How does Line Friends lay out NFTs and Metaverses?

In addition to the traditional role authorization business, Line Friends is actively laying out the digital business

In May and September 2022, IPX (formerly Line friends) invested in VLAST and Toon Square to further expand the digital IP-based Metaverse and NFT business layout.

VLAST is a virtual character development company that combines VFX technology and a game engine to enable high-quality live presentations. He has produced a number of digital content around a number of popular character IPs under IPX such as Brown & Friends, BT21, TRUZ, WADE, etc. Toon Square is an artificial intelligence company that provides Tooning, an webcomic creation software based on AI technology, and is involved in businesses such as Metaverse 3D content production, and IPX plans to advance cooperation with it in the creation of 3D virtual IP-centric creation.

Recently, IPX announced the signing of a strategic business agreement with Sandbox Network to cooperate in the field of Web 3.0 to promote the development of online and offline commerce, digital content and NFT development.

Sandbox Network is a leading digital entertainment company in the MCN industry in South Korea, with more than 450 popular creators active in games, variety shows, daily life and other fields. In this regard, IPX plans to use Sandbox Network’s ability to create content to promote the development of its popular character IP.

In the face of rapid changes in the market environment and consumer consumption methods, in addition to the traditional role authorization business, IPX (formerly Line Friends) is actively laying out digital business, such as carrying out a Metaverse business based on virtual IP, involving games, art, entertainment and other fields of NFT business.

Line Friends’ online and licensing revenue increased 31% and 11%, respectively

In 2021, Line Friends’ global online and licensing sales grew by 31% and 11%, respectively. Among them, the sales of the licensing business in the Chinese market increased by 32% year-on-year, the number of licensing contracts increased by about 150%, and the sales of the online business and the licensing business in the Japanese market increased by 133% and 50% respectively.

It can be seen that Line Friends’ online business, including online retail, digital virtual IP development, etc., is showing a rapid development momentum, and by April 2021, Line Friends has operated 14 online official sales platforms worldwide. In addition, the licensing business based on popular character images is also developing steadily.

In 2011, Line Friends initially met with the public as an emoji cartoon image of the mobile messaging software Line, and in 2015 it split into an independently operated subsidiary of Line. So far, Line Friends has successively launched original cartoon character images such as Brown & Friends, BT21, ROY6, TRUZ, etc., and continued IP commercial development.

How does Line Friends lay out NFTs and Metaverses?

From the perspective of Line Friends’ character IP creation, the original members Brown & Friends (Brown Bear and his friends), including Brown Bear (BROWN), Cony Rabbit (MOON), James (JAMES), Minister (BOSS), Jessica (JESSICA), Sally Chicken (SALLY), Chuco (CHOCO), Fat Friend (PANGYO), Frog Leonard (LEONARD), EDWARD (EDWARD) eleven characters, simple but highly recognizable, as the classic IP of Line Friends, has always maintained a high degree of popularity and recognition, has also become part of the corporate brand image of Line and Naver.

In the development process of the subsequent series of original character IPs, Line Friends has shown a characteristic trend of in-depth cooperation with idol stars to strengthen the influence of the company’s IP business in the entertainment field.

For example, Line Friends launched the BT21 series cartoon characters in 2017 in cooperation with the Korean male idol group BTS, the ROY6 series cartoon characters launched in 2018 in cooperation with Chinese idol star Wang Yuan, and the new characters WDZY and TRUZ developed in the past two years in cooperation with the girl group ITZY from JYP and the boy group TREASURE from YG Entertainment.

How does Line Friends lay out NFTs and Metaverses?

The fan base distribution of these idol stars also coincides with Line friends’ MZ generation (millennials born in 1980-1995 and Gen Z born 1995-2000). The BT21, ROY6, WDZY, and TRUZ series cartoon characters launched by Line Friends have a natural fan base, which is closely related to the entertainment and cultural industry and also helps the commercial development of subsequent IP.

During the 2020 Singles Day period, Line Friends’ total sales of popular IP-related products including Brown & Friends, BT21, and ROY6 reached 20.7 billion won (about 1 billion yuan), which to some extent also proved the high popularity of its role IP.

From the perspective of Line Friends’ role IP business development, with role IP as an important content basis, Line Friends has strengthened cooperation with enterprises in many fields at home and abroad in content development, brand licensing, etc., and IP licensing categories mainly cover fashion beauty, sports and outdoor, toy digital, food mother and baby and other directions.

For example, Line Friends has partnered with Netflix to launch the original 3D animation “Brown and Friends” and broadcast in more than 190 countries and regions, and recently partnered with The Pink Fong Company, a global home entertainment company with popular children’s IP such as Baby Shark and Bumper Fox, to launch a 2D animation series “Magic Night at the Art Museum”.

In addition, it has also reached a strategic partnership with mobile game companies SUPERCELL and NEXON, and launched corresponding emoji, peripheral products, themed pop-up stores, game skins, animated short films, licensing businesses, etc. around the IP business expansion of the game “Red Dead Redemption” and “Running Kart”.

Platform and content go hand in hand, IPX actively lays out NFTs and Metaverses

Under the influence of the changing market environment and new industrial development trends, Line Friends’ early offline retail business as the center, involving IP content development, licensing cooperation and other fields of layout is also changing, specifically from the traditional image authorization, expansion to a wider digital entertainment industry, as well as the development of content-based digital assets.

At the beginning of 2022, Line Friends officially changed its name to IPX, based on role authorization and online business gradually become the company’s main source of income, the initial offline retail business centered on the direction of operation has also clearly shifted to the digital virtual IP centered online layout. The original Line Friends character IP name and the brand name of the online and offline stores remain unchanged.

In terms of developing content-centric digital assets, IPX has launched the IP generation platform FRENZ, on which users can personally produce and have character IPs that reflect their own personalities and preferences, and IPX also plans to expand FRENZ to a variety of services based on the Metaverse and NFT through open and strategic partnerships and investments with external platforms and service companies.

The first digital character IP “OOZ & mates” presented after IPX renaming tells the story of a troublemaker from the digital world “FRENZ World”, OOZ, who fell to the earth and set out to find the soul mate of fate, unlike the previous character IP that pays more attention to the licensing and development of physical goods, will first authorize the development of NFT projects, and plan to release them in the second half of the year.

How does Line Friends lay out NFTs and Metaverses?

In addition, IPX has also opened a virtual store on the global Metaverse platform Play Together, where users can access online and purchase digital goods related to character IP at any time. The virtual store features virtual performance halls, slides, trampoline playgrounds, popcorn shops, etc., and attracts more than 2 million customers on its first day of operation.

According to official disclosure data, Play Together, as a virtual platform that provides players with casual games and social space, is mainly aimed at young people, with a total of more than 100 million downloads worldwide and more than 4 million daily active users, and Taiwan and Vietnam are the two largest markets for the game.

How does Line Friends lay out NFTs and Metaverses?

In the field of virtual artists, IPX has also taken action, launching virtual artist IP Wade in March this year. Unlike the company’s previous cute character IP, Wade’s identity is set as an artist from Antarctica who loves DJing, is interested in fashion, likes street culture such as skateboarding, and has made many appearances in fashion and music events, participated in the largest street-themed exhibition in the United States, reached a brand partnership with Nike, and attended Leica 2022 photo exhibition and exhibited his personal works. Wade Friends & Family, launched around this virtual IP, is the first NFT project licensed after IPX rebranding, including digital content such as limited edition music, NFT collectibles, offline event invitations, and real-world experience activities.

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