Listen to Edge co-host Josh Kriger speaking with global leaders in NFT from domains as far reaching as art, music, and themetaverse.
In this special episode, he chats with some of the leading names in the industry: Whaleshark, Jaeson Ma, and Lucaz Lee. Aside from talking about their own thriving and promising ventures, they also discuss the current situation of the NFT scene in Asia, particularly in its southeastern region. Tune in as they explore the rich prospects to uncover within Web3, NFT's incredible power in community building, and reinventing traditional gaming models using the metaverse.
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Edge Of Asia 1: TOKEN2049 & All That Matters, Feat. WhaleShark, Jaeson Ma & Lucaz Lee Of Affyn
We're bringing you a special episode filled with content curated from our travels to Southeast Asia and beyond. Stay tuned for some amazing interviews with incredible folks. We will cut from one conversation to the next, introducing each guest as they arrive to give you the feeling like you're right there with us, jumping into each engaging conversation as it emerges. Stay tuned.
This is Josh. I got to TOKEN2049. I have to immediately check out some amazing dope art. I'm here with WhaleShark looking at some of the incredible collection of pieces that he has brought to show the masses here at TOKEN2049. Seven thousand-plus people are expected. There's a lot of good energy going on. Who says anything about a bear market? This is an art market. It's great to hang out. What do we have going on here?
Josh, thank you so much for coming to the gallery. We're thrilled to be working with 2049 and showcasing a lot of NFT art here at TOKEN2049 Singapore. This gallery is created in tandem with both TOKEN2049 as well as OP3N. What we have managed to do is curate roughly about 30 pieces from some of the leading NFT artists and creators in the space.
What you're standing in front of is our very first part of the exhibition, the one and only, Pak, the highest-selling NFT crypto artist in the entire space with over $350 million worth of art sold. What we have done for the first time is take out both of Pak's Genesis pieces. The standing offer on these is extremely high. I will not disclose the exact number but what you see in Cloud Monument Light and Cloud Monument Dark are his two Genesis pieces. They are highly coveted by a lot of artists and collectors in the world.
Thank you. We love the minimalism that he brings to his art, and in that case, also being able to create something extremely unique. When I do collect digital art, I enjoy collecting things that are not possible to do on paper or paint and canvas. With his streak of minimalism, he's also able to deliver an extremely unique experience with the art that he created. For instance, here are 3 of 8 Rubik's cubes that Pak created. They are stunningly beautiful with the different colors and transformations of each and every single one of them. These are three of his earliest works. On top of that, we did sell one at Sotheby's in November 2021 for $1.1 million.
What was the color scheme of that one?
This is Rubik's Fortune. This is a gold Rubik's cube.
It's the one at Sotheby's.
The one that sold was also gold.
The gold one draws me in. The red one is beautiful. The silver is beautiful. There's something about the detail in this gold one that captures your attention.
It's the molding on it. You can see it's not just pure gold but there's marble around it. When people look at a Rubik's cube, they assume it's going to move on a standard basis. It does start as a standard basis but all of a sudden, it starts to throw everyone off with these amazing movements and creative movements that it has instead.
You can configure life in so many different ways. It exemplifies that. We're moving towards XCOPY.
I don't think XCOPY needs an introduction to any of the Web3 or crypto degens in the space. XCOPY is probably the most famous and most enjoyed crypto artist in the entire space. I was fortunate enough to be a very early collector of XCOPY. Whale has about 26 one-of-ones that XCOPY launched on SuperRare. The average price of his old work runs anywhere between $2 million to $7 million. These are some of his earliest works.
The reason why I love and collect XCOPY is that the emotion is so raw. Glitch art isn't something that has broken the mainstream yet but XCOPY truly exemplifies that glitch style as he looks to express discontent with some of the things that are happening around the world. Right next to The Jungle, there's something called But You Can't Hang It On Your Wall that Josh is standing in front of. That was XCOPY's expression of discontent with people saying that NFTs aren't worth anything because you can't hang them on the wall. Everybody, it's hanging on a wall.
I see his eyes wide open in this particular figure but yet the slash is through the eyes.
It's his expression of discontent with things that are unfair and not right. Given the strong belief that XCOPY had in NFTs, this was his way of expressing his discontent with people saying that NFTs were not worth anything.
He showed them.
Similarly, you can see the same glitch style in The Jungle as well as The Influencer and Trender that you have over here. One of my favorites is The Influencer because I always encourage everyone to do their research. When you have people who are blindly following influencers, particularly in the NFT space, that sometimes can lead to a lot of trouble. I love is work. You can see the anger and the discontent but at the same time, you can see the custom use of glitch style to bring out that notion. The music has been curated by Verbal from AMBUSH, Teriyaki Boyz, and M-Flo. It's amazing as a backdrop for all of us.
Stay tuned. You will hear another interview with Verbal if you keep up with the content from our trip to Singapore.
The final crypto artist that I've curated here at this exhibition is Hackatao. If you know XCOPY, you know Hackatao. If you know Hackatao, you know XCOPY. They were two of the very first people to launch their NFTs on SuperRare all the way back then. Hackatao is a husband-and-wife pair from Italy. They were extremely successful as well as extremely well-known in the Italian contemporary art scene from a traditional standpoint. They were one of the very first artists to take the leap from the traditional into the digital.
What Hackatao does is that they do provide a commentary on social, political, as well as media-based events. Josh, what you're standing in front of, Ra'red-eyed Frog, is a call to action for people to protect the environment. The husband-and-wife pair is one of the very few duos in the space but equally as famous and equally as coveted as XCOPY is.
It's a beautiful piece as well.
When I collect digital art, I want to see movement. I want to see the perfect lines and the perfect circles. I want to see things done on a digital canvas that you cannot do with pen and paper or you cannot do with paint and a canvas.
There are some layers to that piece. The writing looks deep and rich like a tattoo.
I've only sold 3 NFTs out of the 420,000 NFTs that I purchased since 2019. We sold one Pak at an auction at Sotheby's in November 2021 that went for $1.1 million. Another leading NFT influencer, Pranksy, was fortunate enough to have acquired a Hackatao from me for about $500,000 in November 2021.
How many offers do you get on your NFTs?
We get a large number of offers but our track record in terms of making sure that we're holding on to our NFTs speaks volumes about the way that I view the industry moving forward. These are two of my favorites, Selfiecation, which talks about censorship in a selfie-driven society. At the same time, Z-Girl to me represents a commentary on the popularity of zombies within mass media that we have seen over the last few years. They're extremely beautiful pieces. They're tastefully done while at the same time bringing out a very poignant point whether that be social, political, or on mass media as a whole.
It is interesting when you think about all the zombie-related film projects and, generally speaking, the zombie runs but then we have this situation where we're trying to awaken society in that contrast.
I love this piece. This was probably one of my favorite pieces that I purchased from Hackatao all the way back in 2019.
It's amazing. I wouldn't mind it hanging up in my office either.
The final part of this NFT exhibition, at least from my side that I put together, was curating an extremely famous and revered photographer. Michael Yamashita is probably the most legendary National Geographic photographer in the world. He has close to two million followers on Instagram, which also makes him one of the most followed photographers in the entire world.
Michael is up there in age but he still continues to take his inventory of photographs, take new photographs, and join the NFT space as a mentor, a leader, and truly an example of how these artists create out of love. Michael Yamashita is amazing because, given his storied career, he had access to places in China that no one else or no other foreigner has ever had before. When you're looking at Mountains in the Mist or Seasons of Jiuzhaigou, which are beautiful scenic places within China, he's able to capture that for all eternity using his lens.
The other brilliant thing about Michael Yamashita is that he captures all of that data from the focal lengths, the equipment that he uses, the weather, and the location all in the metadata itself. If you click on any of these NFTs, it will pop up a whole list of metadata in terms of when he did it, how he did it, what equipment he used, and everything. This was the first time I saw the blockchain used so aptly within NFT art. He's fantastic and amazing.
He's an early pioneer. We had Numbers Protocol at NFTLA, which is trying to elevate photography in that way but it takes individuals like Michael to start the movement of people to look at photography as an NFT capability as opposed to digital photography. This is breathtaking. I've been to Japan. I've not been to China yet. I want to go after looking at this incredible art.
It's a beautiful place, particularly the natural landscape over there. Next to the Seasons of Jiuzhaigou, number 4724, you also see his photography in Tibet. Michael does take a lot of pictures, whether that be about nature but he also takes a lot of social pictures and understanding about the heritage. This is one of my favorites. It's a photo from Michael Yamashita on his Tibet assignment but next to that is probably the most interesting of all the five pieces that you see here.
When you look at it, you probably wouldn't think that it's photography. However, what Michael did, and he's always pushing the boundaries, is he took his photos, fed them into an AI algorithm, and used a generative algorithm to come out with an artistic interpretation of his photos. This is a generative adversarial network piece. It is comprised of several of Michael Yamashita's photos together, coming out with a brilliant art piece like this.
It's fascinating, especially with the rise in AI art and some of the controversy with some artists being concerned about cannibalizing the true nature of the work. You have a very respected artist that has taken a different position and used it to enhance his work.
I believe that everything is possible in the age of technology, whether technology aids you, whether you're doing it in concert with an algorithm or code, or whether or not you're feeding the source into AI and allowing that to develop what it may. It's a brilliant time to be alive, particularly for the artistic side of the world.
WhaleShark, thank you so much for spending some time with us and for sharing this beautiful collection with the world.
It's my pleasure. Thank you for coming to the gallery.
We are at TOKEN2049. I'm so humbled and honored to be here with the one and only WhaleShark. We're having a nice conversation. It's a little quiet. People probably had a lot of fun. I hope you did as well. We showed up. I don't drink a lot. It's nice because I get to come in early and be ready for the day.
Josh, thank you so much for having me on. I love your show. Similar to you, I don't drink a lot but drinking is not a requirement to enjoy these next few days in Singapore. It has been an absolute blast.
Let's be energized by the coffee, the food, the conversations, and the amazing art that you brought to the table. What was the reaction folks had on the first day of seeing that amazing exhibit that you walked us through?
It has been an amazing experience. It started a little bit slow in the morning. What we have realized is that a lot of the people here at TOKEN2049 are DeFi or cryptocurrency-first but us being here as one of the only NFT exhibits in the entire space helped us evangelize a lot of people to go further down that rabbit hole and understand, "It's not about the cryptocurrency and the decentralized finance. You can collect digital collectibles as well."
It has been an interesting day. I would highlight that probably the most asked question by a lot of people who visited our booth or our exhibition has been, "How do you make money?" That is the number one question that people have been asking. Our response through Web3 fashion has been, "We HODL." We HODL our NFTs. The second most asked question has been, "Can I buy those pieces?"
For those of you who are familiar with me, out of 420,000 NFTs of the last few years, only 3 were sold, the short answer is no. It has been an extremely engaging experience. I'm very glad that we have been here even though it's not an NFT-first exhibition. It has allowed us to play an ambassador role here in Singapore to teach people more about digital music, digital photography, and NFTs.
That's amazing. I want to rewind but I do have another related question. This is our first time in Asia since COVID. We're getting to know both the crypto community and the Web3 community. You've been on the ground here for a while. What is the NFT scene like throughout Asia, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea? What has been your experience with the adoption of collecting fine art NFTs in this area of the world relative to the United States?
Each market is very different. If I'm taking a look from the North all the way to the South of Asia. In the North of Asia, you have countries like Korea. Everyone knows that Seoul is the mecca of eSports. Naturally, we saw a lot of strong adoption, not only by development companies but also by Web3 companies like Animoca Brands who launched The Sandbox. You saw a lot of people talk, adhere to, and adopt game-oriented NFTs. When you went to Japan, it's a mixed basket of every single type of NFT. You have so many famous creators. Japan is also one of my favorite sources for NFT photographers.
There's such incredible art in Japan.
It's amazing. Even the great Murakami has put his foot in the game by not only releasing Murakami.Flowers or working with the RTFKT team on CloneX. The North of Asia is very much excited about the possibility of NFTs. Moving on to the South, what you have is China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. What you're seeing is a mixed bag of people who go towards different types of NFTs, whether that be PFPs, digital art, digital photography, or music.
I do want to highlight Hong Kong, particularly as a special hub for NFTs in the region. It's no surprise that a lot of the world's largest traditional art collectors live in Hong Kong. While you will never know what they have collected because they like myself prefer to run anonymously in the space, I can tell you that fine digital art is thriving in all of the art markets where fine art is recognized.
That's great to know. I want to do a call-out to a particular Chinese contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang. My girlfriend got so excited about the fine art side of NFTs here that she bought one of his first digital pieces. It's a fireworks experience. This is the name of the artist.
Cai Guo-Qiang is one of my favorite digital artists throughout the world. He has an amazing talent that is displayed throughout some of the most prestigious galleries and museums. On top of that, he is probably the most humble man she will or I have ever had the chance to meet.
She's going to be so excited that you know him and respect him as well. It was a beautiful piece based on the different conditions you chose and the time of day you mint. It was a completely unique fireworks display. Do you pick up some of those as well?
I did. I am very close friends with Mr. Cai. I've had the opportunity to interview him twice, once before his first NFT drop, and the second one during his second NFT drop, Your Daytime Fireworks, which is what you showed me. He was working with TRLab to create an education system where people would understand more about his history and work and then be rewarded with the ability to have these amazing NFTs. The man is an absolute legend. He's extremely humble. He operates out of the US. Who knows? Maybe some of his US fans will get an opportunity.
Let's get him to NFTLA with you.
I'm sure he would love that.
We will have to talk about that. Let's rewind a bit. You're also a living icon in this space. How did you get into NFTs?
It was a decade-long process for me to reach NFTs. The first time I heard about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology was in 2010. It took me about two years to buy my first Bitcoin but once I understood what financial freedom looked like, I took 1/2 to 3/4 of my salary every single month from 2012 all the way to 2015, purchasing Bitcoin at about $250 average price.
What industry were you in at that time?
I was doing marketing and branding. I did have a relatively successful career working at corporate but you're always looking for that next leg up and that evolution toward what you want to become. I bought Bitcoin at an average of that price for roughly about 3 to 4 years. After that, there was a point in 2015 or 2016 where the block times or the transaction times were taking half a day. Back then, Bitcoin was supposed to be digital money and not digital gold. I got a little bit frustrated probably for good reason. I ended up selling all of the Bitcoin that I purchased over those last 3 to 4 years. In 2015, I went full FOMO into Etherium and bought Etherium for roughly about $9.
Speaking of branding, I have to give you a shout-out because we wanted to be creative with our partnership packages for NFTLA in 2022. We did have a WhaleShark option but what was a little challenging is this. Do we put that above the Whale package or below? Where does that fit into the hierarchy of the sea? I don't know what you would have done. You would have put WhaleShark above.
I'm flattered and humbled but honestly, at the end of the day, I consider myself one of many collectors within this space. You could have had a Dolphin package and put WhaleShark underneath the Dolphin package as well.
It's good to know that if we mix things up in 2023, you're neither here nor there. We're at a pivotal point in the NFT economy but also the cryptocurrency economy and the global economy. What do you see going on?
Crypto has had a very good run for more than a decade. What we're seeing now are the challenges and the frictions that you see as something which many people, many governments, and many authorities didn't believe was going to be a thing that empowers the masses. They are now slowly starting to get worried about the decentralization of monetary policy and financial systems and are moving forward to try to restrain that growth simply because they lose control over their monetary system. It's a little bit sad but it is inevitable as cryptocurrencies become a real thing. In addition to that, in decentralized finance, you no longer have these big banks hiring tens, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people trying to run processes but rather have automated smart contract protocols.
It's inevitable that when so much attention and headlines go into a space, everyone starts to pay attention. There are unfortunate events like Terra LUNA. That creates even more intention but is there something to be said about the broadness of the industry relative to the fine art industry? In a lot of ways, I imagine there have been fine art scams too, not just forged pieces but artists that were overhyped by a segment of the industry. The value of the pieces went up artificially and then perhaps went down. Why hasn't that made headlines? Why is this so different than fine art?
You're bringing up a very closely guarded "secret" of the traditional industry. While there are artists that have truly made it on their two feet, there are a couple of artists in the traditional world who are king-made by major collectors and major whales with a significant amount of money and are able to boost these creatives into the spotlight. Without naming any names, it's not only prevalent in the traditional art industry. It is also prevalent in the digital art industry. It's prevalent in every single asset class in NFTs at this point in time. When you look at generative projects with only 10,000 assets, and each person on average holds a total of 3 to 4 assets, you're only talking about 2,500 holders.
There are some very active communities where the activity is circulating around 200 people.
In the case of scams, particularly as it adheres to digital art, one of the great things about the blockchain is that you can identify the players, the collectors, the provenance, and the actual public prices, which provides an additional layer of transparency over some of the shady deals that we see in the traditional art world. Given that, while there are and I do know several artists who have ridden the wave in a not-so-transparent manner, I do know that the majority of artists in the space have been democratically elected by people's wallets. Many of those artists are very proud to be holders in the Whale vault.
You fit in a segment of the industry that is pretty distinct in that you're not necessarily looking for a utility. Everyone is talking about utility as the next frontier of the PFP movement. What are your thoughts there?
I believe that each different NFT asset class has a utility. When we look at digital art, the utility of digital art is art. It's meant to be appreciated, thought about, contemplated, and tried to be understood. In terms of utility from a profile picture perspective or PFP perspective, I don't have a good track record with the PFP community because I usually don't mince words. I usually do shoot it out straight.
I did write a long thread about why I don't think PFPs are going to be the next big NFT asset class given the fact that there are so many things going against it. The first thing is that when you look at PFP utilities, the very first thing that people I always say is, "We will give you licensing rights. Once you buy this PFP of licensing rights, you get to do anything you want with it, put it on a t-shirt, put it on Cartoon Network, and do whatever you want to do with it."
Everyone wants to be this thing but have you ever taken a look at the hundreds of Disney characters that are in their roster that did make it or didn't make it? Each of them is different and unique. For example, take one Ape and put it next to another Ape. Take five Apes and put them into ten different TV channels or series. They all look the same. The pictorial differentiation between PFPs is not significant enough to be able to have a strong license. That would be my first rebuttal.
The second thing I would bring up, and we were discussing this earlier, is this. What are the core competencies of PFP projects? It's hype and marketing. For a hype and marketing company to say, "We want to develop the metaverse, cartoons, or a game," that's metaphorically speaking a Chinese takeaway restaurant in America saying, "We're also going to do the best Japanese food and Korean food at the same time." Where is the core competency? How do you leverage your core competency to make a project that truly has good and strong utilities? That's the main question that needs to be answered.
That's a great question. It will be exciting to see what's to come. Is there anything you're looking forward to and that you see in the space that inspires you?
When we look at the space, we call it the NFT Industry. That's okay. The NFT industry or NFTs are so relatively small. However, in the future, NFTs are going to be an invisible layer of the internet. While we're all saying NFTs, I don't think our children or our grandchildren will be calling them NFTs because they're digital assets. What I'm looking forward to is having NFT technology be as invisible and as integrated as TCP/IP protocols. Instead of talking about the NFT industry, we will be talking about the digital art industry, the digital photography industry, the digital music industry, and perhaps the digital real estate industry rather than NFTs all clumped together as a whole.
There's something exciting to look forward to. I'm interested to see where things go. What's next for you?
After this, I am going to take a little bit of respite. My team has been taking quite a lot of work time in terms of getting out both of these galleries at TOKEN2049.
I know how that goes.
Apparently, I'm going to NFTLA.
Let's see you there. Thanks again for spending some time together. This was great.
I appreciate it. Thank you so much, Josh.
We are at TOKEN2049 with Lucaz Lee of Affyn. Lucaz, it's great to have you here.
Thank you for inviting me.
It's my pleasure. For those of you at home that don't know Lucaz, he's the Founder and CEO of Affyn. This is an incredible project that's reinventing the gaming model with a sustainable play-and-earn economy. Lucaz has secured over $20 million in funding to build a great game. As a seasoned leader with more than ten years of experience in the lifestyle brand space, he's certainly no stranger to leading international teams to growth and success, including helping to launch a startup that was acquired by a NASDAQ-listed firm.
He was also in the core leadership team that helped a US-based company launch and penetrate the Asian market. It went from $91 million to $926 million in annual revenue within four years. That's not shabby at all. Since 2016, Lucaz has been exposed to blockchain and cryptocurrency. He has been actively involved in the space. That's quite a bio, Lucaz.
I would love to kick things off. Give us an overview of Affyn and how this play-and-earn metaverse is being built with a sustainable economy. We have learned some things over 2021 that you're building into the product.
Thanks for having me here. To give you an insight into what Affyn is and how it came about, I wanted to create something that could bring people together. The whole idea of Affyn is short for affinity. We want to create something where people can have fun together, play with their friends, and interact with their friends and family. That's why the whole concept of how Affyn came about. It's all ages across all demographics. One of the things that inspired me was Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO wasn't targeted at gamers. It was targeted across all demographics.
There wasn't a single human I know that didn't download and try that game.
More importantly, people were not sitting behind a desk playing it. They were going out there to parks to talk about where they should go together. It's integrating the real-world aspect of it into the virtual world. I was inspired by that but I was thinking to myself, "What if there was a way where people can play and earn with their friends and family while having fun together?" Imagine fun and entertainment combined with the earning aspect of it.
I started conceptualizing this whole idea more than one year. I'm finally with a clear blueprint of how we can create a sustainable game economy. Creating a sustainable game economy was the biggest challenge and hurdle we faced. This was before the metaverse or the play-and-earn hype even came about. We didn't even know that Axie Infinity existed back then.
We had a strong head start because we have been trying to overcome this hurdle for over a year. Finally, in September 2021, we went into our fundraising campaign. Within a short four-month period, we raised almost more than $20 million in funding to execute this game. We have close to 40 full-time staff in the company working. They are experienced professionals from various industries working on executing and making this vision a reality.
I'm envisioning since your whole thing is about fun. You have a pretty fun office, maybe some good snacks, and some games around there.
One of the things that our community was impressed with was our office.
I knew this guy has a great office.
We want to create an office where we have this vision. We want to make it such that when you are stressed at home.
Especially during these tough times with COVID and everything, you've got to be creative and innovative.
It's very nature-like and innovative. It's an open concept and an interactive office space. I wish I can show you a video and image of it.
I would love to see it at some point. I can picture that. I'm not surprised based on your personality. You did an inaugural NFT collection that sold out. The floor price went up over 30 times. When was that?
We had the sale on the 6th of July 2022.
This is in the bear market. That says a lot about what you're building. Congrats on that.
You've got a new land sale coming up on September 30th, 2022.
We will be making an announcement to reveal the full details of our upcoming land sale. The whole Quarter 4 will be all about our upcoming land sale campaign. The community is excited about it. They are very hyped about it. We will be giving the full review of what the game looks like and the full details of the land reveal. All of them have been waiting for this moment.
That's incredible. There's a lot of action here in TOKEN2049 with the Formula 1 race. It's a great time for something like this. Does that mean that we can get a little sneak peek of the game?
You will be the first to see it.
We're going to do a little screen clip from Lucaz's phone. He's going to share this with us. I hope our readers check out our YouTube video to see a demo of the product.
What we are creating is a metaverse world called NEXUS World. NEXUS World is a world where unique creatures exist called Buddies. We can travel around this thing called the Overworld.
These are fun guys. They're bigger creatures. They could be intimidating if you didn't know them but when you get to know them, you feel like, "This guy is cool."
Every hexagon you see is all the plots of land in our metaverse. You can travel around the Overworld. Let's say you decided to land in this spot. It will bring you down to this area. This is my avatar. This is one of my Buddies.
The graphics are very vivid.
Thank you. This is one of the NFTs that sold out in 100 seconds. What we are trying to do is to create a utility for our NFTs rather than just a profile picture purpose. You can buy the NFT and integrate it into the game.
What are some of the different traits of those NFTs? The one I'm looking at has blue hair and a cute tail. What are some of the differences between the creatures and the rarities?
I've been an avid gamer for many years. One of the things that I'm guilty of spending money a lot on is aesthetics. I played this game called DOTA. I guiltily spent thousands of dollars buying avatars, hats, and everything to have bragging rights. One of the aspects of it is this character here. There are only 100 in the world. There would never be more. This is a mythical creature called Frostveil Nessie.
When having this NFT inside here when you walk around the world, people will be able to see, "We are 1 of the 100 Frostveil Nessie owners." You can use it. We didn't want to make it imbalanced, such that when you have money, you buy this. You make the whole game imbalanced. It's free to play. More importantly, you cannot pay to win. There's the long-term longevity of this game. You can move around the grass a bit and explore the whole world around it. One of the key objectives of this game is to capture Buddies. You can see this Buddy over here. You can capture this Lapis here.
He has a net.
You want to capture them, protect them, and keep them okay. You work together with them to fight those bosses or threats that are threatening the world like that. You can move around and see. There's somebody over there. This is what we call a level-five Floomph, which is going to be very hard to catch but let me try it.
You should be a pro. Even the best baseball players swing a miss.
When you have all these Buddies, you can prepare them to go and fight raids. For example, this is one of the bosses. When they defeat these monsters, they can earn rewards. They can spend these rewards not only within the game but they can also spend and use within the real world. If they want to book for travel holidays and stuff, they can do it.
That's pretty awesome. You're doing partnerships with travel companies and brands.
There's a lifestyle in every aspect of it. We've got to create the utility of the tokens not only in the virtual world but also in the real world.
Is there a specific brand that you can talk about?
That's fine. We will have to have you back and get into more details.
The objective is to kill this monster in under 60 seconds. The gameplay is very simple. Send your Buddy out to go and fight. It's similar to Uno. When you call Uno cards, you will see that there's a red card and a shape. Stack it. The next one is a red sun. You don't have it. You will switch it and then put red on the star so that you can continue a combo. The more you stack it and the more combos you do, the more you can be able to defeat the monster. This is a rough example of how to play it.
Lucaz was multitasking and talking while playing, so he didn't win that round. I'm sure if you were fully focused, you would have defeated the monster and got a cool travel trip to Bali. It's not that far from here. That's pretty awesome. I'm excited. Your excitement throughout the game is very enthusiastic. You've got the big launch and the land sale. What's next? Where do you see all this going? What platform is this built on?
It's built on Polygon. It will be on the Polygon chain. So far, it's pretty good. Polygon has been quite seamless for us. It's fast. Its transaction cost is low. We are comfortable using it. What's coming next for us is that we have been following and executing according to our roadmap, leading to our closed beta, which is in Quarter 1 of 2023. What you're seeing is only the alpha version.
That's a lot that you've built over that time. It takes a long time to build a great game. You put an A-team together.
Thank you. On top of this game, this is one of the many metaverses that we are going to build. We will be announcing that we are building something on top of this metaverse. We want to introduce the interoperability of our NFTs across all the metaverses.
We intend to be able to integrate with many of these metaverses, for example, the ones that you mentioned. We encourage the strong use case of NFTs. That's how we envision blockchain and NFTs are supposed to be.
What does the metaverse even mean to you? People ask me that question all the time.
To me, the metaverse is a very broad definition. Everybody has a different idea and opinion on it. Technology is broad. To me, the metaverse is a virtual world. Users can go into that world to interact with other players. They can create content and add value to other players. It creates a whole economy on its own. Think of it as the real world. What we do here adds value to other players. You can also go into the virtual world to create businesses, products, and services and interact with other players. It becomes an economy on its own.
Is there a hardware component to this that you think is needed? Are you trying to go hardwareless, or all you need is your phone?
All we need is the phone. We are going to make it as seamless as possible. Let's say you are in the real world. You're bored. You don't know what you want to do. You can enter the virtual metaverse itself to interact.
You earn something while you're there.
The beauty of the metaverse is the limitless imagination of what players can do in that virtual world compared to the real world.
You mentioned earlier that this is about hanging out with your friends and your family. We saw the one-person point of view. How was collaboration going to be possible within your game among folks that know each other? What can they do together that they can't do as individuals?
Since our whole vision of the company is to bring people together, we are going to create quests, activities, and raids that require friends and family to do it together to amplify earning rewards. You know, "If I were to do it alone, I wouldn't earn this much but if I were to do it with friends and family, I earn this much." It creates an initiative among players to go, "Let's come and do this together."
Let's see what families are functional versus dysfunctional.
It bridges people of different generations together.
I love that. I can see a world gaming convention for your game where all these families are on these teams wearing their family team shirts and everything like that.
We have a concept called the Annual Ultimate Raid. Maybe that can happen also with what you envision.
We might have to have the finals at NFTLA at some point. We have a conference coming up on March 20th to the 23rd, 2023. We have a whole gaming track in Los Angeles. I'm sure folks would be excited to learn more about what you're doing over there.
Thank you. That's pretty exciting too.
Thanks for spending a little bit of time with us. You're busy. You've got this big launch. If folks are interested in learning more about you and the project and getting involved in the community, what should they do?
Try our socials. All our socials across are @AffynOfficial. Our website is Affyn.com. You can join our socials and our website to look through our team, our background, and the vision of what we are trying to do. We have a very detailed 70-page white paper. You can look through our pitch deck. That gives you a summarized version of what we do. We even have a video that gives you a summarized and easily understandable concept of what we are doing.
I'm going to be tracking your progress. I'm excited about what you're doing for the space. I wish you the best for the launch.
We’re here in Singapore at TOKEN2049 with Jaeson Ma. It's good to see you again. It has been a minute. This guy knows what's up when it comes to hot pots. That was one of the most epic satellite events at NFTLA. Thank you for adding that value. That's not easy.
We brought the house down over 330 and shut down Haidilao.
Did you go hardcore with the ingredients? There are some pretty interesting options for hot pots.
It gets wild.
It's a good time. If you have not hot-potted, you have not lived. We've got a lot going on too with OP3N and what you are doing at TOKEN2049. What brought you here?
This is Asia's biggest crypto conference. There are 7,000-plus. I couldn't not be here. We've got one going on with Haidilao. The community is excited. With Teriyaki Boyz and Verbal, we have the A3 mint and drop collection we're doing with Avalanche. That's happening here in this room. We have this room right here where you see a collaboration with WhaleShark and OP3N. It's called OP3N Whale. It's $150 million worth of the most valuable NFTs in the world. You've talked to WhaleShark from Pak, Michael Yamashita, and Hackatao.
It's incredible stuff.
It's insane. The Pak Genesis is worth $60 million on the market.
A lot of people have not seen high-value NFTs up close in person. It's a different experience.
To be in one physical place like this is historic. It's the first time ever. It's also East meets West. That's what I've always been about and staying with WhaleShark. We're very excited. We opened up the main stage with Teriyaki Boyz's Tokyo Drift. That was also part of it. We're bringing the heat from Tokyo, Japan to Singapore and the rest of the world.
We're excited. Verbal and I ideated this A3 drop, which has 2,000 NFTs of the actual AMBUSH necklace of their famous iconic lighter but in Avalanche red. You will see that in a little bit when you talk to Verbal. If you mint this one-of-one out of these 2,000, then you have to get put into a raffle to win the Pow AMBUSH Energon ring one-of-one, which you will also see only at TOKEN2049.
That's a cool collaboration. You are doing a lot. There was a big raise if I'm not mistaken. For people that don't know already, what is OP3N up to in the world of Web3 and beyond?
We have been building. A lot of people say they have a white paper without a product. We have a product without a white paper. You can download OP3N on iOS, the Apple Store, Android, and desktop at OP3N.World. It is a super app for Web3. Think of this as Web3 chat. We have become a Web3 Facebook or a Web3 WeChat.
If you have IP and a community, you can manage all of your activity on our app and our platform, whether that's chat, NFT data, merch, ticketing, video, audio, livestreaming, or social marketplace all in one place. We want to make the UI-UX journey from Web2 to Web3 seamless. You can even buy these NFTs with Stripe and your credit card. Even with AMBUSH and the A3 drop, you can buy it with your credit card without having to have anything else. It's direct. We're one of the first platforms to integrate Stripe. We're making it seamless.
What has your experience been talking to some of the communities about this product? There's probably a mic drop moment here and there because people have challenges. Telegram, Discord, WeChat, and WhatsApp all have their challenges. What has been the response from the community?
When I show this to communities that have actual NFT collections, they're like, "Are you serious? I have nothing against Discord but it's too much. It's a lot." You have to go to Twitter and Discord 24/7.
People hire people to run their Discords for them.
We make it seamless. We give you a community. On the back end, we can manage all the token data channels. You have to manage the merch and ticketing for your events IRL or URL. We're making that as simple as possible. It feels like TikTok or Instagram. It feels like you're on Kickstarter. You have all the simple tools but it's all on chain. We brought the best of Web2 tooling powered by blockchain in Web3.
That's amazing. Let's rewind a little bit. How did you get involved in all this?
I'm a six-time founder. This is my sixth company. I've been in media entertainment for five other companies. 88rising was one of the companies that you might not know of but it's the fast-growing digital music label in the world. It's venture capital-backed. I was working with music artists. We owned the full stack because we owned the content, the artists, the distribution, and all that full stack.
I started my next company, Stampede, which was a Hollywood studio with Greg Silverman, the Former President of Warner Bros, and began to understand the value of IP. He was the guy that auctioned Harry Potter for $25,000 when every publisher passed on it. He wrote The Dark Knight on a napkin. It was Al-Qaeda versus Batman. He gave an unknown director named Christopher Nolan a chance.
My point with all that was I then learned the power of IP. You could take an idea or a script for a book from Harry Potter to The Dark Knight and 300 and turn them into a billion-dollar franchise but in Web2, all that value accrued to Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, these tech giants, these studios, or these music labels. With Web3, I was like, "Wait a second here."
When I saw the Ethereum documentary get fundraised in 24 hours, it was a few million dollars with Vitalik as a producer, I was like, "That's super interesting." Everyone got to own a piece of that documentary. They got credits. That's why Ashton Kutcher did Stoner Cats. He was like, "Instead of selling this to Netflix and getting a check but never owning the IP ever again, I don't want to be like Squid Game that made $1 billion for Netflix but the director got paid $250.000."
He drops 10,000 PFPs of these Stoner Cats on OpenSea and makes 10 million in Ethereum. I did the same with another rap artist. We dropped a million albums, priced them at $1 each, made a credit card crypto available, and sold out in 57 seconds without Spotify, iTunes, or a music label. I was like, "This is crazy." When I was building out OP3N, I was like, "What if I used my experience in UI-UX and helped every musician or filmmaker have a simple platform or app where they could launch their IP with the communities to support them without a middleman or middleware?"
That was OP3N. That's how it got started. I was an early investor in Musical.ly, which then became TikTok. I helped finance the acquisition of Triller and another company called Lomotif. I understood social videos from a UI-UX perspective but I was like, "Let's take that experience or that TikTok discovery timeline but then with chat, put it together." It's almost as if Discord and OpenSea had a baby and became OP3N.
There you go. The real genesis here is that IP is only as valuable as the community you build around it.
I was at a Warner Music conference speaking to 150 Warner music label CEOs and chairmen. I was like, "Why Web3? What can Web3 do for you as an artist or an executive that Web2 can't?" It was interesting. Mike Shinoda was on a panel with me, the leader of Linkin Park. He's like, "I don't need more Linkin Park fans," but I do have this subset of a few thousand hardcore fans that love Mike Shinoda's creativity. He went to a design school.
I've seen some live drawing sessions. He's an incredible artist.
He was like, "I went to design school." He illustrates all these different things. He has a subset of hardcore fans that want to support his other creative ideas through Web3. He had two NFT music drops fully sold out. When I look at that, I'm like, "What if you found The Weeknd before he was The Weeknd, and his name was The Weeknd? He only had 10,000 followers on SoundCloud and Instagram."
Many people come up to me now and say, "I used to listen to The Weeknd before he was anything or anyone. He was homeless on the streets but he was so dope." You can't prove that fandom. In Web3, I say, "I only have 10,000 fans but I'm dropping 1,000 NFTs as The Weeknd. If you buy in, you're going to get this utility and access. You're going to forever get my music before anyone else does."
Ten years later, he goes from 10,000 to 10 million, selling out stadiums in the Super Bowl. How much is that 1 of 1,000 worth? The value of Web3 is that it's not about going big and getting more followers. It's about going small and going deeper and finding your 300 or the Sparta community of your hardcore fans that will support you.
You bring them out for some hot pot. It's great to see you. I look forward to seeing you again in LA at the next NFTLA. I wish you the best with the drop.
I'll see you at the hot pot.
Let's do it.
We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks, everyone, for exploring with us. We've got space for more adventures on this starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes, rate us, and say something awesome. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. You can also come and participate in EdgeOfNFT.com/Discord and get to know the community. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
- Verbal - Twitter
- Michael Yamashita
- Instagram - Michael Yamashita
- Numbers Protocol
- Animoca Brands
- The Sandbox
- Cai Guo-Qiang
- Your Daytime Fireworks
- Pokémon GO
- YouTube video - The Future of Mobile Gaming is Here Ft. Affyn
- Jaeson Ma - Twitter
- Stoner Cats
- Spotify - Edge of NFT
- iTunes - Edge of NFT