Hi everyone! We’ve been through an incredible journey since our last development update post – and we’re very excited and proud to introduce you to this new update and our brand-new roadmap for the rest of 2022 and 2023. You might want to bookmark this page for future reference, and get some tea or coffee ready, because we have a lot to talk about!
The Virtua Story So Far
Virtua started in 2017 as a metaverse company, and developed a fully functional VR-compatible metaverse (including games) very early on – but the world wasn’t quite ready for it. We already knew that blockchain, Web3, and NFT technologies would all be essential parts of our metaverse ecosystem, and decided to focus more on NFTs.
We then built our own NFT marketplace – but we didn’t stop there. We also created totally new NFT collections with mainstream brand partners like Paramount Pictures (Top Gun, The Godfather) and Legendary (Lost in Space, Pacific Rim, and Godzilla vs. Kong).
Along the way, we pioneered the first high-fidelity animated 3D model NFTs and – for Godzilla vs. Kong – worked with Legendary on the very first day-in-date theatrical blockbuster movie launch and officially licensed NFT drop.
Today, our list of partners has expanded to include even more top-level brands, companies, and creatives like Kevin Hart, Shelby, Williams Racing (F1), Elvis Presley, Dynamite Entertainment, the Hero Indian Super League, Stephen Colbert, a long list of immensely talented artists like Tim Cantor, Amrita Sethi, Nick Percival, and more.
We’re also working with fantastic Web3 partners, from Cardano/IOG and Polygon to the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Deadpxlz, Goat Tribe, Disco Solaris, and ADA Ninjaz – and our list of both Web2 and Web3 partnerships is constantly expanding.
Into the Metaverse
It’s important to note that even though we’ve been focusing so much on NFTs, we never lost sight of our ultimate goal – building an amazing metaverse platform where you can socialise, play, explore, build, and even establish your own personalised and customisable home. Virtua’s NFTs have always been designed to be taken into the metaverse – they’re high-fidelity assets that will be fully compatible with your personal metaverse space, have various forms of utility, and (in the case of our highly popular VFLECTs) even act as your very own metaverse avatars!
Over the past year, the metaverse has suddenly broken into the spotlight, with a lot of mainstream awareness – and we’ve seen brands and audiences respond positively to this new development. At the same time, the NFT space has undergone a contraction due to oversaturation, a lack of focus on utility and quality, and buyers purchasing NFTs based on speculation about prices. Meanwhile, we’ve focused on creating NFTs that are all metaverse-compatible, and have utility and value as things you can own, use, enjoy, and keep forever – not just low-quality items with no utility beyond flipping them for a profit.
With the above in mind, we’ve now been able to double down once again on our metaverse vision throughout 2022 – and meet our previously established deadline of Q4 2022 for our metaverse rollout, which is now in progress. Let’s take a look at some of the specific development areas that we’ve been working on this year, and will continue exploring in the near future.
The Virtua Mobile App Is Here!
After a year of development, the Virtua mobile app has now been launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play – and you can learn more about it through this blog post! Thanks for your patience on this one – it’s taken a lot more time than expected, but you can now officially access our NFT marketplace through your mobile device, play with your NFT models in AR, and so much more!
As a quick demonstration of the app’s AR feature, here’s a screenshot of our 3D Godzilla model next to Big Ben in London. You can rotate your model, resize it however you like (it can even be much bigger than Big Ben!), and view it from any angle:
Now that the soft launch of the Virtua mobile app is out of the way, we’re going to be adding more and more functionality – including the ability to access metaverse spaces through the app, making it truly a “metaverse” app. The app also has its own in-app currency called vCredits, which you can purchase in bundles through the relevant App Store (just like any other in-app purchase), while the Virtua metaverse will use another currency of its own, which you’ll be able to purchase using TVK. This arrangement ensures that we meet the requirements of mobile app stores, while also having enough flexibility to deliver an amazing metaverse experience that will evolve over the years to come.
New Marketplace, Website, and Background Infrastructure
We now have a brand-new NFT marketplace developed, including new infrastructure that’s been fully tested and QA’d. However, we’ve also found that if we were to implement this infrastructure before launching the mobile app and metaverse, we’d then have to reengineer those key aspects of the Virtua ecosystem – and that would set our mobile and metaverse rollout back potentially by several months. In the case of the mobile app, this would mean further resubmissions to Apple and much longer delays.
Therefore, we’ve focused on getting the mobile app and metaverse launch rolled out first. We will then be able to quietly migrate everything over to our new supercharged infrastructure behind the scenes while you have fun with our app and metaverse (rather than waiting for the technical complications to be sorted out). The migration is currently scheduled to take place at the end of Q2 2023 – and when it’s finished, our entire ecosystem will be ready for the next phase of Virtua’s development!
But before we really get stuck into what’s on the cards for 2023, we can’t forget about…
The Virtua Metaverse
This is what it’s all been building up to for the last five years – and it’s finally here! We really couldn’t be prouder of the entire Virtua team for pulling off the early stages of our metaverse launch, which began in July with the land sale mint event for Cardano Island.
In case you’re just catching up: The first planet in the Virtua metaverse is called Virtua Prime, and you can see the launch trailers below:
Cardano Island was the first island we launched on Virtua Prime – and while we continue building out that environment, we’re also launching Virtua Island, where you can find the first Ethereum zone in the Virtua metaverse. It’s called the Monster Zone, and we’re preparing to launch our first land sale event there. You’ll be able to buy Land Plots and Condos, explore the terrifying Monster Park, and more; you can learn all about Virtua Island and the Monster Zone here.
You’ll be able to access the Virtua metaverse first through your web browser (with no additional downloads required), and later through mobile and VR. Our app already has an AR feature (as mentioned earlier), so you can see your 3D model NFTs as they’d appear in the physical world too. We want you to be able to access the Virtua metaverse with total freedom of choice, putting the power in your hands.
Our current standalone virtual environments (the Fancave, Virtua Dome, and Art Gallery) will soon be replaced by completely new personal spaces. Landowners will be able to get Cribs (luxurious villas that you can see examples of here), and Condos have their own interior designs that you can see in early demo form here. Even if you don’t yet have a Land Plot or Condo, you’ll still have a personalised and customisable vSpace – a virtual environment that’s not located on Virtua Prime, but still forms part of our metaverse ecosystem – where you can store and showcase your NFT collection and other items.
The Virtua metaverse is a place where everyone is welcome to join in, have fun, and have a home to call their own – no matter where you are in the world, or what price point works for you. When you first create a Virtua account (which you can do here), you’ll even get a free VFLECT robot that you can use as your default metaverse avatar.
We want our metaverse to be accessible and frictionless, and we have our sights set on the mainstream and mass market. If you just want to come in and have some awesome experiences, interact with other users, and see what our brand partners are up to in the metaverse, there’s nothing to stop you doing exactly that.
Almost everything that we’ve done so far has been about making the metaverse happen. That’s meant a lot of world-building – a massive task involving planet design, lore, land mapping, topology, dimensions, sizes, geography, and also incorporating launch, business, and partnership strategies.
At the same time, we’ve been managing the backend infrastructure, which needs to work with our entire world, the Land Plots and Condos, assets, resources, utilities, and more – and take into account how everything would look and feel as a real metaverse experience. With multiple threads that link to each other in all kinds of ways, we have to take our hats off to our awesome dev team for making it all work. For Cardano Island, we’ve also partnered with ADA Anvil, who’ve taken on a lot of the Cardano-related workload and enabled our own devs to push ahead faster with Virtua Island, Virtua Prime, the Monster Zone, and everything else we have in the pipeline.
This tireless work has now led to the successful launch of Cardano Island’s land sale minting events, and the Cardano Island Claim Portal (accessible here), which features a real-time map showing not just every plot on Cardano Island, but also the dynamically assigned details of each Land Plot as well.
When we first put that map online, it was completely unpopulated and we couldn’t assign specific attributes like resources or rarity to a given plot; we could only define its size, shape, and location. When the Cardano Island Claim Portal opened, users who owned Land Deed NFTs were then able to connect their Cardano wallets and claim whichever plot they liked (limited only by size, shape, and availability). The data held in those Land Deeds then determined each plot’s particular attributes (thus making those attributes dynamically assigned), while the Deed NFTs themselves were burnt and replaced with Land Plot NFTs (which include a specific Plot ID).
This was not only a huge technical challenge, but also the first multi-sig metaverse land claim event on Cardano – so we had to innovate with no predetermined path to follow. Our devs and Anvil rose to that challenge, and ultimately conquered it.
From here, we’re moving on to Virtua Island and the Monster Zone, which are Ethereum/Polygon-based metaverse environments and come with particular technical quirks of their own. We should also give a special shout-out here to Ethereum and Polygon following the successful Ethereum Merge event, which has cut the emissions of both Ethereum and Polygon by over 99%. Virtua first transitioned to Polygon in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and the Merge is another massive step in the right direction.
The 2022/23 Roadmap
Before we push on, here’s a quick look at our 2022/2023 roadmap. Next, we’ll start going through some of these roadmap items individually.
Metaverse Infrastructure and Inventory
Our infrastructure is naturally a major part of our ecosystem and dev roadmap, as it covers everything from the world itself to plots, attributes, resources, inventories, UI/UX, every other aspect of our metaverse, and how it all integrates with multiple blockchains.
Not every item in your Virtua metaverse inventory will be an NFT; some items and assets will exist off-chain. This is out of necessity, as you’ll be able to customise things like your space’s carpet, wallpaper, furniture, lighting, and so on. If absolutely every action our users take requires some blockchain data to be updated, it’ll make the experience unusable due to excessive lag or even crashes when a blockchain becomes overloaded with too many transaction requests at once. The same goes for microtransactions; blockchains are not yet the best way to manage micro-actions or microtransactions, again due to their speed and bandwidth limits, so off-chain solutions will be used at least for the time being.
Using a mix of NFTs and off-chain items and assets will ultimately mean a richer and more enjoyable metaverse experience. You’ll be able to go into your personal space and place your Godzilla NFT in the room, adjust the lighting, change the decor, rearrange the furniture, and more – all without worrying about whether or not a given blockchain will be able to handle every single adjustment.
Three Infrastructure Tiers
We’re currently working with three layers or “tiers” of infrastructure:
- World-building (connecting everything together and integrating it with blockchains).
- Inventory (off-chain and on-chain), which will eventually lead to a new Virtua metaverse currency. vCredits are used in the Virtua mobile app to ensure compliance with app store requirements.
- The visual layer (how you actually experience the metaverse through a given device and interface, what it looks like, customisable features, interactive elements, 3D modelling, asset design, art, etc).
All of these are interconnected, and form the foundation of the Virtua metaverse.
We’re really excited about the progress that Virtua Studios (our new gaming arm) is making with our first Web3 game, VFLECTS: Battle for Virtua Prime (which they’re developing in partnership with the AAA gaming studio Stainless Games). Check out the trailers here:
The first genesis NFT drop for VFLECTS: Battle for Virtua Prime will be happening soon, with phased drops and the game rollout taking place throughout 2023. We also have multiple “Jetman” games in the works, including an endless runner, “Jetman Arena” (a multi-user tournament game), a monster/mech battler, and a game based in the Monster Zone!
The Virtua metaverse itself will also have a gamification layer, as every piece of land will emit resources that you can use to craft new items and NFTs, or buy/sell/trade as you see fit. Special metaverse game events, a game land generator, game-focused social metaverse hubs, and more are also coming…
More App Development
vCredits are being used as our in-app currency, to comply with app store requirements, but the Virtua metaverse itself will have another form of currency – and ultimately you’ll be able to buy that currency with TVK. The mobile app will sit as a companion app that works alongside our metaverse.
On-Demand Mint Engine
Our ultimate goal is to create a metaverse that delivers amazing experiences to the mass market and users with specific passions and interests – and as part of that vision, we want our NFTs to be wherever our users might prefer to buy, sell, and/or trade them.
With this in mind, our new on-demand mint engine will enable newly minted NFTs to appear instantly on any compatible marketplace. So for Cardano NFTs, that might be JPG Store; for Ethereum/Polygon NFTs, that might be OpenSea, and so on.
Our Godzilla vs. Kong Legacy Collection (which you can learn about here) was the first Virtua NFT drop to leverage this new mint engine, and will be followed by the Pacific Rim Legacy Collection (featuring free-to-mint 3D NFT models of 9 Jaegers and 4 Kaiju from the movies Pacific Rim and Pacific Rim: Uprising). We’ll continue fine-tuning the on-demand mint engine as we move forward.
Unified Identity System
This will enable your Virtua identity to be used across mobile devices, our Web3 games, our metaverse, third-party avatar builders, and other games that we’ll be releasing in partnership with other companies in the future.
Resource Hub V1
The claim functionality for rewards and gifts has been handled by the amazing team at Anvil for our Cardano NFT drops on Cardano Island – but for Virtua Island, we’re creating a brand-new Resource Hub. You’ll be able to use the Resource Hub to claim resources and NFT rewards – and eventually, it’ll become part of a larger one-stop-shop Metaverse Web Game Hub (more on that later).
This is a particularly high-priority project for us right now, as we know how keen everyone is to start interacting with the Virtua metaverse and get something from their Land Plots. Our team is working extremely hard on this, and we can’t wait for you to start collecting resources and more rewards!
Game Metaverse API
This will allow third-party gaming companies to plug their games into our metaverse, while we also provide guidance on everything from crafting games to connecting each game to the Virtua metaverse. This will include everything from leaderboards to asset downloads, unified logins with Virtua, and social infrastructure to enable games to have their own social metaverse spaces.
Nitro League is already entering its beta phase, and has completed the required key metaverse integrations. They’re also working with us on development feedback for these APIs, which is truly invaluable.
If you’re a coder, watch out for our upcoming hackathon events as well…
Metaverse Marketplace Section V1
This will be a new section of the existing Virtua Marketplace, enabling trading of in-world metaverse items and assets including Condos, Cribs, buildings, structures, furniture, decorative items, landscaping, outdoor items, NPCs, Land Bots, and more. This new Metaverse Marketplace section will service both on-chain and off-chain items – and it will eventually be integrated into the Metaverse Web Game Hub alongside the aforementioned Resource Hub V1.
Unity Automated Building Generator
The alpha version of this will be coming soon – and it will provide us with an automated system capable of creating new structures based on floor plans, even over multiple floors. For instance, this generator could build a brand-new Crib or Tower without the need for any creation to be done by hand (which is very restrictive and time-consuming). It’s an important part of enabling Virtua to scale as more and more people enter our metaverse.
This generator will initially be an internal tool that will help us to create lots of configurations of our Cribs, and put them into the Virtua Marketplace where people can buy and customise them. But it’s very much a desktop tool that runs on Unity and multiple components, so unfortunately will not be an end-user tool for the foreseeable future.
However, in the future, we may be able to provide a bespoke service that automatically builds your dream home, based on your own plans and specifications. This opens up the possibility of architects, planners, and consultants getting involved in the metaverse and virtual spaces, which is something we’re really excited about.
This is a topic that deserves its own article, as it’s such a key part of the Virtua metaverse experience. Cribs allow customisation, theming, furniture placement, and we’re going to be adding more and more features and expanding into different types of Cribs. Cribs are currently in the beta testing phase, and we’re using feedback from the Cardano Island OGs (who minted our very first metaverse Land Plots) to iterate and improve this part of our ecosystem.
The Crib rollout will be ongoing, and will continuously iterate through multiple upgrades and updates over the course of 2023 and beyond. That brings us to our next subject…
The 2023 Rollout
We’ll provide updates on a regular basis about how things are moving along, and explaining our plans for the following couple of months. We’ll go into as much detail as possible – but as always, it’s important to bear in mind that the Web3 space is subject to constant changes of all kinds, and our plans will have to adapt to current industry and market conditions. We’re tremendously excited about everything we have planned, but it is important to bear in mind that building a metaverse at the scale we’re working on does take a lot of time and resources.
Therefore, as we provide updates, we’ll explain as much as we can – and plans that lie further in the future will be a little more high-level. This is to allow for flexibility and change as we innovate and pioneer within the metaverse and Web3 spaces, conceptualising and delivering on a huge range of ideas and experiences that have never been attempted or even dreamt of before. For comparison, AAA games take five to eight years to develop and build – and even then, nothing like the Virtua metaverse has really been attempted before, at the scale and complexity our teams are working at.
Let’s take a closer look at what 2023 has in store…
Metaverse Web Game Hub
Coming online during Q1 and Q2, the Metaverse Web Game Hub will combine our claims portals, the Resource Hub, and the Metaverse Marketplace into a one-stop-shop destination for everything related to the Virtua metaverse.
This is where you’ll be able to do everything from resource claiming to crafting, buying/selling/trading metaverse items and NFTs, and even taking part in special Prime Quests! These will initially be card-based strategy games, where (for instance) you might need to fly a Miner Land Bot to a specific location, mine some resources, and then bring them back to your Land Plot. In that example, you’d take a Land Bot (an NFT) and stack it with an NFT helicopter, then wait for a period of time (such as a couple of weeks) while the required tasks are completed.
Eventually, when we have outdoor metaverse spaces fully built out, you’ll be able to complete Quests in fully immersive 3D environments too!
There’s a lot more to come with regard to the Metaverse Web Game Hub, and we’ll provide updates as we progress through multiple iterations over the course of 2023. An upload portal for user-generated content is also in the works, so that everyone can create their own content and upload it into the Virtua metaverse.
Web and Mobile vSpaces
Virtua has always been designed with the mass market in mind – and people who might not be ready to buy a Condo or Land Plot won’t be left out! During Q1, every Virtua user will get their own vSpace, which will be a personal virtual environment that won’t be connected to a specific location, Land Plot, or Condo within our metaverse. vSpaces also won’t issue any resources – but you will be able to use them to store and showcase your NFTs, and get started in the Virtua metaverse without needing to buy anything straight away.
The vSpaces will initially be rolled out with desktop and mobile web browser accessibility – and then we’ll be bringing out high-fidelity versions that can be accessed through the Virtua mobile app. You may have noticed that when you download our app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, the app is actually called “Virtua Metaverse”…and this is why. 😊
Mobile-Native Cribs and Condos
Crib and Condo owners will be able to make the most of mobile accessibility too, and access their personal spaces through mobile web browsers and the Virtua mobile app. We’re currently in the process of beta-testing our Cribs – and with this update, you’ll be able to access your Crib or Condo wherever you are in the world!
Metaverse Game Structures Rollout
We have a separate team working on all the various structures that will be rolled out in our metaverse, and all the various hubs that will be driving experiences – from mines and silos to game hubs, brand hubs, breeding/building structures, and more. These structures will ultimately enhance the games that connect to our metaverse; relate to resources and utilities; and make the Virtua metaverse’s meta-game elements far more engaging and fun!
The metaverse game structures will also connect into the Virtua Hub rollout, which we’ll go through shortly.
Virtua Commerce Launch
We can’t give away any spoilers about this yet, but it’s going to be a huge part of the Virtua metaverse. Updates to come soon!
Monster Lobby launch and the Virtua Hub
If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll have seen footage of the Virtua Hub, which will be one of the core parts of the Virtua metaverse. It acts as a central hub for community engagement, and will feature everything from brand stores to NFT showcases, recommendation features, marketplaces, game and experience lounges, asset exchanges, and navigation and interaction portals. The Virtua Hub is very complex, and includes multiple floors and stacks – with even more functionality to come before it’s launched.
By comparison, the Monster Lobby (located in the Monster Zone) will be smaller and less complex, so we’re going to launch that as our first metaverse hub experience in Q1. The Monster Lobby will be themed around the Monster Zone and its community, and be a place where people can gather and have fun together in the metaverse.
Due to the Virtua Hub’s complexity and all the work that’s going into that particular project, we’ll be putting out a separate article about it soon.
Outside Spaces and Utility/Crib Functionality Releases
Once we’ve rolled out our internal spaces, we’re going to move on to external spaces – and everything will continue iterating and developing over time.
Automated Land Generator
In a similar way to our other automated generators, this tool will enable us to introduce and implement landscaping changes at scale across the Virtua metaverse, and is an important part of improving the overall scalability of our ecosystem.
Ready Player Me Integration
This is a very special partnership, as Ready Player Me has become such a vital part of the metaverse and Web3 space. They have a huge user base and amazing avatars that will be able to come into our world and our Cribs. We’ve officially got the deal sorted, and are now starting on the integration process.
And as far as metaverse avatars go, that’s not all…
Virtua’s Human Avatar Builder V1
As we’ve mentioned a few times before, our VFLECT robots don’t have legs, in order to help remove the risk of spatial disorientation and nausea that comes with moving around realistically in VR. However, it’s also important for us to give you a choice of avatar options in the Virtua metaverse – so we’re creating our own human avatar builder, which will have some special features.
Since Virtua was first formed as a metaverse company in 2017, we’ve learnt a lot about the difference between a 3D world avatar, and a virtual world avatar that operates within a VR environment. If you’re playing a 3D game, your avatar will need to operate in specific ways – but in an open-world VR environment, it might need to operate differently. For instance, it might need to transform or morph into a different configuration; its legs might have to disappear, or some other kind of special functionality might be required.
Because this kind of avatar-based innovation isn’t taking place externally, the Virtua dev team will be working on bringing new avatar concepts into the metaverse. Since this will be based on our own in-house tech, we’ll have all the flexibility we need to make sure that the avatars we build can fit perfectly into our virtual environments, our Web3 games, and the Virtua metaverse ecosystem in general.
Further Developments and Projects
Although our roadmap is already very extensive, we’re only scratching the surface in this article. Each branch of Virtua’s development will enable us to embark on even more expansion, at an even greater scale than we already have planned. It’s truly an honour to be able to bring the future to life in such an exciting way, and share it with you – wherever you are in the world.
For now, we’ll have to also tease you with a quick mention of our in-house VFLECT avatar builder (coming in Q1 2023), and tell you a bit about Virtua Education, which is a really important impact project we’re working on. Virtua Education is all about promoting children and talent, and enabling schools to have access to high-quality teaching and communication resources. We’ve already established partnerships with a charity and a school who are helping us develop and innovate in the education sector, and this is an aspect of the metaverse that can truly change billions of lives.
One of the best things about the Web3 space is that it’s always changing, evolving and innovating – and it never stops surprising us all. Here at Virtua, we’re going to keep developing and iterating across all aspects of our ecosystem over the coming year, listening to our community and working tirelessly to deliver a metaverse experience where everyone is welcome and can feel at home.
Whether you’re an OG or you’ve only just discovered Virtua by reading this article, you’re officially part of our community, and we want you to make your voice heard as you join us on our journey into the metaverse! So be sure to join our Discord, follow us on Twitter and YouTube, and check out Virtua.com and the Virtua wiki to learn more.
For even more insights into our 2022 / 2023 roadmap, check out the video below as our CEO and Co-Founder, Jawad Ashraf, takes us through it in person: