MetaVault #15: Pixel Vault Studios
What the building blocks of an IP factory could look like
This is MetaVault, the best way to keep up with the Pixel Vault universe: PUNKS Comic, MetaHero, United Planets, $PUNKS, $POW, and lots of DAO.
A quick reminder that I launched the MetaVault podcast with my co-host, Brad Barrett. We had a big name in the PV Community on this past week’s episode, Rusty Sailor. He joined to talk about the MetaHero derivative project he and some big brains from the Founder’s DAO started called Moonlings. Super excited about that project (Disclosure: I helped with small pieces during the project’s development and would love to help grow the project moving forward). Pre-mint is March 10th and public mint is March 11th!
The Pixel Vault community is full of sharp thinkers. Every other day I get a DM or email asking insightful questions about possible future project dynamics, upticks in various metrics, and potential challenges down the road for PV. When I get questions or concerns about PV being able to maintain relevance (s/o Bostonbob) and reduce paper hands, my response inevitably focuses on PV Studios.
In the February 2nd Town Hall where GFunk announced the VC investment round, this is how he characterized the company:
You can think about it as a studio for web 3.0. What we're looking to do, and I think what really differentiates us from most other collections in the space is that, we've focused it all on story and the creation of really high quality IP. So at the get go, that's Punks Comic and MetaHero. But as we move forward, there will be a whole bunch of ecosystems that sit under the Pixel Vault umbrella. And so trying to empower both creators and community to bring really powerful IP to life.
We're building a massive studio across multiple sectors, right? Film, television, and gaming. And we are starting with a Web3 team at the center.
If this is what PV is focused on building and what will ultimately drive the value of our jpegs, maybe we should dedicate some time to thinking about it more deeply.
Let’s jump in.
There are two primary IP verticals that feed into PV Studios: PUNKS and MetaHero. These are the tentpole brands that will grow and evolve over time. They might be depicted as separate verticals, but their IP will quickly cross-pollinate — possibly as soon as next month (?!) with the launch of PUNKS Comic #3.
I think about PUNKS as Earth-bound storytelling and worldbuilding through “traditional mediums” like comics, TV, and movies. Building up Courtney’s story makes far more sense through an Origin Stories issue or a Netflix series than in a video game. PUNKS will always be the genesis brand within the PV portfolio. The OG that carries prestige with it.
MetaHero on the other hand will very possibly become the bigger, more popular brand. If PV can execute the vision for a broadly appealing defi gaming ecosystem with MetaHeroes, Sidekicks, and Hornswogglers roaming the United Planets, the attention on the IP will be massive. PV has a lot of storytelling and worldbuilding to execute here — in addition to the stories and dynamics built into the defi game, there’s a lot of material to mine for lore. We’re more than six months past the MetaHero launch and we don’t have any insight into who these heroes, villians, and mutants are, what they’re aiming to do, and what the connectivity is between the Cores and the generatives.
IP vs. Story
One thing to mention before talking about their world class tech is the difference between IP and storytelling. An easy (and PV-related) example is CryptoPunks. Larva Labs created killer IP. There’s a brand around the CPs, they’re visually distinct (or used to be prior to 1000x derivatives), and now carry unique cultural cache — which increases the brand’s strength. But there’s no story built into the characters. We don’t know how Punk 1234 lives her life. That’s where PV came in. They took 16 CPs and began telling a set of stories to bring these characters to life via PUNKS Comic. Story was their first product. Currently, MetaHero Cores are just IP, not embodied stories. This is the work ahead for PV — to turn unique, homegrown IP into fantastic stories.
Technology sits at the foundation of everything PV does. From user-friendly frontends that ensure an easy process connecting a wallet and claiming or minting to advanced smart contracts. This Medium article written by PV is just a taste of the complexity achieved:
NFT drops typically have one minting contract with separate phases for private allow-list minters, public minters, and reserved mints for existing collectors. The Elite Apes drop utilized 10 different Ethereum smart contracts, including eight separate contracts for each Elite Ape cover, the existing Entry Coins contract, and a final “helper” contract which was used to streamline the interactions between them all. Additionally, the code had to be written in a gas-efficient manner.
Yes, investors are interested in their IP and media ambitions. But they’re just as much a tech company as a media company — and besides the two are often synonymous nowadays.
Leading with Web3 technology in a media world that’s just getting up-to-speed on Web2 presents an enormous challenge and the possibility of immense rewards. Imagine convincing NBC to launch a Web3 video platform when they just launched Peacock in June 2020. Imagine convincing Bethesda to build a Web3-native platform for a video game ecosystem. Or convincing Spotify that gated access could very easily be controlled by assets in a wallet. Not to mention disruption in publishing, merchandising, and the sports world. All of the hooks can be built by PV’s outstanding dev team.
Pixel Vault Studios
And so all roads lead to the Studio — the central production point to develop new IP and turn existing IP into fantastic stories and worlds. The key is not just storytelling and world-building, but finding their fit in the ecosystem. What kind of story can be told in a quarterly 30-page comic? How about a monthly 7-page comic? How about in an 8-part animated TV series? What does a MetaHero Cinematic Universe look like? And where does it start? What’s the right-sized dynamic in a defi gaming environment? How does the story expand or veer during AAA game development? And who’s better positioned than PV to build a content vertical within the studio that could either focus solely on the stories around PV (creative, engineering, partnerships) or the Web3 / NFT market at-large? (And if they’re interested in either, I can’t think of a better way to start building this vertical than through MetaVault! Ha)
The scope is massive. Self-publishing a comic is one thing. Landing a merch partnership with a global brand is more complex. But to develop and distribute a TV show, movie, or video game? That takes an intense amount of coordination across PV to build a vision and then a ton of collaboration with outside organizations in various industries to execute that vision.
PVFD & Moon DAO = Creative Partner?
And while Pixel Vault, Inc is the centralized force, I specifically included the PVFD and its sister DAO, the Moon DAO, as drivers in my drawing. PV has said the community is important to creative direction — what that means isn’t clear at this time. Voting with $PUNKS tokens on the next Origin Story is part of the answer. How else will PV include our input in how the story evolves?
Additionally, I want to see more significant leadership from the community to story-tell and world-build alongside PV. We — PV + community — have the entire United Planets to build out. As a member of PVFD, I’d love to see us actively build projects like Moonlings and Pinballer, providing $PUNKS grants to the founders and bringing a percentage of proceeds from the mint back to the DAO. We build IP alongside PV while funding the DAO’s mission. Same for the Moon DAO. I’m not a holder (if anyone wants to give me a token because they think I’m so enjoyable to be around, my wallet is always open! ha), but I could see the Moon DAO building IP in the MetaHero game ecosystem.
Again, a massive challenge and immense reward that requires the right kind of leadership to execute. In GFunk we believe. Yes, and he’ll need a host of strong Studio leads to bring it all together. What sort of leads can grow stories around unique IP that was built and extended within Web3 while incorporating the PV community and the broader NFT world? Key capabilities that have to remain in sync are publishing, development, marketing, user experience, engineering, and partnerships. All operating at optimal tempo to build compelling products in the short-term, maintain momentum in the mid-term, and develop huge projects (AAA game, movie) that are well positioned in the long-term. We know GFunk is actively building the executive team to bring the Studio to life. It’ll be exciting to hear from them when they’re onboard.
The Future is Bright
When I get questions from the community on my PV conviction, Pixel Vault Studios is the full answer. They are ahead of all other NFT-borne companies in building the right relationships with the right creative forces to grow into a multi-media unicorn. Does that guarantee success? Not at all, but this is what we’re buying into. This is why I think PV is a blue chip.
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, I’m obviously a PV collector and long-term hodlr. Not a whale by any measure (maybe a squid?).