Australian Open Metaverse, ‘Art Ball’ NFTs Ace First Week as Tournament Rolls On

The AO’s metaverse is serving up users an experience that could see it become one of the most successful Decentraland projects to date


Inside AO’s Decentraland. Source: AO


key takeaways

  • The metaverse experiment is attracting roughly 4,000 to 5,000 unique visitors per day, according to data by Run It Wild
  • The figures also reported a peak active visitor attendance of around 28,286 at the Grand Slam Oval Screens

The Australian Open (AO)’s metaverse, hosted on Decentraland, is serving up users an experience that could see it become one of the most successful Decentraland projects to date, according to the latest figures.

Data provided on Sunday by Run It Wild, the company tapped by the AO to design the virtual ballpark, show the metaverse experiment is attracting roughly 4,000 to 5,000 unique visitors per day. Web3 advisory firm Rarer Things also helped with the implementation.

Rod Laver Arena in Decentraland. Source: AO

AO’s metaverse features a virtual recreation of Melbourne Park in Victora, Australia, including the Grand Slam Park and Rod Laver Arena, among others.

With nine days of the AO’s Decentraland project left to run, Run It Wild said the virtual experiment is expected to be one of the highest attended events to have taken place in Decentraland, beating the Metaverse Festival in October.

The figures also reported a peak active visitor attendance of around 28,286 at the Grand Slam Oval Screens showing the Practice Village. The company said that out of 150 countries, the largest audience came from the US (20%) followed by Australia (15%).

Australia’s most popular breakfast news entertainment program, “The Today Show,” featured a segment showcasing the AO’s metaverse, calling it “one step ahead of the curve.”

The showcase by prominent local media is a major win for Run It Wild and Decentraland given the popularity of those types of programs and their capacity to draw in new users experimenting with the metaverse for the first time.

Though not all are satisfied with the current iteration, with some calling the AO’s metaverse experience, “clunky“.

“It wasn’t not fun to walk around and explore what has been done with this world, but I’m a bit strung up on what it all is actually for,” said Australian Gizmodo tech writer Zachariah Kelly on Jan. 17.

Given it’s the first time an Australian sporting organization has decided to leverage an event inside the metaverse, the experience has ample room to grow.

Tennis ball NFTs

Meanwhile, the non-fungible (NFTs) “Art Ball” tokens are actively bouncing from peer-to-peer on secondary marketplace OpenSea. The AO’s 6,776 minted balls are now in the hands of around 4,300 unique owners while activity for the resale of the art balls over the last two weeks clocked around 1604 ETH (US$3.9 million) in trading value.

The Art Balls are a digital collectible, designed by local and international artists and are linked to live data such as match points, secured on the blockchain. Each one of the NFT’s metadata is connected to a plot of each AO tennis court surface and allows buyers to purchase a select moment during the tournament as well as of those of bygone eras.

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While it has caused a stir among local media and domestic users, the functionality has left some feeling as though both the metaverse and the digital collectibles could achieve more.

“Australian Open’s adoption of NFTs and the metaverse is amazing for visibility but its actual execution has left a lot to be desired,” said Simon Kertonegoro, CEO of MyMetaverse.

“I’m looking forward to a future where the NFTs you receive from these events are actually usable in video games and the metaverse experience of viewing sports is more like 3D multi-directional viewing where the viewer can move his or her avatar around the court and watch the game from whatever angle he or she desires.”

The tournament is into its eighth day of games and will run until Jan. 30 with the Women’s Doubles Final and Men’s Singles Final. A Town Hall AMA by Run It Wild is scheduled for Jan. 26 at 6:00 pm ET where the community will get an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on their experience, according to the metaverse firm.

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