"NFTs Are the ‘What’s Next’ of Collectibles & Fandom" - Jawad Ashraf of Terra Virtuaby@cyberguyesq
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"NFTs Are the ‘What’s Next’ of Collectibles & Fandom" - Jawad Ashraf of Terra Virtua

by Drew RossowMarch 20th, 2021
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When the game ‘Cryptokitties’ first released in 2017, the mainstream market was blown away, like a kid in a candy store

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Terra Virtua's CEO Gary Bracey (L) and co-founder/CTO Jawad Ashraf (R)

When the game ‘Cryptokitties’ first released in 2017, the mainstream market was blown away, like a kid in a candy store. The thought that you or I could adopt, raise, and also trade cats--an animal that was just a collection of pixels viewable only through a computer, phone, and/or tablet was mind boggling. 

And now, here we are in 2021, where the meaning of “collectibles” has since evolved from more than just collecting and owning stamps, coins, or jewelry--to owning unique artwork, music tracks, TV and film scripts, and even a “tweet” such as Jack Dorsey’s very first tweet, which as of 1 week ago, bids reached $2.5 million. Crazy. 

In recent months, the entertainment-focused collectibles platform, Terra Virtua has continued to add some resourceful partners to its game-changing platform, announcing on Tuesday its newest strategic partnership with Ethernity, a new NFT platform that launched on March 8. The partnership will see the two companies working together to deliver the benefits of NFTs and digital collectibles to the mainstream market.

Ethernity Chain recently teamed up with the Winklevoss twins, sports tycoon Michael Rubin, among others to help promote collectible works by digital artists. So, why all the hype surrounding Terra Virtua?

The platform is a game-changer, adding an entirely new dimension of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to cyberspace, whether you access it from a PC, MAC, smartphone, or tablet. Its existing and exclusive partnerships with Paramount Pictures and Legendary Entertainment has only added to the growing library of intellectual property licenses Terra Virtua holds in works such as Top Gun, The Godfather, Sunset Boulevard, World War Z, and most recently, the animated Netflix series, Pacific Rim: The Black and Godzilla vs. Kong which is due out in theaters this Easter.

With similarities amongst films like Tron and Ready, Player One (and Ready, Player Two), which you can bet the company has been asked several times about, according to the platform’s co-founder and CTO Jawad Ashraf.

“We’ve been asked quite a few times in various conversations we’ve had with people who aren’t familiar with the space or Terra Virtua, and while there are similarities in terms of the capability of technology to create a virtual world that you can fully immerse yourself in, that’s really where the similarities come to an end, with regards to Terra Virtua specifically.”

In a conversation with both Ashrad and the company’s other co-founder and CEO, Gary Bracey, Terra Virtua is more focused on creating an immersive experience where you can interact with, and experience the things you love from within the arts and entertainment world. 

Digital Ownership is the Future, So Be Ready

Digital ownership is what is being discussed at dinner tables right now, particularly when we are talking NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. NFTs exist on the blockchain, serving as a piece of unique code that can be verified as being unique, independently of any platform. We have only ever seen NFTs in a two-dimensional or very basic three-dimensional view. 

“AR and VR deepen the experience, and really bring in the social and sharing elements of owning an item,” according to Ash Mohammed, Head of Partnerships and Ashraf. “We think it’s the ‘what’s next’ of collecting and fandom.”

Certainly, there has been a generational shift and phenomena occurring as between and among Millennials and Gen-Z that attributes to this evolution of what it means to create and own unique works:

“We feel there is a generational shift in what ownership, and the value of that means now. Sharing, social media, and ownership are all being redefined, with digital items such as videos, pictures, skins, and even platform achievements holding more value than physical items. With games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and more, an entire generation has grown up with digital items. NFTs bring together all of these factors but remove the dependency on any platform. They will outlast any game, and they have the same rarity and authenticity as a physical item. You can hand them down in your will if you so choose. It's a tech here to stay.”

Ashraf first pitched the concept of what is now known as “Terra Virtua” to Bracey at a Starbucks in Staines, on the way back to Dubai. From Ashraf’s perspective, the Blockchain was a disruptive technology that could provide the next step in advancing permanent ownership of digital assets, from in-app and in-game purchases. Both Bracey and Ashraf wanted to take this idea mainstream, as Bracey already had extensive links and a track record in licensing properties from Hollywood and beyond. 

Agreeing that VR was a key to the next step of interactivity, both Bracey and Ashraf expanded the vision to encompass every digital touchpoint for an asset owned by a person, including a web marketplace, mobile phone, 3D desktop, and VR. The platform’s first two environments, “Fancave” and “Terradome” allow fans to showcase their collectibles across film, music, sport, and more for free. 

“The terradome houses those massive collectibles which don’t fit into the Fancave, such as your own digital Kong or a huge robot from Pacific Rim as they need a lot more space!” Ashraf described a platform’s ability to provide AR/VR dimensions in its entirety, as anything but easy. “We are fortunate to have had an amazing leadership team and also brilliant developers,” he told me. “We are bullish on the growth of VR, as we have really seen a change since the new wireless VR headsets have appeared in the marketplace.”

Legally Speaking…

When it comes to protecting a creator’s intellectual property on the Blockchain, artists and creators to Terra Virtua earn royalties on primary sales and secondary sales on the platform. “Typically, after the primary sale, the brand owner doesn’t make anything further,” Bracey says. “Not in Terra Virtua. We have some amazing artists and brands on the platform, including, but not limited to Paramount Pictures, Legendary Entertainment, as well as some pretty amazing artists and musicians.”

And of course, the “right to be forgotten.” With U.S. laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, now in place, platforms like Terra Virtua aren’t oblivious to the industry’s bigger controversies surrounding data storage and privacy. “This has always been a topic of conversation within the technology space,” Ashraf explains. “As a company, we comply with the regulations that are set and make sure that we are as secure as you can be when it comes to handling data.”

DeFi For You?

The advances in DeFi allow for evolving mechanics in the NFTs space. Ashraf referenced the industry’s ability to ‘farm’ NFTs, which means you do activities such as lock tokens to ‘earn’ collectibles which you can hold or choose to resell. 

“NFTs are becoming a new asset class with their own value which people can take loans against. NFT hedge funds are emerging. The space is moving very quickly.”

At the end of the day, the future is protecting those types of works (paintings, music tracks, scripts, and more) on a platform that is tailored to our digital age.

“We have made it friendly for everyone. We do curate art works, and if a brand wants to onboard, then we do look at its suitability and audience size. We want to have the AAA brands which people love be associated with Terra Virtua. Some new features will allow smaller brands to connect with creators on the platform and bring their collectibles to Terra Virtua too!”