The world’s two largest sportswear companies are following Facebook into the metaverse.
On Nov. 18, Nike revealed Nikeland, an entire world designed for Nike fans to connect, create, compete, and share experiences on Roblox. Just a few days later adidas made two quieter leaps into the digital universe, showing off real estate on Sandbox while releasing an exclusive digital collectible.
Nike becomes one of the first major brands to fully embrace the metaverse. Nikeland is a bespoke, 3D world set in a digital version of its Beaverton, Oregon world headquarters. Nikeland’s immersive virtual space inside the Roblox gaming platform was created for users to play, compete… and shop for Nike gear.
Participants can engage in swimming, athletics, or parkour events. Among these mini-games are playground favorites like lava floor (don’t touch the ground!), dodgeball, and tag. Users can also create their own games from simple design tools and interactive materials.
Player control seems to be similar to that of the Nintendo Wii with video visitors imitating real-life movement on controllers. Players activate accelerometers on mobile devices that transfer offline movement to online play. For example, Nike states, you can pull off in-game moves like long jumps or speed runs by using the same real-world movements while holding your smartphone.
Nike asserts that one of the biggest advantages to this new online world is democratic access. Nikeland offers free play, so it doesn’t matter if there is no nearby park or pool — you can jump in anywhere there is a connection.
Competitors win “Blue Ribbons” and “Gold Medals” for competing in cyberspace. Blue Ribbons earn more construction materials for building and expanding personal yards in Nikeland, and Gold Medals unlock virtual products for avatars. Further exploration can unveil special Easter eggs. Of course, games wouldn’t be complete without prizes and Nike is using its brand to mark everything from clothing to clouds. Player avatars can buy and unlock various virtual garments as they play and interact.
Immersion in Nikeland won’t just be limited to smartphones either. This December, the brand will bring the Roblox Nikeland to life at its House of Innovation in New York City. Using a special Snapchat lens, visitors to the kids’ floor can be launched into this augmented reality to participate as real-world players.
In a related move, Nike took steps to safeguard its brand in the virtual world. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records, the apparel giant filed several new trademarks on Oct. 27, indicating its intent to protect digital Nike-branded sneakers and apparel. These included applications for the word “Nike,” the slogan “Just Do It,” the swoosh logo, as well as the “Air Jordan” brand and its accompanying “Jumpman” logo.
While its biggest competitor took the full leap, adidas made a more measured move into the metaverse over the last two weeks.
First, The Sandbox tweeted about the popular shoe company and showed a video clip of Adidas real estate in the Sandbox metaverse.
“Hey @adidasoriginals, impossible is nothing in the Metaverse. What if we invite all of the original thinkers and do-ers to design our future together?” The Sandbox tweeted.
According to its website, The Sandbox is a blockchain-based virtual gaming world and “a community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel assets (cubed pixels) and gaming experiences.” Players generally get a square parcel of digital land that they can build out to attract other visitors. adidas has yet to reveal what the athletic apparel company will be featuring in its massive Sandbox plot revealed in the video tweet.
This hasn’t stopped them from dropping exclusive digital content, however. The footwear giant dropped a POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol) to members of adidas Confirmed — an app for drops and exclusive content, around the same time as the Sandbox disclosure. POAP’s platform allows organizers to distribute crypto-badges to attendees. These non-fungible tokens are also blockchain protected and can be exchanged for goods and services. adidas would only hint at what this token might unlock in the future.
“This digital collectible is our way of rewarding you for following your curiosity….this token proves you were here from the beginning of this journey. Keep it safe — it may come in handy,” adidas wrote on POAP’s website.
Continuing the air of mystery, adidas also established an enigmatic yet concrete partnership with the Coinbase cryptocurrency platform.
“We’ve partnered with @coinbase. Probably nothing,” the athletic wear maker tweeted on Nov. 24.
As digital plots soar into the millions of dollars and demand for virtual gear accelerating fast, adidas appears to be at least making preparations to be a major player in this entirely new game.