This Week in the Metaverse: Hellboy comes to The Sandbox and Charli XCX performs 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:
Charli XCX boards Samsung’s virtual space station
Tech giant Samsung has set the stage for its latest branded event in the metaverse: a virtual concert, hosted on Roblox, from pop superstar Charli XCX. The event – called Samsung Superstar Galaxy and scheduled for tomorrow, June 17 – will blend pop culture, video games and virtual fashion.
Hellboy, Rambo and The Expendables are coming to The Sandbox / The Sandbox
Samsung notes that the event will take place in a virtual landscape designed to resemble “a futuristic space station,” where visitors will embark on challenges guided by virtual smartphones. The brand has also been hyping up its new activation by offering the chance to “unlock exclusive pop-icon inspired items to customize your avatar and create your own pop star persona.”
Like many virtual concerts, the upcoming Charli XCX concert on Roblox is being positioned in part as an opportunity for the artist to engage with her fanbase in an entirely new way. “Roblox and Samsung feel like the perfect duo to extend the interaction I have with my fans,” Charli XCX said in a statement. “The partnership is one that will give my community the access and ability to experience me in ways they previously have not been able to.”
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Samsung seems to be especially bullish on virtual experiences and web3 more broadly: just last week, for example, the tech company announced the launch of its own Discord server.
Chobani enters the race in Roblox
Chobani – the food company that’s probably best known for its yogurt and dairy-alternative products – has officially launched the ‘Chobani Oatmilk Cosmic Race,’ its first-ever activation in the metaverse. Hosted on Roblox, the activation is a branded game where players must maneuver virtual spacecrafts and deliver oat milk to different planets.
"We are continuously looking for new ways to introduce our brand to new users and engage with existing fans," says Meredith Madden, Chobani's chief marketing and category officer. "The metaverse is new terrain for many brands, but it’s here to stay."
Chobani, a company that describes itself as “a food maker with a mission,” has also incorporated a philanthropic angle into its debut metaverse campaign: it plans to donate $75,000 to Hunger Free America as soon as players rack up a cumulative equal number of points in the game’s ‘charity chart.’
Lacoste’s crocodile swims into web3
French fashion brand Lacoste is staking its claim in web3 with a new NFT drop called ‘UNDW3’ – pronounced, somewhat counterintuitively, ‘underwater.’ The NFTs feature a crocodile, an animal familiar from the brand’s trademark logo, emerging menacingly from a dark pool of water, its one visible eye an alien shade of blue.
One imagines that the imagery could represent Lacoste’s emergence into the light of a new virtual world, its gaze firmly fixed on carving out a slice for itself in the competitive marketplace that’s beginning to emerge in the metaverse. Lacoste said in a statement that its inaugural web3 campaign is aimed at “[renewing] the customer and brand experience by allowing community members to take ownership of Lacoste in a new [and] creative way.”
News of UNDW3 arrives shortly after the launch of Lacoste’s Discord server, which received “more than 30,000 subscribers in just 48 hours,” according to the brand. The new campaign kicked off on Tuesday with the release of 11,212 NFTs (a reference to the brand’s L1212 shirt), each at a price of 0.08 ETH (roughly $95 at the time of this writing). “UNDW3 is the first phase of Lacoste’s development in web3,” the brand said in a statement. “This will continue over the next few seasons.”
Coinbase lays off employees in preparation for ‘another crypto winter’
The crypto crisis continues. Earlier this week, crypto exchange company Coinbase announced that it would be laying off 18% of its workforce – totaling more than 1,000 employees – in an effort to streamline the business for the economically difficult days that now appear virtually certain to lie ahead.
Coinbase chief executive and co-founder Brian Armstrong wrote in a company letter on Tuesday that the economy “[appears] to be entering a recession after a 10+ year economic boom,” which “could lead to another crypto winter, and could last for an extended period ... While it’s hard to predict the economy or the markets, we always plan for the worst so we can operate the business through any market.”
Armstrong also admitted in the letter that the company has grown too quickly since early 2021, when the market was “in the early innings of the bull run and adoption of crypto products was exploding ... it is now clear to me that we overhired.” The company’s stock price has reportedly dropped around 84% since its IPO last year.
The news from Coinbase arrives shortly after the company aired a new ad, titled ‘Long Live Crypto,’ which pokes fun at those who have doubted the resiliency of the crypto market during its past downturns.
Other crypto trading companies, including Crypto.com and Gemini Trust, have also announced plans to let go of some of their employees amid the continuing downfall in the crypto market.
Now entering The Sandbox: Hellboy, Rambo and The Expendables
The Sandbox, a mobile video game that’s become a popular point-of-entry for brands looking to break into the metaverse, has announced a new partnership with entertainment company Lionsgate and film studio Millennium Media. Together, the companies are building ‘Action City,’ which The Sandbox described in a blog post as “a thrilling entertainment destination featuring voxelized characters and items inspired by fan-favorite Lionsgate and Millennium Media action films.”
The project will kick off with a virtual experience based on the Hellboy film series, to be followed by experiences based on the similarly testosterone-addled Rambo and The Expendables franchises. The blog post also says that “experiences that dive into the studio’s rich horror catalog are planned for the future.” Lionsgate is the studio behind horror classics such as the Saw franchise, House of 1,000 Corpses and American Psycho.
“Our vision for The Sandbox has always been to bring to life thousands of colorful worlds where players can create their own original adventures alongside licensed content from their favorite movies, TV shows, anime and more,” Sebastien Borget, chief operating officer and co-founder of The Sandbox, said in a statement. “Adding to this mix a partner with the unparalleled global entertainment impact of Lionsgate – a company with 129 Academy Award nominations and a rich catalog of popular action and horror films – significantly enriches our open metaverse.”
Adobe eyes the metaverse
Software company Adobe Inc announced this week that it’s evolving some of its tools to make them more compatible with Apple computers and their ‘M’ series computer chips. Apple’s proprietary chips have delivered greater processing power – and therefore creative potential – to a number of graphic design fields; Adobe now appears to be tapping into that power by merging its tech with Apple’s technology, reflecting the company’s apparently growing interest in becoming a leading digital design studio in the 3D world of the burgeoning metaverse.
McKinsey says metaverse valuation could hit $5tn by 2030
A new report from consulting company McKinsey & Company found that the virtual marketplace that’s already starting to bloom in the metaverse could grow to a staggering $5tn valuation by 2030. E-commerce will comprise about half that market value, according to the report. Advertising is also predicted to comprise a significant slice of the pie – somewhere between $144bn and $206bn.
The authors of the McKinsey report, while acknowledging that in these early days the definition of the metaverse “is still fluid,” describe the metaverse for the purposes of the report “as the next iteration of the internet that seamlessly combines our digital and physical lives.” They also write that eventually the metaverse will also likely be characterized by “interoperability across platforms and devices,” and “use cases spanning human activity well beyond gaming.”
The report notes that investments in the metaverse have been emanating largely from major tech companies, venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and brands “seeking innovative ways to get ahead of the competition.”