- Bored Ape Yacht Club's parent company, Yuga Labs, has been focused on building out its Otherside gamified metaverse world for the last year, raking in millions from its Otherdeed NFTs.
- The company hosted a live in-person demo of its Otherside expansion tailored to Bored Ape holders, soliciting live feedback from members of its original community.
Web3 mega-company Yuga Labs has been laser-focused on building out its Otherside metaverse since it first teased the project last year. Despite a shaky mint that clogged up Ethereum and sent gas prices soaring, the 55,000-edition collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) linked to land in the virtual world called "Otherdeeds" has done over 609,073 ETH (about $1.1 billion) in trading volume since its April 2022 launch.
Yuga Labs co-founder Wylie Aronow, who has since stepped back from the project, told me last year that the company is all-in on developing its gamified virtual world, which is meant to sit at the "intersection" of all of its NFT brands, like Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, Meebits and 10KTF. The company has recently brought on a number of game-focused executives to help lead its expansion, notably new CEO Daniel Alegre, formerly of Activision Blizzard, chief gaming officer Spencer Tucker and chief creative officer Michael Figge.
Holders of Otherdeed NFTs have eagerly awaited the game's release, participating in live virtual demos called "Trips" that have welcomed thousands of players (called "voyagers") at a time. During these Trips, voyagers can speak to each other and engage in team-based tasks with an ensemble of popular influencers and streamers (Snoop Dogg’s son and NFT collector Cordell Broadus led one team during the most recent event in March). But as the NFT market continues to struggle amid an extended bear market, and as interest in Yuga Lab's flagship NFT brand Bored Ape Yacht Club has sunk among formerly fervent collectors, Otherdeed holders are growing ever anxious about the game's success.
Yuga Labs is aware of these concerns and understands the importance of Otherside to its continued growth. Earlier this month, CEO Daniel Alegre told Axios that the company plans to offer more "short-term experiences" before Otherside is ready to be fully launched as an immersive, buildable virtual world in order to ensure that people don't "still feel uncertain" about its progress in a year's time.
Soliciting live feedback
On Thursday, Yuga Labs brought its Otherside demos IRL, inviting 40 voyagers to a soundstage in Los Angeles to show off an expansive new space inside its metaverse. Tailored specifically toward Bored Ape holders, the event featured refreshments and products from community members that utilized their NFT character's intellectual property (IP) in their businesses.
Though not an official Trip, during the demo, the selected Ape holders traversed a massive island created for the experience – called a "tier 5" island for its huge size – and were able to provide Yuga Labs with crucial feedback in real time.
Figge told CoinDesk that the roughly 2.4 square kilometers of digital island was designed to act as a virtual clubhouse for the Bored Ape community and showcase Otherside's potential use cases for other communities looking to converge in Web3.
In contrast to the Otherside Trips, which are major technical and artistic endeavors that allow thousands of users from across the world to participate in highly-curated experiences, this in-person live demo was stripped of a lot of the theatrical features in order to bring focus to the experience.
"The only way we get feedback about these experiences afterward is we look on the internet," he explained. "We look on Twitter. And it's not necessarily the best datasets that can make the site better."
In addition, the 40 voyagers were able to participate as their Bored Ape avatars, a step forward in the game's goal of being personalized and interoperable for players.
Richard Porfirio, who goes by the alias Richpor online, participated in the live demo with his nautical-themed Ape and got a glimpse at how NFT characters will soon be able to meander around the space. "It was nice to kind of just wander off on our own with no objective necessarily in mind," he told CoinDesk.
Based on his assessment, Porfirio envisions Otherside as a multipurpose hub for millions of Web3 users.
"I could see all types of things, like Twitter Spaces being held there and live events, observations, where we can go watch sporting events or go to weddings together and have these digital experiences," he said, adding that he hopes the platform integrates its own marketplace for trading collectibles. "I think that Otherside has a really great opportunity to bring these things to the masses at a level that's not really there yet."
While Otherside still has no official public release date, Figge told CoinDesk that the team is eager to offer a persistent space for holders "as soon as possible." For now, the game has an "11-part Obelisk rollout" that is part of its larger Otherside lore.
"We want to make sure collectors are happy first and then we'll be concerned about reach," he said. "If we start projecting too far ahead, we don't get this kind of feedback loop," he said.
Conducting small-scale tests like these help Yuga Labs fine-tune details overlooked during its larger gaming experiences and provides holders with greater transparency into the status of high-priority projects. "We're really excited to be able to build it all in public now and show people work-in-progress versions of things."
The latest Otherside demo was also a vote of confidence for Porfirio and the rest of the Bored Ape community, who are hungry to restore their social status created during the NFT boom.
"I think that Apes have a critical role [in Otherside], being welcoming and kind and being able to have fun more than anything," he said. "That's pretty much what we're good at."
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