Gary Knight : We are WOLF (The World’s Online Festival), an audio, metaverse-based, performance experience, built specifically for Arabic users

January 12, 2023

We are WOLF (The World’s Online Festival), an audio, metaverse-based, performance experience, built specifically for Arabic users.

WOLF brings the magic of real-world festivals to the metaverse, delivering a unique virtual reality experience for performers and content creators across the MENA region.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m the CEO of WOLF . My background is in the entertainment and technology sector, with specific experience in games and the gamification of social network communities.

Earlier in my career, I helped grow SEGA Europe for five years, before going on to become CMO for SEGA West, where I was responsible for all brand experiences across Europe and North America.

I joined the WOLF business when the then-messaging platform, Palringo, was looking to deliver significant change and build its gamification of engaged communities.

My strategy eventually led to Palringo’s rebranding, as WOLF. Our vision was to create multiple user-generated, user-performed, and user-consumed festival metaverse environments which foster a 24/7 community of friendship and belonging.

This was a key catalyst and driving force behind WOLF’s growth into the unique content creation platform that it has become today.

Moving forward, my ambition is to continue WOLF’s development as the leading audio content creation platform in MENA, bringing festivals to the metaverse with a truly unique user experience and community.

As WOLF develops its virtual 3D worlds and venues, users will take the opportunity to rock the stage and display their talents to live audiences within a thriving metaverse environment.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Be led by the long-term strategic vision and not get distracted by periodic operational challenges. We could have been a bit more aggressive two years ago with executing our vision and possibly further ahead by now.

But perhaps that would have led to us not getting the great product and features we have today. It’s always difficult looking back as you just don’t know how those decisions would fully play out.

What problem does your business solve?

WOLF provides a social life and entertainment online for audiences who often can’t access these easily in the real world. Our product-market fit is in the GCC region of MENA, where festivals, live performances and socialising generally are only just starting to appear as a regular part of life.

In WOLF, users can get all their social and emotional needs through group recognition, reward and entertainment consumption met in WOLF, whether on mobile, web or soon on virtual reality headsets.

We offer the added bonuses of enabling people to reinvent themselves with a stage name and avatar, giving them the confidence to try out their talents on stage or find other roles in the running of a 24/7 festival, and not feeling judged on how they look, but on their talents.

It’s fundamentally a 24/7 virtual world of social connection, communities and content creation where people can enjoy the entertainment, fun and friendship they would experience at a real-world festival.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The concept came from the founder, Martin Rosinski’s, and my own passion, for real-life festival enjoyment. We love the experience of discovering new talent, enjoying new entertainment, watching emerging artists perform while hanging out with friends and stepping away from normal life.

Real-world festivals are often such a high point of someone’s year – the pinnacle of immersive entertainment and shared experiences with their friends, we wanted to package up the euphoria and exuberance that people feel at festivals, and replicate it so people could access on their digital devices.

Plus, they can create, own and monetise the festival experiences with WOLF – not just consume the experiences that other people curate for them.

What is your magic sauce?

The ecosystem of how WOLF is built is what sets us apart. WOLF is all about the user – they are part of it, they can be part of the festival, they can perform, manage performances, produce them, be part of a group, create a group, bring users into their very own corner of the metaverse.

The opportunities are vast. They can build stages, be in the audience, gift other users – it’s a whole ecosystem that puts the user at the heart of what we do.

One of the most exciting aspects of WOLF is its ability to turn emerging Arabic artists into tomorrow’s stars of virtual reality – taking the creator economy into the metaverse.

WOLF gives users an opportunity to get up on stage in a virtual world and perform their talent to an audience of thousands of people.

The magic is also the interactivity WOLF offers. A real-world festival gives a one-way broadcast experience from the artists on stage to the audiences.

With WOLF, those on stage can immediately see the feedback from the audiences in text comments, in the way they are receiving paid gifts in real-time on stage, and by GIFs, emojis and even their fans jumping onto stage with them to interact in a whole variety of ways, and deepen that connection.

WOLF is bringing even closer ways to connect by launching WOLF VR so that artists and audiences can have immersive experiences together in virtual reality that feels more visceral and real, even from totally different geographical locations.

And WOLF’s unique setup where users form little communities to produce events together, taking on different roles within the environment of generating entertainment and friendship opportunities – that’s a huge part of the interactivity is working together as a team. It makes the app incredibly sticky for its core users.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We’re looking to aggressively grow the app. Since launch we have had three million Arabic users engaging in WOLF, and now it’s about developing the content creator experience and making sure we’re building that right.

Over the coming five years, WOLF’s goal is to be the future of entertainment in the MENA region, becoming the number one ecosystem and marketplace for content creators, metaverse entertainment producers, and consumers seeking a social life of friendship and entertainment.

Producers can hire creators, and both will be able to make money from the platform in multiple ways.

Using Web3 principles, the fast-expanding WOLF community will take more and more ownership over running the online festival experiences they offer, and getting a variety of rewards including monetisation.

Those incentives and that level of competition will drive WOLF to offer more and more performance experiences, and places to hang out with people who love the same cultural entertainment and finding communities to belong to.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Building the product. Balancing the excitement around the vision with the operational ability to deliver. As CEO, you always want everything tomorrow, but there is the reality of what the team is actually able to produce.

Just as we were ramping up, we faced a challenging tech market for hiring and retaining engineering talent in the UK. We are now surmounting this by hiring more engineers in our core Middle East market.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Arabic speakers can enjoy the entertainment, make friends and go on a journey of discovery of their talents and their contribution to creating metaverse shows for others.

WOLF’s partners can team up with us to offer experiences to our users that are mutually beneficial to both parties. WOLF’s growth will also be driven by investment over time to increasingly realise the potential of this unique metaverse festival vision.

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