I choose the form of … Mobile Suit Gundam Metaverse!
There’s a scene in the 2018 film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, where key character, and “High Five” member, Daito, transforms into the RX-78-2 Earth Federation Prototype Close Quarters Combat Mobile Suit, a giant, fictional robot from the 1979 anime Mobile Suit Gundam.
In a case of art imitating art, Japanese video game publisher Bandai Namco has, as part of the 3rd Gundam Conference online event, announced its grand vision for a Gundam-themed metaverse project titled Mobile Suit Gundam Metaverse.
This follows a mid-term plan announcement by the company back in February, where it said it would: “develop a metaverse for each IP as a new framework for connecting with fans. In this IP Metaverse, we are anticipating virtual spaces that will enable customers to enjoy a wide range of entertainment on an IP axis, as well as frameworks that leverage Bandai Namco’s distinctive strengths to fuse physical products and venues with digital elements.” To achieve this IP Metaverse Bandai Namco said it would invest ¥15.0 billion (around $120 million).
This forms part of Bandai Namco’s “IP Axis Strategy”, where it seeks to maximize the value of its intangible assets, including patents, trade secrets, copyright and trademarks. One of these trademarks is Gunpla, the trademark for Bandai Namco’s plastic model kits of Gundam characters, or “Gunplas”. The first IP Metaverse, SIDE-G, will feature the Gundam franchise that is set in space colonies, giant artificial structures in space, designed for large-scale human habitation. SIDE-G will include video games, anime series, eSports, and Gunplas. The first planned virtual community, Gunpla colony, will offer Gunpla related content, including Gunpla building, Gunpla online courses, and Gunpla battle, and will be linked in some way with real-world arcades and hobby shops.
Further colonies are expected to follow, with an eSports colony scheduled for 2023, that will allow Bandai Namco’s global community of fans to play Gundam-themed games.