Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands has released the company’s key unaudited financial and business highlights for the last three months of 2021 and the first four months of 2022.
According to the report, the blockchain gaming specialist ended bookings and other income of A$213 million (approximately US$148 million) on December 31, 2021, for three months. While A$827 million (approximately US$573 million) was closed on April 30, 2022, for four months.
Bookings include token sales, non-fungible token (NFT) sales and non-blockchain activities. The report added that other income includes gains/losses of investments and digital assets holdings.
The results include contributions from the company’s key business units, including The Sandbox, GAMEE, nWay, Blowfish Studios, Grease Monkey Games, REVV Motorsport, TOWER, Quidd, Lympo, and Forj (formerly Bondly), in addition to blockchain service revenue arising from portfolio investments and partnerships.
As of April 30, Animoca Brands’ portfolio investments were valued at over A$2.2 billion (approx. US$1.5 billion) across over 340 investments. While, the company also had a cash balance of A$141 million (approx. US$98 million) and digital assets holdings of A$304 million (approx. US$211 million) in the form of USDC, USDT, BUSD, ETH and BTC.
Another key financial highlight as of April 30, was that other digital assets holdings of the company included third-party tokens of A$952 million (approx. US$659 million). The company’s digital assets reserves were at A$6.1 billion (approximately US$4.2 billion), which includes the Animoca Brands tokens SAND, QUIDD, PRIMATE, REVV, TOWER, GMEE, and others.
According to the financial report, the company successfully acquired Grease Monkey Games, Darewise, Eden Games, Notre Game and Be Media. Through these purchases, the company aims to strengthen and expand gaming and Web3 capabilities.
Animoca Brands’ also set up new ventures such as AniCube with Cube Entertainment, MetaHollywood with Planet Hollywood and OneFootball Labs with OneFootball.
One of the company’s major partnerships has been the Otherside project with Yuga Labs. The project aims to build the metaverse game of the Bored Apes Yacht Club (BAYC).
The company also partnered with ApeCoin DAO to launch ApeCoin (APE).
In terms of tokens, Animoca Brands launched the play-to-earn PRIMATE Token for their mobile game Benji Bananas, connected to the ApeCoin ecosystem.
The blockchain gaming company was also successful in expanding business to Japan through their strategic subsidiary Animoca Brands Japan with a seed round of US$10 million.
Recently, Animoca Brands subsidiary Lympo also launched the SPORT token to replace the Lympo utility token LMT.
According to Blockchain.News, the SPORT token has been launched on the MEXC exchange (SPORT/USDT pair) and on the decentralized exchange Quickswap (SPORT/MATIC and other pairs). The SPORT token contract is bridged to Polygon Network and BNB Chain.
Also, in a recent development, the company, along with Blowfish Studios, announced the closure of one of the most anticipated AAA blockchain games.
According to Blockchain.News, the Planet Private Sale for Phantom Galaxies sold 7,734 Planets and Asteroids (“Planets”) for a total of US$19.3 million.
Holders of the Planets – which are NFTs – will gain in-game real estate and utility along with a regular emission of the native cryptocurrency of Phantom Galaxies, Blockchain.News added.
After more than a decade of actively investing in the gaming industry, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) wants to further exert its influence in that space.
In order to do this, the investment giant has floated a $600 million fund which it believes will help position it aright to tap enough market share in the more than $300 billion industry.
The company said it floated the fund which it named Games Fund One with the backing of key players in the gaming industry including David Baszucki, founder of Roblox; Jason Citron, founder of Discord; Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games; Mike Morhaime, co-founder of Blizzard; Aleks Larsen and Jeffrey Zirlin, co-founders of Sky Mavis; Kevin Lin, co-founder of Twitch, Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga; and Riccardo Zacconi, founder of King.
The enormous funds will be used to support startups building a wide range of solutions in the space. These solutions border on infrastructure, supporting ecosystems for developers, and outfits developing games directly.
“GAMES FUND ONE is founded on the belief that games will play a pivotal role in defining how we socialize, play, and work over the next century. Over the past decade, games have undergone a radical transformation, from simply being packaged entertainment to becoming online services that more closely resemble social networks and scale-like consumer technology companies,” the firm said in a blog post written by the trio of Andrew Chen, Jonathan Lai, and James Gwertzman, General Managers at a16z who will be in charge of the fund.
As it has gone all out with gaming, Andreessen Horowitz is also bullish on the role blockchain technology and Web3.0 has to play in the long-term future of the gaming industry.
The firm detailed in a report earlier how Web3.0, powered by blockchain is a better offshoot for creators when compared to traditional solutions, and as such, the investment from Games Fund One will be extended to the emerging ecosystem to complement earlier investments in CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity and other notable startups in the space.
Andreessen has also been an active proponent of the blockchain gaming space. The company’s general partner Arianna Simpson has led investments in several high-profile pay-to-earn and crypto-related gaming companies like Axie Infinity maker Sky Mavis.
According to Protocol, the fund will also collaborate with Andreessen’s crypto fund to co-invest in blockchain gaming deals.
On the day of the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, there were reportedly more transactions made in China’s central bank digital currency than those through Visa.
In a Wednesday report from the Wall Street Journal, a person familiar with the matter said transactions in digital yuan significantly outnumbered those of Visa on Feb. 4 at the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest — the location of the opening ceremony of the 34th Olympic Winter Games. However, many of the retailers allowing purchases with China’s central bank digital currency, the digital yuan — or e-CNY — were outside the Olympics’ quarantine “bubble” for athletes, journalists, and staff.
Bird’s Nest on the night of Feb. 4, when the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics was held. pic.twitter.com/QjUTOPa6Hr
— XIE Yongjun 解勇军 (@XIEYongjun_CN) February 4, 2022
According to the report, those within the bubble have the option of paying for goods or services with cash, Visa, and digital yuan, and there are many automated machines allowing people to exchange fiat currency for e-CNY. Coupled with the likely intention of reducing contact between individuals in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it seems the country’s digital currency is pulling ahead of Visa — at least in an environment with limited use cases that includes participation from Chinese consumers.
“Replacing cash with digital yuan for payment can effectively reduce direct contact between people and the risk of the spread of Covid-19,” reportedly said the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Games.
Though payments using mobile apps like Alipay, WeChat Pay, and others are generally accepted at many retailers in China, these methods aren’t allowed at the Winter Games due to an exclusivity contract with Visa. The credit card company has reportedly not pushed back against the digital yuan payment options, possibly because it is awaiting approval of a domestic license application to operate in China.
CNN reported on Jan. 31 that the first international test run of China’s CBDC is facing hurdles due to the pandemic, with officials limiting the number of people allowed to enter the country. Though China hasn’t released data on the number of digital yuan transactions or athletes using the CBDC, U.S. lawmakers have warned Americans participating in the games of the potential dangers of testing the digital currency, including threatening U.S. interests in cross-border payments.
Related:China’s central bank releases pilot version of digital yuan wallet
At the time of publication, Cointelegraph was unable to find any reports of athletes claiming to have used the digital yuan for food or other essentials. The Wall Street Journal reported both the president of the Dutch Olympic Committee and a former Beijing resident now involved in television coverage of the games implied there was little point in using the digital currency when Visa was available. The Winter Olympics are scheduled to conclude on Feb. 20.
The Metaverse is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends of 2022. Recent data found that the metaverse sector currently has a market capitalization of over $26 billion. While impressive, new capabilities are also being added to virtual worlds to create more immersive experiences.
For example, metaverse communities that cater to creatives are starting to unfold, allowing users to customize their own interactive experiences. Although this is still an emerging concept, the incorporation of music appears to be one of the defining characteristics of social metaverse environments.
Music as NFTs
For instance, music in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) is starting to be used in a number of virtual ecosystems to offer social experiences for both artists and fans.
To put this in perspective, Fluf World — a metaverse community consisting primarily of 3D-avatar rabbits — relies heavily on music to create user experiences. Brooke Howard-Smith, co-founder of Fluf World, told Cointelegraph that its metaverse was launched in August 2021 as a platform for creators, artists and musicians to connect using NFTs. Howard-Smith explained that there is a “scenes and sounds” feature that enables community members to combine different soundtracks and backgrounds with their avatar NFTs:
“Users can add a background behind their avatar that serves as a different location, many of which we are building in our part of the Metaverse. A user’s 3D-animated rabbit can also move to different music soundtracks that a user chooses to incorporate.”
Although the concept may sound complex, Fluf World uses a variety of multimedia NFTs to allow users to customize their Metaverse experiences. “This week Fluf World is launching phase 1 of their ‘Burrows,’ a metaverse space within Fluf World where soon, avatars will be able to walk around and hear other Avatar’s music when their ‘proximity feature’ is turned on. You can also see a visual representation of their music called a Nimbus floating near their avatar when you approach them,” Howard-Smith explained.
At the same time, a number of benefits for artists and fans also emerge from this model. For example, “Gino The Ghost” — a grammy award-winning producer and multiplatform songwriter — told Cointelegraph that he is a metaverse music executive for Fluf World. Gino said that he was initially drawn to the project through its incorporation of music, explaining that audio NFTs offer musicians a new way to package music as a crypto asset. He added that sound clips living on a blockchain network solve a number of problems for musicians:
“The sobering reality is that music labels are making more money today than ever before through streaming platforms but producers and songwriters are making considerably less. For instance, 100 million streams only generate $7,000 dollars if you own about 30% of a label and most individuals earn much less. Royalties are also paid slowly and you need to audit publishers to see if income is accurate.”
With these challenges in mind, Gino said that music NFTs enable artists to generate instant income that is controlled directly by an artist without any intermediaries. In regard to fans, Gino said that those who own music NFTs are not only investing in their favorite artists but are also capable of using those soundtracks to create their own remixes. “Creatives can consume music and do different things with the soundtracks,” he said. In turn, users are also able to sell their unique music NFTs to generate revenue.
It’s also interesting to point out that music NFTs can come in the form of digital wearables. For example, wearable music NFTs were recently launched on The Dematerialised, an experimental marketplace for digital fashion. The collection known as “Defend the Metaverse” was created by Teflon Sega, a singer and producer who claims to have been born in the Metaverse. The different NFTs that are available come in the form of t-shirts, sunglasses and shoulder plates and feature a 15-second sound clip from Teflon Sega’s music video, “Unreal Engine.”
Sega told Cointelegraph that he believes that the relationship between music and fashion has always been very close. “The two intertwined creative cultures have often played off of each other in music videos, which is why it felt so natural to release the outfits and props from my own music videos into the world as wearable NFT’s,” he remarked. Sega added that this year, he thinks people will be introduced to new features that allow for self-expression within metaverse environments. “Whether it be music, fashion, entertainment or storytelling, all forms will have no limitation aside from one’s own creative boundaries.”
In addition to music NFTs, decentralized audio files are also being used to personalize metaverse environments. For example, Audius is a music streaming service built on the Solana blockchain that is partnering with different metaverse platforms.
Roneil Rumburg, CEO and co-founder of Audius, told Cointelegraph that anyone is able to pull content from the Audius platform due to its decentralized nature. “Fans and developers are running this ecosystem for the benefit of everyone. Therefore, anyone can build using our platform,” he said.
According to Rumburg, Audius music files were initially applied in gaming metaverses but recently, the platform has partnered with the real estate NFT project “Ethereum Towers” and Solana-powered “Portals Metaverse” to provide streaming music. “Portals Metaverse allows users to play their own choice of music within their room inside the Metaverse through the Audius API. The community has even built an Audius lounge for concerts,” explained Rumburg.
Rumburg further noted that while Audius provides a catalog of decentralized audio files combined with metadata, some developers have built wrapped NFTs around Audius files. “We are just a decentralized repository of content without rights, so third-party developers can pull from the platform’s catalog without any issues.” As such, Rumburg explained that the main benefit of Audius in the context of the Metaverse is that developers can freely pull content without being sued by third parties.
Although the concept is relatively new, industry experts believe that music for metaverse environments will continue to gain traction. Sebastien Borget, chief operations officer and co-founder of the Sandbox — a popular gaming metaverse ecosystem — told Cointelegraph that he believes music will be used more often. “It’s defining a new format of entertainment beyond music clips. It’s more social and immersive,” he said. Sticking to this trend, the Sandbox recently announced a partnership with Warner Music Group to create a musical theme park and concert venue within the platform.
Famous musicians are also becoming more involved with NFTs. American singer and songwriter John Legend recently announced his involvement in launching an NFT music platform that will allow artists to tokenize and sell their work. In addition, American rapper and songwriter Snoop Dog recently announced that he is a Fluf World holder by
With the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics completed and all competing athletes currently in China, two members of Congress are warning of the potential dangers of using digital yuan at the events.
According to a Friday report from Reuters, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Feb. 3 expressing concern that the Chinese government could use the games to promote greater adoption of its central bank digital currency, the digital yuan. The country has been conducting trials of the CBDC since April 2020, later announcing foreign athletes and visitors would have the opportunity to use it during their time at the Olympic Games.
Toomey claimed that the digital yuan rollout among an international crowd could help set a standard in cross-border payments, potentially threatening U.S. interests. The Federal Reserve has floated the idea of releasing a digital dollar, but has not reached a decision to do so. The Pennsylvania Senator reportedly asked the State and Treasury Departments to report on the number of foreign visitors using China’s digital yuan to determine if the Olympics rollout could provide any useful information for U.S. officials considering a CBDC.
“The importance of remaining a leader in the global digital economy and supporting new innovations like digital currencies is a significant domain of strategic competition with other countries, including China,” said Toomey.
Many U.S. lawmakers are offering their support for those competing at the games, with some including Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer offering a last-minute warning to athletes not to use digital yuan while in China. Emmer has previously referred to China as living under “digital authoritarianism” in proposing legislation to limit the Fed’s ability to issue a CBDC.
Good luck to all the @TeamUSA athletes competing in the Olympics.
Word to the wise – Do. Not. Accept. Any. Digital. Yuan.
— Tom Emmer (@RepTomEmmer) February 4, 2022
In July, a group of three senators sent a letter to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee claiming that the Chinese Communist Party could use the CBDC to surveil visiting athletes both while at the games and upon their return to the United States. The committee reportedly suggested members of Team USA leave their smartphones at home and only use “burner” phones while in China, given the former could be infected with “malicious software.” At the time of publication, the Team USA Instagram page continues to post its own stories and share those from participating athletes’ accounts.
Related:COVID restrictions stymie digital yuan rollout at Beijing Winter Olympics
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is the first major testing ground for the country’s CBDC among a broad group of international visitors. Since its launch almost two years ago, transactions using the digital yuan have totaled more than $13 billion, with roughly 10 million merchants activating digital wallets for the CBDC by November 2021.
Nicolas Pouard, VP at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab, commented on the negative gamer feedback that Ubisoft received after introducing Quartz and Digits, in an interview with Finder.
“It’s a reaction we are accustomed to. I think it’s great because it shows how engaged our players are and how passionate they are about their hobby and gaming in general. And looking at that, I think it’s reassuring.”
In the interview Pouard goes on to clarify that Quartz and Digits are a “matter of personal choice” for players who “at no point” will be forced to use them.
In Pouard’s explanation of Ubisoft’s motivations, however, some readers clung on to one phrase he said: “I think gamers don’t get what a digital secondary market can bring to them.” The idea that players may not “get it for now” was not taken very lightly by the Twittersphere.
Below are some reactions from gamers to a Tweet by Kotaku, the popular video game blog:
Well if users don’t get it, shouldn’t you avoid it. After all aren’t you doing this for consumers? I remember the time when ubisoft was one of the best places to play. Prince of Persia, AC Ethio trilogy Altair. Now ubisoft is less than a shell of its former self. It barely is
— GOLdROGER1PIECE (@LdRoger1) January 28, 2022
Some users were either simply “not interested” or believe that there is more gain for the company itself than for the gamers.
Related: More evidence game devs hate NFTs and crypto
There is also sentiment around gamers having true ownership of not just a skin or a weapon, but of characters and story lines. If players can become active contributors of a gaming ecosystem, then could it be possible for them to have ownership over the games themselves?
Ubisoft recently partnered with startup Aleph.im who will provide a decentralized storage solution for Ubisoft Quartz. The gaming giant plans to continue integrating Digits into Quartz through 2022.
On Tuesday, January 18, Microsoft announced that it has acquired Activision Blizzard, a game development leader and interactive entertainment content publisher, for $68.7 billion. The acquisition means Microsoft enjoy access to the Metaverse, accelerating Microsoft’s gaming business in mobile, PC, consoles and the cloud.
The acquisition will be in the form of a stock purchase, with Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share in an all-cash deal valuedat $68.7 billion.
The acquisition, which is expected to complete in fiscal 2023, will make Microsoft the third largest gaming company in the world after Tencent and Sony.
The acquisition enables the tech giant to own iconic franchises from Video Vision, Blizzard and King Studios such as Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Candy Crush Legends, and global esports events through Major League Baseball.
The chairman and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, said that:
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been appointed as the CTO of Microsoft, leading his team to continue steering the company’s operations until the deal closes and will then report to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.
“Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them,” said Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
With nearly 95% of the world’s gamers playing mobile games, there is a very significant opportunity in this market. Following the acquisition, there are plans to integrate Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass. It is reported that more than 25 million users worldwide have subscribed to Game Pass.
In 2020, Lition, an enterprise blockchain, was integratedinto the Microsoft Azure cloud marketplace to provide blockchain as a service (BaaS) solutions.
Following the announcement that Facebook’s parent company would be rebranding in a shift towards the Metaverse, many projects have started similar initiatives entering the virtual space, from buying property to testing the limits of what this universe has to offer.
Visit Disneyland… in the Metaverse?
The entertainment company behind some of the most popular theme parks in the world recently had a patent approved for a “virtual-world simulator in a real-world venue.” Though the Los Angeles Times reported that Disney had “no current plans” to use the simulator in the near future, the application does suggest Disneyland and Disney World guests may eventually see Metaverse attractions at one or more of the parks in the United States, Hong Kong, China, France and Japan.
The tech would work by tracking visitors using their mobile phones and generating and projecting personalized 3D effects onto nearby physical spaces, such as walls and other objects in the park. According to the patent application, Disney’s possible foray into the Metaverse could “provide users with realistic and highly immersive individualized 3D virtual experiences without requiring those users to wear an augmented reality AR viewing device.”
K-pop in the Metaverse?
On Monday, Metaverse concert organizer Animal Concerts announced it had inked a deal with South Korean unicorn Kakao’s Klaytn network as part of a plan to increase its exposure to the country’s entertainment industry. Animal Concerts CEO Colin Fitzpatrick said that “Klaytn’s major goals are NFTs and Metaverse.”
“Technical limitations prohibit how many people can actually attend a concert in the Metaverse,” said Fitzpatrick, referencing scalability issues. He aims to build a network of virtual venues across existing and new Metaverse platforms to host concerts with a variety of talent, seemingly including K-pop artists.
Second Life creator returns as project goes meta
Linden Lab, the company behind the virtual online world Second Life, announced on Thursday founder Philip Rosedale would be rejoining the project as a strategic adviser along with Metaverse team members of San Francisco-based VR company High Fidelity. According to the firm, the addition of the new and old talent would facilitate Second Life’s entry into the Metaverse.
“Virtual worlds don’t need to be dystopias,” said Rosedale. “Big Tech giving away VR headsets and building a metaverse on their ad-driven, behavior-modification platforms isn’t going to create a magical, single digital utopia for everyone.”
Launched in 2003, Second Life was one of the earliest virtual world experiences before the connectivity of modern social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Rosedale departed as the CEO of Linden Labs in 2008 before going on to found High Fidelity in 2013. His return could mark a significant milestone for incorporating new Metaverse-themed ideas into established platforms:
Philip Rosedale returning to Linden Labs (breaking news today) definitely reminds me of Steve Jobs in the 90s returning to Apple #secondlife #metaverse
— Andrew Oleksiuk (they/them) (@Andrew_Oleksiuk) January 13, 2022
The leadership at video game firm Sega Corporation’s holding company has suggested that they may avoid nonfungible tokens in play-to-earn model games based on the response from users.
In a Dec. 14 meeting of Sega Sammy Holdings’ CEO Haruki Satomi, senior executive vice president Koichi Fukazawa, and Sega Corporation President Yukio Sugino, the trio said they needed to “carefully assess” how to potentially introduce nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, into Sega titles to “mitigate the negative elements” and work within Japanese regulations. The executives cited “negative reactions” from users overseas rewarded in NFTs for gameplay.
“In terms of NFT, we would like to try out various experiments and we have already started many different studies and considerations but nothing is decided at this point regarding [play-to-earn],” said Sega. “We will consider this further if this leads to our mission ‘Constantly Creating, Forever Captivating’, but if it is perceived as simple money-making, I would like to make a decision not to proceed.”
The executives added that any rollout of NFTs in play-to-earn model games would “be better to work with partners on new technologies and domains […] rather than dealing with them in-house.” It’s unclear how the video game company intends to move forward with gauging user interest.
Related:Play-to-earn games are ushering in the next generation of platforms
The Sega Corporation is a Japan-based game developer and a subsidiary of the Sega Group Corporation, which merged with the Sammy Corporation in 2004. The company has been behind many popular games since the introduction of Sonic the Hedgehog in the 1990s — Sega’s latest title in the series, Sonic Frontiers, is scheduled to be released in 2022. In April 2021, the company announced it planned to expand into NFTs through a partnership with game developer double jump.tokyo.
Should Sega move forward with using NFTs in play-to-earn model games, it would be joining a variety of gaming companies incorporating the technology. In March 2021, France-based game publisher Ubisoft launched One Shot League, a fantasy soccer game developed in collaboration with the Ethereum-based game Sorare.