It's a new week in the metaverse, and naturally, the metaverse chart has been completely turned on its head with a good many platform developers crying into their cornflakes this morning, I'm sure. Just a quick reminder that a true metaverse is something ubiquitous, it’s something developed for the players, not your pockets. Got it? Read on, you animals.
Platform Unlaunched: Brilliant Games 🎮
Square Enix. Nexon. Razer and now Krafton. What do they all have in common? They are all massive game developers who are turning to web3. Woo hoo! Finally! It’s all kicking off in Asia right now—making me wonder what the hell the rest of the world are playing at. Migaloo (oh gosh, please keep the name of this project, it sounds like the name of a Maltese-Poodle cross) is the project name of Krafton’s brand new metaverse. The PUBG creator is going to do all the things that MYSTiC Games CEO Matt Buxton talked about in his interview with me last week for Metacrun.ch, did you watch it yet? You should if you want to learn something. All good games have a few solid things. Story, Design, Inventory, UI, Monetisation. The purists among you can argue the toss about anything else. If you were at Gamescom last year you will know that I told you web3 games were coming for you, and back then it was (and still is) Nefta.io, ZEBEDEE and Oasys leading from the front. And now look who else is leveraging blockchain to make a games world powered by NFTs that you create, sell and buy? Krafton and Naver Z that’s who.
They have also created a joint venture company in North America and they've put $36.8 million into its development. Not too shabby. So get your Apes in gear, put your pump and dump in the sin bin; then watch and learn.
Digital Dame 🏛️
I remember watching the news in 2019 and crying as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started to burn. I cried again later, happy tears when all that great work Ubisoft did on Assassin’s Creed: Unity, that somehow it may or may not be useful in Notre Dame’s construction. Then the pandemic came and well, we all forgot about actually going to Paris to support the efforts of rebuilding this piece of architectural beauty. Step forward Orange, the telecom company, has developed an immersive metaverse experience at the cathedral. In it visitors can spend 45 minutes in a wi-fi enabled tour of the iconic monument; and it costs €30 a ticket, a third of which goes to the reconstruction fund. Fact: 60,000 people have been through this attraction since January 2022. So they've decided that they're going to develop their Metaverse business a little bit more, I’m not surprised.
This feels a little bit like a Fliggy to me. I’ve mentioned Fliggy loads because they kept us culture vultures sane during the pandemic with their tours of European palaces and museums. They kept the spirit of tourism alive in China and in the rest of the world during that time. But how will these experiences survive now that everyone is back-to-normal (whatever that means) Orange are offering a (mainly) VR immersive experience and I am on the fence about that big time. I am not entirely sure that the future is VR. To mitigate that they are certainly experimenting with AR and I believe that this would be a better way to secure short-term gratification. They’re supplementing their experience by being on Snapchat too, which looks ok until you try and put a man in an AR Balenciaga sweater (don’t bother viewing it, it looks like crap) and call it fashion, so ok.
City AR is winner-winner chicken dinner: I know, I've worked on some great AR applications over the last few years including creating experiences in boring corners of Zurich and Munich. Using AR is a really cool way of being able to connect people to places so I hope that they don't just put all of their eggs in one VR basket and I hope they spread them around a bit. Sharing technology is caring technology.
Betting on the Metaverse 💰
Betting/gambling, it’s got a bad reputation. But the world of gaming houses are turning their attention to the metaverse. First we had ICE Poker and you know, that's ok, but it’s a little too focused on, well, poker. And now we’ve got something else, Unibet, and their fully game mechanised mini-metaverse (because it’s nestled inside of The Sandbox). Players will be able to access all their fave casino games as well as football, tennis, basketball as well as taking part in boxing matches. But what does that mean in terms of gambling? It does carry definitely a huge degree of caution with regards to how Unibet will connect to their audience. In partnering with The Sandbox, which is a French online gaming platform, they say they can offer a unique and immersive experience to become the first betting experience on the popular metaverse. In persistent online and transparent web3 worlds, such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, who watches the watchmen?
I dunno about you but I want the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Is it too much to ask for a gambling experience to give me glamour whilst I sit in my sports bra and joggers? I know I’m never gonna actually step foot in a place like that, so rather than create ways of me losing money, why don’t you give me something aspirational for a bit first? I want to immerse myself in something I can never have.
I hate to be wry, but it’s my schtick so I can’t not say this. When you have spent a fortune on a digital space that might not be the runaway success you thought it might be, what should you do? That’s right, find folks to rent it/use it/bring people to it.
In the metaverse, we’re told we can do anything, but focusing exclusively on women's intimate health? Really? Clinique des Champs-Élysées, no, not that one thinks so. The one that does “cosmetic surgery, aesthetic medicine, laser hair removal , hair surgery, dental surgery. We also offer high-end beauty treatments and cosmetics.” Those guys. Together with a selection of top gynaecologists, sexologists and the like, they want to break taboos. They want us to have a conversation (presumably one that they guide because otherwise what’s the point), together. Along with their partner metaverse RLTY, they’ve launched an event to interact our deepest, darkest, intimacies with other participants via chat, video and voice. Purlease! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, I’m Linkedin bffs with wonder women like Calandra Balfour, Jingjin Liu and Dr. Angela Tan you know and they do it better! This metaverse event is a sales pitch. If you want to go intimate you don’t need the metaverse, you need a mirror (advice provided by my gynaecologist).
Polishing a Turd 💩
Ugh GameFi. Trust me on this, it has nothing to do with the stereophonic sound coming from your KRK RP5s (yeahhhhh). GameFi is explained through the eyes of the Pikaverse, a melting pot of play to earn, NFT and apparently games, though that part is the least credible of this whole news blast. So what is GameFi? The actual definition is very simple. It's a term that refers to that sweet spot of bringing together game mechanics, blockchain technology and non fungible tokens in a virtual environment where players can participate and earn money. So web3 gaming, yeah? It’s all very Nathan Barley in this space currently, and I’m tired so I simply listen to clever people like Matt Buxton, yeah, him! Was it only a few days ago that he said something like “people who have financial backgrounds have absolutely no business building games”?
Pikamoon and the Pikaverse really want to change that by bringing us some old crap on Unreal 5. Everyone is and it is absolutely PAINFUL. Honestly, as someone who has lectured young game designers and artists around the world, “building a captivating P2E” isn’t about having big enough avocados to monkey walk around every single NFT and blockchain event like a Liam Gallagher apprentice on day release. It’s about building a game that people want to play. Making games is really effing hard, listen when people tell you this. What we have here is every single DeFi financier, hedge fund manager, and general Joe dicking about with NFT's. That does not a good game studio make. Game development is something that is pretty specific, refined, defined, and exact. It is a skill and it's something that people go to school to learn. It's also something that people read a lot about. One does not simply open Unreal 5, and think, oh, that looks good. Let's just do that. There's so much that's wrong with this game. It really does look quite ugly. It looks like a school project. I'm not going to lie. I'm an actual expert in this space and if I say it looks like my 5 year old niece has verbal and rectal diarrhoea and still made this you’d better believe this sucks. Instead of this turgid mess, take a look instead at whose business is killing it at the metaverse and business is good…. 👇👇👇
The Pay Off 💸
Square Enix is on fire at the moment, in case you were wondering. They have done some absolutely amazing stuff to shift the needle in gaming, god knows someone has to. Like all eras of Japanese history the Yosuke Matsuda period is over and Takashi Kiryu is in. Fresh blood, a new broom. His background at Dentsu means that he’s been alive before signing up for the kingdom of nerds. And it looks like he gets it—he wants to go to the people rather than arrogantly wait for them to come to him—it’s all conjecture, I know, but I’m an optimist. When I see headlines like this: Square Enix partners with Elixir Games on Web3 gaming platform; I get giddy. So what are they doing? Symbiogenesis, that’s what, and they’re making it using Polygon. This is a fun collaboration. Collabs should be fun! Even more fun is Square Enix leading Elixir’s last funding round, not too shabby at all! Keep your eyes on the east, these cats are doing some fine work right now.
Fiddling the Books 📚
Imagine a universe organised just like ours, now replace everything with spreadsheets. And I mean everything. EVE Online is easily one of the most subscribed, open and accurate depictions of geopolitical and socio political bases in the history of video games. It is the closest thing that we have to a living breathing Metaverse these days. And this is a story of betrayal, a tale of a “group” of players who planned and executed a heist within the game. In EVE Online, players can form groups called corporations to work together and achieve goals. In this particular heist, a player named "Dave" joined a corporation with the goal of stealing as many valuable in-game assets as possible. Over the course of several months, Dave gained the trust of the corporation's leaders and was given access to important resources. Dave then worked with a team of other players to execute the heist, which involved transferring the assets to Dave's own corporation without getting caught. They were successful in their plan, and the stolen assets were worth millions of dollars in real-world currency, maybe.
They call this game spreadsheets in space, and for good reason, because it's important for the players who play EVE Online to make sure that they're balancing every single thing that they do from collecting assets and items to what they spend to where they go. Also, you have to remember that there are factions and within those factions, there are various corporations that lead different expeditions or do different reconnaissance tasks etc.
The big question that Ars Technica are asking is, how did no one notice and who was guarding the safe? It's absolutely amazing to see exactly how betrayal works inside video games and metaverses to expose the strengths and some of the weaknesses of financial systems and social systems inside video games and virtual platforms.
That's enough Metaverse for this week. As well as the Metacrun.ch meets… series, we’ve got an awesome Spotify playlist of some of my selected articles and interviews especially the one where I meet mega famous visual artist and NFT creator, graphic designer, backing singer from Curiosity Killed the Cat Mr Vince Fraser. What are you waiting for? Go and listen now!
Image by vectorpocket on Freepik