Back in the (not too distant) past, there were plenty of mobile augmented reality startups scrabbling for attention. Pokémon Go-style games; marketing apps making characters jump out of crisp packets or newspapers; beaming avatars of artists into your living room… In 2022, AR alone seemingly isn’t enough: these kinds of startups are increasingly talking about the metaverse and shoehorning in other facets of web3 like NFTs.
Jadu for example. We wrote about the company in February 2021 as one of those artist-avatar startups when it created an AR experience for artist Palaye Royale. 15 months on, the company is building a ‘Jadu Mirrorverse’. What’s that? “An augmented reality game-world built around virtual items owned by its community of players”. Yes, those are NFTs: jetpacks and hoverboards, with the latter including some designed by Grimes, Snoop Dogg and F1 star Lewis Hamilton.
Now Jadu has raised a $36m Series A funding round ahead of the launch of its world this summer. The plan: a game where people can use avatars from third-party NFT collections, not just Jadu’s own. It’s promising “a rich narrative driven game world” which will be an important thing to get right: too many other buzzy web3 gaming startups seem to have spent more time on their NFTs and economic models than they have on fun gameplay.