Fortnite’s Ariana Gande concert offers a taste of music in the metaverse

Image Credits: Epic Games

Ariana Grande strutted and soared around a candy-colored series of Fortnite sets in Epic’s latest major in-game live music event. The multi-day “tour” offered gamers and Grande fans alike plenty to enjoy while showcasing Epic’s impressively smooth and visually inventive vision for live events that millions of people can enjoy simultaneously.

Fortnite players have known an Ariana Grande event was in the works for a while, and the concert followed previous in-game events featuring rapper Travis Scott and Marshmello. Scott’s in-game performance saw 12.3 million live viewers, a number that the Ariana Grande event is likely to top, given that it ran over multiple days.

Epic put up a video of the concert that’s well worth checking out, if only to marvel at the kind of stuff that’s possible in gaming worlds these days. Experiencing the event live in the game is obviously ideal, but the video captures the experience pretty well, minus the sense of presence from having an avatar zooming around the space with grande Grande.

This time around, the show featured a handful of mini-games that gave players more to do than just flying around while a gigantic virtual pop star does her thing. The sequence kicked off with players surfing a rainbow racetrack, hitting power ups in a cross between Mario Kart and Splatoon to “Come & Go” by Juice WRLD and Marshmello. The racetrack sequence was followed by bouncing players through a Dr. Seuss-style landscape with candy-pink trees and giant floating eyeballs before dropping them into a mini-game shooting down the game’s Storm King boss to Wolfmother’s “Victorious.”

Grande made her Fortnite debut a few songs in with the 2019 hit “7 Rings,” streaking across the sky and materializing on top of a planet suspended in a sea of stars. Later she soared through the clouds with angelic wings as players followed, suspended in rainbow bubbles. In the coolest portion, a skyscraper-high Grande ascended a series of Escher-esque staircases with a giant diamond mallet before slinging it to shatter the sky, shotput-style.

Fortnite’s latest event didn’t have any huge surprises, but that’s only because Epic sets the bar so high. Getting dressed up in your favorite skin to sail around a skyscraper-tall pop star along with millions of people around the world might not be everyone’s vision for the metaverse, but Fortnite’s wildly imaginative live events are a taste of the future that here’s right now.


NFT vs Cryptocurrency: Are They the Same Thing?

Isabella James, Tech Times 26 July 2021, 01:07 am

NFT and cryptocurrency seem to be the name of the game these days, especially ever since the COVID-19 pandemic all but forced most of everything to go digital. 

Both seem to be lucrative markets too. You have probably seen news of people earning thousands or millions of dollars thanks to NFTs or headlines about cryptocurrency values changing and even crashing because of one Elon Musk tweet. about:blank

If you are unfamiliar with these two, it won’t be a surprise if you’ve wondered or assumed that NFTs and cryptocurrencies are one and the same. But are they really?The Gorgeous Danube Delta in 4k – from Tulcea Romania02:43PreviousPlayNext01:49 / 03:07UnmuteFullscreenCopy video urlPlay / PauseMute / UnmuteReport a problemLanguageMox Player

The answer? NFTs and cryptocurrency share some similarities but no, they are not really the same thing. 

Before diving deep into the similarities of NFT and cryptocurrency, let’s first define what these two are. By defining them, you will actually be able to see their differences early on.

NFT: What is it?

Weird Whales NFT Collection

(Photo : Screenshot taken from Benyamin Ahmed’s Twitter)

NFT is an acronym that stands for non-fungible token. Something is considered non-fungible when “it’s unique and can’t be replaced with something else,” according to an article by The Verge. According to Forbes, an NFT token has “a unique value and cannot be exchanged for another of equal value.”

Per The Verge’s article, NFTs can be anything digital, though most of them have been digital art these days. A 12-year-old boy recently made more than $160,000 selling an NFT collection inspired by a stock photo of an 8-bit blue whale.

Celebrities and popular brands have gotten into NFTs as well, such as singer Katy Perry, football player Tom Brady, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana.  

According to rumors, even Instagram is developing an NFT platform.

Related Article: NFT: How to Create and Sell Designs

What is Cryptocurrency?


(Photo : Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, is defined by an article by Asia One as “virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure and verify transactions as well as to manage and control the creation of new currency units.”

Examples of cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Ethereum, Polkadot, and XRP. 

Cryptocurrency is fungible, meaning a Bitcoin, which is considered the first ever cryptocurrency, can be traded for another Bitcoin. A USD Coin can be traded for another USD Coin. 

There are several types of cryptocurrencies available in the market aside from Bitcoin. There is the Binance Coin, which is the payment cryptocurrency used in the Binance Exchange. Binance Exchange is regarded as one of the most widely used in the world. 

There is also Ethereum, considered as the second largest cryptocurrency market after Bitcoin. 

Other cryptocurrencies available include Cardano, Polkadot, Teher, USD Coin, and XRP.

How NFTs and Cryptocurrencies Similar

NFTs and cryptocurrencies are similar in a sense that they both have stored digital records on a blockchain, defined as a digital ledger of transactions. The Ethereum blockchain, for example, can support NFTs. As Forbes points out, however, the similarity between the two generally ends there. 

If you want to dive a little deeper into other possible similarities, it can also be said that both NFTs and cryptos remain unregulated by governments and central banks, though there have been efforts to try and do so. 

Both NFT and cryptocurrency likewise have unstable volatility. Where they differ, however, is from where their values are determined. An NFT’s value depends on asset value, while the value of cryptos is dependent on market fluctuation. 

NFT vs Cryptocurrency: So Which One is Better?

Now that you know more about NFT and cryptocurrency, you might be wondering which one is a better option for a newbie trader. As mentioned, both NFT and cryptocurrency have unstable volatility. So which one is the better option?

Cryptocurrencies, in particular, are considered high risk, which crypto critics and regulators have repeatedly pointed out in their criticism of cryptocurrency. But, as they say, high risk, high reward. 

There are cryptocurrencies that have been designed to be more stable than others. These cryptocurrencies are called stablecoins, whose main feature is its reduced volatility compared to others like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Examples of stablecoins include Tether and USD Coin. Their value is tied to the value of the US dollar. 

Now if you happen to be artistically-inclined and would like to earn from your digital art, NFTs are something you can consider. The creative, artistic side of NFT has encouraged artists and traders alike to try out the market. On the flipside, it can discourage those who find designing NFTs too daunting, complicated, or too much of a hassle. 

So what is the answer to which of the two is the better option? It depends on the trader’s interest and willingness to risk. 


Amazon is Hiring a Blockhain Expert—Would it Soon Accept Cryptocurrency Payments on its E-Commerce?

Isaiah Richard, Tech Times 23 July 2021, 09:07 pm

Amazon was discovered to be hiring a blockchain and digital currency expert, which led a lot of people to think that it would soon venture into cryptocurrency and accept these coins as payments. 

While that is not yet confirmed, there are a lot of reasons why Amazon would possibly do this, and one is investing in the coins themselves.

If Amazon is looking into investing in cryptocurrency, it would follow the footsteps of the clean energy company, Tesla, which bought a massive amount of Bitcoin for investment purposes. 

Amazon is Hiring a Blockchain, Digital Currency Expert

Amazon shopping

(Photo : Unsplash/ Christian Wiediger)
Amazon app shopping

Amazon is going in the direction of the new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, as Jeff Bezos already stepped down from office earlier this month. This means that everything that is happening at the e-commerce company is now under Jassy. This includes the move to go into blockchains and digital currency, which is something Amazon has left untouched before.

There are no revelations as to the discovered job listing on Amazon’s website for a blockchain expert, only that it is searching for one to take charge on Amazon’s end, and act as a consultant for the company.

The “Payment Acceptance and Experience Team” is looking for its new blockchain expert, and it highly suggests what the company aims for its ventures.

According to CNBC, this job listing was already confirmed by Amazon, and that they are looking into the field of cryptocurrency, as it is a high-grossing enterprise at the moment. The statement suggests that Amazon is fully on board this move, and soon be making crypto a star.

Read Also: Amazon Alexa Lets You Share Your Shopping List to Friends and Family, Here’s How

Amazon to Soon Accept Crypto Payments?


(Photo : GettlyImages/ SOPA Images )
Amazon satellite

The job listing and statement of Amazon confirms something which most people speculate and hope for: Cryptocurrency Payments. And while that is something that is highly suggested by connecting the dots, it is not something that one should celebrate, as it is not confirmed by Amazon. 

Nonetheless, Cryptocurrency Payments may be something of a future venture of Amazon, which is why the company is hiring a blockchain expert to help them with regards to their future actions. 

It also is not clear what cryptocurrency forms Amazon would accept, and there are a lot of crypto coins that are available now, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Binance, Dogecoin, USD Coin, and more.

Is Going Crypto the Right Way?

Currently, going crypto is somehow of a gamble, especially as all the coins are facing a massive hindrance on their rise in the market. That is apparent especially for Bitcoin, which has experienced one of its most grievous plunges in the past trends

However, people are also trading cryptocurrency at a high rate at this time, and it would be something Amazon can take advantage of, especially as a business that promotes e-commerce. 


The Future of Banking: What is the connection between Bretton Woods & Blockhain?

The concept of money is undergoing a virtual revolution. There is a call to democratise the value of currency. But what are the implications of such a move, and this was the focus of discussion in the fourth webinar in ‘The Future of Banking’ series.

The panelists for the session were Karthik Iyer, CEO, BlockchainMonk and Ambassador, P2P-Foundation; and Anupam Saraph, innovator and polymath who has been an advisor in governance. The session was moderated by R N Bhaskar, consulting editor, Free Press Journal.

Speaking at the webinar, Karthik Iyer said, “Today, it is a revolution of money. During the monarchy, it was a revolution of people that led to the movement from princely states to democracies. It led to organising governance. Today, it is the revolution of organising money and value. It is about democratising money.”

To which, Anupam Saraph stated, “Keeping the value of a currency is important.” He added that the future of banking depends on who we will be called upon to design the new Bretton Woods discussion and similar instruments to “protect the value of currency in its equitable distribution.”

The Bretton Woods system was developed where each country had an obligation to adopt a monetary policy that maintained its external exchange rates within 1 per cent by tying its currency to gold and the ability of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bridge temporary imbalances of payments. This was mainly done to prevent the devaluation of currency.

Then when the former president of the US Richard Nixon discovered that the US had issued more currency than the gold it owned, he delinked currency from gold. The US dollar became the peg against which other currencies would be measured. Now the US$ is itself wobbly, and a search for a new measurement system is being sought out.

Post-2008 crisis, the value of currency and faith of the people dwindled which led to the creation of cryptocurrency. But to address the fear of value erosion, there has to be a model that needs to be looked at very carefully, the panelists expressed.

In order to revitalise the economy, the Central banks around the world have been increasing the circulation of currency by printing more currencies during Black Swan events. He added that the impact of this decision is faced by the common man. The blockchain-based digital assets were created in 2008 to empower the third pillar that is peer-to-peer (P2P) pillar without anyone’s involvement.

Iyer added, “This (Bretton Woods system) has been working well for 30 odd years, then it went into the fiat system.” It did work then. Now, he hopes, cryptocurrency will be able to get that valuation (even though at this point a popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is highly volatile). “Cryptocurrency is changing the face of money.”

Iyer continued, “Today, it is a very interesting time where there is a partial return to Bretton Woods where there is a combination of central bank digital currencies which may potentially be backed by real-world assets.” Both panellists also pointed to the way China had introduced its own digital currency (DCEP) – as a pilot study – and was studying how it was working in select territories.

Explaining the common misconception, Saraph stated, “Blockchain can be viewed as an inward and outward distribution register. However, it has been mistaken as a monetary and fiscal solution by the Central bank. It considers technology as a replacement for banking.” He added, “Technology and technologists are not a replacement for bankers.”

But he pointed out how the banks, without even realising this, had passed on their powers to third-party applications which today conduct the role of verification which was earlier with banks.

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Bitcoin drops to 3-month low in wild trading after Musk tweets

By Tom Westbrook, Kevin Buckland and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -Bitcoin fell to a three-month low on Monday in a volatile session that saw investors selling and buying the digital currency after Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted about the carmaker’s bitcoin holdings.

Bitcoin fell to as low as $42,185, its lowest since Feb. 8, and was last down 6.2% at $43,564.

In his latest tweet, Musk said “Tesla has not sold any bitcoin”. A day earlier, he suggested Tesla may have done so, and last week, Musk said Tesla would stop taking bitcoin as payment due to environmental concerns about energy use to process transactions.

Musk has boosted crypto markets with his enthusiasm for the asset class, but has lately roiled trade by appearing to cool on bitcoin in favor of its one-time parody, dogecoin. While bitcoin, dogecoin and ether still enjoy strong gains year to date, their latest gyrations are beginning to spook even steeled traders.

“At this rate of fall, bitcoin is likely to see support at $40,000 if the selling continues, and surviving this fundamental onslaught can set a new run that will create a new all-time high of $70,000 in the mid-to long term,” said Alexander Vasiliev, co-founder and chief commercial officer of global payment network Mercuryo.

“The market has proven it can react to Elon’s tweets and should his comments continue to stream in unbridled, (bitcoin’s)price may be kept below $50,000 for much longer,” he added.

Ether, linked to the ethereum blockhain, fell to as low as $3,123.94, and last traded down 8.3% at $3,291. Dogecoin fell 6% to US$0.48, according to crypto data tracker

Tesla disclosed in February that it had bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the first quarter. At the end of April, Musk said the company sold 10% of its holdings for liquidity purposes.

Bitcoin, designed as a payment tool, is little used for commerce in major economies, hampered by high volatility and relatively costly transactions.

The most popular digital currency is now down a third from its record high in mid-April and JPMorgan’s crunching of fund flow data shows investors exiting positions in recent weeks.

An unverified Twitter account called @CryptoWhale, said “Bitcoiners are going to slap themselves next quarter when they find out Tesla dumped the rest of their #Bitcoin holdings. With the amount of hate @elonmusk is getting, I wouldn’t blame him…”

In response, Musk wrote: “Indeed.”

It was not clear whether he was confirming sales or whether he referred only to the fact that he had faced criticism.

Bitcoin has dropped by almost a quarter since Musk’s reversal on Tesla taking it as payment. Dogecoin has yet to fully recover from Musk describing it as a “hustle”, although it did rise last week when Musk said he was working to improve its efficiency.

For an asset class that has surged this year, with dogecoin up about a hundredfold, ether up more than fourfold and bitcoin gaining 45%, some are beginning to call time on the wild ride.

“Why would I want to buy bitcoin right now – even if I’m bullish – until the liquidation is over and you see some consolidation in price?” said Chris Weston of brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore, Kevin Buckland in Tokyo, and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Additional reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru, Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore and Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Nick Macfie, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)

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NASCAR Revs Its Metaverse Engines With Zed Run

NASCAR is partnering with Zed Run to release NASCAR-branded digital horses on Zed Run’s racing platform. The two parties are still defining details, including venue and broadcast activations for Zed Run and the potential future appearances of the team, driver, and track IP in Zed Run. Both parts are still determining the distribution or sales plans. 

Burberry Drops NFTs In Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party

Mythical Games launched luxury clothing brand Burberry NFTs at Blankos Block Party blockchain. The new Burberry Blanko is a shark character called “Sharky B,” which has Burberry’s new TB Summer Monogram. Sharky B is an NFT character that can be purchased, upgraded, and sold within the Blankos Block Party Marketplace. The marketplace is still in the beta testing stage.

 Megan Thee Stallion Debuts In VR Experience With AmazeVR

AmazeVR, the virtual reality company that brings artists closer to fans through immersive experiences, signed an agreement with artist Megan Thee Stallion. AmazeVR will create a unique immersive experience for Megan Thee Stallion, featuring a theatrical release in selected locations with haptic motion chairs and a music metaverse service available through virtual reality headsets at home. The experience will go public early next year.