This Week in the Metaverse: Coinbase ad tries to dunk on doubters, Gap opens on Roblox
Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of Web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing — and for almost everything else — or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
Despite recent crypto crash, Coinbase mints new ad and in-app features
In the midst of a historic crash in the crypto market, Coinbase — one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms — appears to be broadcasting a single message to the crypto world: HODL (hang on for dear life). During the NBA playoffs, Coinbase is airing second national TV spot celebrating its 10th anniversary. (Its first ad aired during the most recent Super Bowl.) The ad, titled “Long Live Crypto,” pokes fun at the many, many premature eulogies for crypto that have been posted online by those who are skeptical of the virtual currency’s longevity. The message in the new 30-second ad appears to be: crypto has weathered storms in the past — and it will weather the one in which it’s currently embroiled. In addition to its new ad, the company announced earlier this week that it’s launching new in-app features for some of its users. In a blog post published Monday, Coinbase director of product management Rishi Dean stated that “a small set” if its users will now be able to access decentralized apps (DApps) — such as the popular NFT marketplace OpenSea — on the Ethereum network, creating a more robust and unified crypto trading ecosystem. Eligible users will also now be able to access decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and interact with a number of decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, according to the blog post. The news arrives hot on the heels of the recent dip in the crypto market, which has erased billions of dollars in value from major coins and caused a major tumble in Coinbase shares.
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Coinbase launched its second national ad and new in-app features this week (credit: Adobe Stock)
Gap opens flagship store in the metaverse
Fashion retailer Gap is doubling down on its metaverse strategy by announcing a new, purchase-free virtual experience in Roblox, the popular children’s video game that’s evolved to become a major commercial hub in the metaverse. The “Club Roblox Boutique,” as the activation is being called, is being built in partnership with SuperAwesome, a tech company that collaborates with “hundreds of brands and content-owners to enable safe digital engagement for under-16s,” per the company’s website. The virtual space has been modeled after the company’s flagship store in Times Square. This isn’t Gap’s first adventure into the rapidly expanding world of Web3. In January, the retail company unveiled its first-ever NFT collection, which it developed in partnership with artist Brandon Sines — creator of the famous Frank Ape character. Gap’s upcoming virtual boutique, which is slated to launch this Friday, follows a string of similar activations from youth clothing brands — such as PacSun and American Eagle — that have been built in Roblox and geared towards boosting engagement with younger, more tech-savvy fans.
The US military embraces the metaverse for training exercises
The metaverse appears to very much be on the minds of some high-ranking officials inside the Pentagon. According to a new report from Wired, the U.S. military has been investing in emergent technologies blending the virtual and physical worlds in an effort to optimize its training methods. Red 6 — a company that’s “revolutionizing augmented reality (AR) for military training applications,” according to its website — is reportedly developing “a mix of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and video game graphics.” This will theoretically enable US “fighter pilots to practice dogfighting against virtual opponents, including Chinese and Russian warplanes, while pulling several Gs,” per WIRED. Red 6 founder and CEO Daniel Robinson told WIRED that his company is constructing “a military metaverse… like a multiplayer video game in the sky.” Simulating combat in virtual worlds for military training purposes is nothing new. In the 1980’s, the U.S. Army partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to launch SIMNET (an abbreviation of “simulated networking”), a program aimed at building “a large-scale network of interactive combat simulators,” according to the Defense Technical Information Center. Video games have also long been leveraged for recruitment purposes: in 2002, a first-person shooter video game called “America’s Army” was released “in support of U.S. Army recruiting,” according to the game’s website. (The video game was shut down earlier this month.)
The Cannes Film Festival prepares for its inaugural NFT conference
For the past 75 years, the Cannes Film Festival has represented the creme de la creme of creative storytelling. Now the world-famous festival also wants to play a pioneering role in the growing conversation surrounding the intersection between entertainment and Web3. On May 23, the first-ever NFTCannes Summit — powered by Electromagnetic Productions (EMP) — will kick off at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France. The “inaugural annual event is designed to connect leading minds from the traditional media and entertainment spaces to best-in-class innovators, creators and investors in Web3, signaling a paradigm shift and creating meaningful bridges to the burgeoning metaverse,” the event’s organizers said in a statement. A reflection of Web3’s rapidly accelerating adoption by mainstream culture, the invite-only event will also aim to explore “topics spanning the future of current NFT applications in entertainment… fan and community-building opportunities, live events and experiences, as well as reframing the metaverse as the integration of digital and physical lives.”