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brooklyn-nets-netaverse-metaverse-thefutureparty

The Brooklyn Nets score their own metaverse

brooklyn-nets-netaverse-metaverse-thefutureparty
The Netaverse // Courtesy of YES Network via Twitter

The Brooklyn Nets score their own metaverse

The Future. The Brooklyn Nets have launched the “Netaverse” — a metaverse platform that allows spectators to jump digitally right in the middle of a game. The gamification of everything is becoming a bonafide trend, and with sports betting now legal, expect the Nets to open up new lines of revenue by making the Netaverse even more interactive.

Netaverse
You could watch a Nets game on TV in real life, or you could really get in on the action by entering the Netaverse.

  • The Brooklyn Nets launched their own metaverse platform (amazingly) called the “Netaverse,” making them the first American sports franchise to try the tech.
  • The Netaverse renders games digitally in near-real-time by using footage captured by 100 high-res cameras surrounding the court at Barclays Center.
  • The lifelike 3D render allows fans to jump into the game wherever they want, like right under the basket or at the three-point line.

The effect creates the first real 360-degree virtual reality view of a sports game. Don’t be surprised if Oculus wants to get in on a partnership.

Esports arena filled with spectators.

What Are Esports? A Look at the Latest Trend in the Gaming Industry

Have you heard the term Esports and wondered what it meant? Unless you are involved directly in the process, it can seem like a foreign online community. It’s something you’re aware exists, but you don’t know the specifics or what it’s all about. 

Esports are a growing world of gamers who participate in large gatherings of video game competitions. Known for being extremely organized, Esports are a mass gathering of participants in video games. Think of it as a basketball tournament or a round-robin event for tennis matches. 

Esports, short for electronic sports, can involve a number of different video games. In order to be an Esport, there is a gathering, often in a large setting, of esports players. Esport events, like an Esports tournament, can bring in as many as a million viewers for a single game. The Esports games are often played by professional video game players, including teams, to create a more exciting viewer experience.

How Did Esports Get Started?

Believe it or not, Esports actually date back to the early 1970s, when players would compete against one another via large computers, playing a single game. The first known Esports competition was held at Stanford University in 1972, where gamers played Spaceward. Participants competed in individual and team categories at this inaugural event. 

Within a few years, game companies, particularly Sega in Japan, got in on the competitions to help boost sales for their games. They increased revenue from games by hosting hundreds of competitions while adding hype to their ongoing games.

The Expansion to Global Gaming

Global Esport competitions became possible with the existence of the internet. Once gamers could interact with one another in real-time in online battle arenas, the ability to play against one another, even internationally, became possible. 

This greatly expanded the world of Esports as we know them today. Countries like South Korea, Japan, and China account for huge numbers in the Esports athletes world. This market has boomed for them ever since the expansion of broadband internet. 

Another reason that Esports are believed to be so wildly popular in these areas is due to a huge unemployment period during the late 90s. Because many people were at home and looking for activities, Esports grew. It was an affordable, easy hobby that people could engage in at home.

Esports Today: What Are the Norms?

Today, thousands of gamers view a single game during these competitions in multiplayer online battle arenas. Highly visible and widely hyped, this is a place for video game sponsors to find new players to represent, for players to learn more about their favorite games, for new games to be released, and more. They’re essentially a mecca for gamers and everything within their universe. 

Esports are often held in large arenas where pros and hobbyists alike can compete in various tournaments. Others can attend in person to view the games or visit local booths. Esports can be viewed remotely by fans across the globe, with users logging in and watching the competitors online. 

The ability to access games from any location has allowed the practice to grow in popularity. It doesn’t require fans or participants to travel like with traditional sports, but instead lets them join from the comfort of their own home. In addition, users have been able to compete or interact during many stay-at-home orders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How Does Esports Bring in Money?

Recently, Esports became a billion-dollar industry. There’s no denying that it brings in impressive price tags. However, those who aren’t familiar with the business model may wonder how Esports pack such an impressive price tag.

Take a look at how the industry brings in funds and an impressive profit for those involved. 

Hosting

First, let’s look at those hosting the competition. Hosts rent the venue and set up the logistics, but they bring in the dollars, too. There are entry fees for participants who want to join the competition. Sponsors pay to have their names on the event. Booth rentals are available for those selling items to the masses. 

Ticket sales round out the revenue to be made, and tickets are purchased by those attending professional leagues in person or online. 

Winning or Being Sponsored

For gamers, funds are earned in two ways: through promotion and sponsorships or by winning tournaments. By getting exposure and working your way to the top, you can be picked up by companies who want to back you financially. By winning competitions, you earn prizes like money. Depending on the size of the competition, this can be a huge cash prize, or it can come with perks like free popular games or access to programs. 

There are even franchise leagues for Esports, much like the NFL or NBA. Owners recruit the best players, pay them to perform well on their team, and own the rights to their team. Companies can then sell licensed items for additional revenue to the team, its players, and those who own the team. 

The first Esports league was called Overwatch League. Overwatch League was launched in 2016 by the video game development brand Blizzard Entertainment, and it is still in existence today with 20 teams of 12 players. Players participate in the game Overwatch in a series of tournaments before an annual champion is named. 

Teams are located internationally:

  • 11 teams in the United States
  • 4 teams in China
  • 2 teams in Canada
  • 1 team in South Korea
  • 1 team in the United Kingdom
  • 1 team in France

Sales

Video game brands and companies that make gaming chairs, computer screens, and other accessories profit through sales. At each event, they can move products or boost online orders by showing off what they can do and what they have to offer. Swag or coupon codes for attendees can even sweeten the pot. 

Are Esports Classified as a Sport?

There has been much controversy surrounding the classification of Esports. In many ways, it’s a class in and of itself. With competition and the ability to attend and view games both in-person and online, Esports have their own unique factors that almost call for a new category altogether.

As to whether or not Esports should be considered a sport, there is much back and forth. Many believe that it is an intense competition involving pro athletes, thus making Esports very much a sport that should qualify for the Olympic games. Esports require skill, practice, and growing knowledge in order to reach success. 

Others argue that Esports should not be classified as a sport because there is no physical component. 

Some also cite the need for an emotional or spiritual part of the sport to make participants feel good while involved. For most sports, this comes from running or being outdoors. As Esports calls for neither of these, the classification of Esports as a sport has yet to take place. 

In recent years, Esports gained recognition from the Olympics when the International Olympic Committee talked about the growing popularity and future possibility of including Esports in the games. 

Most recently, they announced that in order to fit Olympic criteria, an added physical portion needs to be included in any popular Esports at the Olympic level. 

Conclusion

The world of Esports is quickly growing and expanding in the United States and beyond, particularly in Asian countries. From game companies themselves to those who host the events, to players who compete live or online in a multiplayer online battle arena, Esports are expanding by the day, and not just in North America. There are even prize pools and some professional leagues and championships, like the League of Legends World Championship.

More than a billion dollars has been earned through Esports, and viewership continues to rise as more and more people find access to Esports through platforms like Twitch, Youtube, Xbox, and ESPN. 

Whether you’re new to this market or are an avid viewer, there is much to learn about the reach of Esports and what it has to offer the online community. 

To learn more about Esports, including how you can get involved, take a look at our emails. Not on our email list? Sign up today to learn more. 

Sources:

Esports Part 1: What are Esports? | Harvard

What is eSports? History, Top Teams, Revenues and Risks | GameQuitters

What is eSports? A look at an explosive, billion-dollar industry | CNN 

gamestop-video-games-crypto-nfts-thefutureparty

GameStop sells customers on NFT plans

gamestop-video-games-crypto-nfts-thefutureparty
GameStop // Illustration by Kate Walker

GameStop sells customers on NFT plans

The Future. It was only a matter of time: GameStop is getting into NFTs. The video game retailer is building a marketplace for customers to buy, sell, and trade NFTs tied to game developers and their titles. Is the strategy a Hail Mary to stay relevant? Maybe… but GameStop is playing to the very online retail-trader crowd that saved them last year.

Market a market
GameStop is getting into the minting business.

  • The retailer launched a division of 20 employees to create an NFT marketplace, set to launch later this year.
  • The marketplace would be a hub to buy, sell, and trade NFTs of accessories in games such as outfits and weapons for avatars.
  • The company is also in talks with several undisclosed game developers to list NFTs on its marketplace.

GameStop has already inked deals with two crypto companies to “share technology and co-invest in the development of games that use blockchain and NFT technology.” It hopes to close deals with a “dozen” more before the marketplace launches.

Can’t stop the stonk
With the budding NFT market, GameStop wants to make sure it doesn’t miss out on an exploding trend that is set to reshape the video game industry — just as it did with game streaming. It’s a sort of make-it-or-break-it time for GameStop, which was famously the darling of Reddit retail traders from r/WallStreetBets (and made a lot of short-sellers lose their shirts), but has since seen its stock plunge 45% in the past six weeks.

On the heels of the NFT news, GameStop’s stock recovered 20%. And it could all be perfect timing — major developers Ubisoft, Zynga, and Square Enix all recently announced their intentions to get into NFTs.

play-to-earn-video-games-south-korea-thefutureparty

South Korea doesn’t want you to play to earn

play-to-earn-video-games-south-korea-thefutureparty
Courtesy of Axie Infinity

South Korea doesn’t want you to play to earn

The Future. South Korea is doing everything in its power to ban play-to-earn video games in the country because it views earnings as prizes (which is looked down upon), as opposed to a legit form of income. With play-to-earn games being a key aspect of metaverse adoption, South Koreans may find themselves held back from a technological revolution if the country gets its way.

Games for free
South Korea is not a big fan of people making money by playing games.

  • The South Korean government has asked both Apple and Google to remove play-to-earn (P2E) games — such as Axie Infinity — from app stores in the country.
  • Additionally, it won’t allow new P2E games to be released anymore.

Tightening restrictions even further, Seoul’s Game Management Committee (GMC) said that any games that require an in-app purchase before playing should also be banned.

Lose the winnings
The big question here is: what gives? Essentially, the South Korean government doesn’t see P2E games as a legit form of income. Instead, the earnings from these games are considered by Seoul as “winnings” or “prizes” for which the legal limit is only 10,000 Korean won (a measly $8.42 USD).

So, the country’s workaround to ban the games is to bar the Game Rating Administration Committee and the Game Content Rating Board from age-rating P2E games (a game being rated is required for games to be released).

This is a blow to P2E game developers, especially considering that South Korea is the fourth largest game market in the world — 70.5% of the entire population plays video games.

ubisoft-digits-nfts-ghost-recon-breakpoint

Ubisoft logs into NFTs

ubisoft-digits-nfts-ghost-recon-breakpoint
Ghost Recon Breakpoint // Courtesy of Ubisoft

Ubisoft logs into NFTs

The Future. Video game giant Ubisoft plans to launch its own NFTs, dubbed “Digits.” But as the NFT market gets more and more saturated, Ubisoft is struggling to win over fans with just a cosmetic NFT drop. As metaverse games like Sandbox and Decentraland surge in popularity, the metaverse might one day usurp traditional video gaming.

Entering the NFT chat

Ubisoft is getting into the NFT game with Digits.

  • Digits will be available on Ubisoft’s game Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
  • They will come in the form of unique, in-game collectibles such as vehicles or weapons, and are only cosmetic — they don’t affect gameplay in any way.
  • They will be the first playable NFTs in an AAA game (a video game produced or developed by a major publisher).

The beta begins on Thursday, and Ubisoft will drop free NFTs to PC players.

GG

NFTs have come under fire recently for their impact on the environment. Most NFTs are bought on Ethereum, which uses large amounts of energy in order to run “proof of work” algorithms.

Anticipating potential backlash, Ubisoft has set up Ubisoft Quartz to manage Digits. Quartz utilizes the Tezos blockchain, a “proof of stake” blockchain that claims it is more energy-efficient than Ethereum or Blockchain. Still, not everyone is thrilled with Ubisoft’s venture into NFTs.

Xbox-video-game-clips-share-mobile

Xbox downloads a social strategy

Xbox-video-game-clips-share-mobile
Shareable Xbox game clips // Illustration by Kate Walker

Xbox downloads a social strategy

The Future. Microsoft is introducing new social sharing and trending features that connect Xbox users to other social platforms. By leaning into the social aspects of gaming, Xbox may be hoping to turn the practice of saving replays or screenshots into engaging content everywhere off console.

Share the victories
Microsoft thinks that Xbox should be more of a social platform.

  • Xbox is rolling out a feature that will allow users to share clips from video games, such as replays and screenshots, via “unique public URLs” called “Link Sharing.”
  • The links are accessible on the Xbox mobile app and can then be shared to other social platforms.
  • The app will also include a “trending content” section so users can view the most popular clips being shared.

The feature is currently in beta but will be rolling out to all users soon.

New boss battle
Xbox’s new trending content section functions as a TikTok-like feed that allows users to do the requisite liking, sharing, and commenting that drives engagement. It’s available on both iOS and Android.

Does that mean that Xbox wants to open up a bonafide social platform like the aforementioned TikTok or Instagram? Maybe… but it could also be looking for a way to make streams on Twitch (which Microsoft also owns) more shareable.

bitcoin-ar-game-metaverse-niantic

Niantic gamifies Bitcoin

bitcoin-ar-game-metaverse-niantic
Courtesy of Niantic

Niantic gamifies Bitcoin

The Future. Software developer Niantic unveiled a new AR game that allows players to “literally” mine for Bitcoin. It’s another step in Niantic’s overarching plan to build a metaverse that sits on top of the real world… and it just may attract a wide swath of users who would otherwise hesitate before creating an identity inside a digital world.

Pickaxe player
Niantic, the creator of the super successful Pokémon Go, is rolling out a play-to-earn game in augmented reality.

  • Fold AR (created in partnership with financial company Fold) tasks users with finding cubes of binary code in an AR metaverse.
  • Users then have to repeatedly tap the cubes until they reveal a prize.
  • The game mimics the metaphor of “mining” for Bitcoin, even spawning a new cube at the same rate as real Bitcoin mining.
  • The Bitcoin prizes are rewarded in the denomination of Satoshis, which are currently worth about 1/20th of a penny.

Eventually, Niantic would like to roll out a feature that would allow users to leave cubes behind for other friends to find, as well as some sort of NFT system (because, of course).

“Real-world metaverse”
Niantic’s goal for the game is not for people to really make money (that’s a nice byproduct though), but instead to “make a virtual currency feel real.” It helps sell the idea that digital revolutions such as AR, crypto, NFTs, etc., are actual tangible concepts that the average person can engage with.

It’s all part of Niantic’s larger plan to create a “real-world metaverse,” which the company just raised $300 million to make happen (valuing it at $9 billion). It plans on using that funding to expand its Lightship AR Developer Kit (ARDK), which is already being used by companies like Coachella, Universal Pictures, SoftBank, and Warner Music Group.

Roblox Builds Metaverse with Educational Video Games in Schools_ The Future Party

Roblox builds an education curriculum

Roblox Builds Metaverse with Educational Video Games in Schools_ The Future Party
Roblox // Courtesy of Filament Games

Roblox builds an education curriculum

The Future. Roblox invested $10 million in three educational games — the company’s first foray into non-entertainment content for the platform. The move is meant to help set Roblox up as a metaverse where users can play, work, and do everything in between in a digital environment. Soon enough, virtual classes may take place on Roblox instead of video platforms like Zoom… and become a lot more interactive.

Game time is in session
Roblox wants to go where the majority of its users spend the majority of their day: school.

  • Roblox announced that it has invested $10 million to develop three educational games aimed at middle-school, high-school, and college students.
  • One of the games teaches robotics, a second is centered around space exploration, and a third explores concepts such as computer science, biomedical science, and engineering.
  • The games were developed in partnership with education nonprofits such as Boston’s Museum of Science and education-focused game studios.

Unlike the typical Roblox games, they won’t offer any virtual goods for sale.

The investment is the first time that Roblox — the largest U.S. video-game company — has invested directly in developing games for its own platform. And with Roblox bandied about as a precursor to the metaverse, the company probably wants to show that its platform can be used for more than just entertainment.

Unity to Acquire Weta Digital’s Tech Division for $1.6 Billion

Unity captures Weta’s tech division for $1.6 billion

Unity to Acquire Weta Digital’s Tech Division for $1.6 Billion
Peter Jackson // Illustration by Kate Walker

Unity captures Weta's tech division for $1.6 billion

The Future. Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital is selling its technology division and deep library of digital tools to 3D game-development platform Unity. The goal is to make all of Weta’s tools available to creators all over the world… a move that could bring not just Hollywood-level VFX to productions of any size but also the best in real-time 3D rendering to the in-construction metaverse.

The Jackson Faction
Creators will soon have access to the technology that brought such marvels as Gollum, King Kong, and Caesar the Ape to life.

  • Unity is acquiring the technology division of Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Weta Digital for $1.6 billion.
  • The deal gives Unity control over all of Weta’s proprietary VFX and graphics tools, 3D art creation suite, and library of assets used on past projects.
  • Weta CTO Joe Marks will join Unity in the same role, and all of Weta’s 275 engineers will join the company as well.
  • The deal is expected to close sometime before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Weta’s creative arm, WetaFX, and its animation division will remain separate entities still under Jackson and Fran Walsh’s (Jackson’s wife) control. They started the New Zealand-based company — now the largest VFX studio in the world — in 1993 to create effects for Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures.

Worldmaker
With the deal, Unity plans on making Weta’s VFX tools available to all creators through its cloud-based Unite Create platform. This is a huge boon for the average creator, who will now not only have access to its tools but can also subscribe to a cloud-based platform with 50 million lines of code that typically need a thousand computers to operate.

In a well-deserved flex, Weta explained its desire to open its tools to the public: “We’re Jimi Hendrix, and now we’re selling guitars. We think this world has many, many more Jimi Hendrixes.” Can’t argue with that.

Weta actually toyed with the idea of releasing the tools themselves but came to the conclusion that partnering with Unity (with its scale, popularity, and cloud infrastructure) was a better play. Unity-backed apps were downloaded more than 5 billion times per month last year.

Esports brand FaZe Clan goes public via SPAC

FaZe Clan wins unicorn status in SPAC merger

Esports brand FaZe Clan goes public via SPAC
FaZe Clan goes public via SPAC // Illustration by Kate Walker

FaZe Clan wins unicorn status in SPAC merger

Esports-focused brand FaZe Clan is going public via SPAC, making it the first unicorn in the space. The listing is irrefutable proof that esports is one of the most dominant industries in the larger gaming/sports market. And with $275 million in funds available, FaZe Clan may become an umbrella corporation for its roster’s more entrepreneurial ambitions.

Stock points
Now you can be a part of FaZe Clan. Well, you probably can’t play for the esports team… but the company is going public via a SPAC deal with B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp.

  • The company will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker “FAZE.”
  • The deal will raise an estimated $291 million from the IPO.
  • That values FaZe Clan at $1 billion — the first esports company to surpass that amount.

Current investors include Pitbull, Offset, Jimmy Iovine, and skateboarder Nyjah Huston who will own 68% of the company after its public debut. While the company has a yearly revenue of about $50 million, it’s still not profitable… but what startup is these days?

Brand plan
FaZe Clan was started by a group of popular Call of Duty players that eventually morphed into a formidable esports team. But esports revenue only accounts for about 20% of the company’s overall revenue. Instead, under the leadership of CEO Lee Trink, the company has shifted to:

  • Brand partnerships (McDonald’s, Microsoft)
  • Content creation (horror film Crimson)
  • Merchandising (PUMA, Champion)

And of course, many on FaZe Clan’s 88-person roster are social media stars in their own right, reaching a combined 350 million people per month.