Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, Mark Twain famously said. In the metaverse, this quote is taken literally and pretty much every time I write 'A Week in Metacrun.ch', I have to do so much digging because half of the stories I receive each week are blatant fibs set to confuse the reader into doing something. The “something” that I do is get angry and tell the truth. Here are my truths for this week.
Not Much As-A-Service
A few months ago, I wrote something right here about the relationship between avalanche and BLRD (Gree). This time it’s Alibaba Cloud’s turn. Le sigh. They want to help businesses to create their own metaverse(s). On the surface this looks like a really optimistic amazing story where layer one blockchain Avalanche partners with Alibaba Cloud (to give its full title and remit: Alibaba Group’s digital technology and intelligence division); but the big question (outside of the intelligence one that no one seems to be asking) is this: why would anybody bother building private metaverse? Or more importantly why would anyone build a public metaverse that functions independently of what the metaverse should be?
Infrastructure-as-a-Service implies something spesh and unique. Doesn’t Amazon’s AWS already do this REALLY well? It feels like this is more than IAAS and that it’s software as a service too, because tech is a jealous god. If you’re selling us a VM (virtual machine) and not analysing or monitoring what we’re doing on it, thank you very much we’ll take it.
Listen, my feeling is that they've got a lot of competition from a lot of other web3 solutions, and already in operation web2 and web2.5 platforms who believe that they have created something that's metaverse-ish. Unless we have a global platform, a base layer that we can plug everything into, I don't really think anyone has a metaverse solution at all right now.
Scouts on a Rollercoaster
Let's not get carried away by this article from Forbes about how Universal Studios, the metaverse and the future of theme parks is going to completely revolutionise how we explore entertainment. What Forbes is really describing here is transmedia. Transmedia is where a strong IP proliferates onto other media services and digital technologies. This is not metaversal, and it is barely transmedia when you scratch the surface.
Look, I’m happy to call out BS every damn week and serve it up fresh, but can anyone supposedly working in the metaverse, web3 or future tech lay in bed straight with this groundswell of using language as smoke and mirrors in a never ending race to the bottom? How do you sleep at night? Ok. As you were…
Scouts on a Rollercoaster Part 2
As I was saying. The metaverse is a universal (pun intended—as in look it up, theme park guys) experience and everyone plugs into it with their stuff so it’s easy to navigate and adopt without the need to keep changing every five minutes. This proposition from Universal is something that exists on a bunch of different platforms. In my definition of the metaverse, Universal fails: 1. It is not persistent because theme parks close. 2. It is not social because though you do tend to go to places where loads of people are, you tend to go with the family and you know those cats. And then finally, 3. It's not online/open and it’s not served by web3. This is a walled digital twin with a physical presence a bit like a moving feast or curated exhibition that they’re calling a “metaverse experience”. No mention of gamification. Literally not much to see here either. Well done everyone.
Dude, Where’s My Metaverse?
Sotheby’s Metaverse (hahahaha) is getting an upgrade. My first thought was, “oh do they have a metaverse now, too?” and then I realised that was complete and utter nonsense because it’s just a name to them. So, let's just get one thing clear: Sotheby’s don't have a Metaverse, they've got an NFT marketplace called Sotheby’s Metaverse.
It's also launching a secondary marketplace, which feels a little bit like it's completely two years behind everybody else because people have been selling in the secondary market place for a really long time. Those lovely loves who were on the NFT train from day one have gone colder than a polar bear’s toenail thanks to the crypto winter and the fact that most NFTs are worthless and crap. So it's great that they're pumping more money into allegedly revolutionising how they do sales, but they're not. They're just trying to hold customers, and you can do that with a newsletter. I haven't got anything to sell, but my newsletter doesn’t do too badly, they should try it.
When I saw the headline about “Polygon Labs gaming chief being more bullish than ever on blockchain gaming”, first of all, I wanted to punch the monitor. I really do hate it when people use the term bullish. It's just such a dreadful word. It's the type of word that you find on Twitter when people are constantly shilling you shit NFTs. Maybe Polygon could look at how they service language to make people believe in a web3 gaming future that is more inclusive for them and their potential user base? I won’t hold my breath.
The head of gaming says that they're going to be on a long journey and it's not going to happen overnight. But trust me on this, there are some absolutely brilliant games that already exist out there that are doing really bloody well without Polygon—so what’s the story here? No one is interested in Polygon? Well boo hoo. Why don't they pull their heads out of their proverbials and talk to game studios and find out exactly why they are successful in web3 and how they can service partnerships before turning the conversation back to them.
I'm really not enjoying the whole coronation thing so I'm less than impressed by a free Ethereum NFT for King Charles III’s coronation. Why can't I just have a porcelain plate instead? At least that has utility. I can put cakes on it. King Charles III and Queen Camilla have “teamed up” (let’s be honest with ourselves, do they know what an NFT actually is? No one else seems to either) with digital artist Trevor Jones to launch a free collection of “commemorative” (someone help me) Ethereum NFTs celebrating the event on Nifty Gateway. Ok, so this has very little to do with HM and HRH and more to do with Nifty Gateway, yeah? Let’s make this super easy. These are a bunch of crown jpegs. And really, it doesn't provide any additional utility apart from the proof of attendance protocol to say that you were alive when King Charles III was crowned. If that's your bag, go for it. That I'm going to stick with the porcelain plate because I want cake and I deserve cake.
Clark's. You know Clark's don’t you? They made shoes for people in the 1970s until recently: they made time machine shoes. Now these guys make shoes for only the coolest people and those people are not you in this story. Those people are kids. Because kids are cooler than you. Clark’s have gone through some really weird metamorphosis over the last few years. One of the things that they have rebranded is the children's shoe space, in a bid, presumably to create a hold in a marketplace which is filled with more affordable but unsuitable shoes and sneaks. They've teamed up with, wait for it—Roblox; to allow people (read: under 13s) to connect, access exclusive content, share experiences and BUY SHOES (if their mum lets them). This is great because Clark’s and Roblox are aimed at a children's demographic. If we're looking at older skewing products then it's a no go. But if your average player is 11 years old, then this is the perfect place to reach that audience. What Clark's are giving us here is a really good lesson in how to reach an audience that they understand. So I applaud the Cicaverse regardless of its stupid name; I think this initiative is great for children and parents alike. The Roblox avatars themselves look cool enough, you know, if you want to look like a big footed kind of bulky peg, then it's definitely for you. Clark’s haven’t stopped at kid’s footwear either. This brand is coming for everyone; because they've also stepped into the metaverse with an afro beats concert. Well, that’s not entirely true, in fact it’s a total untruth. I have to take them at their word and there is no mention of the metaverse in anything but the headline and abstract. Shame. Especially because the previous Roblox thing was full of metaverse and this story seems to have been written by my mum.
Clark's originals, which is aimed at more of a mature market traditionally (the shoes that were made for the 1970s massive and crew), is looking at the possibility of being able to bring their brand into more of a worldwide marketplace where they haven't been able to reach before. On 18 May, they're working with Nigerian superstar Fireboy DML who's headlining an immersive event which can be accessed via the Fireboy DML YouTube channel, so, just, a text stream then?
Wow, what a confusing end to an otherwise crap week of no news. That's enough Metaverse for this week. I'm going to London to find out if it exists after the coronation. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out our wondrous Spotify playlist and listen while you work. Or, sample Metacrun.ch meets… where I interview only the coolest people in the metaverse and web3. Want in? Talk to us!