Metaverse economics that revolve around building and operating the Metaverse. Overall, the Metaverse may introduce a new era in technology entrepreneurship and digital innovations, challenging incumbents and redistributing economic rents in a democratic way to the members and operators of decentralized platforms.
Some Very Simple Economics of Web3 and the Metaverse
Paul P. Momtaz
The Anderson School at UCLA
April 17, 2022
Abstract
The Metaverse refers to a shared vision among technology entrepreneurs of a three-dimensional
virtual world, an embodied internet with humans and the physical world in it. As such, the Meta-
verse is thought to expand the domain of human activity by overcoming spatial, temporal, and
resource-related constraints imposed by nature. The technological infrastructure of the Meta-
verse, i.e. Web3, consists of blockchain technology, smart contracts, and Non-Fungible Tokens
(NFTs), which reduce transaction and agency costs, and enable trustless social and economic
interactions thanks to decentralized consensus mechanisms. The emerging Metaverse may give
rise to new products and services, new job profiles, and new business models. In this brief
note, I assess the promises and challenges of the Metaverse, offer a first empirical glimpse at
the emerging Metaverse economy, and discuss some simple Metaverse economics that revolve
around building and operating the Metaverse. Overall, the Metaverse may introduce a new
era in technology entrepreneurship and digital innovations, challenging incumbents and redis-
tributing economic rents in a democratic way to the members and operators of decentralized
platforms.
Keywords: Metaverse, Web3, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Blockchain Technology, Smart Con-
tracts, Digital Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Opportunity, Platform Economics
JEL Codes: G23, G24, L26
1 Introduction
The Metaverse1describes the shared vision among technology entrepreneurs of “a massively scaled
and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced syn-
chronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users, and with continuity of
data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments” (Ball, 2021).
The economic ecosystem that is being built around the Metaverse vision is substantial. The market
capitalization of incumbent (Web 2.0) firms working on Metaverse technologies is $14.8 trillion,
while the estimated value of (Web 3.0) Metaverse entrepreneurs is only $0.03 trillion.2However,
Metaverse entrepreneurship is on the rise, with an explosive growth in decentralized applications
(dApps) specifically designed for the Metaverse (see Figure 1). For example, the market capital-
ization of the popular Metaverse dApp “Decentraland” is $4.3 billion.3In fact, Metaverse dApps
experience an explosive number of transactions, with more than 30 million in February 2022 (see
Figure 2). Implications of the Metaverse for entrepreneurship have not yet been explicitly consid-
ered (Bellavitis et al., 2022; Lee et al., 2021), which is the void this brief note aims to fill.
1.1 Motivating Examples
To illustrate the nature of entrepreneurship in the Metaverse, consider the business models of two
popular ventures:
Decentraland: Decentraland is a virtual, blockchain-based world that features 90,601 “parcels“
(i.e., virtual land plots). Each parcel is represented by a Non-Fungible Token (NFT; for details,
see Chalmers et al., 2022). Locations are unique and have (x,y) coordinates. For example,
JPMorgan recently purchased a parcel and opened a banking lounge,4while a real estate
developer recently paid $912,228 for 259 parcels to build a virtual shopping mall called
“Metajuku” modeled on Tokyo’s famous “Harajuku” district to rent shops out to retailers.5
1For the purpose of this brief note, we treat the nascent terms “Metaverse” and “Web3” as synonyms, while acknowl-
edging that the connotations of the two terms might diverge in the future as the industry matures.
2See https://www.statista.com/statistics/1280565/global-market-cap-metaverse-facebook- gaming/, retrieved
March 10, 2022.
3As of March 11, 2022, see https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/decentraland/.
4See https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/currencies/jpmorgan-decentraland-onyx- lounge-metaverse- virtual-real-estate-crypto-dao-2022-2?
op=1, retrieved March 11, 2022.
5See https://www.metagreats.com/article/how-much-land-available-in- decentraland/, retrieved March 11, 2022.
1
Indeed, first analyses find that the real estate economy on Decentraland features behavior
known from real estate in the physical world (Goldberg et al., 2021), is not merely driven by
cryptocurrency markets (Dowling, 2022b), although the pricing of digital land does not yet
seem to be efficient (Dowling, 2022a).
KONG Land: KONG Land is a cryptostate that is governed by its “citizens” through an overar-
ching Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO; for details, see Bellavitis et al., 2022)
structure. Its innovation are so-called “Silicon Locked Contracts” (“SiLos”). A SiLo is es-
sentially a physical microchip linked to a virtual smart contract. The microchip links the
virtual and physical worlds by enabling the export of crypto-assets from the Metaverse into
the physical world, or for example verifying an identity in the physical world for the Meta-
verse. Citizens of KONG Land can deposit their funds in the government’s treasury (much like
a tax), which funds KONG Land’s expansion, and provides citizens with governance rights in
a decentralized crypto-state.
1.2 Advantages, Challenges, and Limitations of the Metaverse
Benefits of the Metaverse include that it expands the living and working space, extends human intel-
ligence to knowledge robots, and enables human “superproductivity” via multiple avatars (Wang et
al., 2022). It could also eliminate vertical agency costs through flat Decentralized Autonomous Or-
ganizations (DAOs) (Bellavitis et al., 2022), create new job profiles, such as digital fashion designer,
and determine the future of work, realize gains from trade thanks to global market integration be-
cause avatars can move across the Metaverse without time delay at no costs, and reduce transaction
costs. It could also transform our society into a more sustainable and equitable one, for example,
because the infinity of digital resources might lower the rate of natural resource depletion in the
physical world, or because mask effects eliminate social bias in human-to-human interactions in the
offline world (e.g., Colombo et al., 2021) (because avatars can be chosen free of race, gender, etc.),
or because new AR/VR technologies may render physiological constraints in people with disabili-
ties irrelevant and re-include them into economic and social life and let them enjoy activities that
are not possible in the offline world (e.g., think of VR lenses that let people with eyesight problems
drive cars in the Metaverse, Park and Kim, 2022). Additionally, the data in the Metaverse will ulti-
2
mately lead to deep intelligence about human society and economics, which could improve human
and model-based decision-making and facilitate targeted policy-interventions through simulations
in the Metaverse (Wang et al., 2022).
On the flip side, there are several challenges that technology entrepreneurs need to overcome
to make the shared vision of the Metaverse a reality. For example, there are concerns about data
privacy, moral and ethics in a world in which digital resources are infinite and all products and ser-
vices can be offered (hidden from regulators), as well as health-related concerns that range from
a neglect of self-care to addiction (Mystakidis, 2022; Park and Kim, 2022). There is also the con-
cern that the Metaverse could be environmentally detrimental because of high gas fees required to
operate it, although several Web 3.0 startups are working on solutions to reduce gas fees, increase
Transactions Per Second (TPS), and therefore avoid network congestion (e.g., Ethereum 2.0,Car-
dano, and Solana, among others, are all determined to resolve these issues). Finally, Sydow et al.
(2020, p. 1) highlight the challenge of “the adoption of decentralization logics” to “overcome the
paradox of centrally legitimate, decentralized solutions” in a blockchain-enabled Web 3.0-version
of the Metaverse. This would require users to trust blockchains, which needs “a combination of
algorithmic, and organizational” trust (Chawla, 2020, p. 1).
Finally, there are limitations to what the Metaverse can achieve. One limitation is that some
sensations are just better in the physical world (e.g., sunlight). Another is that real-time data-
rendering impose limits on current implementations of Metaverse technologies (e.g., VR lenses
need to show 360-degree views of users’ environments if the users turn their heads, which involves
a large amount of data that is currently often somewhat delayed, which causes digital motion
sickness) (Park and Kim, 2022). Finally, the Metaverse could be subject to censorship (e.g., China’s
vision of the Metaverse is fundamentally different from that of the rest of the world6). Therefore,
many of the current technological limitations of the Metaverse create entrepreneurial opportunities.
1.3 The Rise of Entrepreneurship in the Metaverse
Entrepreneurship in the Metaverse is soaring. Figure 1 shows the cumulative number of mobile
apps that update their name to include the term “Metaverse” on a monthly basis. Additionally,
6See https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/14/china-metaverse-tech-giants-latest- moves-regulatory-action.html, re-
trieved on March 12, 2022.
3
Figure 2 plots the cumulative number of sales through Metaverse apps. By March 2022, there
have been more than 30 million sales of Metaverse goods and services. These figures illustrate
that the market for Metaverse products is already substantial, and the market growth rates have
dramatically increased recently.
[Place Figure 1 about here.]
[Place Figure 2 about here.]
The remainder is organized as follows. Section 2 explains the Metaverse vision, and Section 3
discusses the role of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as enablers for the Metaverse. Section 4 describes
the emerging Metaverse economy. Section 5 discusses some simple economics of building and
operating the Metaverse.
2 What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse refers to a shared vision among technology entrepreneurs of a three-dimensional
virtual world, an embodied internet with humans and the physical world in it. In the Metaverse,
avatars, i.e. humans’ alter egos, engage in social and economic interactions. The technology that
bridges virtual and physical realities is Extended Reality (XR), which combines Augmented, Virtual,
and Mixed Reality (AR, VR, and MR) technologies. As such, the Metaverse is thought to expand
the domain of human activity by overcoming spatial, temporal, and resource-related constraints
imposed by nature.
The shared vision of the Metaverse features several defining attributes that fall into three broad
categories (e.g., Ball, 2021; Lee et al., 2021; Park and Kim, 2022; Wang et al., 2022):
1. Infrastructure: The Metaverse is a persistent virtual system with real-time information pro-
cessing capabilities that makes available the current state of knowledge to all users at the
same time at all times.
2. Architecture: The Metaverse is a decentralized platform that features a high degree of inter-
operability to enable the mobility of digital identities, experiences, and possessions across the
Metaverse from one place, event, or activity to another.
4
3. Human couth: The Metaverse overcomes limitations of Web 2.0-based virtual realities by
enhancing users’ self-perception and presence, increasing human interactivity, and improving
realistic expressions of human qualities, such as emotions.7
The terms “Metaverse” and “avatar” have their etymological origins in the 1992 science fiction
novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. However, the Metaverse’s historic antecedents trace
longer back to Sensorama, an immersive multi-sensory theater that was conceptualized in 1955
(Heilig, 2002); Maze War, a shooter video game that pioneered the representation of players as
avatars in 1974; and Multi-User Dungeon 1 (MUD1), the first multi-user real-time virtual world
created in 1976. The closest existing analogue to the Metaverse is Second Life, which is a three-
dimensional virtual world with user-generated content in which users can communicate, participate
in multi-user activities, and trade. A crucial difference is, however, that users cannot export their
digital identities, experiences, and possessions from Second Life to another virtual world.
3 Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): Enablers of the Metaverse
NFTs are “blockchain-enabled cryptographic assets that represent proof-of-ownership for digital
objects” (Chalmers et al., 2022, p. 1). NFTs are the enablers of the Metaverse because they are
based on technical standards for interoperability (e.g., ERC721 for Ethereum-based NFTs) and can
be exchanged in secondary markets for tokens, so that NFTs have between-application rather than
only within-application utility. The between-application utility marks a stark contrast to antecedent
forms of the Metaverse, such as World of Warcraft or Minecraft, where game items and cosmetics
only have in-game utility, and outside-exchanges in grey markets is illegal. Much like the impact of
the invention of money on the barter system and subsequent economic growth (Davidson, 1972),
cryptocurrencies, and NFTs in particular, can be expected to spur economic activity in and the
development of the Metaverse.
An NFT alone is a unit of data without inherent value (Chalmers et al., 2022; R. Chohan and
Paschen, 2021; U. W. Chohan, 2021). Therefore, we need to discuss the value proposition of NFTs,
which can be decomposed into three pillars. First, NFTs certify the ownership of digital assets,
7Emotions are economically important per se, as they convey important information, which extends beyond a merely
experiential utility, see, e.g., Momtaz (2021).
5
which are an infinite resource. To create resource scarcity in order to justify a positive value of
NFTs, creators artificially limit the supply of NFTs on the blockchain. The elasticity of the supply
consensus is therefore an important determinant of NFTs’ value. Second, the degree of NFTs’ com-
patibility with third-party applications, in particular NFTs’ between-application utility, creates value
because it enables users to realize gains from trade across the Metaverse. Third, similarly to the
second pillar, between-application utility enables continuous social identities that transcend across
Metaverse applications, which improves the socializing experience in the Metaverse and aligns of-
fline and online identities. Metaverse developers can extract some of this value, for instance, by
selling minted NFTs, charging commission fees for facilitating NFT trade, or entrance fees for new
developers to join existing Metaverse projects.
The virtual NFT-based world is fundamentally capitalistic, just like the physical world. Avatars
can make social and economic decisions, form coalitions or organizations and compete against
others to secure their piece of the pie. Those who perform best — according to the virtual commu-
nities’ self-imposed rules — will be able to extract most economic rents. However, in contrast to
the government’s monopoly of setting the rules of the game in the physical world, the Metaverse
allocates governance rights in a decentralized way to applications’ communities, often organized in
the form of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) (Bellavitis et al., 2022).
Panels A and B of Figure 3 show the cointegration of NFTs and Metaverse activity. Panel A
shows the cumulative trading volume (in US$ million) for NFTs since March 2021, while Panel B
shows the corresponding value for dedicated Metaverse tokens. The resemblance of the two patters
illustrates the role of NFTs as enablers for the Metaverse.
[Place Figure 3 about here.]
4 The Emerging Metaverse Economy
Demand-driven Metaverse. The Metaverse is demand-driven in the sense of Keynes (1937) be-
cause digital objects can be created largely without any constraints thanks to the infinity of digital
resources. Therefore, Metaverse infrastructure and content will likely be created “on-demand.” The
virtual gaming community serves as a good vantage point to understand the demand forces behind
6
the Metaverse evolution. A survey by Newzoo (2021) reports that more than one-third often or
occasionally join game worlds for social rather than gaming purposes, with the portion being twice
as high in under-18s than in over-35s. Indeed, when asked about activities that respondents would
be interested or very interested to shift to the Metaverse, more than two-thirds reported routine
social activities, such as meeting family and friends, watching files, hosting birthday parties or
other events, and attending concerts. When asked about what features they are most interested in
in the Metaverse, respondents mentioned the ability to freely choose and customize their avatar’s
physical appearance, even before access to free or user-generated content and between-application
transcendentalism.
Shifting preferences. Not only the demand for Metaverse’s products and services but also
demand for its way-of-living and -working will determine its evolution. For example, the gradual
shift in Gen Z’s preferences to work jobs that they find fulfilling rather than financially rewarding
and hybrid modes of work, by some referred to as the “Great Reshuffle”, will shape the future
of work in the Metaverse. Remote work options in the virtual world will lead to an integration
of global labor markets and lower barriers to jobs in high-wage countries. The Metaverse will
also produce new business models and job profiles, such as smart contract lawyers and digital
fashion designers. A famous example is RTFKT, a bespoke digital shoemaker that reports several
million USD in revenue from selling customized digital footware to avatars. Burberry and Louis
Vuitton have followed with digital fashion products, among many others, to equip avatars for the
Metaverse. As per preferences for organizing, many Gen Z individuals view corporate hierarchy
with contempt and tend to get involved in new organizational forms with flatter hierarchies in the
Metaverse, such as DAOs.
Social sustainability. The Metaverse could also have a positive impact on social inclusion. For
example, virtual identities are not bound to their physical identities’ disabilities. AR/VR hardware,
e.g., could compensate for poor eyesight so that these individuals can enjoy activities in the virtual
world that they cannot in the physical world. Moreover, avatars in the Metaverse offer an effective
way to deal with social bias (e.g., Colombo et al., 2021) because they can be chosen free of gender,
race, sexual orientation, and so forth, as compared to the physical world.
Economic growth and environmental sustainability. The Metaverse may also reconcile eco-
nomic growth with environmental sustainability. The pursuit of economic growth may lead to natu-
7
ral resource depletion in the physical world, but not in the Metaverse where healthy digital oceans,
green digital woods, and clean digital air are infinite resources. Therefore, several activities that
are environmentally unsustainable in the physical world may be environmentally sustainable in
the virtual world. This requires that such activity can be transferred to the Metaverse, and that
energy consumption to power the Metaverse has no detrimental net effect on the environment. In-
deed, Mansouri and Momtaz (2021) find that blockchain-based platforms that are environmentally
friendly are more valuable to crowd-investors.
Bootstrap policymaking. The Metaverse could also serve as a bootstrap mechanism to improve
human and model-based decision-making. As per Wang et al. (2022, p. 3), “small economic data in
the real economic system can be converted into large virtual economic data in the MetaEconomic
system [i.e., the Metaverse], and then artificial intelligence algorithms such as machine learning,
deep learning, and reinforcement learning can be used to transform virtual economy big data into
deep intelligence.” As such, the Metaverse might help economic simulations in a virtual world or
game to improve policymaking and targeted policy interventions in the physical world.
5 Some Very Simple Metaverse Economics
5.1 Building the Metaverse: Startups vs. Incumbents
The question of who will be building the Metaverse, startups or incumbents, reflects a deeper issue:
whether the Metaverse will be a truly decentralized, open and public, virtual world or a network
of private virtual worlds. Nabben (2021, p. 2) describes the two competing versions, the private
versus public Metaverse, as follows: “The private metaverse is a centralized future [with] big corpo-
rates such as Facebook’s Meta, whereby value is extracted from users as consumers. This metaverse
is both virtual reality accessed via headsets, such as Oculus, that project a digital world, as well as
augmented reality, accessed via face wear, such as glasses, that project digital things over the phys-
ical world. In contrast, the public metaverse is a vision of numerous, decentralized digital worlds
that people can move between that are built and owned by participants. The public metaverse is
predicated on open, interoperable decentralized technological architecture. It integrates a suite of
crypto community innovations in decentralized finance (DeFi) for payments and NFTs for digital
in-world items that hold real value. Furthermore, the public metaverse is governed and owned by
8
networks of decentralized autonomous organizations (or DAOs) where distributed, objective-aligned
communities collectively own, govern and work in digital worlds.”
That incumbents are resistant to building the public version of the Metaverse is evident, given
that this would imply the sharing of their data and opening interfaces to enable cross-dApp inter-
operability. The public Metaverse thus would reduce incumbents’ rents from lock-in and network
effects, while startups would benefit from access to incumbents’ data and existing infrastructure.
Figure 4 shows the value appropriation of incumbents (proxied by the Solactive Metaverse in-
dex) and startups (proxied by Coinmarketcap’s Metaverse Value Index, MVI, and Coinmarketcap’s
NFT Index, NFTI). The curves show that both startup categories have larger growth rates than
incumbents, suggesting that startups capture relatively more value from the emerging Metaverse
economy than incumbents.
[Place Figure 4 about here.]
5.2 Operating the Metaverse: Welfare Implications
Whether society will benefit from the Metaverse depends on many contingencies, but essentially
comes down to a tradeoff between transaction and participation or search costs in a hyperspecial-
ized, decentralized virtual world, with implications for resource (mis)allocations and price compe-
tition. Indeed, Chen et al. (2021) find that semi-decentralized platforms create more value than
centralized or decentralized blockchain-based platforms and Momtaz (2022) and Cumming et al.
(2021) show that token-based crowdfunding is more efficient when partially centralized through
intermediaries. These studies plausibly reflect the inherent tradeoff between transaction and par-
ticipation/search costs on decentralized, blockchain-based platforms.
Transaction cost efficiency. The Metaverse may improve the efficiency of social and economic
interactions. Avatars will be able to move between locations instantaneously, increasing the amount
of productive time. Users are able to have more than one avatar so that multiple avatars can
work multiple tasks at the same time. Importantly, the Metaverse’s underlying technology (i.e.,
blockchain, smart contracts, and decentralized finance) significantly reduces transactions costs for
the exchange and proof-of-ownership of digital assets (Chalmers et al., 2022; Chen and Bellavitis,
9
2020). Because technology facilitates decentralized markets, Metaverse users may potentially save
on intermediation costs (e.g., Bellavitis et al., 2021; Fisch, 2019).
Search cost inefficiency. The Metaverse represents a hyperspecialized, decentralized virtual
world with low entry barriers thanks to blockchain technologies. As a result, the Metaverse will
feature granular markets because of high market participation and completion. High market par-
ticipation results from low entry barriers, e.g., because labor supply in low-wage countries can
meet labor demand in high-wage countries with negligible transaction costs. Market completion
results from high market participation paired with infinite digital resources and opportunities in a
virtual world. Because, in principle, every object can be made available in a virtual world, there
will be hyperspecialization in the product and service supply. As a consequence of explosive mar-
ket granularity, search frictions will be more salient (Momtaz, 2022). As an intuitive example,
it is easier to find the transaction counterparty with the perfectly matching unique product in a
game with 10 players with unique product offerings than in a game with 100 players with unique
product offerings (everything else equal, the probability of search-and-match is 1
10 versus 1
100 in
the two markets). Moreover, there can be multiple Metaverses and unique users can send multiple
avatars to different Metaverses at the same time, so search frictions is expected to play a dramatic
role, plausibly reducing the efficiency of the Metaverse economy. Problems with search frictions
are exacerbated by asymmetric information in decentralized markets (Fisch and Momtaz, 2020;
Hornuf et al., 2021; Momtaz, 2020), and these problems have no easy remedy in a borderless,
cross-jurisdictional Metaverse, in which legal rules are difficult to enforce (Garon, 2022) and have
complicated spillover effects (Bellavitis et al., 2020).
Resource (mis)allocations and pricing competition. The welfare implications of the Meta-
verse come down to the allocation and prices of resources in the virtual economy. The path to
equilibrium in the Metaverse economy may feature resource misallocations, e.g., in the form of
bespoke footware for avatars long before they can be “worn” (see the RTFTK example above). An
interesting study finds that virtual land plots in the Metaverse auctioned by Decantraland have var-
ious premia attached to them, depending on their virtual proximity to important virtual landmarks
or memorable addresses (Goldberg et al., 2021). Related work finds that the pricing of NFTs, as
enablers of the Metaverse, are reatively inefficient (Dowling, 2022a, 2022b). The inefficiency of
the market for Metaverse assets may reflect a deeper issue, at least during the early-adoption phase
10
of the Metaverse: The pricing of digital goods in the Metaverse is difficult. In principle, infinite dig-
ital resources would push prices to zero. This is the reason why Metaverse developers artificially
cap the supply of digital goods on the blockchain. However, it is not clear what mechanisms would
prevent competitors to imitate the virtual products or services and cap the supply at an marginally
lower level to beat the incumbent’s pricing. In the logic of game-theoretical forward induction, this
would also push the price toward zero. Therefore, the Metaverse will likely develop strong network
and lock-in effects, just like existing technology incumbents in the physical world. This, however,
might lead to difficult-to-resolve anti-competitive effects (e.g., for the physical world, Khan, 2016),
which are more difficult to resolve in a borderless, cross-jurisdictional virtual world. All these open
questions and contingencies will ultimately determine Metaverse’s net value-add for society.
11
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13
Exhibits
14
Figure 1: Apps in the Metaverse
Note: This is the cumulative number of mobile apps that update their names to include the term
“Metaverse.” The data is available from Statista (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1289564/
apps-adding-metaverse-name-or-description/, retrieved March 10, 2022).
15
Figure 2: Sales in the Metaverse Economy
Note: This figure shows the number of sales (in million) through Metaverse apps. The data is
available from https://nonfungible.com/market-tracker (retrieved March 10, 2022).
16
Figure 3: The Cointegration of NFTs and Metaverse Assets: Cumulative Trading Volume
Panel A: The Cumulative Trading Volume of NFTs
Panel B: The Cumulative Trading Volume of Metaverse Assets
Note: Panels A and B show the cumulative trading volume (in USD million) for NFT and ded-
icated Metaverse startups as categorized at https://coinmarketcap.com/de/currencies/nft-index/
and https://coinmarketcap.com/de/currencies/metaverse-index/, respectively, with the trading vol-
ume data retrieved from https://www.coingecko.com on March 10, 2022.
17
Figure 4: Value Appropriation in the Metaverse Economy: Incumbents vs. Startups
Note: This figure shows the appropriation of value created in the Metaverse by different entity
categories. The solid line shows the value appropriation by incumbents, the dotted line shows it
by NFT startups, and the dashed line shows it by dedicated Metaverse startups. We build return
indexes for each entity category based on the classification by the following three sources: Incum-
bents (https://www.solactive.com/indices/?se=1&index=DE000SL0ET98), NFT startups (https:
//coinmarketcap.com/de/currencies/nft-index/), and Metaverse startups (https://coinmarketcap.
com/de/currencies/metaverse-index/). The price data for tokens of NFT and Metaverse startups
are collected from https://www.coingecko.com for the maximum time period (all retrieved March
10, 2022). For each index, we compute returns and normalize the indexes to 1 at the first date of
the youngest index, i.e., April 14, 2021, for reasons of comparison.
18
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