Top crypto VCs’ “3A chain game” layout, who can carry the banner of Gamefi?


“Most P2E games are overhyped, and they are not fun.”
Such a view is common in the current crypto industry, and as a result, many traditional gamers are still skeptical of Gamefi, and the playable chain games in the market are basically of the level of 4399 mini-games, so this criticism is justified.

As we know, there is a term 3A game in the traditional game field, which is roughly used to refer to those high-quality games with high development cost, long development period and high resource consumption that “can bring down a company regardless of the cost”. For example, well-known single-player games such as The Witcher III and Grand Theft Auto 4 cost close to $100 million to develop, and it takes nearly 1,000 people 3-5 years to create a fun 3A game.

In the past year, crypto VCs did not stop investing in this track because of the public’s negative voice about chain games, and some project owners started to invest a lot of resources to build some “3A chain games” to try to turn around players’ perception of chain games.

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Recently, Framework Ventures co-founder Vance Spencer tweeted.

“In the next 5 years, there will probably be about 1000 3A crypto games on the market, and conservatively, 10% of those games will be successful, which means 100 games will be successful, and each of them will bring 1 million MAUs (the average size of a decent F2P game) and conservatively 100 million new crypto users, which is not complicated at all. “
Framework Ventures is reportedly planning to invest half of its third crypto fund ($200 million) in the fast-growing blockchain gaming space.

So what are the “3A chain game” teams that we should be watching in the coming time?

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“3A Chain Game” and “Quasi-3A Chain Game”

In order to create a fun 3A chain game, developers will need to raise a lot of money to invest in development (either through VC private funding, NFT or token public funding), and in the traditional game space, only teams with $50 million or more in funding can barely squeeze into this queue. There are only a few teams that meet this criteria.

If the development is smooth, these game developers may be able to increase the development of the game through subsequent financing.

Who are the 3A chain game teams?

(Note: The teams mentioned below only have the resources to make 3A games, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they will launch a 3A game)

1、Animoca Brands
In January, Animoca Brands, a metaverse game developer, announced the completion of a $358.8 million financing round led by Liberty City Ventures, 10 T Holdings, Gemini Frontier Fund, ParaFi Capital, Provident, Sequoia China Soros Fund, Winklevoss Capital and other institutions to participate in the investment, valued at $5 billion. According to Crunchbase, Animoca Brands has raised a total of $1.3 billion in funding to date.

Animoca Brands’ chain game products include REVV Motorsport, REVV Racing, The Sandbox, Phantom Galaxies, etc. The Sandbox is Animoca Brands’ flagship game, but it may not fit the definition of a 3A chain game. Among its remaining products, only Phantom Galaxies is described as a 3 A-rated blockchain game. According to the roadmap, Phantom Galaxies will launch its NFT incarnation in the second quarter of this year and plans to launch an early beta game in the third quarter of this year, which of course does not exclude the possibility of skipping.

Last November, blockchain gaming platform Forte announced the closing of a $725 million Series B funding round led by Sea Capital and Kora Management, with other notable participating investors including Animoca Brands, Warner Music, Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz ( a16 z), Cosmos, Polygon Studios, and Solana Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding to $910 million.

But unlike your average blockchain gaming company, Forte is not a game production company, but rather an infrastructure company whose job is to provide services to game developers to help them transition to blockchain gaming.

Therefore, although Forte has reached the 3A standard in terms of resources, it is still an open question whether it will be able to launch a 3A chain game.

In September last year, Sorare, a developer of NFT soccer games, announced the completion of a $680 million Series B funding round, which valued its project at $4.3 billion, and it is reported that the round was led by SoftBank and some soccer stars also participated in the investment. According to Sorare’s official website, it has now entered into formal partnerships with 245 football clubs, including Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus, and according to crunchbase data, Sorare’s total funding has reached $739 million so far.

For now, Sorare is only offering a fantasy soccer game, but it already has the strength to launch a 3A chain game.

  1. Dapper Labs
    In 2017, a CryptoKitties game came out of nowhere to introduce the charm of chain games, and the development team behind this game, Dapper Labs, has also received attention from investors. The team has raised $607.5 million in funding to date, with backers such as Coatue, A16 z, Google Ventures, and NBA stars like Michael Jordan also participating in Dapper Labs’ investment, which has more to do with its NBA top shot sports collectible game. In addition, Dapper Labs has tried to expand into sports such as UFC and football, but none of these projects have reached the level of the NBA top shot.

In the NBA sports space, Dapper Labs is well positioned to launch a 3A chain game, and according to recent plans, Dapper Labs will launch a mobile game called Hardcourt, which will allow users to play with Moments from their NBA top shot account.

5, Yuga Labs & Improbable
“Yuga Labs, the parent company of Bored Monkey, closed a $450 million seed round of funding led by A16z in March, with other notable investors including FTX, Animoca Brands, MoonPay and others.

Yuga Labs’ next focus is on building a metaverse game project called Otherside, and Improbable, the developer behind the game, is another metaverse game company to watch.

According to Crunchbase, Improbable has raised $604 million in funding to date, with investors including A16z, SoftBank, DCG and others behind it.

Recently, Improbable CEO Herman Narula said that in the early stages of Otherside’s development, they have used Improbable’s M2 technology to successfully test over 15,000 people interacting simultaneously in a virtual space.

6、Sky Mavis
Axie Infinity, as a phenomenal project in the chain game market, once recorded a miracle of over 2.6 million daily active users, however, after its Ronin sidechain was hacked for over $600 million, Axie Infinity has a tendency to go down. In addition, institutions such as Animoca Brands, Paradigm and a16z also participated in the investment, and it is reported that the funding round will be used to compensate users who lost money in the attack.

According to Crunchbase, Sky Mavis has raised a total of $311 million, and its announced chain game product is only Axie Infinity, so does Sky Mavis have the energy to build another 3A chain game? It is not impossible.

7、illuvium & Immutable
illuvium has received $43 million in funding so far through private placement and IDO, and the FDV of its token is currently over $4.4 billion. As of now, it is still in private beta testing, with only a few invited players able to test the limited game experience.

According to the official roadmap, illustrvium’s public Beta game testing will be released in the second quarter of this year, and the mobile game will be released next year. In addition, illustrvium will also increase the game’s development budget by selling game land.

It is worth mentioning that Immutable, as a partner, has so far completed $279 million in financing, with investment institutions including Temasek, Tencent, Animoca Brands, Alameda Research, etc. It can be said that the resources available to illustrvium, a 3A chain game, are not to be underestimated.

Last October, NFT sci-fi card game Parallel completed a $50 million round of funding led by Paradigm, with other investors including YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, Focus Labs, OSS Capital, and Yunt Capital.

According to its website, Parallel aims to produce a 3A-grade TCG card game, and has completed three card drop sales to date. With a 10% royalty draw on the secondary card market, Parallel currently has over $80 million in development funds at its disposal.

The Parallel chain game project is said to have been in development for nearly a year, starting in the first quarter of 2021, and is still in internal testing.

Who are the “quasi-3A chain game” teams?

Last December, SIDUS HEROES, a meta-universe chain game project, announced the completion of a round of $20 million financing with the participation of Animoca Brands, Polygon, OKEx Blockdream Ventures, Arkstream Capital, Spark Digital Capital, AU21 Capital and HashKey. AU21 Capital, and HashKey, among others.

SIDUS HEROES, a space-themed MMORPG, was launched in January this year as an experience beta, and the FDV of its game feature token, SIDUS, is currently $200 million, down 96.4% from its high, which may have more to do with the less-than-expected game beta experience.

2、Big Time
In May last year, Big Time, a chain game created by the former Decentraland CEO, completed a $21 million funding round with participation from FBG Capital, DCG, OKEx Blockdream Ventures, Alameda Research, LD Capital etc.

From the video of the game released so far, Big Time is somewhat similar to online games like World of Warcraft. It is worth mentioning that Big Time’s tokens will not be sold in any way, but obtained entirely through the game.

3、Star Atlas
Star Atlas, a Solana blockchain-based starship game, has completed several rounds of funding in the last year. According to the data provided by crunchbase, Star Atlas has received a total of $10 million in funding so far, with the participation of Animoca Brands, Serum, MoonWhale Ventures, FTX and others. FTX and others.

Star Atlas’ very high popularity is related to the high quality of the game trailers it produces. As of today, the FDV of the Star Atlas game token ATLAS is $570 million, which is down 94.1% from its all-time high.

Star Atlas drew a huge pie in the early stages, and it is currently only launching a minimum viable web mini-game for players and collectors to use or trade game assets.

For Star Atlas to actually launch a trailer-quality chain game, which could take up to several years of development, and whether the money it has raised so far will be enough to support the development of a cinematic-quality 3A chain game is clearly in doubt at this point.

This may also be the common problem that most of the so-called “3A chain game” will make.

In March, Ultiverse announced a $4.5 million seed round of funding co-led by Binance Labs and Defiance Capital, with other investors including Three Arrows Capital and SkyVision Capital. Since then, Binance Labs has announced a $5 million follow-on investment in Ultiverse.

For now, Ultiverse is still in a very early stage, and it will be the first 3A chain game of BNB ecosystem, so you can keep an eye on it.

In April, Ascenders, a sci-fi action role-playing chain game based on Avalanche, announced that it had closed a $6.4 million private funding round co-led by Paramount Capital, Sino Global Capital and Three Arrows Capital, with other participating institutions including DeFiance Capital, Blizzard Fund and others.

Currently Ascenders is only offering a demo of the game for testing, and like Ultiverse, this chain game is in a very early stage and can be properly kept in mind.

3A chain game layout of top crypto investment institutions

Looking at the funding of the above Gamefi projects, we can see that the top crypto investors we know like A16z, Paradigm, Three Arrows Capital, Binance Labs, and FTX (Alameda Research) all have some 3A chain games in their portfolio. In addition, Animoca Brands, a game development company, also appears frequently in the list of investors in chain game projects.

For example, A16z has invested in Forte, Dapper Labs, Yuga Labs & Improbable, and Sky Mavis, Paradigm has invested in Sky Mavis and Parallel, Three Arrows Capital has invested in Ultiverse and Ascenders, Binance Labs with Sky Mavis and Ultiverse, and FTX (Alameda Research) with Yuga Labs, Big Time, and Star Atlas.

Except for Yuga Labs and Sky Mavis, which are two hot chain tour teams that have won the favor of 2-3 top crypto investment institutions at the same time, the rest of the above chain tours are basically projects managed by top investment institutions (Note: If each public chain has a 3A chain tour representative, the projects backed by these institutions will most likely become hot).

From the current perspective, three chain games like Big Time, illustrum and Phantom Galaxies are expected to open to players this year, while Parallel, Otherside, Ultiverse and Ascenders will have to wait until next year.

Some brief thoughts on the chain games

From the current situation, crypto investment institutions have been second only to public chain infrastructure in the scale of investment in chain tours, and as Layer 2 and DA (data availability) solutions become mature, only chain tours with high performance requirements will have the possibility to achieve massive scaling (out of the loop).

As we know, in the last crypto bull market cycle, Axie Infinity, a poorly playable chain game, became a phenomenal chain game product with its excellent token model design, which also triggered a wave of Play to earn, but these games are more financial games in nature and dilute the fun of the game itself. Some of the current 3A chain game teams have started to improve the quality of their games based on the Play to earn gameplay in order to attract more gamers to join the crypto space.

Besides, Chain Game, as a masterpiece of meta-universe narrative, can carry the three crypto-based elements of DeFi+NFT+DAO at the same time.

However, we need to understand that a fun crypto game can never be developed overnight, and the more gorgeous the trailer is, the more cautious we need to be, because it is also extremely difficult to implement such projects, and there is a higher possibility that the project will not deliver a satisfactory game, or the waiting time will be very long.

We also need to understand that any so-called 3A chain game is not a pure chain game in nature, but this does not prevent them from making their way out of the circle.

All in all, the crypto circuit of chain games will continue to be the focus of attention in the crypto space, so which chain game projects do you think will kick Axie Infinity off the Gamefi throne?


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