BusinessBAYC plots metaverse as ApeCoin launches

BAYC plots metaverse as ApeCoin launches

Over the weekend, Yuga Labs, the NFT creators behind the glitzy Bored Ape Yacht Club, released a teaser for what looks like a forthcoming metaverse called “Otherside”:

The trailer depicts an ape—wearing flip-flops with a sea captain’s hat, and chomping on a cigarette—who fishes a toxic potion up onto his quiet dock. Suddenly, he’s being spirited away, by a portly creature with pointy ears and glowing eyes, to a place where lava spews freely from volcanoes and submarines emerge from holographic waters. In the vessel: a mishmash of other-dimensional beings wave to him, including a CryptoPunk, a Mutant Ape, an avatar from the World of Women, and Cool Cat wearing glasses and a sushi-hat.

Swing on through to the other side, music blares in the background.

The trailer’s drop follows an explosive week for Yuga. For one, it comes on the heels of a new cryptocurrency token said to power Otherside’s marketplace, called ApeCoin, which made its trading debut Thursday morning to wild volatility—with its price swinging from highs of over $50 to lows of roughly $6 within hours. (It has since settled at around $10 as of midday Monday.)

ApeCoin banks on the universe of 2-D primates developed by Yuga, although the coin’s “official” launch was piloted by a decentralized autonomous organization called ApeCoin DAO, for which initial council members include Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian. That’s as Yuga has been careful to distance itself from the token, amid growing regulatory scrutiny of cryptocurrencies as unregistered securities.

The wild ride was perhaps unsurprising given the collision of hype culture with a euphoric cryptocurrency market. But it was made more extreme by a sizable airdrop of ApeCoins to Bored Ape owners at the token’s low point, which they could claim for free—and many did, catalyzing a fresh round of volatility in ApeCoin value.

For some, airdropped coins amounted to upwards of $500,000 at the market’s peaks. If sold at the right time, it was a massive infusion of cash for the ape community, some of whom were already rich enough to afford million-dollar digital avatars, including Hollywood celebrities—but others of whom had bought their apes for a handful of ETH before the craze drove the yacht club’s floor prices skyward. (The cheapest NFT in the series is now worth 102 ETH, or $300,600 on OpenSea.)

Despite the volatility, in its infancy, ApeCoin is already the 48th largest cryptocurrency, according to CoinMarketCap, out of more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies in existence. According to the website, it boasts a total market capitalization of $1.3 billion. Whether its star continues to rise—or flares out—remains to be seen.

But a leaked pitch deck circulated online and viewed by Fast Company, allegedly from Yuga Labs, describes ApeCoin as just one strand in a greater design—to craft a Web3 universe it calls “a metaverse that makes all other metaverses obsolete,” built around gaming and stretching beyond Bored Apes to support a range of avatars including Doodles, Cool Cats, and World of Women NFTs.

According to the deck, which was last updated in February, the game’s storyline centers on the premise that all intelligent life on earth has been transported to a strange new world created by an ancient race of celestial creatures, and Yuga is plotting a metaverse land sale sometime in March.

Otherside’s trailer would appear to be the first move in this ambition for Yuga. But despite that, Yuga has responded to reports on the leaked deck by claiming it’s “old” and “outdated,” as one of its founders who goes by the screen-name CryptoGarga said on Discord. “There are a lot of things in there that have already changed,” CryptoGarga wrote, adding that “plenty more things will change” going forward because creators hate “doing expected things.”

Meanwhile, major metaverse player Animoca, which is the blockchain game developer behind The Sandbox, revealed Thursday it was working on a “secret project” with Bored Ape Yacht Club, which internet sleuths now suspect is Otherside.

But even before all that, it would seem Yuga had already begun constructing its empire. Earlier in March, it revealed it was acquiring intellectual property rights to the collection of mega-popular CryptoPunk and Meebit NFTs from Larva Labs. Together, all of the Bored Ape and CryptoPunk NFTs are currently worth roughly $3.6 billion.

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