Metaverse festival in Amsterdam: ‘We show what is possible’

According to the organizers, MET AMS is Europe’s largest metaverse festival. The term metaverse refers to virtual worlds where people meet at a distance. Such metavers have been around for a long time – the popular 3D worlds Minecraft and Roblox are examples – but big tech companies will also dive into them in the coming years. It’s not for nothing that the Facebook parent company changed its name to Meta last year.

The meta-verse sounds like an ideal topic for a virtual event, but MET AMS is focused on experiences and meetings in the real world, says co-founder Rik Woldring. “It’s more than a conference. You also have to be able to experience different things, for example at a festival. There are art installations and concerts. And you can order a Magnum ice cream from us in the meta version and have it delivered to the festival.”

The technology that MET AMS is about flourished during the corona pandemic. “As a result, many involved in it only know each other from the Internet. We are bringing them together for the first time,” Woldring said. This is partly why MET AMS also attracts visitors from all over the world. “Thirty percent of our visitors come from abroad, in fact from everywhere: Lithuania, Turkey, Hong Kong, Dubai.”

From Volkswagen to Kwebbelkop

Among the speakers at the festival are top people from the virtual world Decentraland, the car manufacturer Volkswagen and the digital fashion company The Fabricant. But also the YouTuber Kwebbelkop, who is now also an NFT entrepreneur, and digital artists such as Dadara and Rik Oostenbroek give presentations. Great emphasis is placed on art and culture. Woldring: “During the corona pandemic, artists were seen switching from physical to digital. For example, with livestreams, but also with appearances in Roblox or Fortnite. We therefore focus not only on the builders and the technicians, but also on the creative ones. “why their lives have been enriched by these techniques. Some digital artists hold meetings with their fans around our festival.”

According to Woldring, the program is ‘more diverse’ than at comparable tech events. For example, there are sessions on how virtual worlds can be as spacious as possible and how sports clubs can build virtual connections with followers, as well as how companies can sell products in the meta-verse. “We do not limit ourselves only to the technology, or the financial side or a particular sector. We want to make it interesting to a wider audience. We want to make people think about what the applications of these techniques can be. And we show interesting use – see cases. “

‘NFTs are about more than money’

In addition to the meta-verse, MET AMS places great emphasis on NFTs and Web3. NFTs are digital property deeds that can be used to trade in virtual works of art. NFTs are an example of Web3, an umbrella term for decentralized techniques, such as blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies. NFTs are not controversial because of the sometimes shady trading of tokens, which involves huge amounts of money.

Woldring thinks it’s a shame that NFTs often focus on money. “It’s just a great way to sell digital art worldwide. It’s creating a new breed of collectors that the art world has not served well before. And NFTs are also interesting for companies, for example for loyalty programs for loyal customers. Universities could “diplomas, such as NFTs on the blockchain, so that fraud is no longer possible. And the Alfa Romeo car brand uses NFTs to record data on car maintenance.”

‘Holland lags behind’

According to Woldring, the Dutch business community is lagging behind in these new tech areas. “Large Dutch parties do relatively little with NFTs and the meta-verse. They have not yet embraced the technology. There is also a reason to organize this event. There are all kinds of Dutch startups that do good work.”

The Dutch government could also be given a bigger role, he believes. “The Netherlands must continue to invest in innovation. We see that more is being done in this area in other countries, for example with all sorts of tax benefits. As a result, we see that startups around NFTs and cryptocurrencies are moving to countries like such as Malta, Panama, Dubai or Switzerland. “

Reach the audience in the metaverse

The key question with the meta-verse is how many consumers are really going to use this on a regular basis. It will take many years of experimentation before it is clear, Woldring expects. “I’m very excited about what will happen when the big boys really start to accelerate, not just the technology companies, but also the big game studios. You do not have to explain all this to players, they already understand virtual worlds. It is also a group that will get a lot of attention in the early years. “

Companies should ask themselves in which metavers they can best become active, he says. “Where is your audience? If you want to reach young people, you can go to Roblox. For companies that want to hold virtual events or product presentations, other metavers are more interesting.”

International

Emphasis is also placed on the theme of sustainability, because energy consumption is a major criticism of blockchain applications. “It’s also discussed at our festival. And we’re working with Coorest and their NFTree program to sell NFTs that help us lower our own carbon emissions.”

The festival in Amsterdam was to be an annual event, but there may also be editions in other world cities. “We have been asked by several parties to hold similar events in other countries. Like the TED events, MET festivals can also be held in other cities.”

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