What more stunning BTS way to top off celebrations for the end of 2021 than to perform a virtual rendition of "Butter" and "Permission to Dance" in the wildly popular Minecraft metaverse?
BTS has certainly sprung a grand surprise on their fans this time round. YouTube Escape 2021 is an annual event organized by YouTube to recount and revisit the most impactful trends of the past year. Sure, Covid-19 and its Delta/Omicron minions hogged the global limelight for another year, but BTS did release 'Butter' and 'Permission to Dance' in 2021 to save the world.
Escape2021 was held on 16-17 December 2021 in the format of a special 24-hour interactive live stream event presented in three chapters. Some of the highly anticipated performers include Doja Cat, The Weekend, SeanDoesMagic, Mark Rober, and of course, last and certainly not least, BTS!!
BTS fans were hyper-thrilled when their idols showed up on Escape2021 — not as their physical selves in our real universe but as blockish-looking, doppelganger avatars in the Minecraft metaverse. Despite the blockish Minecraft-ey look, the avatars danced smooth — truly smooth like butter — with all the signature moves of the BTS idols they represent. Absolutely thrilling!
The entire BTS' concert experience in the Minecraft metaverse was designed by Noxcrew, a global community of creators who build immersive worlds, virtual adventures and unique experiences on Minecraft — the popular virtual world platform that has 15 million to 16 million users playing on a daily basis.
The entire Minecraft video was splendidly set up and choreographed — from the high-in-the-sky concert stage with hot-air balloons, to the concert crowds that were teleported into island spaces and not forgetting, the virtual strobe lights that usher in the start of the performance!
Each of our BTS idols was represented with new Minecraft avatars which don exactly the same colors and mirroring outfit that they wore in their Butter (cooler remix) MV.
Even the way the avatars executed the dance moves captured the signature styles of the idols they represented. One BTS fan even reacted with a comment that the Minecraft versions of BTS member danced really smoothly, better than what the fan could have done in real life.
All in all, this surprise music video was certainly a refreshing and cutesy experience for the huge and ardent fan base of BTS — to be able to visually and surreally witness the BTS members in their virtual Minecraft-ed forms.
Certainly, while the 2021 BTS Minecraft appearance is an official release, it is not BTS' first appearance in the metaverse. Prior to Escape 2021, there are already numerous covers of BTS music videos that have popped up in other metaverses such as Zepeto and Fortnite — including animated covers on hit singles 'Dynamite', 'Boy with Luv' and 'Butter'.
Zepeto. Zepeto is the metaverse platform owned by Naver Z, a subsidiary of the Naver Corporation, which attracts two million users daily, with the majority demographic being 13-24 years old females. Its graphical style is more webtoon-like and users are able to create their own avatars in webtoon style and the craft the behavioral animations of their avatars as well. Well, the proof is in the pudding — see how BJK MUSIC animated the BTS webtoon avatars in a cover of 'Dynamite'!
Fortnite. Fortnite is a massively multi-player online (MMO) game developed by Epic Games that counts almost 30 million users playing the game on a daily basis. There is also a slick rendition of Butter on Fortnite (below) that neatly mimics the dance moves of BTS members in the Butter MV. Now, if only, they could craft the Fortnite avatars to look a little more like the actual idols..
Roblox. Roblox is another hugely popular metaverse platform that is often compared and mentioned in the same breath as Minecraft. In a similar "block-ish" graphical style, ZTS has produced a rendition of BTS 'Boy with Luv' music video in Roblox (see below). In terms of popularity, Roblox has a massive user base and scores more than 40 million active users daily.
It is worth nothing that HYBE Corporation, the entertainment agency that manages BTS, has made several deep and strategic investments in the metaverse space in 2021.
Naver Z. In the past month, HYBE made a $41 million investment in Naver Z, the subsidiary of Naver and the company behind the Zepeto metaverse platform.
GIANTSTEP. HYBE also announced the signing of a joint venture agreement with GIANTSTEP to develop real-time content jointly. GIANTSTEP is a visual effects (VFX) company that specializes in augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) experiences to help extend fan experiences from physical word engagements to the metaverse. GIANTSTEP had also created the virtual Aespa characters previously with SM Entertainment.
Dunamu. At the same time period, HYBE also purchased a 2.25% stake in cryptocurrency exchange operator Dunamu for 500 billion won (US$420 million). Dunamu has also recently launched Upbit NFT as an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) marketplace, where highly coveted K-pop NFTs from the popular groups including BTS are anticipated to be released (or 'dropped' in NFT lingo) and traded in the secondary marketplace.
What more Metaverse acts will BTS and the HYBE team thrill fans with in 2022? Will we see an official rendition of a new BTS hit single on the Zepeto metaverse? Will there be more interactive and immersive releases that can be experienced in augmented reality (AR) or with virtual reality (VR) devices and haptic gloves?
With this much excitement going on in the K-pop industry and global metaverse trends, I definitely believe this BTS Minecraft video for Youtube Escape 2021 is only an appetizing teaser leading to more metaverse acts to come! 2022 will certainly be a year to look forward to with bated breath!