Metaverse is a term coined in 1992 by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. It laid dormant in the English lexicon for close to three decades and only recently got resurrected and thrown into the mainstream consciousness via open-world platforms that let users interact and transact with each other.
The legendary video game console pioneer, Atari, made headlines in 2021 when it stepped into this novel digital realm by opening a crypto casino in the Decentraland metaverse. That is likely the hottest 3D platform of its kind going today. CoinDesk’s parent company, the Digital Currency Group, has a stake in Decentraland. That is a metaverse where Atari’s venues have been up and running for close to a year in the virtual world’s Vegas City district on a 20-parcel estate. It offers traditional games of chance and Atari-based ones to gamblers who wish to bet on them using the Decentral Games token, the Atari one, or Decentraland’s native fungible cryptocurrency called MANA.
Atari’s Story & Its Cryptocurrency Casino
The word, Atari, is a Japanese term used in the ancient Chinese board game Go. It gets spoken by players in situations where they are likely to gain the upper hand in the next move or following few. Some see it as the equivalent of checkmate in chess, and its meaning can get translated as – I’m about to win. Electrical engineers Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney saw it as appropriate for their two-men company that this duo founded in 1972, originally under the name Syzygy. The rebrand came under the insistence of Bushnell, who was a massive go fan.
Undoubtedly, Atari’s products, such as Pong, and their Video Computer System, later renamed 2600, redefined the video game industry and introduced the possibility of people playing arcade-like games from home. However, the video game crash of 1983 affected Atari too, causing a massive reconstruction of the company and the formation of NATCO, or the New Atari Company. A year later, Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore International, purchased a 20% stake in the company. For the rest of the 1980s and early-1990s, the Atari Corporation focused on producing new consoles and games and selling cartridges to Nintendo for its NES units as Tengen.
In the 2000s, Atari concentrated on producing and marketing retro consoles. And in 2020, they announced that they had granted ICICB a license to operate a casino on the Atari website that would utilize a unique Atari crypto token. A year later, news broke that the company would rush to become one of the first owners of a metaverse casino, the next step into the evolution of crypto gambling sites, more accurately referred to as virtual gaming platforms.
What Is a Crypto/Bitcoin Casino?
It is a gambling site that accepts cryptocurrencies for deposits and withdrawals. The first instances of such platforms appeared in 2011 as dice hubs that only allowed Bitcoin deposits. Hence the phrase Bitcoin casino got birthed. However, over the years, these websites began developing. They set free from the shackles of appealing to niche crowds who craved products whose result generation they could verify. Around 2013, Curacao’s Antillephone began licensing Bitcoin gambling sites, which meant that these casinos could start hosting modern slots and live dealer games.
Today, there is bearly any structural/functional difference between regular fiat online casinos and cryptos ones. Of course, despite what gets listed on members of both categories’ payment and promo pages. Concerning the latter. Crypto casinos supply promos unique to them, such as chat rain, free faucets, etc. Now, metaverse casinos seem to take the concept of blockchain-powered internet gambling to a whole other level, to heights that until recently were unimaginable.
NFTs & the Atari Token
NFT stands for non-fungible token. That is an unreproducible digital asset that someone owns and whose ownership gets marked on a corresponding blockchain. Regarding metaverses, most of the famous virtual shared spaces active right now run on the Ethereum blockchain/ledger. The mentioned MANA cryptocurrency is an ERC-20 fungible token that assumes the role of fiat money inside the Decentraland universe. Consequently, Decentraland users can buy goods and pay for services using it.
Ethereum NFTs use the ERC-721 standard with a uint256 variable called tokenID. Digital assets in Decentraland, such as plots of land or pieces of clothing, are NFTs.
The Atari Token is an ERC-20 utility token living on the Ethereum blockchain. So, it is a fungible cryptocurrency whose chief goal is to serve as a means of payment in Atari’s metaverse crypto casino. It is not the only one, as a few other tokens are also eligible for gaming fun at this virtual establishment.
On the topic of NFTs and Atari, in December 2020, Fabricant launched an Atari-inspired digital fashion collection as Enjin NFTs.
What Games Are On Hand at Atari’s Metaverse Casino?
The games offered in this locale consist of all the casino classics found at land-based and top-end Bitcoin casinos. So, roulette, blackjack, poker variants, baccarat, and slots are viable gambling picks. There are multiple sections for every one of the listed table game options, with ball-shaped robots with wings acting as croupiers at each one. Atari promises to incorporate gambling picks inspired by the famous games that should provide unparallel interactivity.
How Virtual Real Estate Works in a Metaverse
The topic of land parcels got touched on above. Each metaverse is a vast map that consists of a limited amount of plots of land. These plots are NFTs, some of which get distributed during a platform’s initial coin offering, and others get snagged up by new users at a metaverse’s primary marketplace. Naturally, landowners can sell their plots and manage them as they see fit. They can also merge several into an estate. A district is a land category bigger than an estate, and pretty much every metaverse map gets divided into these, each boasting a specific theme.
For example, there are 39 approved districts in Decentraland, and Atari’s casino can get found in Vegas City, an area exclusively designated for gaming venues. The Tominoya casino, which uses a Japanese motif, is Atari’s spot’s number one competitor, also located in Vegas City.
While the concept of virtual real estate may sound strange to many, without question, we are amidst a virtual real-estate boom. Per many industry analysts, in 2021, over $500 million got spent on metaverse plots of land, and projections are that this figure will likely double in 2022. Note that Atari does not own the land on which it built its cryptocurrency casino. It merely has a two-year lease on it.
Was Atari’s Metaverse Casino a Wise Move For the Company?
The good thing about Atari entering the metaverse market is that they came to it early. Technically, just as it was taking off. Therefore, they profited from the publicity wave that came with them opening their spot in Decentraland. Given that they have been operating this venue for close to a year, they have ironed out many of the kinks involved in running a metaverse gambling business, which is something that novel players will struggle with as they dip their toes in these waters.
Furthermore, the metaverse trend that started in 2021 is still going strong today. It is attracting some heavy hitters, plus more and more people with each passing month, allowing Atari an opportunity to promote its brand and existing catalog of games through a new medium to new audiences.
All that said, no promise exists that metaverses will be around in the next five years or that they will maintain at their current level. Thus, throwing money into a sector that will likely come up against legal obstacles is a super risky proposition. It is hard to believe that governments will let the crypto industry go unregulated for long.
The fear is that any restrictions on crypto trading could spell the end to cryptocurrency casinos and metaverse ones. Or at least dramatically affect them. So, only time will tell if Atari’s Decentraland investment was a good one or a bust.