April 8, 2023
Issue No. 49
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- AI & Blockchain: LayerZero Raises $120M; Meta’s Ads with Generative AI
- Gaming: FIFA Launches AI Game; Street Fighter Live-Action Movie; New Web3 Marketplace Allows Digital Game Resales
- Web3 & Metaverse: Meta Pays Big to Build Metaverse; Ralph Lauren Miami Store to Accept Crypto Payments
- NFTs: OpenSea Launches 'Pro' Marketplace; Line Next 3D Avatar Platform
- Legal Landscape: Japan Web3 White Paper; EU Warns on Risk of Metaverse Gatekeepers…
AI, Blockchain, and DeFi Developments
Glean Launches New Generative AI Capabilities to Enhance Search and Discovery Across Organizations
Glean, a knowledge management and discovery platform, has launched a suite of AI-powered search and discovery features that aim to enhance productivity, accuracy, and collaboration across organizations. The new features are based on the company's proprietary knowledge model that can surface relevant information and provide in-context recommendations based on a user's access permissions and governance rules. The AI-powered features include AI answers, which can generate a single concise answer to a natural language query, expert detection, which can identify and connect users with subject matter experts within their company, and in-context recommendations, which provide additional content and context on any given asset a user is working on.
Glean's governance engine ensures that users only have access to information that they're allowed to see based on their existing access permissions in the source systems which Glean searches. This provides organizations with the confidence that all their real-time enterprise data permissions and governance rules are enforced. Glean CEO Arvind Jain said that accuracy, security, and referenceability are crucial in any AI tool used in the enterprise.
Glean's trusted knowledge model aims to meet the accuracy, security, and reference capabilities that match the needs of enterprises. The model is based on three pillars: company knowledge and context, permissions and data governance, and full referenceability. It retrains deep learning language models (LLMs) on a company's unique knowledge base and applies real-time data permissions and governance rules. The model also shows the sources of each piece of information and how every response is generated.
The new AI-powered features aim to improve the accuracy and security of enterprise data and content, as well as enhance the productivity and collaboration of employees, especially in remote or hybrid work environments. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, knowledge workers spend about 20% of their time searching for and gathering information, which amounts to a loss of $1 trillion in productivity per year. The report also found that AI can help reduce this time by 35% and increase revenue by 6%.
Blockchain Messaging Protocol LayerZero Raises $120M, Hitting $3B Valuation
LayerZero Labs, a messaging protocol that enables users to send different types of messages between blockchains, has raised $120 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its valuation to $3 billion from $1 billion. The protocol connects over 30 mainnet blockchains, including two non-Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs): Aptos and Solana. It eliminates the need for intermediaries by allowing cross-chain interactions. It is used by on-chain applications such as decentralized exchanges, including PancakeSwap, Sushiswap, Trader Joe, and Uniswap, and has secured over $7 billion in total value locked and processed over $6 billion in transactional volume. LayerZero Labs raised the money for "purely strategic alignment" rather than out of necessity, according to Bryan Pellegrino, CEO & co-founder. Gaming and the APAC market are where the company plans to expand. In the long term, LayerZero's messaging protocol aims to create the infrastructure that allows applications to build more complex structures.
The LayerZero messaging protocol is different from Web 2.0 messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. It is like internet-packaged messaging between computers, not instant messaging. Its messages are pure arbitrary data, and it moves data between blockchains. It eliminates the need for intermediaries by allowing cross-chain interactions. The protocol connects over 30 mainnet blockchains, including two non-Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs), Aptos and Solana. The platform is used by on-chain applications such as decentralized exchanges, including the likes of PancakeSwap, Sushiswap, Trader Joe, and Uniswap. It has secured over $7 billion in total value locked and processed over $6 billion in transactional volume.
LayerZero Labs raised $120 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its valuation to $3 billion from $1 billion. The round saw 33 investors participating, including a16z crypto, Circle Ventures, Sequoia Capital, OpenSea, Samsung Next, Christie's, and BOND. According to Bryan Pellegrino, CEO & co-founder, the company raised the money for "purely strategic alignment" rather than out of necessity. He also said that the funding round was raised to expand in gaming and the APAC market. Since launching about a year ago, "hundreds of thousands of unique users" have used the protocol. The long-term goal of LayerZero's messaging protocol is to create the infrastructure that allows applications to build more complex structures.
Meta Wants to Use Generative AI to Create Ads
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is aiming to use generative AI to create ads for different companies by the end of the year. Meta's CTO, Andrew Bosworth, said that the company expects to ship tools that create ads with AI that help a company make different images for different audiences. The company created a new team, the generative AI team, a couple of months ago, and Bosworth said that he and Mark Zuckerberg are spending much of their time on the project.
Meta's efforts to create a metaverse haven't panned out as expected, but it still seems to be pushing the idea of creating virtual worlds through generative AI. Bosworth said that large language models (LLMs) will help with 3D model creation. Previously, if someone wanted to create a 3D world, they needed to learn a lot of computer graphics and programming. In the future, they might be able to just describe the world they want to create and have the LLM generate that world for them.
After Apple implemented its App Tracking Transparency feature in 2021, Meta was affected badly. The social media company said that this change would cost them $10 billion in 2022. Meta is looking for more avenues to earn money, and generative AI seems to be its next bet. During the Q4 2022 investors call, Zuckerberg said that the company's management theme for 2023 is the 'Year of Efficiency,' and they are focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization.
Meta is not the only company experimenting with generative ads, though. Omneky, which presented at TechCrunch Disrupt last year, was using OpenAI’s DALLE-2 and GPT-3 to create campaigns. Movio, which is backed by IDG, Sequoia Capital China, and Baidu Ventures, is using generative AI to create marketing videos.
Gaming Updates and Insights
Altered State Machine and FIFA launch AI League football manager
Altered State Machine and FIFA have partnered to launch its open beta for AI League: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition on Android today. The mobile title puts players in the management seat where they must form the strongest AI-powered team. Human players can customize their footballers’ AI skills as they lead their squad of four to the top of the leaderboards. These AI traits will determine the strengths and weaknesses of their players. Further, players can blend these AI skills, which adds another layer of complexity and strategy to the game. Additionally, players will be able to trade characters in the near future.
This partnership debuted with a prediction game ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In that game, players could win digital and physical prizes for accurately predicting the outcome of real-world soccer matches. All fans that participated won four characters for AI League.
The game is rooted in Web3 and metaverse technology, and once the in-game marketplace opens, it will use Web3 technology to enable seamless trading between players. Both Altered State Machine (and parent company Futureverse) are rooted in Web3 and metaverse technology to provide players with a unique gameplay experience. Android players can join the open beta for AI League today, and the team plans to launch an iOS version soon.
Altered State Machine and its parent company Futureverse have been working nonstop to get to the Open Beta launch of AI League. Their mission is to lead casual gamers into the world of AI gaming in the metaverse, and with FIFA’s AI League, they are unlocking a unique new opportunity for football fans around the globe to interact with their favorite sport. The mobile title is designed for Android users and allows players to form the strongest AI-powered team. Through this game, human players can customize their footballers' AI skills as they lead their squad of four to the top of the leaderboards. The AI traits of the footballers will determine their strengths and weaknesses, providing another layer of complexity and strategy to the game. Additionally, the trading of characters will be added to the game in the near future.
A Game About Sonic Being Murdered Is Really Popular Right Now
Sega released a game called The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog on April Fool's Day, in which players investigate the death of the Sonic the Hedgehog character. The visual novel is free to play on Steam and has proven to be very popular, with over one million people playing it. The game is described as an innocent murder mystery party aboard the Mirage Express, but something feels a bit off. It has over 11,000 user reviews on Steam and an "Overwhelmingly Positive" ranking.
The game is apparently the 61st highest-reviewed game on Steam and the best-rated Sonic game on Steam, although it's not the highest margin to clear. The popularity of the game seems to suggest that the world wants Sonic dead.
The free-to-play game has garnered a lot of attention in the gaming community, especially among Sonic fans who are curious about the game's story. It is worth noting that the game is not a typical Sonic game, but rather a visual novel with a murder mystery theme. Regardless, the game has been well-received by gamers and critics alike, and it remains a popular choice for those looking for a fun, free game to play.
Gunzilla Games Is Launching an Avalanche Subnet for its ‘Off the Grid’ Game
Video game developer Gunzilla Games, which includes Neill Blomkamp as its Chief Visionary Officer, announced that it will launch a dedicated Avalanche subnet called GUNZ for its upcoming game, Off the Grid (OTG). Altered Carbon novelist and screenwriter Richard K. Morgan is also developing OTG's narrative alongside Olivier Henriot, who previously worked on hit game franchises like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry. Gameplay in Off the Grid is paramount, but it will also offer players an optional monthly battle pass subscription that unlocks access to the GUNZ marketplace on the Avalanche subnet. A subnet is a dedicated instance of the Avalanche blockchain that is insulated from the wider network and offers developers added customization options. The game is set to launch sometime in 2023, and a cinematic seven-episode miniseries inspired by the game's world directed by Neill Blomkamp is also in the works.
OTG's world is set on the fictional Teardrop Island in the Pacific Ocean, where three greedy corporations battle for resources using high-tech soldiers with robotic body parts, sci-fi shields, and lots of guns. Gunzilla co-founder Vlad Korolev said, "The game can be enjoyed by both traditional gamers and Web3 gamers. However, it’s not a Web3 game in itself—it is a traditional AAA multiplayer shooter that, unlike Web3 games, will be released on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation." The developers of fellow NFT-enhanced shooters Shrapnel and Deadrop are not trying to hide their games' Web3 layer. Gunzilla also isn’t trying to force NFTs upon players or make the game a “pay-to-win” experience either. Korolev's comments suggest that he's highly attuned to such concerns, as some gamers may still be wary of NFTs.
Gunzilla isn't trying to hide OTG's Web3 layer, but it also isn't trying to force NFTs upon players or make the game a “pay-to-win” experience either. Korolev said, "We will not directly sell any in-game assets to our players or hide any progression elements behind a paywall. The only way players can obtain in-game assets in OTG will be by looting them within the game or buying them from other players."
Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth Set to Release on May 10
Electronic Arts and Capital Games have announced that the free-to-play RPG Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth will launch on iOS and Android on May 10.
The game will expand on the established canon of JRR. Tolkien's universe, with players taking part in turn-based strategy combat following the discovery of an abandoned ring of power. Pre-registration for the game is currently open, and players who sign up will receive exclusive offers and behind-the-scenes content.
Alongside the announcement, EA and Capital Games have released a new gameplay trailer for the game, offering an in-depth look at the art style, exploration, and gameplay modes, including PVP mechanics.
Heroes of Middle-earth was first announced in May 2022, with Middle-earth Enterprises chief brand and licensing officer Fredrica Drotos stating that they are thrilled to be working with EA to bring a mobile game solely inspired by Middle-earth to its fans.
Street Fighter is the Latest Game Franchise to Be Turned into a New Live-Action Movie
Capcom has partnered with Legendary Entertainment to create a new Street Fighter movie. The project was announced on Wednesday, with Capcom promising "more news to come in the future" about the film. This isn't the first time the fighting game franchise has been adapted into a movie; a Street Fighter film was released in 1994, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia, and a spin-off featuring Chun-Li was released in 2009. The timing of the announcement is notable, as it comes just a few months before the release of Street Fighter 6, the next major title in the game series.
Capcom's decision to make a new Street Fighter movie is part of a larger trend among game companies to create non-game adaptations of their franchises. Nintendo, for example, recently released a Mario movie, while PlayStation is working on both a Gran Turismo film and a TV adaptation of The Last of Us. It remains to be seen what direction the new Street Fighter movie will take, but hopefully, it will incorporate some of the game's signature style and action.
With Street Fighter 6 set to be released in June, it's clear that Capcom is committed to keeping the franchise fresh and relevant. The new movie could be a key part of that effort, introducing the series to a wider audience and reinvigorating interest in the games themselves.
Ultra’s New Web3 Gaming Marketplace Lets Users Resell Digital Games
Ultra Games is a Web3 gaming startup that is launching a marketplace on April 25th. The platform is built on top of the Ultra layer-1 network, which is a fork of the EOS blockchain. The marketplace will feature traditional "Web2" games without NFT or token elements, as well as about 60-70 Web3 games. Ultra Games has a unique feature that enables users to resell their digital games on a secondary marketplace that uses tokenized license rights. Game publishers can opt out of the program or set an initial no-resale period, determine a minimum resale price point, and choose the royalty percentage they receive. The publisher's royalty fee cannot be over 70% of the resale price. The proof-of-ownership feature of tokenized games could be used by publishers or partners to give out discounts, unique in-game items, and more.
Ultra Games will not charge users network gas fees for transactions, and users can sign up with an email and phone number. The crypto elements, such as the user's wallet address, are hidden beneath a Web2-friendly interface, but they are accessible to users if desired. The Ultra Games marketplace is also designed to support NFT initiatives from publishers and developers. They can launch digital collectibles called "Uniqs" that can be traded in a similar manner to the tokenized game licenses.
Ultra Co-CEO Nicolas Gilot explained that game publishers should enable the secondary sale of games because they can leverage the secondary marketplace. Studios can tweak the entire lifecycle of their games, set an initial no-resale period, determine a minimum resale price point, and choose the royalty percentage they receive. Game developers and publishers will have more freedom to experiment with their business models compared to traditional digital game stores like Steam, which prohibits Web3 games.
However, there is one notable limitation: the publisher’s royalty fee cannot be over 70% of the resale price. The percentage will vary depending on the developer. For example, a big game studio like Rockstar Games for Red Dead Redemption 3 wouldn't charge the same percentage as an indie developer that's making a game at half the price.
Web3 & Metaverse News
Meta Coughing Up Big Money to Developers Building Its Metaverse
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has been struggling with losses in its metaverse-building division, Reality Labs, with reports stating that the division lost $13.7 billion over the course of 2022. Nonetheless, a new report from The Wall Street Journal says that Meta's programmers working on the company's virtual reality suite can earn total compensation from "$600,000 to packages approaching $1 million." The information on Metaverse developer salaries at Meta came from anonymous "people familiar with the matter."
Despite the losses, Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's co-founder & CEO, has been on record saying the company doesn't have any plans to change its long-term vision for the metaverse. In fact, at the beginning of February 2023, Meta was given approval by a judge in the United States to go forward with acquiring a virtual reality company. Prior to that ruling, Meta was served with a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission against Meta and Zuckerberg as an attempt to block "its ultimate goal of owning the entire 'metaverse.'"
Recently, two U.S. senators released a letter addressed to Zuckerberg urging the Meta CEO not to allow teenagers access to the metaverse platform Horizon Worlds. They cited "serious risks" and called it a "digital space rife with potential harms."
On March 13, the head of commerce and financial technologies at Meta tweeted that the company was slowly stopping its support for nonfungible tokens (NFTs) on Facebook and Instagram for the time being. According to the executive, the move was to "focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses."
Ralph Lauren Miami Store to Accept Crypto Payments
Ralph Lauren's newly opened store in Miami's Design District will become the retailer's first location to accept cryptocurrency payments, working with BitPay to allow customers to purchase merchandise using bitcoin, ether, and Polygon's token. The brand is also working with the Web3 community Poolsuite to release a co-branded non-fungible token (NFT) that will be gifted to existing holders of the Poolsuite NFT membership collection. The brand is planning an immersive three-day experience at a private estate in North Miami at the end of April in conjunction with the store opening.
Ralph Lauren has recently been testing the waters of Web3 and released digital clothing collections with popular gaming worlds Roblox and Fortnite. The company's CEO, Patrice Louvet, said in January 2022 the company was actively seeking new ways to connect with younger consumers, including through metaverse activations. The company was "experimenting" with NFTs. Ralph Lauren's chief innovation and branding officer, David Lauren, said in an interview with WWD that the store opening would be an opportunity for the brand to gather key insights as it continued to explore the space. Ralph Lauren sees an exciting opportunity ahead across digital goods and virtual experiences to build upon the brand's past touchpoints in the metaverse.
Game of Silks Mirrors Real-World Horse Races in the Metaverse
Game of Silks, a digital horse-racing simulator in the metaverse, announced that it will run races that mirror the real-world Keeneland Spring Meet. Digital twins of real racehorses will race in the metaverse alongside their counterparts, with the owners of the digital horses earning rewards for their performances. Silks, which is the blockchain partner of the New York Racing Association, created NFTs modeled after the crop of then-one-year-old horses in 2022. All told, it created more than 17,500 digital twins of the young racehorses, who are now in their first racing season. Silks host the digital horses on one-acre parcels of in-metaverse land. Users can engage with a larger economy that includes building stables for other players to use. Players can buy and sell the equine NFTs as well as race them.
Silks did not specify whether it would only mirror races for the aforementioned two-year-old horses, which does not include the Blue Grass or the Ashland Stakes, both of which are run by three-year-old horses. Keeneland Race Track holds the Spring Meet in April. The event features several races, including the Blue Grass Stakes — a race commonly used as a prep event for horses planned to compete in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. According to Silks, it will auction any digital racehorses running at the Meet not already owned before it begins.
Troy Levy, the co-founder of Game of Silks, said in a statement, “Part of Silks’ mission is to expand the thrill of racehorse ownership to new audiences and demographics beyond the upper class. Since launching last year, we’ve built an engaged online community of more than 25,000 fans and have become a Top 10 sports-themed NFT platform on the OpenSea marketplace, which we see as the tip of a very large iceberg. Hosting the first professional horse race in our metaverse is a significant milestone in the history of the sport.”
Inside the NFT Space
OpenSea Launches No-Fee 'Pro' Marketplace With NFT Rewards
OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace, has launched a new marketplace called OpenSea Pro that offers more robust trading tools, zero marketplace fees (for now), and plans for NFT-based trading rewards. OpenSea Pro is a rebranded and expanded version of Gem V2, the upgraded version of the NFT marketplace aggregator that it acquired in April 2022. It aggregates listings from more than 170+ NFT marketplaces large and small, including notable platforms like Blur, LooksRare, and X2Y2. It gives users more flexibility when searching for NFT listings and managing their inventory of digital assets, as well as aggregation of open NFT collection offers across marketplaces.
OpenSea’s main marketplace recently cut its typical 2.5% platform fee amid the rise of rival Blur, which overtook OpenSea in terms of NFT trading volume in February. The firm announced today that OpenSea will reinstate its standard fee amid the launch of OpenSea Pro while the Pro platform will instead offer a temporary 0% fee for traders. In terms of creator royalties, OpenSea Pro will maintain OpenSea’s current model, which is to require only a 0.5% minimum royalty on projects that do not use an on-chain enforcement method. Sellers may choose to pay more than 0.5% if they wish.
OpenSea will offer another type of reward to OpenSea Pro traders. It will "[chart] a different course by featuring NFTs as rewards," according to a blog post, although the company has yet to reveal details. Separately from the reward NFTs, OpenSea will also offer a free "Gemesis" NFT mint for users who bought an NFT via Gem before March 31.
Yuga Labs Joins Gucci to Announce Otherside-Themed Jewelry
Luxury fashion house Gucci is partnering with Yuga Labs, the company behind the NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club, for a metaverse-oriented collaboration that will blur "the boundaries between the physical and digital." Yuga has announced Otherside: Relics by Gucci, a limited-edition series of physical Gucci products and associated NFTs tied into the lore of Otherside, its long-awaited ape-themed metaverse game. The game centers around a mysterious species of aliens called "Koda," and their relationship to the titular apes of the BAYC.
The first "Relic" to be released via Yuga's collaboration with Gucci will be the KodaPendant, an NFT representing both a physical piece of jewelry and a nonfungible token that will unlock numerous perks within the Otherside metaverse. Exactly 3,333 KodaPendants will be made available for sale beginning on Thursday, April 6, at 6:00 pm EST. They can only be bought with Apecoin, Yuga's native cryptocurrency, and will each cost 450 APE, or $1,917 at writing.
KodaPendants will only be available to current holders of Koda or Vessel NFTs. The physical pendants will only be made available via mail to residents of select countries, including the United States, Canada, most European nations, and a select number of Gulf states: Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. No residents of any African, Central American, or South American nation are eligible to receive a pendant, nor are residents of any Asian countries except Japan.
The Koda and Vessel NFTs affiliated with KodaPendants will each be visually updated to sport a virtual version of the jewelry. The KodaPendant will also unlock unique cosmetic options for Otherside avatars, which will launch this summer, according to Yuga.
For no additional cost, holders of KodaPendants will also be able to claim a real, physical piece of jewelry from Gucci later this year. Each KodaPendant NFT will come with one physical KodaPendant, a silver chain adorned with a silver pendant in the shape of a Koda alien, inscribed with "GG," a shorthand among gamers for "good game." Each physical KodaPendant will be also inscribed with a unique edition number on the back.
Line Next Launches Beta for NFT-Based 3D Avatar Platform AlphaCrewz
Line Next, a division of messaging company Line with 200 million users, has launched a beta of AlphaCrewz, a 3D avatar customization platform with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). AlphaCrewz offers high-definition avatars that can be used in Line's upcoming metaverse ecosystem. Its goal is to enable users to create avatars they want to own and show off, popularizing an avatar culture that everyone can enjoy. Users can easily create unique avatars with a wide range of customizing tools and fashion items. They can also make videos using the 3D video studio and use the images and videos created with the avatar as their profile on Line Messenger and on social media.
AlphaCrewz plans to expand its services by adding a digital fashion item marketplace and stores where users, brands, and creators can trade items that they have created on AlphaCrewz. Additionally, the platform will add motion recognition technology to the video studio and collaborate with other social media channels to further enhance its content.
To celebrate the launch, Line Next is giving out fashion items for avatars to users who have connected to DOSI Wallet on AlphaCrewz. In addition, premium memberships will be given to 12 selected users among those who post their own avatars on social media.
The launch of AlphaCrewz is a big endorsement for Web3 from Line Next and its parent company Line. However, it remains to be seen if Western consumers will take to it in the same way as Asian consumers. Blockchain-based NFT companies, particularly those in games, want to hit mainstream audiences but have run into resistance from those who think NFTs are too scammy and add little value.
If AlphaCrewz takes off, it could set a trend for other games and platforms to follow. The addition of NFTs to avatars and fashion items could bring a new level of ownership and value to virtual items in the metaverse.
Legal Landscape, Policies, and Regulation
Japan Approves Web3 White Paper to Promote Industry Growth in the Country
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Web3 project team has released a white paper outlining recommendations to boost the country's crypto industry. The paper proposes creating a friendlier environment for crypto and bypassing bureaucratic processes to formulate regulatory proposals for everything from NFTs to decentralized autonomous organizations. The white paper suggests Japan should demonstrate leadership at the Group of Seven summits, where crypto will be discussed, and looks ahead to the future potential of Web3. It also recommends further changes to the tax regulation, including tax exclusions for companies holding tokens issued by other companies that won't be traded short term.
The white paper also identifies a lack of accounting standards as an urgent issue and proposes setting up a DAO law based on Japan's godo kaisha. It advises making procedures for reviewing new tokens more transparent so that issuers can present the information necessary for review. The paper stresses the importance of creating a process for stablecoin registration and establishing a self-regulatory organization.
The white paper proposes public-private partnerships to set guidelines on legal business models for fantasy sports services and recommends the public and private sectors work together to sort out data and NFT rights. The paper suggests a Web3 minister should take charge of promoting policies and cooperation with other countries, and proposes the issuance of crypto visas to skilled workers and expanding the startup visa system.
The Web3 project team's recommendations are part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's strategy of promoting technology, a project called "Cool Japan." The paper notes that major companies in Japan have started to enter the market, with Japanese mobile phone operator NTT Docomo pledging to invest up to $4 billion into Web3 infrastructure and large financial institutions looking to issue stablecoins.
The white paper also proposes changes to regulations under the Companies Act and the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. However, it notes that approvals for banks and insurance companies entering the industry remain unclear and calls for the government to lay out guidelines. The paper recommends setting up a related consultation desk for local governments and business operators.
EU Consultation Warns on Risk of Big Players Becoming Metaverse Gatekeepers
The European Commission has warned that online giants could dominate the metaverse, blocking out local companies. The EU's executive arm is set to issue proposals in the coming months, but it likely won't include a draft bill, according to the call for evidence, which is open until May 3. The draft warned of the risk of having a small number of big players becoming future gatekeepers of virtual worlds, creating market entry barriers and shutting out EU startups and SMEs from the emerging market. The paper sets out a range of policy issues for what it calls Web 4.0, where physical and virtual worlds interact immersively, using connected smart devices.
The paper cites issues including equality, data privacy, cybersecurity, and openness, as well as finance for local businesses. The EU recently passed a Digital Markets Act to rein in supposed anticompetitive behavior by internet giants such as Meta, Google, and Amazon, but the bloc is worried similar trends could occur in later iterations of the internet economy.
The EU is considering policies to ensure that the metaverse is open and accessible to all, with no one company or group of companies dominating the space. The bloc is concerned that a small number of big players could become future gatekeepers of virtual worlds, creating market entry barriers and shutting out EU startups and SMEs. The EU is also looking at issues of equality, data privacy, cybersecurity, and openness, as well as finance for local businesses.
The European Commission is seeking feedback on its new policy for virtual worlds. The call for evidence is open until May 3, and the EU is set to issue proposals in the coming months. The paper warns of the risk of online giants dominating the metaverse and blocking out local companies. The EU recently passed a Digital Markets Act to rein in anticompetitive behavior by internet giants, but the bloc is worried similar trends could occur in later iterations of the internet economy.
U.S. Government Case Against Voyager-Binance.US Deal Has 'Substantial' Merits, Judge Says
A federal judge in New York has put on hold Binance.US's bid to buy the assets of bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital, saying the U.S. government has a "substantial case on the merits" in its bid to quash the $1 billion deal. District Judge Jennifer Rearden said she'd try and move quickly to settle a dispute, given that delays could cost as much as $10 million per month for the estate. Earlier in March, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Wiles approved the sale, but Judge Rearden said she would put that on hold while she considered objections from the U.S. Attorney that the contract effectively rendered Voyager immune by exculpating it from breaches of tax or securities law.
Government arguments have "gone entirely unrebutted" by Voyager and its creditors, "neither of which has provided any authority for the proposition that a bankruptcy court can release criminal liability," Rearden said. In her further reasoning published Friday, Rearden appeared sympathetic to government arguments, saying that "the Exculpation Clause appears to go further than the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine allows."
Binance's U.S. arm bid for Voyager last year after FTX, the previous bidder, collapsed. This week, Binance's global entity and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, were sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for offering unregistered crypto derivatives. Zhao said the suit is an "incomplete recitation of facts."
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