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Strategies for Bringing web3 IP to the Masses

Case Studies in Mass Market Adoption

Bringing web3 IP to the Masses

In the dynamic landscape of Web3, the integration of intellectual property (IP) into the mainstream market poses a unique challenge. It has often taken franchises years to build successful IP plays whether it be Nintendo, Pokémon, or Disney. web3 projects are not only tasked with creating immediately recognizable and likeable characters but also create movies, comics, products, collectibles, and experiences around those characters and then get audiences to care. Projects successful in this endeavor have leveraged a combination of social media engagement, physical and digital product offerings, strategic retail partnerships, and immersive digital experiences to bridge the gap between niche blockchain communities and the global consumer market. Let's take a brief look at some of these common strategies and then dive into a number of recent case studies and the unique approaches they have taken towards mass adoption so far.

  • Engagement Through Social Media: Effective use of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat to generate buzz and foster community. Often times they deploy effective memes, gifs, and cute/funny audiovisual content to encourage spread of the IP across these channels. Their communities then chip in creating user-generated content around the IP that get spread heavily on social channels.

  • Merchandising: Creation of physical goods such as toys, clothing, or other merchandise that appeal to a broader audience. This strategy has been tried and true in the history of IP adoption. Got cute IP? Make it a toy and see if kids like it - if they do then they can drive a lot of buying behavior amongst those with disposable income.

  • Retail Collaborations: Partnerships with established retail giants to bring web3 products into the everyday shopping experience either in physical brick and mortar store experiences or their eCommerce platforms. This helps widen distribution channels beyond onchain activities and experiences.

  • Digital Experiences: Development of engaging online platforms where users can interact, play, and explore in a Web3 environment. Gamification is a hell of a drug and brands have been effective as harnessing the dopamine effect of collectors and they play and participate in these online experiences.

Now let's look at some case studies of web3 brands that are beginning to make successful plays at mass market adoption outside of those with crypto or NFT familiarity.

Case Studies in web3 Mass Market Adoption

Pudgy Penguins Engaging Retail & Digital Experiences

Pudgy Penguins have effectively harnessed the power of social media to create a compelling online presence. By consistently sharing engaging content like memes and gifs, they have captured and maintained the attention of a diverse audience. Additionally, their expansion into physical merchandise such as plushes and vinyl figures has helped translate their digital appeal into tangible products that resonate with a wider audience, further solidifying their brand in the consumer market. The best part is that this IP is licensed from their holders who hold the corresponding penguin that you see in the plush, collectible, etc.

The integration of Web3 IPs into mainstream retail environments is exemplified by Pudgy Penguins’ partnership with major outlets like Walmart, which has only grown and expanded since launch. This collaboration not only increases brand visibility but also makes their products accessible to an extensive customer base. Furthermore, Pudgy Penguins have developed a digital platform reminiscent of Club Penguin called Pudgy World, where users can collect digital traits and participate in various interactive games, quests, and activities, enhancing the community experience and engagement. The best part is all of this is an integrated experience that ties the physical collectible experience to the digital one in a fun and tangible way.

Let's dive into how it works. First of all, I do not own a single Pudgy Penguins NFT. However, I can still participate in their ecosystem through retail experiences. Below you can see part of my collection of Pudgy Penguins vinyl collectibles. I've always been a sucker for vinyl collectibles and penguins so these lil guys were a must grab. Personally, I love the little wizard guy here as it combines big love vibes with wizardry which is amazing. With each collectible, you get a "Forever Friend Adoption Certificate" with a QR code on it. That QR code helps you redeem access to the Pudgy World application, a base digital penguin character, and a number of digital traits with varying rarity levels.

Pudgy Penguins Series 2 Vinyl Collectibles (Available at Walmart)

Here you can see the character builder for your digital penguin and some of the traits I've collected. Shout out to our friends over at Moonbirds and DeGods for their special traits within the collection.

Pudgy World Penguin Builder - Collect Digital Traits when you Purchase Physical Items

Once you have your character built out with the traits you receive. It is important to note that the digital traits are random - like ripping into a blind box; they will not match the traits on the physical collectibles you have purchased. After decking out your character to your satisfaction, you can then go participate with the community in a number of activities such as arcade games, quests, and collecting rewards. The software is currently only in alpha so you may encounter some bugs but it's still a terrific experience that blends digital and physical collectibles in a fun, engaging and cute way utilizing the Penguins' IP.

Pudgy World Home Screen

Azuki's Anime Aspirations

Azuki has taken a multifaceted approach to solidify its place in the Web3 world by not only creating digital assets but also by venturing into physical collectibles and engaging media content. Their partnership with Line for the Beanz IP exemplifies a strategic alignment with established cultural platforms to expand their reach. This collaboration leverages Line's vast user base to introduce Web3 to a broader, tech-savvy audience, enhancing brand recognition.

Azuki and Line Friends Partnership

Additionally, Azuki's foray into the world of anime with "Welcome to the Garden" represents a significant leap into mainstream media. The series not only serves to engage existing fans but also to captivate a global audience, making the concept of Web3 more accessible. The debut episode, "The Waiting Man," has been particularly successful, gaining traction on major anime platforms and helping to cement Azuki's reputation as a pioneer in blending traditional entertainment with blockchain technology. Check out the episode below!

Lastly, Azuki is trying to drive both web2 and web3 communities together through gaming initiatives such as Gacha Grab. Teaming up with AnimeCoin, they have introduced a digital game that draws from gacha machines in Japan where you can win collectibles. Gacha Grab operates like a traditional slot machine, with players using credits to spin the dial and collect rewards. Each spin costs 100 credits and rewards the player with a Gachapon collectible. These collectibles are categorized into three rarity levels – Esteemed, Grand, and Legend – making the game even more thrilling as players aim to collect rare items. You earn credits by owning Azuki, Elementals, or Beanz NFTs and they have squads, quests, events and leaderboards to gamify the experience even more. As we can see Azuki is taking a multifaceted approach to getting its IP recognized worldwide with a heavy focus on anime.

Why is this particularly powerful? Anime has had a significant impact on pop culture worldwide, including Western animation, video games, fashion, and live-action adaptations. It's a cultural phenomenon that has captivated audiences with its diverse genres, compelling narratives, and distinctive art styles. The global anime market is expected to reach $41.5 billion by 2028.

Nike and RTFKT's Innovative Crossovers

Nike and RTFKT are pioneers in blending the digital with the physical, particularly in the streetwear and sneaker markets. Their initiatives like dotSWOOSH and World Merging technology with RTFKT not only ensure product authenticity but also enhance consumer interaction with blockchain-backed collectibles. These efforts represent a significant advancement in making high-tech wearable fashion accessible and desirable to the mainstream public.

Not every physical product has to be a cute collectible. Sneakers are one of the most recognizable physical collectibles ever produced. The global sneaker market was valued at $79.36 billion in 2022. According to Statista, the market is expected to reach $75.77 billion in revenue in 2023 and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.31% from 2023 to 2028. By 2028, the volume of sneakers is predicted to reach 1.38 billion pairs. However, the market is rife with issues of fakes, botted drops and bloated secondary resale markets, and overproduction. Nike hopes to solve some of these issues and onboard mass markets into blockchain-backed technology experiences by adding to its already historic sneaker IP. It did this in house with an initiative called dotSWOOSH and through an acquisition of a company called RTFKT. Let's dive into the unique approach of these two programs.

dotSWOOSH is Nike's attempt to utilize historic Nike IP in the sneaker and streetwear game but bring it into digital product experiences for a modern era. It is part membership club, part art project, and part production line for its main sneaker lines (AF1, Nike Dunks, etc.). As part of this club you can collect digital sneaker packs that pay homage to classic and new AF1 designs. These come with 3d models that you can utilize in your own creative content. It's also where you'll see authenticated and linked physicals that you have purchased through the program as well.

.SWOOSH Profile Screen

The program is connected to your main Nike account and so they are able to notify you through the SNKRS app of exclusive drops for the dotSWOOSH community. Below is an example of their 'This is not a JPG' or 'TINAJ' release. This not only gives you exclusive access to kicks that the broader community cannot get their hands on but it also allows Nike to control order quantities and cut down on overproduction internally. It'll be exciting to see how this program evolves over time!

This is Not a JPG Air Force 1 - dotSWOOSH Release

RTFKT, on the other hand, is taking a more future forward approach to IP and brand adoption within the sneaker space. They started with their CloneX project, 3d digital avatars designed in part with Takashi Murakami. This NFT collection's IP took a partner forward approach to recognition, partnering with some of Nike's most well known athletes such as Lebron James to get their products and IP recognizable within mainstream circles. Lebron has been seen with RTFKT team members, repping his CloneX, in RTFKT AF1s, and toting around the RTFKT collaboration with Rimowa. They have also partnered with luxury and well known brand figures such as Rimowa, Byredo, Jeff Staple, The University of Oregon, the Gagosian, and CryptoPunks to further cement their status in the public's eye.

Lebron repping his CloneX, rocking RTFKT Genesis AF1s, and Toting the RTFKT Rimowa Collab

But luxury partnerships and celebrities aren't the only thing driving adoption from RTFKT's perspective. RTFKT also wants to encourage adoption of its blockchain technology that it's adding to its streetwear clothing and sneakers - from blockchain authentication to gamified experiences. Take their CryptokicksIRL release, as an example.

Cryptokicks IRL Space Matter shoes & Mobile App

These shoes not only were tied to a NFT, proving digital authentication, but they also leveraged new forms of technology such as self-lacing tech, haptic feedbacks, lighting, and more to change the experiential value of owning a shoe. Not only are these fun party tricks but they set up a future world where our physical shoes and clothes connect to digital app experiences that either change the appearance of the shoe, gamify the activities you do in the shoe, or allow you to participate in virtual environments in physical ways! These show how product experiences can lead to mass adoption, especially when they're centered around future nostalgia such as self-lacing sneakers that many have been dreaming about since Back to the Future series.

Their upcoming Nike Dunk Genesis launch with the CloneX, Ghost, Void & Genesis colorways also incorporates world merging tech and exciting tech such as digital screens that creators can use to customize their kicks, further app integrations, and moddable components for the shoes. With these releases they are taking NikeID by You's program and expanding it into the future with configurable shoes guided by NFT and other types of technology.

But Nike and RTFKT's mass adoption strategy goes beyond brand partnerships and dope, futuristic sneakers. They are also launching entertainment and gaming experiences recognizing the explosion of eSports and gaming in our society today. One example of this is their recent partnerships with Fortnite around the Nike Dunk launch and/or their upcoming Animus IP play, which has a Pokémon-like feel to it and could be a first entry into Move-to-Play and Move-to-Earn gaming environments for RTFKT. Animus also allows them to double down on some of the IP strategies used by the likes of Pudgy Penguins - collectible figures, plushes, cards, etc.

Sugartown by Zynga: Expanding Web3 Gaming

As gaming culture continues to evolve, becoming a central part of digital and social interaction, Zynga's Sugartown exemplifies how traditional gaming models are being reimagined through the lens of Web3 technology. This game not only captures the essence of community-building and player engagement but also integrates the economic and technological advancements of blockchain to create a comprehensive, interactive experience.

Sugartown transports players to a whimsically imaginative world where the storyline revolves around three farm animals that inadvertently open a wormhole, introducing the mystical beings called Ora's into their town. These Ora's bring with them a burst of creativity and magic, transforming the mundane into a vibrant, animated community bustling with activities and opportunities for player interaction.

Sugartown Farm Animals Opening a Portal

In Sugartown, each player's journey begins with acquiring an ERC-721 Ora token, which serves as a digital passport and proof of ownership within the game world. This token is pivotal as it allows players to stake their Oras, thereby generating energy. This energy isn't just a static resource; it's the currency for engagement within the game, allowing players to participate actively in various activities that not only entertain but also reward.

As players immerse themselves in building and developing Sugartown, they engage in tasks and games that yield Sugar, the in-game currency. Sugar can be used to unlock new game levels, acquire unique items, or gain access to exclusive areas within the game, creating a tangible sense of achievement and progress. The gameplay is designed to reward creativity and collaboration, echoing the foundational principles of Web3 by emphasizing ownership, decentralization, and financial incentivization.

This model of gameplay leverages the technical capabilities of blockchain to ensure transparency and fairness while fostering a deep sense of community among players. The decentralized nature of blockchain allows for a more democratic and user-driven development and governance model within the game, reflective of the evolving dynamics between technology and user interaction in gaming.

Sugartown's success lies in its ability to appeal to both seasoned gamers and newcomers, making it an important bridge to the mainstream adoption of Web3 technologies in gaming. By offering a compelling narrative coupled with an innovative use of blockchain technology, Zynga is not just creating a game; it's cultivating a new form of digital culture where technology meets creativity, community, and commerce.

Zynga’s approach with Sugartown could potentially serve as a blueprint for future gaming projects looking to integrate Web3 technologies, highlighting the possibilities of more immersive, interactive, and rewarding gaming experiences. The game’s integration of narrative depth with complex economic interactions offers a glimpse into the future of gaming, where the digital and the real-world experiences blur, creating new forms of cultural and social interaction.

As gaming continues to grow as a dominant form of cultural expression, projects like Sugartown will likely play a pivotal role in defining the next era of digital interaction, where the lines between playing, creating, and owning blur into a cohesive, immersive experience.

Concluding Thoughts

As Web3 continues to evolve, the innovative strategies deployed by entities like Pudgy Penguins, Azuki, RTFKT, and Zynga demonstrate the multifaceted approaches required to bridge the gap between niche crypto communities and the global mainstream market. These companies are not merely adapting to the rise of digital culture but are actively shaping its future by leveraging social media dynamics, merging tangible and digital product lines, forging impactful partnerships, and crafting immersive experiences that resonate on a global scale.

This evolution signifies more than the adoption of new technologies—it heralds a transformative shift in how consumers interact with brands, consume content, and engage with each other in digital spaces. By integrating Web3 technologies, these pioneers are not only enhancing their product offerings but also setting new standards for consumer engagement and community building in the digital age. Their efforts are critical in demonstrating the practical and experiential benefits of Web3, thus facilitating broader acceptance and integration into everyday life.

Looking forward, the continued innovation and integration of Web3 technologies promise to unlock unprecedented opportunities for creativity, commerce, and connection. As these technologies become more ingrained in our daily activities, they have the potential to redefine the boundaries of digital interaction and cultural exchange, paving the way for a more interconnected and empowered global community. This shift is not just about technological adoption but about fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the vast potential that Web3 holds for the future of global society.

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#intellectual property#web3#gaming#sneakers#collectibles#anime#pudgy penguins#rtfkt#sugartown#azuki