1. More accessible games
Many consumers will begin to accept blockchain gaming as the market addresses “pain points”. Growing pains aside, titles like Axie Infinity have catalyzed a new wave of blockchain game development. These success stories have shifted blockchain games from an unproven concept to a reality that other companies can iterate on.
Numerous gamers are very negative about NFT and blockchain. The scandalous announcement of the NFT platform from Ubisoft showed it best.
EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson went as far as to say that NFTs will “play an important part of the future” of gaming in a recent earnings call.
Building on the lessons of prior titles, upcoming blockchain games will have deeper gameplay and high-fidelity graphics, likely attracting even more curious players to the ecosystem (especially those on the fence initially).
At the same time, large publishers’ blockchain experiments are blurring the lines between traditional and blockchain games, acting as an entry point for many players.
The current barrier to entry for many existing blockchain games is simply too high for undecided gamers, the antithesis of what draws so many gamers to free-to-play experiences. Anyone looking to start playing Axie Infinity right now has to pay hundreds of dollars in up-front costs.
These barriers will lower in 2022, as developers will continue to improve the first-time user experience of their blockchain games. This will make such titles more accessible to players.
2. Metaverse Investment and M&A Activity
The metaverse is young, and its growth potential appeals to investors. This means venture capital is flowing into the metaverse market, with more investments happening seemingly every week.
Naturally, companies already active in the metaverse will seek strategic acquisitions to strengthen their leading positions—following a trend of consolidation we’ve seen in the broader games market.
At the same time, M&A transactions are one of the fastest ways for companies without expertise in Web 3.0 to catch up with the competition. As the metaverse is already a massive part of many big tech companies’ strategies, many will turn to M&A to grow—or form—their footprint.
As the metaverse is such a young market, Web 3.0 developers are cheaper to invest in now than in the future. Newzoo believes bigger companies will strike in 2022 when the M&A irons are hot.
3. NFT – Luxury and Lifestyle Brands
Some NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club are already popular among some celebrities. These high-profile people are eager to show their expensive NFT collections to vast followings.
Celebrities who own Bored Ape NFTs – and are vocal advocates on social media – include:
- Snoop Dogg (67.2 million followers on Instagram)
- Post Malone (22.4 million followers Instagram)
- Logan Paul (21.9 million followers)
Even as recently as last week, Jimmy Kimmel and Paris Hilton flaunted their Bored Ape NFTs on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, one of America’s leading talk shows. Although, much of the internet ridiculed the showing.
Nevertheless, exposure from influencers can increase consumer demand for NFTs among the extremely wealthy and the wider public, echoing the traditional luxury-fashion market. These exclusive NFTs will serve as status symbols to the broader public.
Social media platforms are also embracing the technology. For example, Twitter Blue subscribers can now display their NFTs on their profiles. The move makes sense, as Twitter is the go-to platform for many crypto and NFT enthusiasts. Twitter can monetize these fans—all while exposing NFTs to a wider audience.
Huge brands are also buying NFTs, as you’ll find out in the next trend.
4. Fashion Brands
Clothing brands are playing a huge role in shaping the early stages of digital identity. After all, digital expression via avatars is an important part of a player’s virtual identity.
Branded skins are nothing new, but fashion brands are best positioned to capitalize on the trend as the metaverse continues to grow. Fashion appeals to most consumers in the real world, translating well into the digital world.
Luxury-fashion house Balenciaga teamed up with Fortnite to launch digital skins alongside a physical clothing line. While the real-world clothing is out of reach for many fans, Balenciaga’s digital Fortnite cosmetics are just a fraction of the cost.
Balenciaga can therefore reach and monetize a wider audience via the metaverse while preserving the brand’s real-world exclusivity. The company also benefits from early connections with a vast pool of younger gamers—some of whom will be in the market for real-world luxury goods one day.
Also recognizing the opportunity early, Nike acquired NFT maker RTFKT, specializing in digital sneakers, in December 2021.
Likewise, Adidas partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club and created their own custom NFT wearing Adidas clothing. The company is also investing in virtual land in the metaverse, which brings us to our final trend.
5. Virtual Real Estate
Virtual land allows companies to build interactive experiences in the metaverse for consumers. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar retail stores have struggled during the pandemic and are expensive for brands to maintain.
Virtual land in growing metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox can provide an attractive (and cheaper) alternative for brands re-evaluating their physical footprint. These virtual locations can act as venues for events or highly realistic virtual shopping experiences for digital or real-world goods.
A single location in the metaverse has the potential to reach a larger share of customers than most physical locations. To that end, early metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox have attracted major investors seeking to build virtual shopping malls:
- Tokens.com (via its subsidiary Metaverse Group) purchased digital property in downtown Decentraland‘s Fashion District for $2.4 million.
- Virtual real-estate developer Republic Realm bought land in The Sandbox for $4.3 million to build a virtual mall dubbed Metajuku, a digital rendition of Tokyo’s famous Harajuku.
- Adidas also bought land in the Sandbox, which it will populate with branded content and experiences.
Newzoo expects to see even more brands getting involved in 2022 and beyond. After all, some of the biggest tech companies in the world are doubling down on metaverses (and VR headsets to enter them). The brand gold rush for virtual real estate is only just beginning.
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