‘Metaverse is storytelling and content first’ – in conversation with Namrata Singh, Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India
Namrata Singh is Head, Metaverse and Digital, at Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India. She was earlier Founder and CEO of The First Principle, Brand Consultant at Friday Filmworks, and Co-founder and Director of Everymedia Technologies. She is a graduate of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies.
Namrata is also speaking at CII’s upcoming annual Global Knowledge Summit. The 17th edition of the summit is being held in a hybrid format in Bengaluru, and online on April 12-13, with the theme of Knowledge Management and the Metaverse.
As the media partner for the Global Knowledge Summit, see YourStory’s preview article of the 2022 edition here, and coverage of the editions from 2021, 2020 and 2019.
In this chat with YourStory, Namrata talks about storytelling in the metaverse, trends in the ecosystem, and opportunities for India.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
YourStory [YS]: Immersive media and blockchain have been around for a while – what is new about the metaverse concept? How would you demystify the hype and misconceptions around it?
Namrata Singh [NS]: As someone with Sony Playstation – part of the group along with Epic Games being a Sony Innovations Fund Investment – of course, immersive media has been around! Gaming is also the origin point of Metaverse as we are experiencing it now.
The hype is that it will take over other things and other mediums, and the misconception is that it is an easy shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.
But it's a marked shift and just like every other digital change, it will take a few years for mass and consumer adoption. On the enterprise and brand level, a lot of innovations will take place.
It may be decentralised and creator-first but there are a lot of challenges before it is part of daily life.
[YS]: In the context of organisational learning and knowledge assets, what contributions does the metaverse make?
[NS]: Learning becoming immersive is a given. Immersiveness lends itself to all kinds of learning styles.
Also, when you are experiencing something in an embodied form, especially a harder topic like physics, science, or maths, you would end up retaining more.
[YS]: What are some of the most innovative applications you have seen in the metaverse?
[NS]: It is innovating every day! But I love the whole Play 2 Earn Games space, with Axie Infinity being a great example of the same.
In India, we are also experimenting with world and experience creation on gaming engines like Unreal.
[YS]: As an entrepreneur and investor, what are the key metaverse opportunities for you?
[NS]: We are actively looking at Web3 apps, platforms and tooling companies. Metaverse experience creation is a mix of tech, design and creativity, and we are looking at teams that bring the combination of these three to the table.
[YS]: What are some innovative startups you have come across in this metaverse space?
[NS]: There are so many! Epic is of course a front runner but then there is ‘Question What's Real’ in India.
There is also Anzu in metaverse advertising and many of the group companies of Animoca brands. Sony Innovations Fund (SIF) is doing interesting work in the space as well.
[YS]: How can large firms and startups collaborate for mutual benefit in the metaverse opportunity?
[NS]: Large companies will bring the platform support. A media conglomerate like us will bring in the celebs, influencers, IPs, characters and so on to make Metaverse a fun and inhabited place and not a ghost town. Large companies will bring in scale.
Startups will bring in the decentralised mindset, Web 3 tech stack, skillsets and creativity to the table. They will reimagine the internet as we know it today.
[YS]: What are your tips for the audience on how to progress along the maturity curve of metaverse deployment?
[NS]: One step at a time and community and audience first! Just as with anything else, you have to keep the needs of the audience you are building for in the fray.
Also, Metaverse is storytelling and content first. So telling trans-media stories is a critical skillset of the future.
[YS]: At a societal level, will the metaverse trigger off a new kind of digital divide? How can this be overcome?
[NS]: Yes, the digital divide has always existed because of the lack of infrastructure and access even today.
But since we are mostly building for mobile-first and India has 150+ percent mobile penetration, we should have some level of awareness. But a massive effort is needed as a public-private partnership in this area.
[YS]: What are India’s unique opportunities, strengths, and challenges in the metaverse space?
[NS]: We are not the back office of the world anymore. We are not selling our wares at cheaper rates. We are skilling ourselves to compete on the world stage and finally be creators.
Our weakness is a lack of experience in creating global IPs and telling stories that resonate outside of diaspora and Indian sensibilities.
[YS]: What are some next steps in your metaverse journey?
[NS]: We have just started! It's been a year of massive growth.
We are talent-first and are looking at celeb-led storytelling and platform creation for metaverse and Web3. We are recasting the talent business post-COVID-19 using tech, metaverse, and a shift in agency mindset.
We are truly aiming to be advisors and partners to our talent base and take them global. We also enable them to meet investors and bring them to the cap table – and not just faces and endorsers for the thriving startup investment ecosystem.
Our CEO, Vijay Singh, says: “The talent business is changed as we know it forever, and IP ownership will look very different for the next ten years. We hope to craft that story with the best talent in the country.”
[YS]: What are three key emerging trends in the metaverse frontier?
[NS]: Play2 Earn Games, Experiential Events, and Web3 platforms and DAOs.
[YS]: Any other parting remarks for our audience?
[NS]: Whether it is games, movies, OTT or metaverse, all we are doing is using stories to connect better. We are still very human in our virtual avatars. The essence of the internet being a connector stays, the format has changed and will evolve constantly. Let's not make it bigger than that.
Edited by Kanishk Singh