The Metaverse for Sportbrands at a glance
What is the Metaverse?
Metaverse, in simple terms, is a virtual parallel world where people can populate in the form of avatars and interact with each other just like in the real world. But it’s also more than that. The metaverse, with the help of the blockchain, is the next big thing. While online games and VR applications have been around for a long time, but only in isolation, the metaverse is the next logical step. The metaverse will bring a connection of these virtual islands. A world where users, players and goods can step beyond the boundaries of individual applications and basically live their live in a parallel virtual world. This virtual world is often realized by augmented reality technology, artificial intelligence, immersive experience equipment, etc. It is a hypothetical representation of the real world, which is subject to edits and additions.
The term metaverse has been circulating since its first appearance in the science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash,’ published in 1992. The concept has been undergoing updates ever since, and with the introduction of cryptocurrencies, blockchains, Web3, etc., the metaverse has grown to have larger-than-life potential.
What is the scope of the metaverse?
According to recent studies, the metaverse expects to be a $679 billion industry by 2030. It extends its possibilities in business, commerce, investment, entertainment, sports, etc., through NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Amidst all these fields of scope, the connection of sports and the metaverse deserve a special mention, as there are already a lot of established projects and brands moving forward and proceeding to make the most out of the metaverse. Nike, Adidas, Asics, the NBA and hundreds of traditional sports clubs, like FC Barcelona or Manchester City have developed or are developing their own metaverse projects.
So everyone is talking about the metaverse. Everyone wants to join. But how can you get started? How can traditional sports brands, startups and creators enter this virtual world? Lets look at some examples first.
Sports brands and startups that have an active Metaverse presence
Nike is one of the most popular sports clothing and footwear brand. It initiated its metaverse activities back in 2021. They have developed and launched a virtual world called Nikeland in the metaverse. Nikeland hosts many games and tournaments and follows the theme of sports throughout. Nikeland is available in Roblox, a popular immersive technology platform.
Nikeland features an apparel and sports gear collection that users can buy using cryptocurrencies and use for their avatars in the metaverse. Real-like interactions are possible between various avatars, and at Nikeland, people can even exchange their apparel and gear after games, just like the players in the actual world do.
A startup that shows huge potential in the metaverse is the Move2Earn App STEPN. STEPN is a fitness application that provides cryptocurrency as an incentive for its active users.
STEPN uses GPS to track the user’s movement. So, you cannot use the app in a gym or during stationary workout sessions.
Once you sign up, you must buy one of the available NFT sneaker from the digital sneaker collection in the application. Each digital sneaker is associated with an expected walking speed. So, if you walk slower than the sneaker’s minimum limit, you will lose points. You can choose Walk, Run, or Jog shoes as required.
STEPN offers the Green Satoshi Token. There is an efficient monitoring and anti-cheating mechanism in place. Also, the number of sneakers a user owns on the application determines the time they can spend on the application and earn. Regular walking shoes only provide the user with ten minutes of playing time. So, users must use part of their tokens in in-app purchases.
The Move2Earn platform had a whooping 1 million daily active users during its peak and shows the potential a simple idea and ecosystem can have in the metaverse and web 3.0 industry.
Ferrari has collaborated with Fortnite in 2021 to launch its next-generation sports car called 296GTB. This car model is not yet available in a physical version. But Fortnite players have access to the Metaverse version and can use it.
Impact of the Metaverse on Sports
So it’s safe to say that the metaverse is transforming the sports industry in multiple ways: transforming the viewing experience, providing advanced options for engagement, hosting virtual tournaments, etc.
With the help of the metaverse, fans worldwide can view live sports matches from anywhere in the world as if they are in the stadium watching the game in person. Viewers can transport their avatars to the stadiums and experience the game using immersive devices. Recently, the Manchester City football club announced its plans to recreate its home stadium in the metaverse so that fans can visit the game without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Sports training opportunities can also take a positive leap with the help of the metaverse. Using the avatars and the immersive devices, athletes and sports persons can take up training from world-class trainers without traveling up to them.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs have also created the possibility to have economic interactions within the metaverse, and this offer immense potential for sports brands, startups, sports content creators, web 3 natives, etc., to make a fortune and developed new business opportunities with the help of the metaverse.
Fashion giants like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Nike, and Balenciaga have already extended their brands into the metaverse.
Brands are flocking to the metaverse and extending their offers. And users are buying and spending their money. Just to give you an idea: Nike recently earned about 3 million USD within seven minutes of launching its latest sneakers on metaverse.
How to enter the metaverse
But how do YOU get started? How can one enter a world that seems so difficult to understand? Where things are changing so quickly it is difficult to keep up even if you are at the heart of things? Here’s a quick step by step guide on how to validate whether your brand or start-up has a place in the metaverse.
1.Enter the metaverse and participate as a user.
If you want to understand the metaverse you have to just enter it. Because actually it’s not that difficult to participate. While the concept might feel abstract things will get way easier to understand once you are actually ‘inside’. It’s the same thing with the blockchain as well: it’s one thing to watch a video about how Bitcoin works, but another one to actually buy Bitcoin, keep it in your wallet, make transactions and start trading.
So whatever you plan on doing in the metaverse – if you want to enter the metaverse as a brand you have to… well… just enter it as a user. Look for a metaverse project that excites you. Maybe one with low barriers of entry. And afterwards join. But don’t just play a game for example or buy a NFT and forget about it. Actually participate in the projects community which is usually organized on Discord, Telegram or Reddit. You will see: this can actually be a lot of fun.
2.Understand the opportunities and business models
Now that you are part of the metaverse and are actually engaging and enjoying your stay there try to take a step back. What are other projects offering? What is the business model? How do people actually make money?
There are several ways brands are participating. Here is a short but definitely not comprehensive list:
Building digital products and NFTs: Building digital products is an essential strategy for sports brands in the metaverse. Brands can design clothing, footwear, sports gear, etc., specifically for the metaverse and sell them in exchange for cryptocurrencies as NFTs. Event sponsorship: Sports brands can gain attention, following, and revenue by sponsoring and promoting real-world events on behalf of your metaverse brand. For example, recently, the metaverse gaming giant Fortnite sponsored rapper Travis Scott’s concert inside of the game instead of real life, and this move has been estimated to bring millions of new followers for Fortnite in the metaverse.Hosting tournaments and events: Numerous organizations across the world host events and tournaments on the metaverse. Sports brands or start-ups could for example host a tournament to gather media and widespread attention. Brands can even design and sell tournament-related merchandise and earn a reasonable sum of cryptocurrency. The NBA recently put together playing video cards as NFTs as part of their metaverse merchandise. A LeBron James NFT from the series was sold for a whopping 387,600 USD.Selling Metaverse Hardware: Engaging in the metaverse requires good-quality immersive devices. Companies like Meta (Facebook) have launched their own personal metaverse where the users can have access through their meta credentials and meta-supported devices. Likewise, sports brands can collaborate in hardware development and sell them to have exclusive access to their metaverse tournaments and events.Create your own cryptocurrency: Yes. This is actually a thing as we talked about with STEPN. By creating your own cryptocurrency you are the one in charge of your ecosystem, your users and your tech. So maybe this is your way to monetize your business efforts.
Again try to take a step back here. Have a look at your own brand and try to see what kind of business model might fit your brand strategy. Could you sell NFTs? Do you already have a user base online that would be willing to download a web 3.0 app? Could you release your own Cryptocurrency?
Image credit: Pierre Borthiry – Peiobty / Unsplash.com
3.Understand the hype
So now you know what it takes to join a project and actually participate and have a list of how to make money. Now it’s time to understand how to do marketing in this space. Because at the end of the day every single metaverse projects thrives or fails with good or bad marketing. Again let’s look at the project you joined in Step 1. What made you participate in the specific project you chose? What made you download this app? What aspects where intriguing to you?
It doesn’t matter if you participated because you knew the brand or some participants beforehand or you just used social media and looked up the project. Whatever made you join possibly made other people join as well. And this brings us back to very basics of marketing. Whatever works in traditional marketing usually works in the metaverse and with crypto project as well. But hype and credibility are a huge factor when it comes to metaverse projects, even more so than in traditional business ventures.
The metaverse and cryptocurrency space still is pretty unregulated and scam-projects that try to rip off people are a main concern of many people invested in the space. Which might be the best thing possible for actual and traditional brands and people who are willing to step up and actually stand behind their project. If your brand is already established the risk of you scamming a large amount of people is pretty low. This will give you a HUGE advantage in this space. If you now manage to get some traction on the social media apps you are pretty much set and done.
Metaverse means tech. So after understanding everything the next step obviously is to actually start developing. It doesn’t matter if it’s smart contracts, your own cryptocurrency, a NFT collection or a blockchain connected app. There will be at least some sort of development involved. So you better just get started! There are hundreds of developers focussed on the metaverse and there definitely is the right developer or development company for you out there.
Is the Metaverse a Thing Traditional Sports Brands Should Focus on or Not?
Like the internet revolution in the last decade, a metaverse revolution is brewing, providing immense branding, marketing and business opportunities for businesses, including and especially for startups. Whatever it is you are planning to do. Now is the right time. The metaverse is undoubtedly a massively potent domain with millions of people frequenting in avatar forms.
Although the metaverse hasn’t yet spread its wings entirely, getting on the trend as early as possible is always advisable. Once the metaverse and its potential gain even more popularity, competition could be much worse for sports brands on the platform. So, it is always better for traditional sports brands to extend their attention toward the metaverse world to gradually establish their presence – because the metaverse is the next big thing.