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Is Zepeto Coming For Roblox’s Metaverse Crown?

Photo by and machines / Unsplash

Open world platform Zepeto may be largely unknown to a western audience, but as Asia’s largest metaverse, it’s hardly small beer. And if its ambitious plans come to fruition, it could soon be challenging Roblox for industry dominance.

An Asian Unicorn

Described as an avatar-centric social network, Zepeto is owned by Korean tech giant Naver and operated by its subsidiary Naver Z. Launched in 2018, the platform has welcomed over 340 million users through its virtual doors during its existence and already achieved a $1 billion valuation. Now it’s set on expanding beyond the Asia-Pacific region, having vowed to build an audience in the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Zepeto recently announced a sister metaverse, ZepetoX, in a joint venture with the Solana blockchain and web3 developer Jump Crypto. While Zepeto is more avatar-focused, ZepetoX is crypto-native, giving users the ability to build, play, explore and earn cryptocurrency and NFTs on top of blockchain rails.

“Overall, we believe that ZepetoX can build the ideal web3 platform to not only bring blockchain to our existing users but also to expand our footprint in the blockchain space through various disruptive initiatives,” predicted Daewook Kim, the CEO of Naver Z.

Like Decentraland and other metaverses, Zepeto intends to launch land sales, with tracts tradeable on ZepetoX’s integrated NFT marketplace. With plenty of financial muscle and industry experience behind it – Zepeto has around 20 million monthly active users throughout the Asia-Pacific – it’s natural to expect big things from this new venture. Particularly if ZepetoX can attract a more diverse demographic than its sibling; around two-thirds of Zepeto users are female Gen Z’ers.

Lucrative Licensing Deals

Centered around an Instagram-like, avatar-filled feed, Zepeto is a next-gen social network that compels users to acquire virtual commodities. However, there are plans in the pipeline to expand the service offered by the platform, with a new focus on digital experiences within open worlds.

To date, Zepeto has struck licensing deals with the likes of Zara, Bulgari, Nike and Gucci, each of whom have released digital creations for use in the metaverse. Zepeto also hosted a livestream of a recent BTS concert.

Roblox, of course, is well out in front with well over 220 million monthly active users, 25% of which are active on a daily basis. The gaming portal recently unveiled FIFA World, an immersive virtual environment celebrating the power of football ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

It remains to be seen whether Zepeto can challenge Roblox or indeed become a go-to metaverse for western users. Given what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time though, you wouldn’t bet against it.