Cross-game digital avatar platform Ready Player Me is launching branded character skins with a variety of major brands and IP, including Angry Birds game studio Rovio, the TV talent show “The Voice,” and Warner Music Group (WMG), Ready Player Me announced Friday.
The new collections are a part of Ready Player Me’s upcoming Premium Skins Catalog, which will let brands sell skins and custom content directly to users. Ready Player Me CEO Timmu Toke said in a statement that the catalog was designed to allow any game developer to jump onto the platform, create custom skins, and sell them to their audiences.
Decrypt confirmed avatar skin plans with Rovio, Warner Music Group, and Virtual Brand Group, which licensed “The Voice” IP for Web3 activations. Ready Player Me also announced similar plans with car maker McLaren and Universal Music Group’s Bravado merchandising arm, though Decrypt was not able to confirm these plans with the respective companies by press time.
Virtual Brand Group CEO Justin Hochberg told Decrypt that the show is venturing into the world of digital assets and custom skins as a way to connect with younger audiences.
“Every generation shops its own way,” Hochberg told Decrypt via email. “Gen Z and Alpha consumers are moving past being digital natives on 2D social media to ‘spatial natives’ playing, making relationships, and buying 3D items in 3D worlds.”
Hochberg said that he sees video games as virtual “stores” that can unlock a “retail revolution.” “The Voice” Ready Player Me offerings will include virtual streetwear, accessories, full-body costumes, and performance-ready fashion, Hochberg explained.
While it’s still up for debate whether brick-and-mortar stores and shopping centers are actually “dying,” sales in digital worlds like Fortnite and Roblox are raking in millions in revenue—primarily from young audiences.
A WMG representative told Decrypt via email that skins will be “customized and tailored to the artists’ unique style,” but did not share which artists might use the platform.
“We are committed to enabling our artists and songwriters to connect with their fans wherever they may be, and in the interactive formats they demand,” WMG VP of New Business and Ventures Jillian Rothman said in a statement of its plans to use Ready Player Me.
This isn’t WMG’s first foray into NFTs and crypto, however. Earlier this year, WMG launched a blockchain music accelerator on Polygon, and planned NFTs through the Polygon platform LGND in 2022. WMG’s Singapore division is reportedly working with Web3 firm Affyn to offer its artists different revenue streams in gaming, and WMG has been collaborating with NFT digital fashion firm DressX and OpenSea since late 2022.
McLaren has also explored NFTs previously, launching Formula 1 NFTs on Tezos back in 2021 and more recently adding some of its cars to Mythical Games’ latest mobile title Nitro Nation World Tour.
UMG—also no stranger to NFT launches—will release skins inspired by its German metal band Electric Callboy as well as hip-hop lifestyle brand Stoked, according to the announcement.
“Many music fans are gamers and most gamers are music fans so it feels obvious to make official merchandise available digitally to allow users to express themselves and show off their fandom just like in the real world,” said Philippe Koenig, senior director of A&R, operations, and strategy at UMG’s Bravado Merchandise Germany.
Edited by Andrew Hayward
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