Due to huge user growth and exposure for market leaders such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, Metaverse projects became one of the most popular new plays throughout 2021. Virtual land sales repeatedly hit new highs in terms of volume and price, and metaverse project native tokens did multiple x, further attracting speculators to this promising area of the blockchain industry. The issue, however, proved to be in translating token holders to players. Down from peaks in the tens of thousands for The Sandbox and Decentraland, both are now virtual ghost towns with only around 25 and 40 daily active players respectively.
The absence of hype revealed the applications to be inferior to Web2 incumbents in terms of entertainment value, which resulted in a mass exodus to newer and shinier models, or just a reversion back to existing populated ecosystems such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Second Life. Hype aside, there was no stickiness that kept players coming back for more. And without even returning players, newcomers spawned in desolate landscapes without support guides or an active community to support their first steps. Far from the promised land of ‘you can do anything,’ what eventuated was more similar to a ‘there’s nothing to do.’
Built with Purpose
Taking the middle ground between pigeon-holed online multiplayer games and completely blank-slate metaverse spaces, Passage is an open digital world populated with events, games, activity centers, and all the world-building tools to create anything players want. Passage runs on industry-leading real-time 3D creation tool Unreal Engine 5 to enable a world-class virtual experience within a browser without having to download any apps or plugins. The Passage team boasts ‘no learning curve,’ insisting the controls are intuitive and frictionless on any device and for any age group.
Where Passage really comes alive, though, is through spatialized audio and video chat. More closely resembling the offline world, in Passage, users can look at who they are speaking with and hear the environment around them for more organic-feeling conversations. This sets Passage apart as a multi-purpose metaverse that serves not just gamers, explorers, and builders but also work-based project teams. By also supporting collaboration tools such as screen sharing, Passage proposes an enjoyable middle ground between in-person meetings and Zoom calls where half the remote team is tabbed out scrolling through memes on social media. The Passage project team is championing this utility by carrying out their own online meetings in the world.
Moving further afield, Passage also seeks to provide a space for online events, festivals, and concerts. Supporting ticketing services, Passage is capable of hosting host-designed events with thousands of attendees, be it art exhibitions, concerts, online conferences, or anything users can imagine. In terms of future thinking, Passage is building an all-in-one metaverse for social interaction and entertainment online.
The Cosmos Choice
Whilst other teams have chosen to build on Polygon for EVM support with fast throughput, Passage has embedded themselves in the Cosmos ecosystem, which now also supports EVM through Evmos and enables even faster throughput. Through this decision, the development team displayed their high levels of understanding about the direction of the entire industry and willingness to innovate within areas they see as trending positively. Building on Cosmos gives the team a higher degree of autonomy as they are able to create their own chain and native token, but also an effective method for bootstrapping user acquisition as IBC allows all ecosystem-native assets to flow freely cross-chain.
The first major application being built on top of Passage is the Strange Clan action RPG which combines MMORPG gameplay with a robust digital economy and NFT support, meaning players are able to outright own their in-game items. The game is apparently just months from launch, and gameplay trailer videos have shown high-quality graphics in a smooth and interactive world. Different from other metaverse teams, the Passage team is dedicated to building and launching the first generation of user-facing applications in their digital world to boost player onboarding levels and create an all-important sense of community from the very beginning. This focus on community building is at the heart of Cosmos and reflects a willingness to integrate with and support the growth of the entire ecosystem.