“NFTs are quite rudimentary, but dynamic functionality expands their utility exponentially.”
Josh Smillie is the Product Director at Matrix World, a full-suite web3 company that developed an NFT marketplace and is currently building the first multi-chain Metaverse. He told us about how he got into blockchain and where the future is headed for metaverse and dynamic NFTs.
— What attracted you to Blockchain and crypto when you first joined the field?
I’ve worked for some of the biggest game companies in the world, such as EA, Rockstar, Ubisoft and Disney, so I have built some highly centralized products, and I always felt that aspect limited the level of the design I could apply to them.
I was attracted to the decentralization aspect of Blockchain as I could see the potential it could bring one day.
But I hadn’t seriously thought about leaving game development until I saw a new vertical materialize. The Metaverse. That’s what ended up pushing me to step into web3.
My background allowed me to create both open and virtual worlds, so my skill set was much sought after. I was recruited by Unity to be the Game Director for a AAA metaverse project. Once I figured out how we got to designing a viable Metaverse, it showed me the path, and I realized Unity wasn’t going to be the one to get there. To be fair, no one is yet. We’re still missing some key technical aspects, but we’re not far off.
I started to look at the players in this space and came across Matrix Labs and their trailer. I immediately saw the vision they were trying to execute and approached them with a design on how to get there. And now we’re building that design, so I couldn’t be happier.
— What has changed since you joined crypto?
Well, gone are the days of fast gains, and now everything feels stabilized yet somewhat stagnant. But what interests me the most is seeing the number of chains evolving and having communities spawn around them to build on them. There’s a symbiotic relationship needed for both to thrive, and I like that sort of motivation being generated.
— How do you see the future of the NFT industry?
I’ve always seen NFTs as a digital asset system in its infancy, similar to what I build into games but with the ability to be leveraged off-platform. But here’s the problem. A new industry needs to go through its evolution, and NFTs are still extremely early. Particularly in the games created utilizing NFTs, they are incredibly rudimentary, with little to no ability to engage or retain users.
This will change over time as products begin to step into mass market consumption and learn how to evolve the technology to handle larger demographics of users.
Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of pushback in the games industry with NFTs and their inclusion into gaming. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; every decade of gaming has brought a new monetization scheme that riles up the people that have to build them. But what I try and educate is it’s never the monetization scheme that is flawed but the way it’s leveraged in a product.
Micro-transactions, loot boxes, and battle passes all angered people until they got used to them and realized they weren’t as evil as they first thought. Developers will continue to build and figure out viable NFT gaming models. And eventually, they will.
— What do you think about dynamic NFT technology and its prospects?
I think initially, it’s been essential to have NFTs be static and straightforward to understand for early adoption. But in order to evolve, dynamic NFTs are needed. Expanding the capacity of what they can be used for is the key here; right now, it’s pretty rudimentary and dynamic functionality adds a layer that grows their utility exponentially.
— What are the biggest challenges facing the web3 industry right now?
When I got into this industry, I knew there would be hurdles. Security is a huge barrier that needs to get sorted out before mass adoption can occur in this space. I’d say that’s the most significant challenge right now. Accountability is another one. But one aspect I think web3 has going for it is community. I’ve been cultivating communities in products for a few decades now, and I have never seen such brand and market loyalty as in web3.
— Where do you see NFTs fitting into the metaverse? How important will they be?
When it comes to the Metaverse, the first challenge is in the terminology itself. Not everyone is on the same page about what it all means, which causes a lot of confusion. It’s a challenge NFTs have also faced throughout their early adoption.
What a Metaverse means to me is that it’s a 3D platform that allows for social and progressional features. In 5-10 years, that meaning will become a 3D internet layer you can use over our current 2D layer. That’s what we’re working towards, but right now, all anyone can create is the right product to scale into something of that magnitude eventually.
NFTs will be the digital asset driver of this early on, as it gives us our first layer of interoperability. You’ll be able to take NFT-based assets on these platforms off-platform and onto 3rd party marketplaces. It’s a small step, but it’s still a step forward.