For some reason or another, crypto assets and blockchain technologies have struck a chord with gamers — video gamers. Thus, it should come as no surprise that startups are trying to merge the two worlds, doing their best to blend gaming and this budding technology.
The movement to “tokenize” and “blockchainify” this form of entertainment moved one step closer. Revealed Wednesday, Blockchain-centric studio Horizon Games has secured $3.75 million in funding from a series of cryptocurrency investors, including the venture fund spearheaded by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Joining Ohanian’s Initialized Capital in the startup’s seed investment round was Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Inovia Capital, and more. It is important to note that the round closed last year, but was just announced now.
Ethereum-Based Game Looks to Tackle “Hearthstone”
If you were born in the western world within the last three or four decades, you likely played the “Pokemon” card game as a grade-school kid. Oddly enough, card games have stuck around.
Horizon Games is looking to capitalize on this trend with its “Skyweaver” project, which has been dubbed by the company as a “Trading Card Game from Another Dimension.”
Speaking to CoinDesk, Horizon’s chief executive, Peter Kieltyka, noted that with these funds and his team, he intends to build out a blockchain product that “his friends could use” and can potentially compete with digital card games such as “Hearthstone”, which has garnered dozens of millions of users across the globe.
Like “Hearthstone”, “Skyweaver” is a game in which gamers can collect cards, create decks, and battle other players with said decks for rewards and digital game. The apparent and relevant difference is that this Ethereum-based project uses blockchain assets as its card management system, rather than centralized databases.
More specifically, game’s collectible cards are run via contracts based on the newfangled ERC-1155, which is a token standard built by Enjin for mostly gaming purposes.
As it stands, the Ethereum card game is currently in early access phase, but Horizon intends to open the game to the public by year-end.
Horizon is the latest of pro-crypto investment made by Initialized Capital. It joins Coinbase, CoinTracker (a Bitcoin tax startup), DDEX (a decentralized exchange), Coinbundle (a cryptocurrency investment startup), and the well-known PolyChain Capital as Ohanian & Co’s crypto plays.
Blockchain Gaming, a Growing Trend
The news regarding this crypto gaming funding round comes as Ubisoft, a video game developer behind Rainbow Six, Far Cry, Just Dance, and other classics, has been revealed to have a “dedicated team” for blockchain applications in gaming.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, French paper Les Echos stated that the Ubisoft-backed consortium is on the verge of launching its first blockchain use case.
The purported idea is to make items, like digital cosmetics or weapons, accessible through a blockchain system. No specific game titles were mentioned, but it’s presumed that the Ubisoft team intends to facilitate cross-game item transfers. Ubisoft purportedly has plans to use the Ethereum blockchain for this program.
Over in America, Epic Games, the company that is behind Fortnite, has partnered with a blockchain game distribution firm called The Abyss. The partnership between the Fortnite behemoth and the upstart competitor to Steam, a gaming community and video game distribution platform, will allow for Abyss users to access the Unreal Developers Networks.
All these efforts are important because as Brian Mehler of EOS VC explained to me in a recent interview:
“I played games growing up and loved it. But, I would get disenfranchised with a game when a new iteration would come out, as all the work I’d done the previous game would be locked in that version. Whether it be that chart, my armor, or my potion list, I was very upset that I didn’t get to take it over to the next game. So with blockchain, everyone is going to get a second wind of gaming because things that you have digitally really are yours.”