What is it all about?
In recent times we’ve learnt about the Metaverse, its vast connectivity opportunities and how NFTs will play a huge role in this rapidly enhancing virtual space. There’s a whole new world coming at us faster than Aladdin on his magic carpet, – but what does it all actually mean, and how can brands take advantage of this new wave of digital connectivity?
About 10 years ago in the gym I overheard a pretentious middle-aged guy talking too loudly whilst walking very slowly on a treadmill – with a mild incline. With the help of his attractive Bluetooth earpiece, he scoffed, “Mmmmnnnyaahhhhhhh … well, who really needs money… when we have art?”
Not knowing what the hell he was on about, and resisting the urge to throw a kettle bell at his head, for some reason, this chap with his booming voice and fake tan (offset by a pair of ultra-white-short-shorts) always stuck in my mind. And the more I learn about NFTs and digital art, the more I think – maybe he knew something back then that the rest of us didn’t?
Anyway, we’ve put together a quick overview of the new virtual world and how brands can get involved…
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is essentially the new wave of internet.
First, we had slow dial up and informative websites (1.0)
Second, we had eCommerce (2.0)
Next, we’re going to have completely immersive 3D virtual worlds to work, play, connect and learn in (3.0)
It might sound a little more daunting than reality. The Metaverse will be made up of different technologies that allow varying levels of immersion. You won’t have to necessarily wear a VR headset or interact via augmented reality to experience the Metaverse, – you will be able to ‘be in the Metaverse’ simply by using your phone or laptop – much like playing online video games.
We think the Metaverse will be an ‘always on’ interconnection of overlapping virtual and physical worlds that anyone can dip into any time, any place, anywhere. The virtual and physical spaces will connect to each other whilst allowing users to play, communicate, work, hang out and meet new people in ways we’ve never previously experienced.
What's a NFT?
NFT stands for ‘Non-fungible token’ and is a totally unique digital asset, like a gif, jpeg, a tweet – literally anything digital – and is stored on a blockchain (a secure online ledger providing evidence of NFT ownership). They cannot be duplicated or stolen, as each one is ‘tokenised’ with its own unique code. (Whereas a ‘fungible’ asset, such as a £10 note, can be exchanged for two £5 notes in order to equate to the same original value). NFTs, however, can be traded and sold on for profit, usually via cryptocurrencies.
Some people buy NFTs as collectibles (much like you’d collect a physical piece of art). Other people buy NFTs to flip and make some quick cash. NFTs can also hold extra added value – such as giving the owner access to special events or the option to own a physical version of the digital NFT (such as RTKFT’s ‘forging events’ – basically, RTKFT Studios design digital NFTs and sometimes make physical versions of them, such as sneakers, which you can only access if you own the digital NFT version. – And just like the NFTs themselves, the ‘real’ versions are totally unique – which ultimately elevates their appeal).
How Can Brands Win In This Space?
The big dogs are backing the Metaverse to be a HUGE cultural and economic revolution in the coming years. Initial predictions from Morgan Stanley suggest that the Metaverse will soon be a $8 trillion addressable market, whilst Facebook (Meta) CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently stated, “We believe the Metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet”.
We spoke to industry leaders for their view and thoughts on this space…
A Battle to Create World’s First Triple A Play-to-Earn NFT Game.
“With the gaming industry stepping up its interest in blockchain technology, the battle to create the world’s first AAA play-to-earn NFT game will heat up. With titles such as Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained paving the way, major games developers will shift into overdrive to conquer the emerging market.”
The rise of the Meta Bubble.
“With the rush to the metaverse truly on, 2022 will give rise to a Mega Meta Bubble. Seen as the new internet by many, companies and investors will be drawn by the shiny possibilities and will be keen to get involved in the metaverse early. As with any emerging market and technology, we are likely to see some metaverse projects launch too soon and fail to meet expectations. This test and learn culture helps to lay the foundations of the most successful ventures and both brands and customers will soon reap the rewards.”
Jawad Ashraf, CEO of Terra Virtua
The New Age of Trading is Here to Stay.
“NFT’s are quickly becoming the latest new trend, but certainly one I think will be here to stay. The collectibles market has skyrocketed as a result, meaning items that previously relied on being one of their kind in perfect condition can now live digitally online. Creating more accessibility and in turn more popularity and demand. NFT’s are allowing brands and people to sell collectable digital items and in return offering exclusive access to shows for music artists or the ability to contribute to brands and their products. It is a very exciting time for the industry and one that is continuing to bubble, and it’s only a matter of time before it completely erupts. The new age of accessible trading has begun, opening up a huge market for collectors to make a serious amount of money. Not only that, but allowing consumers to have more voice and access to brands than they ever have before.”
Holly Taylor, Marketing Manager UK & Ireland of Topps
In the case of RTKFT Studios, the business was recently acquired by Nike. Such a massive player like Nike buying this start-up is a red hot signal that virtual fashion will be elevated to new heights next year and beyond.
Commenting on the acquisition, Nike President and CEO John Donahoe says: “(the deal) accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture”.
In a previous article we touched on the importance of cross-industry collaborations, forging new connections and landing your brand in front of new audiences. Nike clearly see this moment as an opportunity to further dominate the sport, culture and fashion spaces, whilst growing in gaming and creativity too.
Image © RTKFT
We’ve seen companies building their virtual spaces, intended to attract people in the form of their digital ‘avatars.’ Furthermore, the land and real-estate business in the metaverse is getting interesting too. In November, in a virtual reality world called ‘Decentraland,’ reported 116 parcels of land sold for an equivalent of about $2.5 million in cryptocurrencies…! Businesses and people are literally buying ‘virtual land’ to house their digital experiences! Perhaps if you get in early, you may be able to buy a big plot and then rent it out to challenger brands and start ups to hold their ‘virtual pop up stores’…like a virtual Boxpark. It’s all possible!
Image © Decentraland
And what about furnishing virtual real estate? Would you pay a few thousand dollars for a digital sofa? Someone bought this ‘gravity defying’ sofa (called ‘Pinky’) for $5,000 and can upload it to the popular online game, Minecraft. In fact, the designer of Pinky (Andrés Reisinger) recently auctioned off a range of digital furniture renderings on Nifty Gateway (an online auction site for blockchain-backed digital assets) for circa half a million real dollars. Other renderings in his collection included blob-shaped couches, a discombobulating set of drawers, and one pink swivel office chair.
Video © Andrés Reisinger
We’ve only scratched this surface in this article. There really is a whole new fast-paced world out there and it’s only going to get big and faster…and perhaps even a little more scarier!
About a decade has past since I crossed paths with the loud Bluetooth fake tan man, and I’m thinking – maybe he really was onto something. Maybe he’s still walking (slowly) on that treadmill (with a mild incline) somewhere in the parallel digital universe (in avatar form)?
Watch this (virtual) space for more digital developments…
Article written by Ollie Patterson - Marketing Director at Mynt.