A business development non-profit in Santa Monica is using augmented reality and an interactive map to bring more people to its downtown shops and events. The Downtown Santa Monica team hired FlickPlay to create a custom version of the company’s social metaverse app.

Santa Monica visitors use the FlickPlay app to find coins and unlock digital experiences that include music and holiday themes.
Image: FlickPlay

SEE: What is the metaverse?

FlickPlay is an iOS app that displays an interactive map of tokens scattered around the Third Street Promenade and the surrounding neighborhood. The digital experiences in downtown Santa Monica have a holiday theme. One coin unlocks a heart made from Christmas lights. There’s one with a sparkly tree and another with a VW van and a “Merry Christmas” sign. There’s music too so users can have seasonally appropriate songs to go along with the videos.

In the Santa Monica map, players use yellow tokens to unlock experiences or buy items from local retailers. Blue tokens unlock collectibles and rare green coins come with a reward. Coins are stored on a digital wallet within the app. The company is planning a blockchain integration, which will support ETH, Solana and Polygon wallets.

The “social metaverse” game feels like Pokemon Go as users navigate a map of a real city to find virtual items. Users tap a coin to collect an item, which goes in a library. The next step is to place the item in your surroundings and then record a video with the item. The company currently has an advent calendar campaign counting down the days until Christmas. The prize for December 22 was a unicorn standing in a glass ornament.

A mutual acquaintance connected the Downtown Santa Monica team and FlickPlay. The city’s initiatives align with FlickPlay’s vision of shifting the storyline of how people interact with cities within the metaverse, CEO and founder Pierina Merino said.

“Our goal is to make FlickPlay’s map a go-to for visitors and locals to access unique experiences, information, and perks while rediscovering the city through one singular metaverse experience,” Merino said.

Previously, Merino developed a 3D printed product line that was picked up by Nordstrom in more than 30 stores. She said she learned from that experience that entrepreneurs often overrate the value that people put on the technology itself without thinking about the actual utility and consumer value.

“I barely talk about AR technology or map infrastructure when I describe FlickPlay because they are simply the tools that bridge a seamless consumer experience and not why FlickPlay exists,” she said.

The social metaverse project will last a year and is designed to drive foot traffic to local merchants.
Image: FlickPlay

The FlickPlay team works with retailers and event organizers to build awareness and foot traffic, and it has noticed a trend among returning users, Merino said.

The longer users stay, the better the videos become, and the more they develop the type of social collage they aspire to build with their digital collectibles,” she said.

The AR project is scheduled to last for a year. Merino said the goal is to make it more appealing for users to unlock and own location-specific digital collectibles in the area.

“FlickPlay’s goal is to become a one-stop shop to discover metaverse events happening in the city, enable micro-economies to thrive, empower owners to ‘rent their digital objects’ to visitors for social flexing,” she said.

Merino predicts that digital collectables such as non-fungible tokens will expand beyond marketplaces in 2022 and become cultural objects instead of just purchases.

“In 2021 in the purchase of digital objects, most collectible owners interact with their digital assets in marketplaces, where the attention goes to the prices, bids, and transactions instead of social flexing,” she said.

She sees FlickPlay as a bridge between this current most common experience with digital collectibles and the next phase of the sector.

“Flexing is one of the most primitive ways of building the social graph and value of the things we own physically and our overall social status,” she said.

FlickPlay is based in Santa Monica and has 20 employees. Merino raised $5 million in seed funding this year.

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. is a non-profit organization that works with the City of Santa Monica to promote economic stability, growth and community life within the neighborhood.

Mackenzie Carter, director of marketing and communication for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., said the city is delighted to be working with a cutting edge local company to bring neighborhood to life in the metaverse.

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