The Studio Behind ‘Early Access’ Crypto Game Blankos Block Party Banks Monster A16z $ 1.25 Billion Valuation – TechCrunch

A16z Crypto has hit many NFT unicorns this year. In July, they backed the NFT OpenSea market at a valuation of $ 1.5 billion. They participated in a fundraiser in September for Dapper Labs, the maker of NBA Top Shots, which valued the company at $ 7.6 billion. Last month, they backed the team behind the Axie Infinity cryptocurrency game with a valuation of $ 3 billion.

While the NFT space in general is quite young, a16z’s latest unicorn NFT bet is a bit earlier than usual. Mythical Games is raising $ 150 million Series C from the company at a valuation of $ 1.25 billion just months after closing a massive $ 75 million Series B. Mythical Games’ only title, Blankos Block Party, is an NFT-based game that only exists in “Early Access” for a few months and has a monthly active user player base in only the “tens of thousands. “, according to the company.

“We didn’t plan to raise funds for a few more months,” CEO John Linden told TechCrunch. “And [a16z crypto] came to see us early and they kind of got ahead of everyone. They knew we weren’t up, but they said, “Hey, let’s do it now…” And we’re in such a good position now that we have many years of capital at this point. “

In fact, there aren’t many crypto game startups out there, but a good chunk of them are built by crypto founders with the crypto economy at the center of every part of the titles. As a result, most blockchain games have fairly advanced economies and fairly rudimentary gameplay.

One of the reasons Mythical Games has reached out to investors is that it’s a team of gaming industry veterans who build a platform that is gameplay first, then platform. blockchain-based form of investment. The studio’s main track, Blankos Block Party, seems a lot less crypto-centric than other NFT titles. It’s a fancy game that looks quite a bit like the Fall Guys title, but has a revenue model that combines a BattlePass-style membership with a non-crypto in-game currency with which users can buy NFTs and then sell for cash. real on a secondary market.

Hundreds of thousands of NFTs of user avatars or props have already been created on the platform, where users can also sell the goods they have purchased with in-game currency for real money. , as part of a larger “game to win” mechanism. which rewards users for investing time in the platform. Users can choose to navigate all of this without ever touching cryptocurrencies. Linden says Mythical Games will continue to delve deeper and deeper into the mechanics of crypto, but notes that they seek to be cautious as they determine where to stick to conventions and where to push the boundaries.

Mythical Games’ unicorn status is a bet from a16z Crypto that game developers are potentially going to be interested in a more subtle embrace of blockchain-based game savings. The studio has worked with a handful of smaller studios to integrate some of their infrastructure, including market services, compliance technology, token management, and access to their custom blockchain. They typically seek to pave the way for the gaming industry by embracing more complex NFT-based gaming economies while ensuring that users don’t navigate a network of crypto confusion.

“For us, this is the future of gaming,” Arianna Simpson, general partner of a16z Crypto, told TechCrunch. “This is the future of how people will expect to play games, participate and be rewarded for the time and investments they make on these platforms. And it’s a multibillion dollar market, without a doubt. “

Blockchain-based mechanics can be a tough sell for game studios today, largely because it’s still a pretty hostile platform environment for NFT-based titles at the moment. . Apple and Google haven’t shown much interest in creating a path for crypto payments or NFT sales in their mobile app stores, while Steam has banned NFT titles from their PC game store outright, a move which directly affected Blankos. Part of this has undoubtedly been the platforms’ desire not to shake up the in-game payment systems that made them rich, but there are also legal uncertainties about how deep some titles are entering the game. securities territory.

For now, Blankos is only available as a desktop PC client directly downloadable from their own website. They do not have mobile apps and are not available in any PC game store. Even without mobile accessibility today, a16z Crypto sees a great opportunity for Blankos and crypto games in general. “I think mobile is definitely going to be a big part of history in the future. There’s no question about it, but the office is still huge, ”says Simpson. “If you watch it again today, the majority of the most important transactions happen on the desktop. “

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