Puma Launches Black Station 2: A Unique Web3 Experience with Immersive Sneaker Shopping
Puma announced the launch of its second digital world and shopping experience, Black Station 2, which builds upon the company’s initial foray into web3. The first web3 project, Black Station 1, debuted last September at NYFW during the “Futrograde” fashion show. The insights gathered from the community influenced the development of the second launch.
Black Station by Puma is a digital world where users can explore an immersive environment created using Unreal Engine, a game developer tool. Additionally, users have the opportunity to shop for limited-edition digital and physical sneakers. The second edition of Black Station expands to include two new digital worlds, each featuring a unique sneaker.
Ivan Dashkov, the head of emerging marketing tech and web3 at Puma, expressed the brand’s intention to target a broader audience and create an inclusive experience with the second launch. The aim is to allow anyone to access and engage with the digital world, and Puma plans to iterate and refine its approach based on user feedback.
Access to Black Station 2 is available through the website blackstation.puma.com. Users can navigate through a white domed space to reach a Puma elevator. From there, they can choose to ascend to the “Unkai” world inspired by Shibuya or descend to “Unter,” which draws inspiration from Berlin’s club culture. In the Unkai world, users float among Lego-like blocks in the sky, featuring giant Puma shoes and the Super Puma mascot. In the Unter world, users venture underground into a red-lit cave. Neon green footsteps guide them to a Puma rave room, or they can opt to explore further and encounter a giant Fast-RB Puma shoe suspended by chains.
Dashkov explains the appeal of the two spaces, highlighting their distinctiveness. He also mentions that there are hidden references, known as easter eggs, related to Puma’s other NFT project, Super Puma PFP, both visually and within the storyline.
Easter eggs are a common feature in gaming worlds, where developers include hidden items that contribute to the overall narrative. By introducing Black Station 1 and 2, Puma aimed to create a more immersive shopping experience, bridging the gap between its physical retail presence and the digital realm. Puma’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue showcases immersive displays and provides customers with an F1 car simulator for an interactive experience.
Dashkov notes the static nature of the current Puma.com website, where users merely scroll through product listings without truly experiencing the brand. The brand’s objective is to change this and offer a more engaging and immersive experience.
Initially, Black Station was conceived as an immersive world and sneaker incubator. It quickly gained popularity within the web3 community and established its own fan base on Twitter and Discord. Puma’s Twitter account, with 2 million followers, sees active engagement largely due to its web3 community. Users spent over 100,000 minutes in the Black Station 1 experience.
Dashkov emphasizes Puma’s commitment to engaging with the web3 audience on Twitter and considers it an important platform for communication and broadcasting significant news. Discord, on the other hand, is viewed as a town square, fostering more personal conversations.
Puma joined Discord in August 2022, reaching a peak of 35,000 users. The initial release of 4,000 NFTs linked to physical sneakers from Black Station 1 sold out rapidly, with over 90% already redeemed. Customers who purchased Black Station 1 sneakers can expect to receive them in late 2023.
Puma Pass holders, who are part of the Puma NFT world, will have exclusive access to purchase the new Fast-RB sneakers in Black Station 2. These sneakers will not be available to the general public until 2024. Two models will be offered: the digital collectible Fast-RB Unkai, available for free with the user paying only for gas transaction fees, and the phygital Fast-RB Unter, priced at 0.1 ETH or $173.
Following demand from the web3 community, Puma responded by offering exclusive colorways for its upcoming digital drop, particularly for the Unter Fast-RB sneaker. Puma Pass holders will have the opportunity to purchase this sneaker in a unique splattered colorway. The brand will pay close attention to engagement data, especially among Puma Pass holders.
Dashkov shares the brand’s interest in understanding the value of these digital collectibles for consumers and their desire to collect them.
Sasha Wallignner, a web3 strategist and the founder of web3 studio Blockchain Style Lab, comments on the potential appeal of Black Station 2 to both web3 enthusiasts and Puma fans. She notes that the gamification elements have a more museum-like quality rather than offering interactive gameplay. With fashion and streetwear increasingly exploring web3, there is a higher expectation for entertainment experiences that justify fans’ time and investment.