Entertainment Enters the Metaverse | CoinMarketCap's "The Capital"
At CoinMarketCap's new virtual conference, we discussed how the entertainment industry is already making its presence felt in the metaverse, and looked ahead at the path to mass adoption.
June 20, 2022
It’s 2022, and we’re already holding concerts in the metaverse – something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. How else has the entertainment industry started to make its impact felt in this evolving space?
Recently, news and data platform CoinMarketCap hosted The Capital, an experiential event designed by, and for, the ever-growing cryptocurrency community. During the conference, Parcel Co-Founder and CEO Noah Gaynor joined a panel to discuss how the film, television, and music industries are already taking advantage of the countless benefits provided by the metaverse.
ICYMI – below is a breakdown of the key questions, answers and highlights of the panel.
Panelists: Paul Caslin, Founder of HELLO; Neeraj Roy, Co-Founder of Hefty Entertainment; Noah Gaynor, Co-Founder and CEO of Parcel.
Moderator: Kate Irwin, Journalist at Decrypt.
What is your definition of the "metaverse"?
Paul: A place where everyone can come together to experience their favorite shows their favorite events in one place. The tech's not quite there yet, but in the next two to five years, we're gonna have it. Shows in arenas can only hold a certain amount of people, but the metaverse can hold the entire population.
Neeraj: The metaverse is at a phase where the internet was in mid-to-late 90s. It is limitless, and we see it from the prism of two key things: (1) The virtualization and the entire element of bringing in...artists, artists, and fans to connect; (2) The ability to do multiple elements and fuse programs into digital only and phygital experience.
Noah: Right now, the metaverse is in its earliest phase. We sometimes call it the 3D internet, but that doesn’t do it justice...it's a collection of shared immersive spaces that are going to create a more engaging experience for all users of the internet in the coming years. This will be tremendously bolstered by VR, AR and mixed-reality hardware that’s coming very soon.
A lot of filmmakers value the importance of the theatrical experience – physically being in a movie theatre. Can we recreate theatre in the metaverse?
Neeraj: We should not necessarily try to recreate the cinema experience, like an in-home experience. The good news is, home experiences are getting richer and richer. 75-85 inch TVs are standard. What we’re trying to look at, we're toying with storytelling experiences which are more immersive and interactive, which could potentially be even multi-path, in a sense. We have done this in the past with animation-related stuff, but to do this with real films requires getting in early. For example, if it's a crime thriller and you want audience involvement from the beginning, you could lead up to four or five alternate endings, depending on various interactions, where you prompt the consumer or audience to interact. So I think those could be the early kind of innovations that will get more and more people to come in. Gamifying is the call, we'd like to suggest.
As we enter this new interactive era of technology, there's an inevitable blending of media. At what point does a film or TV show become a video game? What's the difference between a metaverse experience and a video game or movie?
Paul: We’re all heavily influenced by ReadyPlayerOne…being the star of your own movie is everyone's dream. We can find ways of inserting these storylines into the metaverse – for instance, you can go about your day and participate in a kind of thriller, or you can go on a game show and earn NFTs and crypto. In the real world, we're tied to physical forms; but in the metaverse, you can go wherever you want and be whoever you want. You could be a rock star or a superhero, and I think that is exciting for all of us. That speaks to the inner child in all of us.
Noah: I agree. The definition of "film" will expand very broadly. Today, we think of it as sitting in a theater – but imagine a 3D film where there’s something going on in all scenes. The community will become a bigger part of designing, planning, writing, and acting in films or games through NFT ownership.
Neeraj: To Noah’s point, it takes the concept of easter eggs to a whole different realm. You can keep changing these easter eggs too.
Paul: We’re super excited about IP and NFTs. The old studio model of TV and movies was broken in the sense that you had to know someone to get your idea off the ground. The beauty of crypto and NFTs is that we are the producers – the people are the ones who can fund the ideas. Something we’re digging into at HELLO is to figure out how to cut out the middleman and crowdfund the great ideas that people have. They might just not have the contacts that we have in the real world.
That’s a great segue to speak more about the applications of crypto and NFTs in the metaverse. Is cryptocurrency and blockchain technology essential for the metaverse?
Paul: Crypto is a great equalizer for everyone to be on the same field. Getting rid of the middlemen and the decentralization aspect...you should go the full way.
Noah: I absolutely agree. What I would say to a platform like Roblox is that you have to let your community own their assets in order to compete with the blockchain-based worlds. Ownership can extend in a lot of different ways. Funding a film through an NFT sale feels like a no brainer. Think about Star Wars, for example. If they had issued 100 NFTs as a collectible in 1977, how much would those be worth? How much would the community value those? There’s more utility, too – it’s not just investing. You can take ownership. You can maybe own a certain shot of a film, a page of a script – and then own the fees from the box office licensing, and determine how the story ends. Again, it boils down to ownership, which is settled on the blockchain.
Neeraj: There is a huge opportunity transitioning a Web2 audience to Web3. We need to make people know that Web2 and Web3 are going to meld together. With fractional ownership and enhanced distribution, we can take these stories and unlock value for those who are involved in the project in every sense of the way. This is where NFTs and the entire transition to the metaverse comes alive.
Is metaverse real estate still speculative? At what point will people be using the land that they're buying?
Paul: Everyone's excited about the tech, but nobody is making things for communities. We’ve spent our lives consuming media on television, streaming platforms. It’s on us to create captivating entertainment. How amazing would it be if our community sent in their scripts to be produced…we need to start making entertainment for the metaverse. We’re getting this the wrong way round. Everyone’s buying land, but no one knows why they’re buying, why they’re there. I think we all need to unpack it and get back to basics. Let’s start making incredible entertainment that draws people into the metaverse.
Noah: Yes, it is still very much speculative. A lot of these metaverse worlds are not yet live. Even the larger ones like Decentraland still need to be built. We go by the internal mantra: Land is only as valuable as what's built on top of it.
The virtual worlds that succeed will be the ones who provide these creations and experiences. One of the reasons we spun up Creatorverse is to help build the metaverse. We need the builders to come in and develop it. A lot of land owners are not creators themselves.
Neeraj: I agree with the entire aspect of the speculative nature of virtual land. From its peaks, if you look at The Sandbox, Decentraland, etc., they’ve shed about 70-75%. I think that the moment you start getting experiences which consumers can more closely relate to, you'll start to have widespread adoption. You have to break this into two kinds of experiences: (1) experiences that don't require incremental devices e.g., AR/XR vs. those that do; and (2) the app world vs. the browser world. There will be more and more experiences coming in...you should not get carried away by the speculative nature. A lot of these will be in open worlds as well. Bear in mind that the seven big tech guys themselves have their own ambitions. Nvidia is doing omniverse, Microsoft is building the entire ecosystem in Teams itself. So these will all lead to more adoption.
There’s a lot of contention in the gaming community and backlash towards crypto in general. How do we onboard gamers into the metaverse, and how can we change the current narrative?
Neeraj: As we saw with ICOs and art NFTs last year, incentives drive behavior for crypto markets. Whether that's a token or NFT ownership – that is what will drive people in. Once people are in, they will see how amazing blockchain interoperability is. For instance, I own a special sword in one game, and I can bring it over to another game and it’s just as valuable. That will be the lightbulb moment.
Paul: Gamers are the most switched on people out there. They can smell when something is a cash grab and when something is real or authentic. As soon as playable games come into the metaverse and compete with the current, we’re going to find an influx of gamers. They’re waiting for (1) entertainment quality to come up; and (2) not to feel as though their pockets are being drained for unimportant matters.
Neeraj: I agree completely. Gaming cannot be kept aside. They will be the first adoption for a massive scale of the metaverse.