In a week where everyone was hanging on to the metaverse by their fingertips, hanging off a cliff whilst a spider crawled up their collective legs; it has been scary and frustrating.
A few interesting bits and pieces happened inside our wonderful metaverse, and by interesting I mean the same old repackaged nonsense (is this my raison d'être?) with a dollop of something magical.
All your base are belong to us
Picture the scene, it’s Paris, it’s 2022 and we’re living our best life in real life? WHAT? Linkedin posters lost their minds about this last week, and I’m just going to hold back a moment, and congratulate NFT Factory Paris who decided to officially open their doors by creating a three-storey web3 (there has to be a pun in there somewhere), education and cultural hub next-door to the Pompidou Heritage Centre. If you've ever been to the Pompidou Centre you will know that this is filled with art and installations. So naturally, placing something that is focused heavily on NFT art makes total sense. But IRL? (Listen, I'm still holding back here.) This public NFT art exhibition featured the usual suspects: anime faces, weird apes, cats, just general alien-type pixel art, the like of which hasn't been done well since Zero Wing. But they seem quite happy with it. (I’m still holding back by the way.) They have great ambitions at the NFT Factory in Paris too - they want to create 40 million wallets in France alone from their factory and philosophy.
My take is two-fold: in a world where energy prices are going up and interest in the metaverse is going down, do we really need a carbon footprint-making physical space to show the things we can see in Decentraland? Just go to Sotheby's there, it’s awesome. Just visit Art Week there. It’s amazing. It feels fairly bourgeois to just present something physical, expensive and aloof to an audience without putting in the time to educate them. We have to work hard to fix some of the wrongs of NFT and web3 created and perpetrated by idiots over the course of the past few months and years. If 2022 has taught us anything at all, it's taught us that nothing is safe, whether it's businesses, or whether it's our crypto balance. So it's time to start cutting through the crap and focusing on what's real. Back to the drawing board, guys.
The fashion game is lame
I'm pretty bored of seeing Gucci. I'm not gonna lie. If you grew up in the UK in the 70s and 80s, we didn’t have dog poo bags, so dog poo was everywhere. Like Gucci. They’re opening the Gucci Vault in The Sandbox, and no doubt all the weird fashionistas that have never experienced the metaverse will literally be losing their minds about how incredible this all is. Bringing luxury fashion to the metaverse is ok I guess, if you are really sure your audience is gonna lap it up. But how are they going to price this? Because didn't they already bring out some kind of digital dress for $10,000 that you can’t wear? The pricing structure of luxury is literally bonkers. So I’m reaching for my popcorn, because it’s going to be really interesting to figure out exactly how in the hell they're going to price this in a way that is not creating hyperinflation, or negative inflation inside the metaverse. It's this type of thoughtless pricing within luxury that destroys any opportunity that people have to be able to dress themselves. Instead. My advice to luxury labels worldwide is to double down on digital pricing unless somehow you’re doing the phygital, or, why don't you just bring luxury fashion into the metaverse by virtue of games? Oh, yeah, I remember it's because Gucci can't get into video games. That's why you had to make your own video games academy. Oh, well.
What a Halloween treat for my eyes! My old boss and Decentraland have teamed up for a virtual Ozzfest. Wow! You read that right. Ozzy Osbourne is bringing his cryptobatz concept to the depths of the metaverse by curating a mega concert for the world of rock. In case the last 6 months have passed you by, I created, with Dimoso and Lockwood Publishing, a wonderful listening party experience in Avakin Life for supergroup Dead Daisies (who became the Meta Daisies) back in June which saw over a million visitors to the experience. If that’s so, imagine how big Ozzfest is gonna be for rockers worldwide. Not only that, if you’re a cryptobatz owner (9,666 were minted, of course!), you will get VIP viewing access and wearables for your avatar, which kind of beats the sunburn souvenir I got when I was at Milton Keynes Bowl watching the last ever Pantera set. In all seriousness, we’re not getting any younger, and rock gods can attest to their own mortal coil. If they’re not already doing the 27 Club, then they are definitely growing old disgracefully. Fortunately for us, that means a metaverse near you. Crazy Train or not, the Prince of Darkness is quite evidently stepping into the light.
Upping the game
If you're a massive Final Fantasy fan like I am, then reading the actual word Avalanche in a sentence about a web3 game is not lost on you. I'm just first of all gonna leave that nerdy in-joke right there.
The Andreessen Horowitz funded AVA is going to be the software company providing support to the Avalanche ecosystem. Final Fantastic. BLRD, which is a subsidiary of Japanese gaming powerhouse Gree, has partnered with the Avalanche network to launch this first web3 game in 2023. What is it about? I can't actually see anything to do with Square Enix. Although BLRD has a history of working with these top gaming companies, it's as much a creator of Final Fantasy as I am. So I'm kind of confused as to how that continuity is going to travel and travel well. If you were one of the few who played Gree’s Final Fantasy Artniks Dive it might remind you of this year’s weird Team 17 NFT disaster. You will also be reading this knowing just how discerning gamers are compared to, say, luxury fashion collectors, for example. Gamers are not quite ready to adopt the whole NFT methodology just yet. Not every gamer wants to be able to be in a space where there are active and available NFTs. So what I think will happen is a kind of Final Fantasy Tactics-type experience where the casual or hyper casual, rather than mid- or hardcore gamer will fall in love with this new way of play, where the developers will reach an entirely new audience. It's going to increase the opportunities for people who are not your typical gamers to be able to come over to an interesting new space.
"The road we look back on goes far. Nor is there a place to return to." - Hatsune Miku
If you know anything about me, you know that I absolutely love Chinese dramas (and Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese dramas too) and so therefore I love Chinese idols. So when I read the headline that in a collaboration between Zebra Labs and Chinese celebrities, there would be a golden opportunity for Chinese celebrities and influencers to be able to enter the metaverse and for us to get closer to them I fangirled.
Creating something that is very sort of Gen Z styled (rather than Gen X cougar style - hello!): their first virtual character has been created for NFT buyers waiting for a bull market. So a waiting room for NFT buyers who love Chinese pop idols, actors and influencers? It feels a bit contrived.
My take on this is that it feels a little bit like everybody's late to the party unless they're gonna get loads of celebrities from Austin Li, and Jackson Wang all the way to Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo, Dylan Wang and Victoria Song. I don’t see this being super successful beyond what these young influencers are doing right now. Why add a layer of cyber on the top?
There seems to be another two-fold problem in our wonderful metaverse where I keep reading a) “we are the first this” or “this is the first that” has anyone actually heard of Hatsune Miku? Hatsune Miku and the famous Vocaloid phenomenon is the reason why in my opinion we’ve got Tones and I. And then b) the output issue concerns content because that has to be number one. So with Austin Li, the Lipstick King, it’s a given that he is constantly talking on his Tik Tok, Youtube or on his WeChat or about the various lipsticks and how to wear them. This is his job. This is how he found his fame and we stan him for it. If we take those individuals out of that space and put them into a metaverse space, then the movement of content has to be 10 times faster. And I think that's going to be really difficult for developers worldwide to be able to create a kind of platform for virtual idols and celebrities in this space where digital content blinks faster than the human eye. But I have been proved wrong a million times. So let's see what happens. If this works I’ll write my next article in Chanel's Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour, blood red, of course. Happy halloween, babies.
That’s enough Metaverse for this week.