Experience the NYC Times Square Ball Drop in the ‘metaverse’

[Although the term metaverse is being used broadly to refer to social virtual worlds (see Mashable’s story on the evolution and current definitions of metaverse), you can experience New Year’s Eve in New York City’s Times Square online with other people in (at least) two ways this year. The Bloomberg story below describes MetaFest 2022, drawing in part from a press release available via Business Wire; for more information see the event’s website. A different experience from the same company is available for the second year using the VNYE website and app; details are in another press release via Business Wire.

Happy New Year to you – let’s hope that 2022 brings us all better days. –Matthew]

The Metaverse Has Your Ticket to Times Square’s Ball Drop This Year

By Emily Graffeo
December 29, 2021

If you’re looking for a way to ring in the New Year without waiting in long lines or risking exposure to Covid-19, you can now attend a celebration from the comfort of your own home.

You’ll have to leave the physical world, though. As with many things these days, it’s happening in the metaverse.

Cryptocurrency giant Digital Currency Group and real estate firm Jamestown — owner of One Times Square in Manhattan — are recreating the iconic site of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Decentraland, a blockchain-based virtual world. The space will open on Dec. 31 with a “MetaFest 2022” global party, where virtual guests can participate in immersive games, mingle in rooftop lounges, and yes, watch a virtual ball drop in Times Square.

The New Year’s Eve party will be one of the many virtual events that have taken place in the Decentraland metaverse, an immersive environment where people can interact through avatars and make “in-world” online purchases of things such as clothes and even plots of land with digital tokens. Barbados this month announced it was opening a virtual embassy in Decentraland, while virtual-world music festivals in the space have attracted crowds with celebrity headliners such as Paris Hilton. (This New Year’s, Hilton will be DJ’ing electronic music on her virtual island within Roblox, a competing platform.)

To Simon Koster, DCG’s head of real estate, the future of real estate lives in the metaverse. He sees the virtual world not as a replacement of the real one, but a supplement that gives people around the world access to events they typically wouldn’t be able to attend — or can’t, in the case of this year, because of Covid.

“A lot of my plans over the last couple of weeks and over the next couple of weeks have all been canceled, but this one’s going to remain,” Koster said via phone. “Ironically I have never seen the ball drop in person. I’ve always wanted to, but there’s always been one issue or another. I’m looking forward to seeing the ball drop virtually for the first time.”

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