Bandai Namco is investing heavily in the loosely defined idea of the metaverse, and it’s starting with what it calls the “Gundam Metaverse Project” first.
Here’s the summary of Bandai Namco’s broad metaverse vision, from a March press release. (I warn you that there is a lot of jargon ahead.)
The new mid-term plan will introduce a new way to connect fans to entertainment properties by creating a metaverse for each IP in Bandai Namco Group’s portfolio, which is also used as a key part of the company’s IP-based strategies. . The development will begin with the creation of the “GUNDAM Metaverse” where it will become a platform of opportunities for GUNDAM fans around the world to come together to converse and connect in a variety of categories.
This metaverse will grow steadily to build a solid foundation as the project moves forward into the future. The first step in the metaverse is to create virtual communities for each category and enable category logins through the use of the BANDAI NAMCO ID.
As for the Gundam-specific aspects, Bandai Namco plans to create virtual communities for aspects of the fandom such as video games, anime, music, and Gunpla (aka building Gundam models). “These virtual communities will merge with the world of GUNDAM as virtual spaces will be created in the form of space colonies, which will be connected to the ‘GUNDAM Metaverse’ space hub as ‘SIDE-G,'” the company said. .
The first of these SIDE-G settlements will center on Gunpla, “where various Gunpla-related experiences will be made available in the virtual world.” Bandai Namco is also planning an esports-themed colony for 2023. Basically, communities seem like cool virtual spaces to experience all things Gundam.
However, in the “near future,” Bandai Namco wants people to build businesses around creating Gundam-themed content. Here is the company’s description of this vision:
In the near future, Bandai Namco Group will encourage non-Bandai Namco Group companies to join the GUNDAM market and allow general users to conduct C2C activities using the GUNDAM mark in the form of user-generated content (UGC).
By building a metaverse in which the rights of the characters are preserved and by implementing this initiative, he expects that new Gundam companies will be created and this will lead to a new expansion of Gundam IP co-created with fans .
The “GUNDAM Metaverse Projectwill build “SIDE-G” by launching space colonies for each category available. Bandai Namco Group will create a new economic area to promote C2C businesses by inviting other businesses to join a virtual space where GUNDAM fans around the world can enjoy the virtual world together as part of their daily lives.
It’s unclear how the mechanics of this will work or exactly what “user-generated content” will look like. I desperately hope it won’t be NFT, but an announcement on Friday indicates that Bandai Namco is at least somewhat interested in blockchain technologies. The company launched the “Bandai Namco Entertainment 021 (Zero to One) Fund” to invest in “global startups that provide entertainment-related products and services that use technologies such as blockchains, VR/AR/xR, AI, etc., and are engaged in Metaverse and Web3 related activities.
While it remains to be seen if the Metaverse is more than a flash-in-the-pan tech trend, Bandai Namco says it’s committed to its Gundam vision for at least the next few years. “In order to grow on an even greater scale after 2026, the Bandai Namco Group will foster the development of each colony with the ‘Gundam Metaverse’ as the mainstay of the group,” the company said in its March press release.
And Bandai Namco only went into detail about this Gundam metaverse; the company owns a host of other major franchises like Pac man and tekken that he could try to create new virtual worlds around. (He also publishes Ring of Elden, though I pray Bandai Namco doesn’t do anything metaverse with it. Put those foolish ambitions to rest.)
Many other tech and gaming companies are also rushing to claim their own rights to the metaverse. Meta is creating web and mobile versions of its Horizon Worlds-only Quest VR, game-making tool Core is expanding from PC to Apple platforms this summer, Epic Games and Lego are teaming up on a metaverse to kids, and even the OG metaverse second life renews its momentum by bringing its founder back as a strategic advisor. But they will all compete against fortnite and Roblox for its relevance in the virtual world.