Future Proof

Probable trend

Real services in Virtual Worlds

This month, homewares brand Olivia’s introduced an interior design service for virtual homes in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Clients can request a one-hour session with an Olivia’s consultant, who will provide feedback on the home’s current design and deliver several new design mockups. The virtual-interior decorators will also help clients make over their space while staying within their ‘bell’ (Animal Crossing’s in-game currency) budget. Those who wish to become Animal Crossing design consultants with the UK-based brand can earn at least GBP 40 per hour. 
Olivia’s service falls into a trend we’ve tracked for a while now: FANTASY IRL, the phenomenon of imagined worlds (virtual, in-game, or fictional worlds) colliding with the real world. One prominent example? Avatar influencers like L’il Miquela, collaborating (or making out) with human ones.
Now, when we first reported FANTASY IRL, we used ‘real world’ to refer to our physical surroundings. But since the physical world is now largely off-limits, thanks to COVID...the real world increasingly is the virtual world. Evidenced by 300 million of us relying on Zoom for communication (up from just 10 million three months ago), and others flocking to game universes like Fortnite and Animal Crossing. 
The key takeaway? The more time consumers spend in virtual realms, the more consumers expect from them. Brands are recognizing this and stepping up to the plate. Fortnite enhances its world with live, in-game performances; its latest with Travis Scott attracted 12 million. West Elm gave Zoom-ers a boost with its sleek backgrounds. And, of course, Olivia’s is helping Animal Crossing players get the most out of their ‘homes’. 

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