Blockchain gaming has to walk before it runs. That’s why Polyient Games, a spinoff of incubator Polyient Labs, is starting to invest in early-stage infrastructure companies that will enable blockchain games.
Blockchain is the technology that uses peer-to-peer decentralized networking to build a transparent and secure ledger. It is the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which fueled a speculative craze (and a bust and a new craze) in the past few years. Polyient Labs set up Polyient Games earlier this year to focus on a part of the blockchain gaming ecosystem.
While cryptocurrency has seen its ups and downs, Craig Russo, director of innovation at Polyient Games, said in an interview with GamesBeat that blockchain makes sense in gaming because it can uniquely identify in-game items or avatars and who owns them. That means it can be used to enable commerce in collectible or unique items in games and transfer them from game to game.
“While big game companies are staying on the sidelines, everyone from investors to collectors to indie gamers are starting to look at blockchain gaming as an opportunity,” Russo said. “We are the first investment firm and startup ecosystem dedicated to non-fungible tokens.”
The latter is one of the underpinnings of the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. While that’s the stuff of science fiction, a lot of blockchain entrepreneurs want to see it happen and they’re trying to build the plumbing of the Metaverse. (We’re exploring doing a virtual Metaverse conference this fall).
In the near term, blockchain is enabling collectibles trading, as seen in games like CryptoKitties and marketplaces such as DMarket. Startups such as Forte are trying to build some of the infrastructure for blockchain games. And Phoenix-based Polyient Labs was founded by Brad Robertson in 2018, and it raised $5 million to fund blockchain-based startups. Polyient Games spun out to focus on the game startups, and it is in the process of raising more funds via its own token to further invest in infrastructure.
“We’re much more interested in investing in the companies that are helping build and establish the infrastructure necessary for the blockchain gaming,” Russo said. “This is the walk before you run analogy, where it’s very cool to think about some of these Ready Player One concepts. But as it stands right now, the the infrastructure — from both a blockchain as well as a gaming integration perspective — would not be able to support such a model. And so we’re really looking at startups that are kind of focused on helping reduce the complexities associated with the blockchain layer.”
But there’s a lot of mistrust around cryptocurrencies because of the speculative…