It's the great holiday getaway and pretty much everyone is doing work drinks or end-of-year award ceremonies for the purpose of Linkedin posts rather than any work. I myself have been accused once or twice this month of lollygagging at a private event whilst I was in reality trying to nail some end-of-year VC reserves. Ah, the world of technology! How refreshing it is therefore to read the highs and lows of everyone in the industry as we close the year out. Don’t forget that the news doesn’t stop, it won’t stop, and neither will Metacrun.ch. 24/7, 365, we bare the ugly truth for you to dissect and generally lol about.
The Sony Show Pony
I’ve been Sony since January 31, 1997. Last week I even pre-ordered a game which will take me through at least two days of the holidays. But I have a lot of beef. In fact, there’s always beef with me and consoles who refuse the call to modernise, from Project Milo in 2009 to Mocopi today.
Mocopi: A little motion tracker or a band that you wear on your feet, hands, back, and head to “track your body to create videos or operate avatars in real-time with metaverse apps like VRChat”. Why? That’s the first question, and no is the answer to another question.
The eye-watering cost for this bit of gimmicky hype is around $358, but who is this actually for? Content creators? What does this do for us that Move.ai and Kinetix can’t do? Create talking anime characters? Why? If it’s for consumers, it’s a total waste of tech, and if it’s for game or experience creators, it’s already being done by everyone else. Is it necessary to reinvent the wheel every time when you are a console developer? Form that Namco Time Crisis gun - it may have killed arcades, but arcades were already dying, to Playstation VR - why can’t we use compatible headsets?
Sony promises that because video production needs dedicated equipment, you can utilise their proprietary algorithm to create highly accurate motion measurement with a small number of sensors. I can see the interoperability angle, but the price point is flawed.
This feels a little bit as usual, that this is just another revenue opportunity to try and get ahead or head and shoulders above the competition which already exists and works really well, thank you very much indeed. I don't believe that these types of things work outside of the tools industry - inside stuff like video games, for example. Why do I want to use Mocopi to generate my face onto the face of a 2D animated character when I could use Voilà? I'm very confused.
We don't talk about growing market spaces in mobile games outside of our own preoccupation with our own successes in the west. APAC and US territory demographics are indicative towards trends, transactions, monetization, etc. Free-to-Play is still doing amazingly well after 10 years (yes, 10 years) - King’s Candy Crush or anything from Supercell, SYBO, and Playrix is doing great business, but web3? It’s a dirty word in mobile. As we face 2023 with the same ol’, same ol’ of positive but saturated marketplaces, could web3 gaming offer an evolutionary alternative? India seems to think so. They are banking on web3 as the new hope of development and distribution, and it’s a perfect storm.
VR, especially, is allowing Indian game developers to place more of a target and focus upon the games industry and improve existing monetization opportunities which creates an additional boon for crossing the chasm. In doing so, the previous era of gaming, from the Free-to-Play model to the burgeoning Play-to-Earn model, may be a small stepping stone to a mega transition as companies.
As I said, for the west, web3 is a dirty word. We've not really embraced it because we don't put that much of an emphasis on development in a space where we lump the failures of crypto directly against the successes of blockchain and we err more on the weird messianic status of Sam Bankman Fried than the technological beauty of Hyperledger. Also, native adoption of mobile gameplay is not as naturally evolving in the west as it is in the Indian Plate. The profusion of mobile technology here means that phones do absolutely everything, the same can’t be said for phones in the west… yet. So it makes absolute sense that in a territory which is vast and packed solid, that there is an appeal to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in a marketplace, which you can imagine is even more saturated.
My take on this is that a decentralised gaming ecosystem in the Indian subcontinent and its surrounding territories is a huge paradigm shift which will teach the rest of the monetization territories inside the gaming industry exactly how web3 will power the future of games and gameplay. This integrated network will bring in such totally different stakeholders that the current global scene must drastically change as it matures. Template that!
It's Called Fashun
CFDA, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Incorporated, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Manhattan. It's a not-for-profit trade association, comprising a membership of over 450 American fashion accessory designers. The organisation promotes American designers in the global economy as it approaches its 60th birthday this year it's reflected on everything it's done, and it's decided that it would like to utilise the metaverse for pure brand awareness and uplift because it’s fashionable to do that right now. But that's my cynical view. The CFDA actually wants to be able to use the excellent utility opportunities of the metaverse to showcase everyone in the family, from Tommy Hilfiger to Michael Kors. I have a great deal of beef with the fashion industry and its relationship with the metaverse. I think the industry is wasteful generally, and I have done so since that reckless Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow crap came out in 2020 - how is Balenciaga doing right now? U ok hun?
Look, these experiences are seldom user-focused, and tend to externalise a few people on a platform as a success of virtue, which, tbh, some demographics in the metaverse are not really that interested in. What I would like to see is how the CFDA can show that they are together. And if this particular campaign does anything, it should show how fashion creativity and the implementation of tools and technology have developed over the last 60 years by being part of a council of creativity. Instead, it feels a little contrived, and a resistance to a demographic that will ultimately decide whether 60 years from now, the CFDA will still be in operation.
Going Forward In Reverse
Management consultants are becoming the gods of the future of the metaverse, and these headless services often direct conversations that are both uncomfortable, yet indicative of the future direction of commerce in this space, companies such as Boston Consulting Group KPMG. And now McKinsey, who has this week, shared information that shocked no one.
Here we go: more women have been found to spearhead in Metaverse initiatives than men in the same space. And yet, though 60% of women had put more than two Metaverse initiatives into action, it seems to be the men who are in executive leadership in this space, something that was not lost on me when I reported on it recently on LinkedIn, which was picked up by Jing Daily. More salt than the Dead Sea.
But in order for us to really be inclusive inside this space, we need to be able to see a 50/50 split. Not only should Metaverse companies or services be led by women as equally as men, we must look at the funding elements as to reasons why women are not more involved in matters of diverse leadership roles. I’m not even shocked by this nonsense. Currently, year to date, only 5% or $5 billion worth of funding for metaverse companies funded in the last five years have been funded to women. Men? 95% of course! That's $107 billion of Metaverse company funding provided by VCs and investors alike that's been handed over willingly to guys.
I have had a great deal of privilege to have worked on various funding bodies and funds. I’m also someone who works hard to produce standards. Women run banks for heaven's sake, I just can't understand why we aren't having women leading creative industry businesses at the same pace and the same equilibrium as men. Also, I am not including spokesmodels or tokenism in this space. I’m talking about hands-dirty women who are leading metaverses and services to glory by being STEM-focused and bottom-line motivated.
Because for me, it just feels as though whilst we're trying to reach for the future, we're still being dragged to the past, and that is just not cool, and really has to change. I'm pretty sick to death of having spent the last 30 years working for dudes, and I do not want to be spending the next 30 years of my life listening to complete tools mansplaining what the metaverse is to my tiny weak woman brain.
Web3, in particular, has offered me a great deal of freedom and confidence in being able to strike out on my own and leave this ridiculous gender bias to the annals of crapstory.
Wall Of Confusion
China, a country of more confusion than Confucius, is bringing about more confusion (and less Confucius). The glorious city of Hangzhou has decreed that NFT collections are “online virtual property that should be protected under Chinese law”. WAT? This is a country that has barely accepted anything web3, let alone NFT and let’s not talk about crypto: anything that cannot be controlled, inclusive of the metaverse, cannot be tangible. So for Chinese courts to protect something that the country at large deems intangible seems crazy. China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies has been huge, and that left NFTs in a massive legal grey area. And it's almost as though we're welcoming them to yesterday because the rest of us, myself included, have created standards to be able to support the development of NFTs and the sale of NFTs. It's only now, from an article posted by the Hangzhou internet court which is a specialist internet court, that the big reveal finally, um, reveals itself. NFTs are coming out: out of the grey area and into a place that should be protected by the laws of their country, suggesting that the Chinese now accept that NFTs “have the object characteristics of property rights such as value, scarcity, controllability and traceability.”
What does this mean for the impact that it will have on China as a whole? Well, if these folks ever make it out of their homes, which, you know, is a totally different crackdown. It could be good for them to explore the possibilities of exactly what NFTs can do for them beyond the collectability and the rarity of specific intellectual property items such as the dreadful luxury NFTs that have filled my newsfeed in 2022. Yuck!
What I would like to see is mine/ours/their beloved NFTs, providing more utility than we have seen in the west. You never know, more cool things might follow like a lifting of crackdowns on crypto? The wait might not be long after all.
In The Kitchen At Parties
The story of the week, actually, isn't Art Basel, Miami. It should be because that has just been the worst. But actually, the story of the week comes from the European Union and how it threw a glamorous launch party for its €387,000 metaverse. Oooh the swankiest ticket in town. So why did only six, (yes, six) people show up?
I always tell people that if you want to create a metaverse or you want to create an experience inside the metaverse, it's free. Whether you're building or tending to your own apartment, where you're creating your own experiences - you shouldn't have to pay for it. There are really great opportunities to be able to visit or play inside of metaverse for absolutely nothing at all. For my money, I would say a lot of these metaverses are fairly mature: The Sandbox, Decentraland, Avakin Life, and even Spatial. They all provide a great deal of opportunity to plug in and play, so, I don't understand why the EU would spend €400,000 on a venue that was custom-made in order to create a €300 billion euro investment in building brand new infrastructure across a variety of countries. Second Life was pretty active in this diplomatic space. What, that’s not cool enough for ya?
This stupid Foreign Aid metaverse space really is a total waste of everyone’s time. What are we doing to enable and empower people to understand what they can bring to the Foreign Aid discussion? At a time when energy is at a premium, Europe is struggling. It is at war with resources that are being wasted in the Barents Sea and the EU parties like it’s 2008? There are better ways to be pragmatic yet diplomatic about how young people should connect and care about foreign aid. Must everyone be so tone-deaf this year? I was trying to corner this marketplace too. So, to add insult to injury, only six people showed up to this metaverse party and it's been reported that other people have wanted to go to the party but are currently on a waiting list. The gravy train continues to travel around the world, physical and metaversal, doing stupid things with stupid people.
That’s enough metaverse for this week. I’m off for a vat of eggnog and a virtual mince pie.
Until next week folks!