April 8, 2022 | By Sam Anderson
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Outside Interactive, Inc. says its new ‘Outerverse’ will be an alternative to the Metaverse that encourages people to live ‘real’ lives. GearJunkie had one simple question: How?
How will an online content pool and a marketplace based on a currency that’s only designed to support transactions on the internet incentivize people to get outdoors and actually do things?
Put simply, Outside’s Outerverse uses cryptocurrency and NFTs on the (environmentally conscientious) Solana blockchain to motivate users to get out and be active. The NFT offerings, it says, will focus on outdoor sports.
Benefits that come with purchasing them also aim to help the buyer get outside. And partnerships with apps and other brands leverage hike/bike/run-type challenges to the same effect.
Launching in a tiered release throughout 2022, the Outerverse will eventually comprise an NFT marketplace, creator platform, and loyalty tokens. The NFT marketplace constitutes the first launch, which starts in early June.
You can register for the Outside.io marketplace today, and grab the incentivized Outerverse Passport (more on that later) — but why would you want to?
Outside’s team is notably psyched on its foray into the crypto world. Whether its platform’s customers will experience similar psych remains somewhat up in the air.
If you need a primer on NFTs and cryptocurrency, check out this explainer on non-fungible tokens. Otherwise, prepare to absorb the secrets of the Outerverse — such as they are.
‘Game-Changer’: How Outerverse Works
Robin Thurston, CEO of Outside, called the Outerverse a “game-changer” for outdoor enthusiasts. He also demarcated it from the Metaverse, which is either the evolution of the internet or simply a new place for corporations to seek to increase their profits — or, of course, both.
“Our vision is really bold: We want to harness these new technologies to get the next generation of adventurers outdoors, and we want to infuse blockchain culture with the values that our followers hold dear,” Thurston said. “Big Tech wants you to live a virtual life; we’re creating experiences and content that will help you live a real life. The Outerverse is a place where technology exists to fuel adventure, inclusivity, and sustainability.”
That sounds great, but the “how,” at least for now, sounds a lot like many existing social media challenges or incentivized content.
Most content on the Outerverse will take the form of NFT offerings (or “mintings,” for the initiated). To secure them, registered users can visit the Outerverse, and then select from what’s available and buy it with either Solana cryptocurrency or their credit card.
The NFT will unlock opportunities for the owner to earn benefits by running, traveling, cycling, climbing, going to a film showing or festival, and so on — any outdoor activity appears to be on the table.
As an example, Outside reps theorized an NFT connected to a popular marathon. The hypothetical NFT could include ownership of a unique piece of digital art by an artist from the host city, an invitation to the artist’s showcase on marathon weekend, and a post-race swag bag from a brand partner. As an incentive, a brand partnership could let them log a certain mileage in a running app to earn an invitation to the post-marathon VIP tent.
Break out of the Metaverse and join us in the Outerverse.https://t.co/BLg4RMooX0 pic.twitter.com/BnAEJWTeFl
— outsideio (@outsideio) April 4, 2022
Example Only: Mysteries of the Outerverse
Of course, you could also not bother and simply do your own training and buy your own VIP ticket. But the NFT purchase would come with the advantage that you would secure the asset (the art piece) in the example.
Other similar opportunities would likely follow suit as Outside builds out the Outerverse’s array of content contributors and brand partners.
However, Outside did not confirm details of any NFTs, nor whether the several examples they provided would become reality.
“The possibilities are endless,” Thurston said. “Some examples have been ideated but are not on any specific roadmap — we have not discussed any of these ideas with brands and this is brainstorming only.”
He added that “[a]s we speak, we’re working with our brand and creator partners on the endless possibilities people can be inspired to get outside.”
The possibilities may be endless (so we’ve heard), but right now, they’re also conjectural. Miller did confirm that no NFT can go live on the Outside.io marketplace unless it’s “enhanced with a real-world perk or reward.”
Of course, the project is far enough down the road that its arrival is probably inevitable. Thurston said 10 “well-known creators and athletes are already on board,” and Outside confirmed that its existing nonprofit, influencer, and brand partners would mint NFTs over the next 12 months.
Look for heavy hitters like SRAM, Brooks Running, and Skratch Labs in the lineup. Influencers on board include artist Chris Burkard and world champion mountain biker Rebecca Rusch.
Adding to the momentum, the Outerverse Passport has already dropped. Essentially, it’s an access package that includes a 3-year subscription to Outside+ and early access to future NFT mintings.
Sustainability and DEI
Outside also plans to package the Outerverse as a sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative (DEI). The brand says it will channel 20% of revenue from all NFT mints on the marketplace to select nonprofit partners that support DEI and sustainability initiatives.
And its choice to partner with Solana is a bid to lower the marketplace’s own carbon footprint. Generally speaking, cryptocurrency transactions are heavily energy-consumptive. But on the Solana blockchain, a transaction only takes the same amount of energy as two Google searches.
Finally, Outside promised to calculate, report, and neutralize 100% of the Outerverse’s overall carbon footprint. The action would fall in line with its pledge to make the entire company carbon-neutral by the end of 2026.
So, Will It Work?
Whether the Outerverse will emerge as a Metaverse antithesis is unclear, but its users will determine if it does or does not. Outside’s emerging status as a media empire will undoubtedly stimulate its progress.
One thing the fast-growing company’s proven lately is that it’s willing to parse out its resources to develop new projects aggressively.
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But ultimately, whether the Outerverse will help people get outside and live “real” lives boils down to the same gambit as always: the individual decision to put down the device and go outside.
And that’s not a knock on Outside. It usually takes a Herculean effort to change the world. Other than its monetization, it’s unclear how the Outerverse will differ from current social media challenges and brand partner giveaways.
It will be up to the pros at Outside to show the way — and they sure sound excited.
“Every collection from creators, well-known athletes, photographers, brands, and nonprofits will be hard-coded with perks designed to get you outside, get your blood flowing and your legs moving. The possibilities are endless,” Thurston reiterated.
“Sometimes you need a nudge to get going on a chilly morning. Our NFTs will deliver the digital caffeine with interactive rewards for peak-bagging, trail maintenance, new personal bests, sleep, and even meditation.”