In the early years of the NFT space thus far, it’s been profile pictures and artwork that have yielded top-dollar sales. And rightly, they have also consistently dominated headlines. However, as the market evolves and the immersive future internet of the metaverse takes shape, a question beckons. Will tokenized images continue to be the most prominent use case for NFTs?
Brian Trunzo, metaverse lead at Polygon Studios, doesn’t think so. In an interview at the Chainlink SmartCon 2022 conference, he made a statement. Brian stated that the crypto industry will have achieved mainstream adoption of Web3 technology, NFTs, and the metaverse when “we stop saying it.” Emphasizing that things will change only when those terms are no longer necessary.
Trunzo believes that skeptics of the technology are informed by a limited understanding of Web3. Consequently, suggesting that a wider set of NFT use cases will take hold in the future.
NFTs, What Are Those?
An NFT is a blockchain token that can serve as a proof of ownership for an item. It can represent digital things like profile pictures, artwork, and collectibles. Furthermore, it also involves interactive video game items, customer engagement rewards, real estate deeds, and more.
Polygon Studios works with creators and companies that are building on Polygon, a sidechain scaling network for Ethereum. In his role as metaverse lead, Trunzo and his team help pave the way for technology to support immersive applications and NFT-powered experiences from various creators.
He pointed to Starbucks’ recent NFT announcement as an example of how the assets are being used as an asset class itself. Starbucks will use Polygon to give away NFT stamps to customers. These includes premium NFTs, all of which can earn customers real-world perks and experiences.
“If Web2 was measured in engagement, [then] Web3 will be measured in gamification—brand immersion,” he explained.
In the case of Starbucks, it won’t be a game-like 3D metaverse akin to Decentraland or The Sandbox. However, the NFT-powered program is designed to engage users across digital and physical spaces alike.
Furthermore, that sort of Web3 gamification is one of the biggest opportunities he sees in the space, along with digital fashion. Trunzo, who previously co-founded real-world menswear brands, said that metaverse fashion will tap into users’ need for 2 reasons. One of them is for self-expression. The other is good-old vanity and a desire to showcase virtual “flexes.”
NFTs Gaming, A Firm Future?
Furthermore, when it comes to true video game experiences, Trunzo is unsurprisingly on the side of the debate that sees NFTs as a prospective benefit. Many gamers aren’t thrilled about NFTs. In part because of scams and speculation. But also a widespread belief that creators and publishers will use them to extract even more value from players.
Moreover, with that stigma out there, Trunzo expects a “genie out of the bottle moment.” One in which more and more players embrace the benefits of using NFTs in games.
In his view, the ability for players to truly own their progress and unlocked benefits as NFT assets will be a real plus.
Nevertheless, he doesn’t expect that all future video games will use NFTs when that happens. Some games may live entirely on-chain, some may not see a need for NFTs, and others could land somewhere in between. In Between modest and 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.
In the meantime, some early metaverse games have been criticized for underwhelming graphics compared to the traditional game industry’s top titles.
Trunzo acknowledged that Web3 gaming is early, but also said that games don’t necessarily need hyper-realistic graphics to look beautiful.