If you’ve fallen down the virtual influencer rabbit hole and have a fave computer-created, made-up digital human — like Lil Miquela or Nobody Sausage — struggling to feed itself with digital food, you can help it out with VIM.
VIM, according to the company’s website, stands for “Virtual Influencer Mining.” The creators call it “a Create to Earn (C2E) system.” Players don’t just support virtual characters in the metaverse but also earn from supporting them.
So — what is C2E, and how does it work? It’s as simple as creating new digital content: think avatars, skins, digital art, or perhaps music, then minting it and selling it as an NFT. Decentraland, a virtual world with its own blockchain-enabled currency, represents just one notable example of C2E.
Once you own a parcel there, you can build anything you want using the Decentraland builder. It allows the creation of anything from buildings to animation, wearables for characters and artwork. All such creations can be traded away, put up for sale or otherwise monetized.
Via email, a company spokesperson told dot.LA that VIM is, first of all, “a marketing platform” that facilitates connections between humans and “virtual humans.” Here, the focus is on users and virtual personas rather than creating specialized spaces as in Decentraland.
The rep wrote that people who join the platform get rewards from “marketing activity, not gas fee(s) generated from computing power.”
Participants, according to VIM, can earn profits by supporting virtual influencers with subscriptions and interacting with and promoting them. In addition, the project’s creators say they are seeking to “solve the problems caused by” other X2E projects. Primarily, VIM hopes to shed the reputation that X2E projects are merely Ponzi schemes.
X2E, which stands for “X to Earn,” is a Web3 growth model that rewards users for referring friends to a platform with digital goods like NFTs or cryptocurrencies. X2E's goal is to have people take part in a hype exchange of interests and rights. It’s a tricky model, and VIM indicated as much to dot.LA. Theoretically speaking, the difference between X2E and a Ponzi scheme is the former accrues interest and buy-ins gradually, using hype and FOMO. The latter moves fast, forcing creators to tap into early adopter funding to keep attracting interest. But again, both models rely on hype and FOMO driving usership.
VIM’s creators say the service links to the blockchain to form an ecosystem of games, shopping, virtual performance and social networking services. VIM users will be able to boost their favorite influencers through activities that earn VIM TOKENS. Using NFTs called “Vanters,” users negotiate with virtual influencers to pick up profit-making Daily Quests. Though the way said quests will work hasn’t been specified by VIM’s creators, they will require an additional NFT, “Rainbow Goggles,” to complete. In addition, Vanter owners can earn unique user grades, levels and statuses—similar to boosting character abilities in video games with power-ups.
VIM comes at an interesting time for the virtual influencer space, a category of entertainer that wasn’t that widely known until “virtual rapper” FN Meka exploded onto the scene. Meka even secured a recording deal with Capitol Records. The deal went south, however, when Meka went viral in the worst way, slammed on social media for propagating negative stereotypes and exploiting real-world musicians. And Lil Miquela, perhaps the most famous virtual influencer, doesn’t need financial help if it’s true that, as The Hollywood Reporter claimed, the character could make as much as $10,000 for a single sponsored post.
Not helping matters is that VIM enters this space at a time when the metaverse isn’t thriving. Coindesk recently reported that Decentraland has just 650 daily active users. Meta’s own Horizon Worlds currently has just under 200,000 active users, according to documents seen by the Wall Street Journal.
Nonetheless, virtual Influencers aren’t going away any time soon and are likely to grow more sophisticated as AI improves. This is to say, even as a character like Lil Miquela becomes a fashion star, VIM’s challenge will be that the metaverse still seems resistant to widespread adoption and expansion.