This Week in the Metaverse: arrest warrant for top crypto creator and ‘the merge’ arrives
Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
A technological phase transition is beckoning / Adobe Stock
Roblox unveils plans for immersive ads, aiming to attract older users
Roblox – the immensely popular blockchain-based gaming platform – announced during its annual developer conference on September 9 that it will soon introduce an expanded advertising model and age guidelines in an effort to attract an older demographic and expand its income stream.
According to data from Statista, approximately 67% of Roblox users were under the age of 17 – and the vast majority were under the age of 13 – in September 2020. Now that distribution appears to be shifting – there now appear to be more daily active users (DAUs) over the age of 13 than below.
At the same time, Roblox has been falling short of its financial goals; the company’s most recent financial report shows that it missed both its top and bottom lines. Having derived most of its past income from an in-game currency called Robux, the company seems to be looking for new ways to expand its revenue stream.
The company is reportedly hoping to solve both of these problems through the introduction of a new advertising model. According to reporting from The Verge, Roblox announced on Friday that it will soon implement immersive advertising options – such as virtual billboards – which will enable brands and developers to reach players across a vast scope of in-platform games or “experiences.” Advertisers will also reportedly soon have the option to create “portals,” which will transport players from a game to a branded virtual space.
The platform’s new advertising model is slated to be tested with a select group of advertisers later this year, followed by an official launch in 2023. The immersive ads will reportedly be labeled as such and accessible to users aged 13 and older. Roblox also plans to add guidelines to its platform, letting players and parents know which experiences contain potentially offensive or disturbing content.
South Korea issues warrant for the arrest of Do Kwon, creator of TerraUSD and Luna
A South Korean court issued an arrest warrant earlier this week for Do Kwon, the main builder of the cryptocurrencies TerraUSD and Luna, both of which crashed earlier this year and brought a significant portion of the broader crypto market down with them. According to one estimate, the collapse of the two coins led to investors worldwide losing a cumulative amount of around $42bn.
The arrest warrant reportedly follows an extended period of search-and-seizure operations from South Korean authorities. “An arrest warrant has been issued for a total of six people, including Do Kwon, who are currently residing in Singapore,” a spokesperson for South Korean prosecutors announced in a statement on Wednesday. No reason was specified.
Kwon announced in a public interview in August that he had moved to Singapore for his family’s safety.
US authorities have also recently been cracking down on the crypto industry. In July, for example, The New York Times reported that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control was probing the crypto exchange company Kraken for allegedly violating US sanction law by making its services available to customers in Iran, Syria and Cuba.
‘The merge’ finally arrives
This afternoon, at around 3 pm ET, the Ethereum network is scheduled to transition away from a ‘Proof-of-Stake’ (PoS) system to a ‘Proof-of-Work’ (PoW) system – a highly anticipated event known in the crypto community as ‘the merge.’ If everything goes according to plan, the pivotal event could lead to as much as a 99% reduction in the amount of energy that Ethereum requires to run. It could also turn Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, Ether (or ETH), deflationary – meaning the supply will hypothetically decrease over time – which could in turn attract more investors and raise its price. For a more detailed explanation of the merge and why it matters, click here.
iHeartMedia sets up shop in Roblox
Media company iHeartMedia announced on Wednesday that it has cut the ribbon on iHeartLand on Roblox, a new virtual experience designed to establish the brand “as a go-to destination and pioneer in the rapidly-expanding metaverse,” per a press release. iHeartMedia has partnered with Intel and State Farm for its new Roblox activation; the famous Jake from State Farm will also be (virtually) present – presumably wearing khakis.
The media company appears to be trying to attract a younger audience to its new virtual landscape through musical appeal. Visitors will be challenged to collect “song energy” rewards in an effort “to power their own [virtual] customized music studio as well as unlock upgrades, fan experiences and rewards,” per the press release. A pre-recorded performance from the singer-songwriter Lauv will play this Friday from the State Farm Park – described as “the epicenter of iHeartLand” — and fans can take pictures of an avatar of Lauv (that won’t actually be controlled by anyone). iHeartLand on Roblox will also host an album release party for singer-songwriter Charlie Puth on October 7, “a special podcast event” with The Trap Nerds and several other scheduled “can’t-miss events in the next year.”
“We’re always looking for more ways to connect with our audience and provide the kind of unique experiences only iHeartMedia can offer, and we’re thrilled to expand our footprint in the metaverse by opening iHeartLand on Roblox,” Conal Byrne, chief executive of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group, said in the press release. “Our scale and reach across all forms of entertainment give iHeart an elite position to bring the hottest artists, freshest music and biggest podcasts to Roblox. iHeartLand on Roblox is set to blow all expectations away.”
iHeartMedia debuted iHeartLand in Fortnite less than one month ago.
Kingship partners with Grammy-winners James Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy
Kingship is hoping to make some hits in the metaverse through a new collaboration with Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy, both of whom have signed on as co-executive producers and songwriters for the band. Hit-Boy is a Grammy-winning hip-hop producer who’s worked with industry giants such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nas and Beyonce. Fauntleroy is a Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer who has also worked with some of the GOATs.
“I’m always looking to push things forward musically,” Hit-Boy said in a press release, “and this is a great opportunity to do something new in the web3 space.”
The faces of Kingship are three Bored Ape NFTs and one Mutant Ape NFT, giving them – at least optically – a Gorillaz vibe. The band was launched by 10:33pm, Universal Music Group’s web3 label.
News of the band’s collaboration with Hit-Boy and Fauntleroy arrives less than one month after the band announced a partnership with Mars, International, which featured M&M’s emblazoned with the band members’ cartoon-simian faces.
According to the press release, Hit-Boy and Fauntleroy will be working with Arnell, the Mutant Ape member of the band who’s also Kingship’s DJ.
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