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:
Absolut Vodka brings Coachella to the metaverse
Absolut Vodka is celebrating the long-awaited return of Coachella with the launch of “Absolut.Land,” a brand experience based in the metaverse which will blend Web3, festival culture, music, and fashion. Hosted in Decentraland, the brand’s new virtual experience will also offer fans the chance to win tickets for an “VIP experience” at the IRL festival’s second weekend. Absolut said in a statement that it’s paying “homage to its one-source Swedish heritage” by partnering with Coachella headliner Swedish House Mafia for the launch of Absolut.Land. The group’s latest album, “Paradise Again,” which drops on April 15, “will be played on a custom jukebox within Absolut.Land.” Absolut, which this year is celebrating its 10th year as the Official Vodka of Coachella, says that virtual festival-goers will have access to a variety of experiences within Absolut.Land, including an “anti-gravity dance floor,” “selfie room,” and PRIDE tunnel (described as an “all-out rave paying homage to Absolut’s longtime involvement within and in support of the LGBTQ+ community.”) The brand has also partnered with handbag, jewelry and accessory brand Susan Alexandra, offering fans the chance to score virtual wearables from the “Susan Alexandra for Absolut Collection.”
Meta announces new fees for creators, and the NFT community is pissed
On Monday, Meta announced in a blog post that it would begin testing new programs aimed at enabling creators to earn money, through the sale of virtual goods such as NFTs, within its Horizon Worlds VR platform. A few days later, it was revealed that the company — which has a history of invoking the ire of some of the more dyed-in-the-wool Web3 types — plans on taking close to half (47.5%) of all of those profits. That’s considerably more than the 30% transaction fee that Apple charges on its App Store, a rate which Zuckerberg himself has criticized. Many within the NFT community are, understandably, annoyed. Twitter has been aflame with outrage. One NFT collector wrote on April 13: “The ‘pretty competitive’ 47.5% sales fee for @Meta’s planned #NFT platform is perhaps the greatest example of being completely and utterly out of touch with something that I have ever witnessed.” The overall sentiment appears to be: pick a lane, Meta. Are you here to empower creators — which, after all, is one of the central objectives of the Web3 movement — or are you here to exploit them?
MoonPay attracts Justin Bieber, Drake, Gwenyth Paltrow and other A-List investors
MoonPay, a startup that allows users to buy crypto using mainstream digital payment services like Apple Pay, is being backed by several A-listers. The list includes Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Gwenyth Paltrow, Eva Longoria, Drake, Paris Hilton and Matthew McConaughey, according to CNBC. The company, which launched in 2019 and was recently valued at $3.4bn, summarizes its core mission in three words: “increase cryptocurrency adoption.” The crypto and NFT markets can be immensely profitable, but they also tend to be quite volatile. That volatility, coupled with the fact that many people perceive crypto and NFTs to be too technologically complex to be worth the effort, clearly make for rich opportunity for a company like MoonPay which seeks to make these markets more accessible to the average investor.
Pampers and LL Cool J announce collaboration in support of Black maternal health
Pampers has partnered with rapper LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells festival to launch a new NFT series in support of Black Mammas Matter Alliance (BMMA), a nonprofit aimed at raising awareness around Black maternal health. The campaign, hosted on NFT platform Curio, has been organized in observance of Black Maternal Health Week, which was founded by BMMA. “America’s maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the developed world and highest among Black women,” Pampers, a P&G-owned brand, said in a statement. “In fact, Black mothers are 3x more likely to die or suffer complications in pregnancy and post-partum than white women, and 60% of all maternal deaths are preventable. Pampers believes the time to change the outcomes for Black moms is now; which is why the brand is proud to sponsor the fifth annual Black Maternal Health Week, founded and led by Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA), and partner with Rock The Bells to create a limited-edition Non-Fungible Token (NFT) collection with proceeds going back to BMMA to advance care for more Black mamas.” The company notes that its NFT drop will include “a unique motion-designed NFT,” priced at $60,000, which will come with two VIP tickets to the Rock The Bells festival, which kicks off August 6 in New York City.
Epic Games gets financial backing from Sony to boost metaverse development efforts
Epic Games, the video game developer behind Fortnite — a platform which has blurred the boundaries between video game and virtual reality social hub — recently received a significant financial boost during its latest round of funding. The capital comes from consumer electronics giant Sony and Kirkbi, the investment company that owns The LEGO Group — each party will reportedly invest $1bn in Epic. (Epic and LEGO also recently announced a partnership to build a more kid-friendly metaverse.) In a blog post published April 11, Epic said that its freshly acquired $2bn will go towards “[advancing] the company’s vision to build the metaverse and support its continued growth.” This latest round of funding, says Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney, will help the company to boost its efforts as a major player in the burgeoning metaverse. “As we reimagine the future of entertainment and play we need partners who share our vision. We have found this in our partnership with Sony and KIRKBI,” Sweeney said in a statement. “This investment will accelerate our work to build the metaverse and create spaces where players can have fun with friends, brands can build creative and immersive experiences and creators can build a community and thrive.”