The key commonality that runs through all of these proposals is the implementation of blockchain technology to verify the ownership and exchange of digital assets to make them a fully tradable commodity. As BLOCKv CEO Reeve Collins explains, the blockchain ‘introduced the notion of scarcity because that is really what the underlying technology of these tokens does, it enables you to have digital scarcity.’ The BLOCKv platform is designed to allow the creation of ‘smart digital objects’ that exist across a variety of contexts, meaning that you could transfer a virtual jacket from your video game console to, say, your phone or a virtual reality (VR) store, with the ability to authenticate that it is one and the same item. ‘BLOCKv goods visualise differently depending on the device and environment, yet maintain their structural integrity, uniqueness and identity as cryptocurrencies,’ reads a white paper issued by the company. ‘This provides the open and freely available mechanism for collaboration across the industry and opens up vast new revenue streams with retailers and brands.’
While the ability to move functional items between games would require long-term technological evolution and developer collaboration, passive items such as accessories and apparel is an area ripe for immediate growth. Currently players generate a new avatar for each game, one which can only exist within the walled-garden of a title that they may only play for a matter of weeks or months. Once they stop playing, any in-game assets and attributes they have purchased become functionally worthless. This naturally restricts the amount players are willing to spend. Resolving this friction is something Mike Jones of 8 Circuit Studios, another developer working in this area, believes can act as a gateway to a future in which most game objects are transferable. ‘[Using the blockchain] we can create standards around how smart game objects work and you can import that character into another game that is also smart game object enabled,’ says Jones. ‘Now, when you go from one massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) to another it would be possible to at a minimum carry the look of your character with you.’
If innovators like Collins and Jones are successful, the ability to create one avatar for all digital contexts could supercharge demand for third-party digital clothing. In this landscape, rather than a video game publisher such as Rockstar enabling Grant Theft Auto players to buy fake versions of Supreme and Palace products through an expansion pack – as they did in 2016 – it would make financial sense for both the fashion brands and the publisher to work together on creating an official digital merch drop, as the items would be just as ‘flippable’ as their physical counterparts. And the best part? No matter how many virtual miles you walk in them, those digital trainers will always be box fresh.
For more on the burgeoning relationship between gaming and fashion, read our Avatar Influence microtrend.