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NEW DELHI : Several Indians appear to be taking a fancy to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and metaverse projects, undeterred by the uncertainty that shrouds the crypto space in the country and spurred by Bollywood superstars and cricketers who have been funding various projects built around NFTs.

More than 500,000 Indian users have shown their interest in NFTs and metaverse projects from the beginning of November, according to a report by DappRadar, a company that tracks user behaviour across blockchain projects.

India has been ranked fifth only behind the US, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines in terms of interest in metaverse projects, according to the report that was published on 24 November.

“The metaverse trend is dominated by the US. However, the Asia presence is becoming more visible with India, Singapore and Indonesia increasing their audience by 500% (November till date)," the report noted.

Metaverse projects refer to blockchain-based games and   applications that are set in virtual worlds. Such games follow a play-to-earn model, where gamers are rewarded for being invested in the game.

In-game items are converted to NFTs, which can be traded on the game’s marketplaces, while their native cryptocurrencies can be traded on exchanges.

Almost 100,000 Indian users have been involved in metaverse projects such as Decentraland and Axie Infinity, according to the report. These are play-to-earn games, which reward users with cryptocurrencies for performing various actions in the game.

Among Indian cities, Mumbai and New Delhi were the top two cities in terms of interest. 

The country outranked others such as the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Turkey and even South Korea, which is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to web3 adoption. 

“NFTs and metaverse games are like an extension of what we already do online," said Dheeraj Shah, a crypto podcaster and educator who plays such games. “You don’t have to really learn the intricacies of bitcoin and blockchains to enter these games and play," he said.

That playing the games actually leads to real-world returns is a “powerful concept", Shah said.

“If I play a web2 game like Farmville for six months and stop playing, I have just wasted six months of my life. On blockchain games, I can sell all my assets and make something out of the time I spent," he added.

“Overall, the Asian market is well-involved in the industry. The combination of emerging economies, high population density, and a strong appetite for games and technologies made the region one of the industry’s most enticing for adoption. It’s a region that embraces the play-to-earn movement more than anywhere else," the DappRadar report said.

NFTs amassed more than $675 million globally in November, surpassing the October tally by 6%, according to the report. The number of trades, which shows the demand for these digital items, is also set to increase by 25% by the end of November.

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