Hey, there. Chris Seline here, Darkblock’s CEO.
I’m taking over the blog today to share some thoughts on why we’re so excited about our partnership with the Omega RUNNER project, which we announced last month right before holiday break.
You can find the details in the news release, but here’s the tl;dr: Omega RUNNER, an NFT project and web3 media franchise from Metaversal and Clubhouse Pictures, tapped Darkblock to build its new Comic Vault—a portal into the RUNNER universe for its NFT holders—atop our protocol for decentralized unlockable content.
We call it decentralized unlockable content, but what we offer is essentially a web3-native way to token gate any type of digital asset. In this case, the RUNNER team was able to upload the first and second issues of the RUNNER digital comic book, which was then encrypted, permanently stored on Arweave, and immutably attached to the 1,000 initial First Edition NFTs.
Holders are now able to visit the Comic Vault on the Omega RUNNER website to unlock and read these comic books, but they’ll also be able to—this is where our decentralized, open-source protocol comes into play—unlock and read their comic books on any marketplace, wallet, native app, or website that integrates the Darkblock Protocol. We also are releasing new monetization tools that will create new ways for creators, projects, and even their communities to make money from their content.
Decentralized Unlockables > Token-Gating
We’re proud of our partnership with Omega RUNNER because it highlights one of Darkblock’s core advantages—the ability for creators to use NFTs to distribute their content in a web3-native way that both protects their underlying IP from being right-click-saved and offers their collectors a decentralized method for consuming the content.
To reiterate, we’re far beyond your grandaddy’s token-gating. Most token-gating you see in the web3 space is really just a web2 solution made to look innovative because it uses an NFT instead of a password to access the content. But if a project relies on a centralized website portal or centralized storage for the content (i.e., storing the comic book PDF in a Google Drive folder), then those collectors have no guarantee the website portal or content will be accessible in three, five, 20 years from now. In the end, that’s not much different from me “buying” an audiobook on Audible; I don’t really own it as it could disappear from the app at any point.
This is NOT the way web3 should work. We have to do better or we are severely diluting the value creators can derive from NFTs. If we believe in web3’s promise to usher in the next great wave of the Creator Economy, then we need to be thinking in decades, not days. That’s what we’re doing at Darkblock.
And kudos to the Omega RUNNER team for also thinking that way. The team over there at Metaversal and Clubhouse Pictures is full of original thinkers, technologists, and inventive storytellers that knew they wanted to push the envelope when it came to building a truly web3-native media franchise that would not only break new ground when it comes to tech, but also provide added value to community members. They could have simply token-gated the comic book, but we’re glad they didn’t—and I think their collectors will be too, even if they don’t realize it until 10 years from now.
But this partnership goes far beyond encrypting and attaching comic books to NFTs.
We see so much potential with this partnership because once you realize what the Darkblock Protocol does—which is it allows a creator to turn their NFT into a tokenized, composable delivery channel for exclusive multimedia content—the mind starts spinning with all the new ways creators could monetize their content or explore more interactive storytelling methods.
As Yossi Hasson, co-founder and CEO of Metaversal, says in their announcement: “We’re excited to build the next wave of Hollywood-style storytelling, using the power of NFTs to unlock entirely new storytelling opportunities. We’re equally eager to own the distribution and create an interface for collectors and fans alike to experience the Omega RUNNER story. The Comic Vault is just the first step towards this vision of a more engaging, deeply creative story experience.”
I don’t want to drop too much alpha, as it’s not our project, but the Omega RUNNER team is already looking forward to leveraging future iterations of the Darkblock Protocol. Specifically, there are two features that will be explored.
First, we plan to introduce owner-generated unlockable content. Currently, only the NFT creator can attach content to their NFTs, but we plan to give them the option to allow their NFT owners to attach their own content to their individual NFTs. This has interesting applications when you start thinking about how a web3 media project that’s building its own story universe could empower its community to create and attach lore and their own unique storylines to their character NFTs—whether in the form of written stories, audio books, videos or animations.
Second, we are releasing new monetization tools, beginning with giving the creator the ability to rent temporary access to their NFT’s unlockable content. This ability is actually live now for creators in the Solana ecosystem as we pushed an alpha version as part of Magic Eden’s Creator Monetization Hackathon. But we’re hard at work adding cross-chain functionality and expanding the possibilities, including giving the creator the option to allow their NFT owners to rent out the unlocklable content. This essentially allows a creator to turn their community of NFT collectors into a content-distribution network.
If we return to the example of the Omega RUNNER team giving holders the ability to attach character lore and fan fiction to future character NFTs, we begin to imagine a future where a talented storyteller could monetize their own NFT by creating a backstory in a popular universe, attaching it to their NFT as unlockable content, and then giving people the ability to pay a small fee to rent and consume the content.
The beauty of this content-rental scenario is that the creator—in this case the Omega RUNNER project—will always get a cut of any rental fee the NFT owner collects. We call it royalties on consumption and, unlike with royalties on secondary sales, splitting revenue between the creator and owner (or even four ways if you include the protocol and a marketplace that brokers the rental transaction) will be enforceable on the smart-contract level
We’ve been relatively quiet the last year as we’ve built out our protocol and added integration partners, including SolSea, Kalamint, Monarch Marketplace, Jungle Cats, and others. The partnership with Omega RUNNER though marks an important milestone for us—one that truly demonstrates how forward-thinking creators could use our decentralized content-delivery protocol to add value and utility to their NFTs, strengthen their communities, and explore the future of storytelling made possible by web3-native tools.