So far, in the early years of the NFT space, profile pictures and artwork have been the ones that have made the most money and gotten the most attention. But as the market changes and the future internet of the metaverse becomes more immersive, will tokenized images still be the most popular way to use NFTs?
Brian Trunzo, who is in charge of the metaverse at Polygon Studios, doesn’t agree. In an interview at the Chainlink SmartCon 2022 conference, he said that the crypto firm will have reached mainstream adoption of Web3 technology, NFTs, and the metaverse when “we stop saying it”—when these terms are no longer needed.
Trunzo thinks that people who don’t like the technology don’t know enough about Web3, and he thinks that more NFT use cases will become popular in the future.“It’s because their understanding of it is that which the mainstream media reports to be right-click-save JPEGs, an investable asset class—which is not the future of Web3 and NFTs, in my mind,” he explained.
An NFT is a blockchain token that can be used to prove that you own something. It can stand for digital things such as profile pictures, artwork, and collectibles. It can also stand for interactive video game items, customer engagement rewards, real estate deeds, and more.
Polygon Studios works with developers and businesses that are going to build on Polygon, which is a scaling network for Ethereum’s sidechain. Ethereum is the most popular blockchain for non-fungible tokens and decentralized apps. As metaverse lead, Trunzo and his team help make sure that technology can support interactive applications and NFT-powered experiences from different creators.
He used Starbucks’ latest statement of NFTs as an example of how he thinks the assets are being used as a technology layer instead of as an asset class. Starbucks will use Polygon to offer users NFT stamps and sell premium NFTs, all of which can be redeemed for real-world experiences and perks.
“If Web2 was measured in engagement, [then] Web3 will be measured in gamification—brand immersion,” he explained.
In Starbucks’ case, it won’t be a game-like 3D metaverse such as Decentraland or The Sandbox, but the NFT-powered program is meant to get people involved in both digital and real spaces.
Along with digital fashion, this kind of Web3 gamification is one of the greatest opportunities he sees in the space. Trunzo, who has started real-world men’s clothing brands, said that metaverse fashion will appeal to users’ need for self-expression, vanity, and the desire to show off their “flexes” in the virtual world.
And when it pertains to actual video game experiences, it’s no surprise that Trunzo is on the side of the debate that thinks NFTs could be a good thing. Many gamers don’t like NFTs because they think creators and publishers will use them to get more money from players. This is partly because scams and rumors surround them.
Even though this is the case, Trunzo thinks that more and more players will see the benefits of using NFTs in games once the “genie is out of the bottle.” He thinks it will be great if players can really own their progress and unlocked benefits as NFT assets, which they can then sell or maybe even use in other games.
But he doesn’t think that NFTs will be used in all video games after that. Some games might be completely on-chain, others might not need NFTs, and still others might be somewhere in the middle, with moderate or limited Web3 functionality.
“We’re not trying to cram it down people’s throats that you have to incorporate NFTs into your game,” Trunzo said.
And meanwhile, initial metaverse games have been criticized for not having as good graphics as the best titles in the traditional game industry. Trunzo also said Web3 gaming is still in its early stages, but he also said that games don’t have to have hyper-realistic graphics to look good and last a long time.
Trunzo said that “timeless IP” includes games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, a popular GameCube game from 2002 that went against the grain by having a cartoony look instead of a hyper-realistic one. It may have held up better than many other games from that time after twenty years. “You play it today and it’s gorgeous,” he said.
Will the same be said about places like Decentraland in 20 years? Trunzo thinks that Web3 games will end up looking different, with some having high-end graphics and others having a simpler, “lo-fi” look.“I think there will be something for everyone,” he said.