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Los Angeles-based Mythical Games is pioneering the idea of “playable NFTs,” using NFT technology to uniquely identify game characters so players can truly own them. NFTs use blockchain, the secure and transparent digital ledger, to authenticate unique digital items.
Blankos Block Party, which is in beta testing, has vinyl-style game characters who can be earned (through gameplay), bought, and sold by players. It has begun testing its marketplace where players can buy and sell their characters, which can be customized or decorated with various things earned in the game.
WestCap Group, a growth equity firm headed by former Airbnb executive Laurence Tosi, led the funding round. Others participating in the round are 01 Advisors and Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerFund, as well as existing investors including Galaxy Digital, Javelin Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures, and Struck Capital. This round brings the total amount raised to $120 million.
That amount tells you where we are. NFTs have exploded in other applications, such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example — built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $500 million in sales, five months after going public. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. But more recently NFTs have seen price declines as some say that the hype is running out of steam.
While many NFT projects have been dismissed as overhyped schemes to get rich quick, Mythical Games CEO John Linden said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company wants to drive mass adoption of ownership in games through playable NFTs. Pre-blockchain, players invested billions of dollars into digital items in other online games without a tangible way to benefit from it beyond occasional gameplay advantages; content remains locked behind their account because their purchase is really just a lease or licensing agreement, with no ability to transfer or sell, Mythical said. And while other secondary marketplaces have existed in the form of gray markets and black markets, players who participate are exposed to unsafe transactions, scams, and even the threat of losing their accounts for terms of service violations, the company said.
But the tech isn’t really easy to create. Mythical Games has more than 100 employees, and it has been working on its tech and game for three years, Linden said. Adding NFTs to a game means that a company has to create a digital wallet for players to securely hold their digital property. It sits on top of a blockchain platform, and that platform often has to be modified to reduce transaction costs, speed up transactions, and use less energy than mainstream platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum. All of that takes engineering work, and Mythical is still hiring.
On top of that, Mythical Games is talking to other game companies to license its platform to them so that those game companies can create their own games with playable NFT characters.
Mythical will use the funding to further drive mass adoption of ownership in games through playable NFTs with the growth of its first game, Blankos Block Party; expansion to other gaming platforms; and new projects launching later this year and in 2022. Via its Mythical Economic Engine and Mythical Marketplace, the company says it is providing a platform for game developers to create their own player-owned economies, as well as new tools for content creators and brands to facilitate ownership of in-game assets.
Through the Mythical Marketplace, players can unlock the value of monetary, rarity, and time-based efforts by selling their NFTs to other players for real money, in safe and secure transactions with proof of authenticity.
In the open beta for Blankos Block Party, Mythical has enabled player-designed levels. Players currently hold more than 100,000 NFTs; as the game’s audience continues to grow, earlier assets and specialized releases will become more scarce and likely more valuable in the secondary market, creating rarity on a mass-market scale and providing new sources of income for players.
Tosi, managing partner at WestCap, said in a statement that Mythical has transformed the way creators distribute and monetize their art. He said Mythical’s creative use of blockchain has empowered brands and studios to develop interactive content and engage with fans.
Mythical Games will make more announcements next week during a talk at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Viewers can tune in on Monday, June 14 at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time, when Mythical will also release one of the first NFT Twitch Drops via the popular streaming service.
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