The Agent K Approach To New Things

By Bryan A Westfall

Web3 has a marketing issue. It lies within a lack relevancy to the broader public. This is easily proved by the fact that most “normal” folks (like me) who’d read that first sentence would reply with:

“What TF is Web3”?

Exactly. Before I go on, however, I’ll take a weak stab at answering that question based on what I’ve gleaned so far. Web3 is simply the term being used for what some believe will be the next (more secure and decentralized) iteration of the internet. Web1 was essentially pre-social networks with static web pages, and Web2 is what we’re using now.

By now I’m sure most of you have seen a lot of hullabaloo surrounding Bitcoin (& cryptocurrency in general), but have no experience with it personally. Same here.

“NFT’s” and “Blockchain”? Most scratch their heads, but have perhaps heard of each in passing. Someone bought some digital artwork somewhere. We see something in some tech blog we skim past because of a lack of relevancy to our real lives.

Therein lies the issue. Without a broader scope of usage and need for this “new net” (which is mainly this NFT & crypto usage), it’s simply not relevant to most of us. It’s not meeting the majority in areas that are meaningful or important to our lives.

The only reason I know what little I do about Web3 is because I’ve *sought out* this information so I can understand it. Having to seek out this information is a marketing issue. A big one. There is a huge opportunity here for someone to step in and re-brand this new net, as the nerds with the mic are speaking in terms (and to un-relatable usage) that are alienating to the rest of us.

For Web3 to gain real traction in the *real world*, it will need to find more usage relevant to the rest of us.

What is relevant to me? Good question. Gaming is relevant to me.

In walks Midnight Society. They’ve found a small way to make this new net relevant by meeting me somewhere that is meaningful to me. Games. More specifically, cosmetics in games.

Their current involvement in Web3 is based in NFT’s in the form of player profile pictures (see images above). They are one-of-a-kind, and owned by the user. Currently, those users are an upcoming 10,000 “Founders” who will be chosen from over 400k applicants for their “Founders Pass” (players who will have input into the development of their upcoming game “Project Moon”).

In their latest press release, they go into some detail on their partnership with Polygon Studios (who are the hub for the cosmetic Web3 aspects of the gaming project). Most relevant to me is how it offers “digital ownership and tradability of in-game items”.

That’s super exciting for gaming cosmetics fiends like myself. I’m speculating, but if this ends up being weapons, weapon-skins, player skins etc, that would be a ton of fun and a huge leveling up from the current usage of cosmetics in games.

Ownership and tradability of these skins is much more rewarding than (for example) gambling on purchasing “packs” in Apex Legends, in hopes you get something cool which can only be used by you in that game no matter how tired you might get of it. Most of the time you get something related to a weapon or character you don’t use. Then…you’re stuck with it. Trading or even selling these items is an exciting prospect.

Ryan Wyatt, CEO of Polygon Studios, speaks to the games dual-citizenship between Web2 & Web3:

“Project Moon is entering the space by providing an off-chain and on-chain experience, allowing gamers to have the best of both worlds. They can own, monetize, and transfer digital assets in-game through the opt-in NFT experience, without it being an obligation.”

Midnight Society is dipping their toe into Web3 in an area relevant to their players, and I’ll be joining them once the game is ready to go (if I’m not one of the lucky 10k Founders). Even better, this meeting point will be somewhere comfortable and familiar: a PC, an Xbox, a Playstation etc.

Before Web3 can fully take off, however, it’s going to need buy-in from a much broader group. It’s the “normals” who need to be sold as there are more of us than there are of those currently obsessed with this new net.

More companies like Midnight Society need to come along and engage with their customers/users in ways that are already relevant & meaningful in their lives through Web3 functionality. That’s where the broader buy-in lives.

Step one for those companies is to take the mic away from your IT department. Give it to Marketing. People in the business of communicating with normal people who don’t care “how the sausage gets made”. People don’t need or want to know how it all works, they just want to know how they’ll listen to “The White Album” on this thing.

“Be Curious, Not Judgmental”

By Bryan A Westfall

Judging by the vitriol that permeates most social media, it should come as no surprise that the above quote (which Ted Lasso misattributed to Walt Whitman) would be so apt for an announcement from a new gaming studio which included a particularly polarizing tech.

The pseudo-anonymity of social media coupled with that place in all of our brains which becomes inflamed when we come across tech we don’t yet understand, has turned into a bit of a two headed beast in response to the newly formed Midnight Society gaming studio’s announcement of their “Founders Pass“.

The origin story of this particular beast lies within three letters which regularly elicits rage-full reactions in some (normally the most vocal), simply because of a lack of understanding of what it means. I’ll go ahead and spell it out:

NFT

If you’re still here, it means you either have at least a basic understanding of the technology, don’t understand & don’t care if you don’t understand, or are actually curious to learn when faced with something you don’t yet understand.

When it comes to NFT’s, I fell into the latter…then I took ten whole minutes to do two things:

  1. Googled “NFT” and watched a few videos to gain a basic understanding.
  2. Researched how Midnight Society was incorporating them into their “Founders Pass“.

Much sweat was broken. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Essentially, an NFT is a one of a kind (or one of a limited run) item you can own…only digital instead of physical. So, instead of owning that original physical painting, you’d own a piece of original digital art. The encoding of the digital item acts as sort of a certificate of authenticity, similar to what might come with owning a one of a kind physical work of art.

That’s just one example using my very basic understanding, and it’s enough for me to move on to how Midnight Society is using them in their “Founders Pass“.

People saw “NFT” on twitter in regards to the Midnight Society announcement, and because they’ve decided (in life) to rage at what they don’t understand, they decided to (obviously without research) throw around accusations of their upcoming game being an “NFT game” etc.

A few minutes into their site, their Discord, and their twitter it was clear how this technology was going to be used in the “Founders Pass“.

Studio co-founder Dr. Disrespect went on to state outright in his day-of-announcement stream that anyone will be able to play the (free to play) game without ever utilizing NFT tech if they so desired.

As for NFT inclusion in the “Founders Pass“, 10,000 applicants (of nearly 400,000 so far) will be chosen as “Variants“. I’ll let Midnight Society take the mic for a sec (with a little bolding by yours truly for emphasis):

“Founders Access Pass holders gain Early Access builds to playtest the game, early access to Industry Guilds when they open, voting rights in dev round tables, invites to in-person community events, exclusive merch drops with Founder’s only designs, and finally a one of a kind VisorCortex design as part of your unique Variant.

There it is. If you’re one of the 10,000 chosen, you get one of these one-of-a-kind bad boys (example courtesy of one of Doc’s Warzone partners, ZLaner):

A one-of-a-kind masterpiece of a gaming PFP, which is an NFT. That’s it. That’s how NFT’s are currently being used in relation to this project.

If among the 10,000 chosen, there is a $50 fee to “mint” the “Founders Pass“. The inclusion of the PFP NFT is clearly an attempt by Midnight Society to include some additional, unique value to the pass, a point of view sadly missed by too many.

The amazing (and most important) thing I found when doing this small bit of research is how solid and engaged the community surrounding Midnight Society already is, as are the folks running the show.

UPDATE 3/28/22: A great example of the community and developers involved in Midnight Society can be found in their first developer AMA that took place on 3/16. Over an hour of Q&A between the community of players and developers:

They’ve made it clear that they’re looking for a diverse and passionate group of people to be the 10,000 involved in game development, and it’s very clear they will have plenty to choose from.

Those not chosen to be founders are a few years out at least from seeing what “Project Moon” will be (the code name for the studios first game), but if you’ve followed Dr. Disrespect for any amount of time we at least know there will be some insanely high quality audio.

Wait…can you hear footsteps on the moon? BRB GOTTA GOOGLE.