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Inside Berlin Cameron’s successful Steph Curry NFT drop: ‘You have to be welcomed in’

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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

October 24, 2022 | 8 min read

When Steph Curry became the best three-point shooter in the history of the NBA, Berlin Cameron decided to mark the event by launching an NFT sneaker. All 2,974 virtual tokens were sold in a matter of minutes, and now – even as the NFT industry reels during the ongoing “crypto winter” – the agency is planning on extending the campaign. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the project’s success.

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The Genesis Curry Flow NFTs are accessible across four blockchain-based gaming platforms / Gala Games

In December 2021, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors sunk the 2,974th three-point shot of his career, marking a new record for the NBA. As San Francisco’s Chase Center roared with the cheers of fans wearing blue and red, an idea began to hatch inside Berlin Cameron: what if Curry’s huge popularity could be turned into an NFT project?

Shortly after Curry scored his record-breaking shot, the agency teamed up with Under Armour and Curry himself to launch the ‘Genesis Curry Flow NFT.’ The drop featured 2,974 tokens (in honor of Curry’s new record), each of which is a virtual wearable modeled off of the Curry Flow – a basketball shoe, now in its 10th iteration, designed by Under Armour.

The NFTs, priced at $333 a pop (another homage to Curry), sold out in about 10 minutes, according to Berlin Cameron’s website. The drop also aimed to raise $1m for Under Armour charities, a goal that “was reached instantly.”

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A step toward interoperability

Much of the NFT drop’s success can be attributed to the fact that the virtual sneakers can be accessed in four separate virtual ecosystems: Decentraland, The Sandbox, Gala Games and Rumble Kong League (RKL). “I think that’s why it won so many awards,” says Ewen Cameron, founder of Berlin Cameron. “It was the first [NFT project] to really do that.”

Typically, virtual wearables can only be used on a single platform. This has long been a thorn in the side of the gaming community. Many companies working in the web3 space have been racing to solve the “interoperability” problem – that is, creating blockchains that can seamlessly pass information between one another, which in turn could create a feeling of a persistent virtual identity.

After all, the metaverse – at least as it is envisioned by experts including Neal Stephenson and Matthew Ball – shouldn’t be balkanized into discrete experiences; it should be a single sphere of activity, with virtual assets and avatars bouncing around unchangingly from one experience to the next.

Building interoperability is extremely technically complex, and it will probably be a while before it becomes feasible on a broad scale. But the Genesis Curry Flow NFTs got around the technical difficulties by simply dropping four separate versions of each token “interpreted in the game language of each of those platforms,” says Cameron, which could then be accessed by their holders. In other words, it created the feeling of interoperability – and for many gamers that’s probably enough.

The Genesis Curry Flow NFTs varied to reflect the unique, graphical quirks of each platform. Avatars are boxy and pixelated in The Sandbox, for example, whereas in Decentraland they’re more anthropomorphic. The virtual sneakers were designed with these idiosyncrasies in mind, so that they wouldn't look out of place in any of the four platforms they were built for.

Berlin Cameron has taken to calling Genesis Curry Flow NFT holders ‘Basketball Headz’ – so named because of their avatars’ basketball-shaped heads, created in partnership with the four gaming platforms – and it has plans to continue engaging with them moving forward. Later this year, the agency plans to launch a suite of virtual wearables, with ‘interoperable avatars’ following in early 2023. “It’s all about an ongoing commitment to building the community through collectibles, and then merging the physical and the digital worlds together to create a more exciting and more dynamic brand,” Cameron says.

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Other ingredients for success

The success of the Genesis Curry Flow NFTs was caused by more than just their cross-platform accessibility.

For one thing, the drop was also helped by the fact that Curry himself is an active gamer and NFT investor (he owns a Bored Ape). “It was an environment in which there was so much shilling going on, but Steph was credible,” says Cameron. “The NFT fans liked Steph Curry.”

Timing was another important factor. Late 2021 was in many ways the heyday for NFTs, a peak in their popularity and profitability. “It was a really sexy moment,” Cameron says.

The onset of the “crypto winter” in May of this year caused a general contraction in the NFT market. Amid widespread inflation, investors were suddenly much less willing to buy risky virtual assets. But Berlin Cameron remains devoted to “community over profit” in the Basketball Headz community, says Jennifer DaSilva, the agency’s president. Cameron adds that the project is “much more about building a longer-term community than it is about: ‘What’s my NFT worth today?’ Because no one’s NFT today is worth what it was a year ago.”

Another crucial factor, according to the agency, is that the NFT project began through conversations with gamers to understand what they were actually looking for, and how a brand like Under Armour could actually step in to address those needs. “The special sauce here was our ability to get into these niche communities from the ground up,” says DaSilva. “ We were getting in through the gamers ... that really helped us build this foundation across the different communities, which was very unique.”

Cameron echoes that thought, underscoring the need for a community-oriented approach for brands that are looking to enter the web3 space. “You’re gonna have to get consumers to welcome you in,” he says. “Brands don’t think like that – they still talk about: ‘How do we own the metaverse?’ You can’t own the metaverse. You have to be welcomed in.”

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