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Empowering Creators in the Open Metaverse with Justin Melillo, CEO of Mona

During Consensus 2024 in Austin, Texas, Matt Zahab engaged in a detailed conversation with Justin Melillo, the CEO and founder of Mona, delving into the platform’s objectives, its commitment to empowering creators, recent milestones, and upcoming trends in the digital art domain, particularly within the metaverse.

Established in 2021, Mona serves as a catalyst for the advancement of the open metaverse, furnishing creators and developers with essential tools and protocols for their prosperity.

Drawing from his extensive experience in 3D animation and visual effects, Melillo conceived Mona to address the dearth of support for tokenizing and disseminating the works of 3D artists.

Mona’s Mission for the Open Metaverse and Support for Creators

Melillo articulated that Mona is dedicated to furnishing creators and developers with the necessary resources to excel in the metaverse. He expressed:

“At Mona, our mission revolves around expediting the expansion of the open metaverse through the creation of tools and protocols that facilitate the success of creators and developers.”

The platform enables users to upload and tokenize a diverse array of digital assets, including immersive environments, 3D objects, gaming paraphernalia, and avatars, which can subsequently be purchased, sold, and exchanged. A pivotal aspect of Mona is its provision of free tools for artists and creators. Melillo emphasized:

“All our tools are entirely complimentary for artists and creators, enabling them to upload, tokenize, and market their creations without any cost.”

The platform also places a strong emphasis on perpetual royalties, ensuring that creators continue to receive compensation for their work, thus promoting long-term sustainability for artists.

One notable feature that sets Mona apart is its approach to virtual land. In contrast to other platforms that mandate users to purchase expensive virtual real estate, Mona prioritizes the creative value of assets.

“As far as Mona is concerned, the concept of land simply doesn’t exist,” Melillo remarked.

He highlighted that this approach eliminates artificial scarcity, enabling creators to concentrate on crafting high-quality content without encountering financial barriers.

Furthermore, Mona places significant emphasis on interoperability. Melillo stressed that assets tokenized on Mona are compatible across diverse platforms and experiences, guaranteeing genuine digital asset ownership.

“You can take that asset and bring it with you to any other game, any platform,” he explained, underscoring the importance of steering clear of walled gardens that restrict asset utilization.

Recently marking its third anniversary, Mona achieved significant milestones. Among the most ambitious endeavors unveiled this year was the Tom Sachs’ Rocket Factory, boasting 1,000 distinctive virtual worlds and nearly 7,000 space station apartments. Additionally, Mona has overhauled its 3D object marketplace and introduced a new software development kit (SDK). Melillo elaborated:

“We’ve rolled out our SDK, which just went live last week and is now available for use by hackers participating in HackFS during ETHGlobal.”

These updates are poised to augment the platform’s functionality and entice more developers to craft independent games and experiences.

Future Trends in VR, AR, and Digital Art

Looking ahead, Justin Melillo anticipates a substantial shift towards spatial computing, wherein interaction with digital content will become more immersive and three-dimensional. This technological advancement aligns with broader forecasts for the forthcoming years, as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are poised to exert greater influence and integration across various sectors. Pointing to the burgeoning trend of younger demographics dedicating extensive time to platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, Melillo prognosticated:

“3D digital assets are poised to become the most valuable asset available.”

As hardware and infrastructure continue to advance, the value and functionality of digital assets are expected to experience a significant surge. Several pivotal trends are shaping the future landscape of VR and AR, with social VR experiences evolving to become increasingly sophisticated, enabling more lifelike interactions within virtual environments.

This is complemented by advancements in enterprise VR applications, with industries such as healthcare, education, gaming, and manufacturing increasingly adopting VR for training, collaboration, and operational efficiencies.

For instance, VR stands to significantly revolutionize education. Immersive learning experiences, including virtual field trips and interactive simulations, enhance educational outcomes by providing students with engaging avenues to comprehend complex concepts. Furthermore, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with VR fosters more personalized and responsive learning environments.

These trends paint a promising picture for the future of VR, AR, and digital art, with substantial investments from tech behemoths like Meta, Microsoft, and Google propelling the development of the metaverse.

The global VR market, valued at nearly $60 billion in 2022, is projected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 27.5% from 2023 to 2030, underscoring the expanding potential and adoption of these technologies across diverse domains.

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