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The Metaverse: Where Entertainment Comes to Life in Singapore

Introduction


Futuristic looking cityscape
Source from Freepik

Imagine being able to attend concerts, watch movies, and play games with friends in a virtual world that’s indistinguishable from reality. If you’re an avid follower of happenings in the tech world, chances are that you might have come across the term “Metaverse”. A hotly buzzed about vision that is believed to be the next iteration of the Internet, it’s a shared 3D virtual space where people can interact and coexist. In 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially announced a rebranding of the social networking platform into Meta, signifying their commitment to pioneer the development of this much-anticipated virtual space. While a completely immersive space is yet to exist, many companies have launched virtual platforms that replicate the Metaverse experience, like virtual world Second Life and battle royale game Fortnite. These digital spaces offer us a glimpse into what the future of the Internet may look like.


The Metaverse is no longer just a figment of our imagination. It’s a real and growing vision, with major corporations like Meta, Microsoft, and Google all investing heavily in its development. Local companies are also actively exploring the utilisation of this digital space for their brands, including gaming, finance, and even retail. In particular, the Entertainment industry has great potential to be revolutionised by this new immersive technology. Here are 4 Singaporean companies that are exploring the use of the Metaverse for their businesses:


1. UOB SkyArtverse


man standing in a pink Metaverse space surrounded by paintings
Source from UOB

United Overseas Bank (UOB) has launched a virtual art gallery in the Metaverse called UOB SkyArtverse. Taking the form of an immersive theme park, the gallery is hosted on Decentraland, a 3D virtual world browser-based platform. It also features the 27 winning artworks from the 2022 UOB Painting of the Year competition.


Visitors to UOB’s SkyArtverse can expect an immersive experience that allows them to explore the artworks in a 360-degree environment. Features include art pavilions, a digital rain feature, and even an amphitheatre showcasing films of the artist’s stories. A bronze sculpture Vitalità that is currently installed at the Plaza building in Singapore was even recreated in the virtual space for visitors to view and appreciate. To explore UOB SkyArtverse, visitors need to create an account on Decentraland and design their avatars. The gallery is free to visit.


UOB SkyArtverse is a pioneering effort by a local corporation to engage with art enthusiasts, and offers us a glimpse of what the Metaverse could be like in the future. While the virtual space did not seem to generate much commercial buzz at its launch, it is a quiet testament to the growing interest in the Metaverse from businesses and organisations around the world.


2. ChangiVerse


digital roblox avatar standing in a metaverse airport
Source from Changi Airport Group

An exciting new take on the Metaverse and its links to the real world, Changi Airport has recreated its world class facilities on popular gaming platform Roblox. Visitors to the virtual space can explore, take part in jam-packed activities, and even unlock limited-edition collectibles. Some notable landmarks in ChangiVerse include Jewel’s indoor waterfall, Jurassic Mile, and even the Plane Hangar where visitors will get the chance to design their dream plane with the Plane Configurator.


The airport Metaverse also offers real world rewards for players of the go-kart game — players with the fastest lap timing every month till September 2023 can win a pair of Singapore Airlines Economy Class round-trip tickets. This exciting foray into the Metaverse is an effort on Changi Airport Group’s part to engage their customers through greater innovation and experimentation. People all over the world who previously may not have had the chance to visit the airport are now able to explore and interact with it in this digital space.


ChangiVerse was received with great enthusiasm, being covered by many news outlets and even lifestyle magazines. The launch of ChangiVerse is a sign of how the Metaverse is shifting from a science fiction concept to something more mainstream and accessible by everyone. Following the lead of Changi Airport Group, more local companies may continue to explore the usage of the Metaverse for their own businesses.


3. OCBC Metaverse


individuals in office wear trying out a metaverse platform
Source from The Straits Times

UOB is not the only bank to break into the Metaverse, as OCBC has also launched its Metaverse platform OCBCx65Chulia on Decentraland in April 2023. While UOB SkyArtverse aims to reach out to art enthusiasts, OCBCx65Chulia (named after Chulia Street, where the bank is headquartered) offers a unique virtual banking experience. Visitors to the virtual space can open a bank account and even apply for a credit card from the platform by directly accessing the bank’s website. Additionally, the immersive space also functions as a heritage museum, allowing visitors to learn more about the bank’s historical milestones.


A new frontier for innovation in the financial services sector, the virtual space has a promising future. The next phase of OCBCx65Chulia is slated to be launched in the third quarter of 2023, with new features like further gamification to enhance the experience for visitors. In the future, we look forward to banks offering services like virtual consultations with financial advisors, allowing customers to explore different investment options in a simulated environment. While it is not possible to fully shift all banking operations to virtual spaces any time soon, emerging technologies like Decentraland lay the foundation for a future where people may be able to interact and explore with few physical limitations.


4. Xctualyfe's NDP World


merlion wearing Singapore themed t-shirt standing against metaverse backdrop
Source from GlobeNewswire

Moving on to Singapore’s first home-grown Metaverse platform Xctualyfe. The platform markets itself as “the next evolution of social networking”, promising visitors exciting features like avatar customisation, hangout spaces, and even action-packed games. Xctualyfe is downloadable on both Windows and Mac platforms, making it highly accessible for most internet users looking to venture into the virtual world. The virtual world platform is even launching its very own NFT marketplace to enhance the experiences of their users.


Most notably, the Singaporean platform unveiled an entire virtual world dedicated to the National Day Parade (NDP) in 2022. Events and games were themed accordingly, including a game where visitors can free fall as a Red Lion, engage in a dance battle with August the Merlion, and even visit landmarks like the Toa Payoh Dragon Playground. Phygital (blending of physical and digital) experiences were also incorporated into the NDP world, as visitors were able to redeem the virtual coins they earned for physical merchandise at vending machines around the island. While it has been a few months since its launch, the virtual world is still accessible via the Xctualyfe platform, demonstrating how such spaces are useful in providing users experiences beyond physical and time limitations.


As new and accessible digital spaces continue to grow and develop, we can expect the evolution of social interactions to become increasingly virtual. Xctualyfe is a testament to the potential of the Metaverse space and Web 3.0 industry in Singapore.


Conclusion


The Metaverse has the potential to change the way we consume entertainment, and it’s already happening right here in Singapore. While still in its early stages of development, it has the potential to revolutionise the entertainment industry. In the future, we can even look forward to opportunities like exploring new worlds and cultures without ever leaving our homes.

Interested to know more? Start discovering more about the Metaverse and the business opportunities it offers at SMU Academy x TechFin’s 1 Day Course on the topic of “Diving into the Metaverse” happening on the 16th of June 2023. Taught by Warren Woon, Co-Founder & CEO of Xctualyfe and Founder & CEO of MetaFarms.io. 90% of SkillsFuture subsidies will be eligible for interested individuals. Sign up here now!



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