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Immutable raises $60M for NFT games platform on Ethereum

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Immutable raises $60M for NFT games platform on Ethereum

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Immutable has raised $60 million for its platform that uses nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to help monetize games.

The Sydney, Australia-based Immutable created a platform on top of Ethereum to monetize NFTs in games, and it is also the creator of the Gods Unchained NFT-based collectible card game. NFTs use the transparent and secure ledger of blockchain to uniquely identify digital items. That means that rare digital items can be sold for higher prices in NFT-based games.

The company also recently unveiled it will issue a $GODS token. It will give them out or sell them to players so they can have a voice in how the studio runs the game. At launch, $GODS will operate as a utility and governance token, giving holders a voice in the digital space, as well as active staking opportunities that allow players to earn rewards through gameplay campaigns.

Over time, functionality of the $GODS will expand to embed the token within Gods Unchained’s “play-to-earn” game loops, enabling players to earn $GODS tokens as rewards when people play the game. If those tokens increase in value, the players can sell them for their own profit. I call this the Leisure Economy, where we all get paid to play games. Immutable hopes the biggest game companies will adopt NFTs, which have been popular with crypto enthusiasts but are somewhat confusing for ordinary gamers.

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“It’s exciting,” said Robbie Ferguson, the cofounder of Immutable, in an interview with GamesBeat. “The biggest thing we’re looking to build is a set of tools that mainstream developers can use to build NFT games without ever having to worry about blockchain.”

The tools include ways to enable credit card purchases, anti-money laundering services, know-your-customer regulatory compliance, and more when it comes to implementing NFTs in games.

“We can provide for the end-to-end needs of the mainstream client,” he said.

The NFT hype

Gods Unchained will adopt the 0x protocol to sell in-game items on the blockchain.

Above: Gods Unchained is a collectible card game.

Image Credit: Immutable

The market for NFTs surged to new highs in the second quarter of 2021, with $2.5 billion in sales in the first half of the year, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020. 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.

Published by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $750 million in sales in just a year. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Investors are pouring money into NFTs, and some of those investors are game fans. The weekly revenues for NFTs peaked in May and then crashed, but in August those revenues were bigger than ever.

But there are drawbacks too in numerous scams where people steal art and sell it as their own NFTs.

Noting the spike in NFT sales, Ferguson said, “Look, I think we’re in a hype cycle. At the moment, I think people are buying these entities on an expectation of profit. It’s going to crash, crash in a big way. It’s a speculator boom. Every boom is good because it brings a lot of adoption. You can’t really have perfect speculation. You’re always worried it’s going to go up or down. The thing I am excited about is the transition into utility-based NFTs.”

He believes his company has been able to successfully raise money because it is focusing on infrastructure, not fad-like digital items that could go out of fashion easily. It’s also making games that people enjoy playing, like Gods Unchained. Building games like that helps the company understand the needs and requirements for the infrastructure, he said.

“We’ve been through two bear markets as a company already, so we’re ready for anything,” Ferguson said.

Immutable X protocol

The $GODS Unchained token.

Above: The $GODS Unchained token.

Image Credit: Immutable

Immutable has also created Immutable X, a Layer-2 scalability protocol for NFTs on Ethereum. That means it enables transactions at a much faster rate than was intended on Ethereum, and it doesn’t use as much computing power and so doesn’t have as many environmental effects as transactions on top of Ethereum normally do. On top of that, it doesn’t incur the high “gas fees,” or computing fees, for users. Those fees are zero, and yet they don’t compromise on security because they take advantage of the underlying secure Ethereum platform.

In an earlier interview, Ferguson said that in 2020 Immutable found the solution on the crypto frontier with StarkWare, which tapped the benefit of using the Ethereum cryptocurrency and its security without incurring huge fees. Immutable X is built on top of Starkware’s “Layer 2 scaling” technology. The bottom line is that users don’t have to trust in Immutable lasting permanently in order to keep owning their NFTs. They can just trust in Ethereum. Immutable X’s mainnet is now available as a Layer 2 solution for NFTs on Ethereum.

“At the end of the day, this security is the whole point,” Ferguson said. “Otherwise, you might as well just make a new centralized database.

“What our company has become focused on is to scale these games and these applications in a way that is best for users, and ultimately, still decentralized, while still being super easy for mainstream applications to use. That’s why we decided to build Immutable X. We spent a very long time searching for a scaling solution. We’ve got to make the proposition of NFT ownership available to everyone.”

Other solutions to Ethereum are creating alternative, faster cryptocurrencies with different methods of reaching a consensus. But these alternatives aren’t as popular as Ethereum. Another solution is to create a side chain, with a different kind of processing for transactions. But Ferguson said those solutions can fail because their security isn’t still as strong as Ethereum’s. If the security fails, then so does the authenticity of the NFT, and that would be disastrous, Ferguson said.

“We use Ethereum for everything we do. We’re just compressing the data on it by zero-knowledge proofs [a verification technique], which allows us to reach really high levels of scale,” Ferguson said.

Transaction speed

Immutable X can handle 9,000 transactions per second, much more than Ethereum, which is the most popular blockchain. That puts Immutable on a scale to support games with millions of players. As Ethereum network traffic has increased significantly, transactions are slower and costlier to execute, and security is increasingly important. Over time, Ferguson said that should grow.

Immutable X was created with these pain points in mind. The scaling protocol was built with StarkWare’s ZK-rollup, capable of massive scalability without compromising security. Last month, $600 million was hacked on less secure scaling solutions which rely on centralized “bridges” for their connection to Ethereum, rather than zero-knowledge proofs, the company said.

Immutable X has a marketplace for players in games such as Gods Unchained to buy and sell the items they have collected. Games such as Immutable’s upcoming Guild of Guardians will mint its NFTs on the carbon-neutral Immutable X platform.

The funding

Gods Unchained pays to play.

Above: Gods Unchained pays to play.

Image Credit: Immutable

All of these things — the games, the players, the protocol, and the marketplace — have made the company valuable. Bitkraft Ventures and King River Capital led the round, with participation from Prosus Ventures, Galaxy Interactive, Fabric Ventures, Alameda Research, AirTree Ventures, Reinventure, Apex Capital, and VaynerFund.

The funding will be used to expand the global engineering and sales team, and strengthen key partnerships with gaming companies. It will also be used to scale the growth of Immutable’s in-house published NFT games, Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians.

Ferguson said his company has 120 employees and hopes to grow to 200 within six months.

As to the competition, Ferguson noted there are other major blockchains with an eye on NFTs, including Flow (owned by Dapper Labs), Polygon, Solana, and others who are “coming out of the woodwork.” He said this is a good thing because “the most important mission that we’re doing is we want to make digital worlds real. And that means giving people ownership of their stuff in a secure decentralized blockchain. And so as long as the winning solution is something that’s actually secure and decentralized, I’m happy.”

He noted that Immutable is in a good position because it has been working on its tech for more than two years.

Game partners

Guild of the Guardians has teamed up with NRG.

Above: Guild of the Guardians has teamed up with esports organization NRG.

Image Credit: Immutable

From collectible trading card NFTs to fashion NFTs, Immutable’s technology partnerships span across multiple industries.

Immutable’s own Gods Unchained is led by Chris Clay, the former game director of Magic the Gathering Arena, and Immutable is also making Guild of the Guardians.

Other notable projects include:

  • OpenSea (NFT marketplace)
  • Mintable (NFT marketplace)
  • RTFKT studios (fashion NFT artists)
  • Ecomi/VeVe Collectibles (licensed collectibles)
  • Medal.TV (world’s largest gaming clips website)
  • HighRise (social sandbox)
  • TokenTrove (collectibles marketplace)
  • SuperFarm (defi NFT farm)
  • Epics.GG (whitelabel marketplace platform for NFTs)
  • Illuvium (auto battler RPG)
  • Lucid Sight (MLB Champions Baseball, Crypto Space Commander)
  • War Riders (post-apocalyptic MMO)
  • Mintable (NFT marketplace)
  • Double Jump.Tokyo/MCH+

There are 10 or so major partnerships with game companies already announced, and that should expand in the coming months, he said.

“The most exciting thing by far is the interest from the massive game companies,” said Ferguson. “They say they have an NFT strategy that has been accelerated by three or four years. We see all of the major game studios around the world have dedicated teams to work out what their NFT strategy is, and some are building defensive strategies. We’re going in aggressively and saying we can be the market leader in NFT experiences for gamers.”

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Ethereum

Bitcoin mining company buys Pennsylvania power plant to meet electricity needs

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Bitcoin mining company buys Pennsylvania power plant to meet electricity needs

What just happened? Crypto mining companies are continuing to find innovative solutions to power problems despite concerns regarding Bitcoin mining’s immense power requirements and ecological impacts. A holding company in Pennsylvania recently purchased the financially challenged Scrubgrass power plant. The plant currently produces enough power for 1,800 Bitcoin miners, with output increases planned to support more than 20,000 miners by 2022.

Mining the top cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum requires vast amounts of power. A single Bitcoin transaction, including the resources needed to mine the coin and to verify the transaction, can total upwards of 1,700 kilowatt hours (kWh). This ever-increasing power demand has forced large crypto mining outfits to leverage any available means to produce their power at the lowest possible cost. In some cases, this leads to mining operations literally taking power production into their own hands.

Stronghold Digital Mining in Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, has joined the ranks of those mining operations that have sought to solve their power delivery challenges themselves. Unlike those companies that leverage regional hydroelectric power or others leveraging energy credits and payments from their respective states, Stronghold recently purchased the Scrubgrass power plant in Venango County, Pennsylvania. According to Stronghold, who advertises their organization as an “environmentally beneficial and vertically integrated Bitcoin miner,” the plant will burn Pennsylvania’s waste coal to power on-site mining hardware located in shipping containers next to the plant. Waste coal is the residual material left over following coal mining operations; it can be particularly harmful to the environment by leaching metals such as aluminum, iron, and manganese into the soil and surrounding water sources.

Stronghold plans to claim and burn waste coal, then deliver the previously contaminated reclaimed land back to the state via the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Current DEP statistics claim that so far, Stronghold has helped to reclaim more than 1,000 acres of Pennsylvania land. Despite the ability to burn the waste and minimize the threat of contamination, the waste coal still produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide. These types of emissions are an ongoing concern to environmental watchdog groups monitoring Bitcoin’s energy and pollution footprint.

Unlike Ethereum mining, which utilizes traditional graphics processing units (GPUs), Bitcoin mining relies on specialized hardware known as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). While GPUs can be repurposed for anything from mining other algorithms to performing their intended rendering tasks, Bitcoin ASICs are purpose-built devices designed solely to provide the hash power required to mine against Bitcoin’s SHA-256 algorithm.

Image credit: Coal plant from Rice University, Scrubgrass plant from bitcoin.com

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China name-checks Bitcoin, Ethereum, TEDA in blanket crypto ban

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China name-checks Bitcoin, Ethereum, TEDA in blanket crypto ban

The People’s Bank of China just released a note that effectively outlawed cryptocurrency in China. This note was issued to “the people’s governments of all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities under the Central Government, and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. That’s basically everyone in China – every Chinese citizen, anyway. They’re targeting what they’re called “virtual currency trading hype activities” of all sorts.

Per the release today, the People’s Bank of China is concerned that virtual currency trading hype activities are “disrupting the economic and financial order.” They’ve also claimed that this virtual currency trading is “breeding illegal and criminal activities” such as:


• Fraud


• Illegal fund-raising


• Gambling


• Money laundering


• Pyramid schemes


• Endangering the safety of people’s property

China’s release points specifically to “virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and TEDA.”

Part of the plan to remove the threat from China includes the banning of certain phrases in the names of registered market entities. The registered names and business scope of enterprises and individual industrial and commercial houesholds “must not contain words or content” such as:

• virtual currency


• virtual assets


• encrypted currencies


• encrypted assets

The release today from the Chinese government included several new rules and clarifications for entities inside China. “Virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities,” makes clear that no person or business within China can conduct business with virtual currency of any sort.

The new rule set also included “the provision of services by overseas virtual currency exchanges to Chinese residents through the Internet” as an illegal financial activity. They also made clear that any legal person, unincorporated organization, or natural person who invests in virtual currency will be subject to the loss of said currency, as “the relevant civil legal acts are invalid.”

It is not clear how Chinese officials plan on enforcing the “loss” of said data. They did suggest that the proper authorities will “promptly shut down” all “internet applications such as websites, mobile applications, and small programs that carry out virtual currency-related business activities.” That bit is aimed at crypto mining, transfer, and payments.

This is the most massive and direct action the Chinese government has taken against cryptocurrency. It’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts, given past jumps and falls of crypto value when major government actions like these have occurred.

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Ethereum

Twitter will allow people to tip their favorite content creators with bitcoin

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Twitter will allow people to tip their favorite content creators with bitcoin

Twitter will now allow people to tip their favorite content creators with bitcoin and will also launch a fund to pay some users who host audio chat rooms on its Spaces feature, the company said on Thursday.

The company also said it will test new ways to help users have a safer experience on Twitter, such as warning when people are entering a “heated” conversation, or letting them leave tweet threads they no longer want to be part of.

The product announcements are the latest in Twitter’s effort to compete with rival platforms like Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube for popular content creators with large followings, and turn around its image as a site where polarized discussions can fester online.

Twitter users globally on iOS devices can now send and receive digital payments, which was previously limited to a small group of testers.

“We believe we can continue to incentivize the types of conversations that people want to see,” said Esther Crawford, product lead for creator monetization at Twitter, in a briefing with reporters.

The San Francisco-based company added it is exploring how to allow users to filter out certain words they do not want to see in the replies to their tweets, which could be used to stop name-calling or abusive speech.

About Bitcoin

Created following the 2008 global financial crisis, bitcoin initially promoted a libertarian ideal and aspired to overthrow traditional monetary and financial institutions such as central banks.

The founding white paper, published on October 31, 2008, was penned by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym whose identity remains unknown.

The eight-page document included the key goal of processing online payments between two parties without passing via a financial institution.

A first block of 50 bitcoins was created in January 2009, which has risen to 18.8 million units currently in circulation.

No more than 21 million can be created, helping bitcoin’s price to trade way above its rivals.

Thousands of other cryptocurrencies have meanwhile since been created, led by the likes of ethereum, ripple and tether.

There are two ways to get hold of bitcoin. Historically, individuals have “mined” for it by using computers to solve complex mathematical puzzles.

But as bitcoin’s price soared, so did the number of miners, reducing the chances of accessing units this way.

Mining also requires huge amounts of energy, meaning the cost of accessing a bitcoin can exceed the gain, not withstanding the environmental impact amid global efforts to tackle climate change.

The alternative way is to buy a whole or fractions of bitcoin on an exchange platform using traditional currencies.

Purchased funds are held in protected virtual wallets, but with hacks still possible, some investors have decided to hold portfolios offline.

The post Twitter will allow people to tip their favorite content creators with bitcoin appeared first on ARY NEWS.

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