Nike Doubles Down on the Metaverse with New Virtual Division

Nike has created a new division that will focus on establishing the brand’s virtual footprint.
Image source: Wu Yi on Unsplash

Quick take:

  • Nike Virtual Studio will operate as an independent studio.
  • The studio will focus on virtual products and Web3-based experiences.
  • Nike Virtual Studio will run “creative hubs” in Los Angeles and New York.

In an internal email to employees last week, Nike CEO John Donahue announced that the company has created Nike Virtual Studio, a new division solely focused on establishing Nike in the virtual world.

“We have created Nike Virtual Studios, a new division that will operate as an independent studio to build our business around virtual products while also partnering with our core business to deliver best-in-class Web3, Metaverse, and blockchain-based experiences. Nike Virtual Studios will have creative hubs in both Los Angeles and New York to serve and grow the creative community in these key cities,” reads the memo.

This comes after the global sneaker company acquired creators of virtual sneakers and collectibles, RTFKT Studios, in December last year.

About the acquisition, Nike CEO John Donahue said: “This is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture.”

“Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities,” he added. 

RTFKT will now operate within Nike Virtual Studio.

Nike took its first steps into the metaverse with the filing of virtual-focused trademarks last November, and subsequently partnered with online game platform Roblox to build a virtual world called Nikeland. 

With the creation of Nike Virtual Studio, the company is going deeper into the metaverse as it turns its focus onto digital products and solidifying its brand positioning in the virtual world.

The company has also hired Virtual Material Designers. Currently, its careers page lists open positions for the roles of Director of Metaverse Engineering, Principal Innovation Engineer – Metaverse, and Senior 3D Game Designer/Metaverse Engineer.

Major sportswear and sneaker companies have followed in Nike’s footsteps into metaverse. Adidas has launched its own NFT collections in partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club and Prada, while Puma and New Balance have both recently filed trademarks for their virtual products.

Nike has appointed Ron Faris, the Vice President of Nike’s own shopping app, SNKRS, as General Manager of Nike Virtual Studio. Faris will concurrently serve as GM of Nike Virtual Studio until his VP role at SNKRS is filled.

Nike has yet to make an official statement about its new virtual division.

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