Weekly Kickoff, March 29
Rec Room, Bitclout, and the NFT value ecosystem
“The metaverse will be layers and agents all the way down.” — Clubhouse talk on Spatial Computing. More on that soon.
What works better? A weekly retrospective on the week right before the weekend, or a kickoff at the start of Monday that includes anything that happened through the weekend? I’m trying the latter this week. Let me know what you prefer in the comments.
Week of Bitclout: Decentralized Social Media?
Over the last week we’ve seen a tremendous amount of coverage around Bitclout, a new social media platform that creates a social currency for every member of the platform. The biggest concerns about have been:
- Is it a scam?
- If it isn’t a scam, will regulators/lawyers shut it down?
- If it survives the legal threats, will the founders succeed at decentralizing it and open-sourcing it, as they’ve claimed?
- If the founders succeed at their aims, will it be a glorious new era of social media — or a dystopian hell of unmoderated content amidst a financialization of social status, where each person is continuously reminded of their coin’s value?
We don’t know the answer to most of these questions yet, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t a straight-up scam, given that Chamath Palihapitiya disclosed his investment in it during the All-In Podcast (listen starting at 46min).
I’ve been playing around with Bitclout, buying my own coin and a few others, and generally treating it like I do other social media — creating and curating analysis of games and the Metaverse. Here I am:
If you decide to sign-up as well: note that you either need to confirm via a phone number, or spend 0.001 Bitcoin. If you spend the Bitcoin, I suggest using it to buy your own coin before announcing to anyone that you’ve made an account. And for the love of all that is crypto, make sure you record your seed phrase or you could lose access to your account forever.
Rec Room gets $100M
Rec Room is a platform that lets you create rooms in VR space. Creators are doing everything from live theater to concerts to digital escape-rooms. Now they have another $100M to build their vision.
Top Mobile Games
The news of Rec Room raising money comes right on the heels of Roblox going public; did you know what apps are generating the most revenue per day on mobile? Now you know:
NFTs hit peak comedy
It really seems to me that we are on a precipice here… Specifically…NFTs [are] taking off and achieving legitimacy and profitability. — GameIndustry.biz
A month ago I wouldn’t have expected Saturday Night Live to do an Eminem parody about Non Fungible Tokens.
NFT Value-Creation Ecosystem
On a more serious note, there’s an absolutely epic explanation of the value-creation ecosystem around NFTs. The enablers of the NFT ecosystem are the protocols (Ethereum, FLOW, WAX, etc.) and the marketplaces where NFTs are traded. But the overall ecosystem also includes the creators (artists, game companies, etc.) — and also high-profile curators like WhaleShark who bring attention and value to certain content, along with ranking platforms like Showtime. Not unlike the traditional art world, it is very hard for art to capture significant value without the roles of these tastemakers.
The write-up doesn’t get into the liquidity layer, but that’s going to be an important one for people to consider; access to capital — such as the substantial wealth that’s been generated in Ethereum — is key to unlocking capital for NFTs. This includes things like NFT20 that provide capabilities like auction automation; index funds like NFTX; and fractionalized ownership such as NIFTEX which is doing the same for blue-chip NFTs that Masterworks.io is doing with traditional art. It isn’t mentioned in the post, but another key liquidity enabler ought to be cross-chain transactions — something that platforms like Lattice may help with.
If you’re curious about how NFTs might apply to the game business, I’ve written an article on that.
Observations and Reflections
Did all that happen in only one week?
- BitClout started blowing up, and reminded me of the Unincorporated Man, about a future when the economic system is reshaped around equity ownership in individual people.
- Roblox’s awards will feature a live music concert by Royal Blood.
- Frost Giant raised another $5M for their RTS game.
- Immutable X, a proof-of-stake blockchain built as a layer-2 solution on Ethereum and optimized for high volumes of low-cost microtransactions, has announced that 4 Japanese games will use their NFT platform.
- Galaxy Interactive announced their investment in WHALE.
- The New York Times sold an NFT for $560K.
- Discovered DALL-E which is like GPT3 for images (AI-generated image content).
- Sandbox VR came out of bankruptcy.
- Read the great article on the NFT value-creation ecosystem referenced earlier.
- Magic: The Gathering Arena came out on mobile devices.
- Read an interview with WhaleShark, one of the largest investors in NFTs.
- PUBG has grossed over $5 billion.
- I played an awesome game of Dungeons & Dragons with a professional Dungeon Master over Clubhouse, arranged by Mastermind Adventures.
- There’s a comedy game about divorce and magical dolls coming out.
- Nexon invested $874M into other game companies and entertainment brands.
- I was glad to hear that Cyberpunk’s been patched.
- My team at Beamable shipped v0.9 of our platform, which introduced the ability to create server-authoritative code without ever leaving behind C# in Unity, and we opened up our Discord server to anyone who wants to talk about developing live games.
Upcoming Clubhouse Talks
The Game Industry club on Clubhouse has now passed 2,500 members and followers! Clubhouse continues to be the best place for real-time conversation about all dimensions of gaming and the metaverse. In the past week we ran an online hiring fair, attracting hundreds of people — and hosted talks on spatial computing, the metaverse, game design and a wide range of other topics.
There’s a couple of upcoming talks I don’t want you to miss. On Tuesday at 3PM EDT I’m hosting a talk about Roblox and how kids are building the metaverse already. We’ll be joined by Michael McHale, who is director of product at Roblox — so it ought to be an amazing and illuminating conversation.