M&A strategy and our vigorous investment into the open metaverse ecosystem.
GamesBeat: How many employees are there now at Animoca?Siu: We have around 600 employees at Animoca Brands and our subsidiaries.
GamesBeat: Do you have any concern about some of the resistance we’ve seen from hardcore gamers toward NFTs in in games?
Siu: No, because the strong negative reaction we’ve seen is not indicative of all gamers. There are an estimated 3.2 billion people who play games, and even if NFTs appeal only to 10% to begin with, that’s still 320 million people.
One of the major reasons that many hardcore traditional gamers are currently resistant to NFTs is the past behavior of many game companies, who have squeezed as much value as possible from their most passionate user bases.
Some of the company’s major blockchain game projects include The Sandbox and its associated utility token SAND, the upcoming Phantom Galaxies triple-A blockchain third-person shooter, the REVV token ecosystem (REVV Racing, F1 Delta Time, MotoGPfIgnition, and Formula E: High Voltage), the Arc8 platform and its Gamee utility token.
In addition to its product development and publishing businesses, Animoca Brands is an active investor in more than 150 of the world’s most meaningful NFT and metaverse-related companies, including OpenSea, Dapper Labs, Yield Guild Games, Star Atlas, Axie Infinity, Thetan Arena, and many others.
“The trailblazing Animoca Brands is demonstrating to the world the game-changing characteristics of Web3 and the open metaverse,” said Murtaza Akbar, managing partner at Liberty City Ventures, in a statement.
Liberty City Ventures led this round of funding. Additional investments came from
Soros Fund Management, Winklevoss Capital, and Sequoia Capital China.
“The new capital will be used to continue funding strategic acquisitions and investments, product development, and licenses for popular intellectual properties.
In addition, the several new and notable investors we have brought on board represent a powerful expansion of our partnerships and alliances,”
said the co-founder of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu.
Animoca brand is a developer of video games that utilize non-fungible tokens.
We believe we are still at the initial stages of a new Internet revolution, and there are tremendous opportunities ahead of us in 2022 and beyond.”
The global video game market generated an estimated $180.3 billion in 2021, according to market researcher Newzoo. Meanwhile, market researcher Emergen Research estimated that the metaverse market size is expected to grow to around $829 billion by 2028.
During the course of 2021, Animoca Brands raised $216.28 million to power its vision of digital property rights and the open metaverse, while its subsidiary The Sandbox completed a capital raise of $93 million in November.
Animoca Brands and subsidiaries offer a broad portfolio of game products, both centralized and decentralized, branded and original, with coverage across most primary platforms including mobile devices, game consoles, PC, web, and blockchain.
It’s a big leap from the $2.2 billion valuation the company was assigned in October when it raised a $65 million round. The number is even more notable considering that Animoca was valued at $1 billion in a $138 million round that closed as recently as July.
According to Crunchbase data, the company has now raised an estimated $604 million.
According to a spokesperson for the firm, the capital raise involved the issue of 111,173,515 new shares, which investors bought from Animoca Brands at the equivalent of $3.24 per share in a “pretty standard equity-based raise.” It’s worth noting, given that Animoca — which previously traded on the Australian Securities Exchange and was delisted in early 2020 because “it didn’t like the fact that we were dealing with crypto,” Animoca founder Yat Siu recently told us — now operates as an unlisted public company.
Others represents stakes that Animoca has taken in other companies, including Dapper Labs; Sky Mavis, the developer of global sensation “Axie Infinity;” and the NFT trading platform OpenSea.
According to Siu, those various holdings were worth around $16 billion as of late November, though their value remains theoretical for now given that Animoca has not tried exiting from those positions. “They would be really what you describe as balance sheet items; they basically just accrue to the value of the equity of Animoca Brands,” he explained.
Unsurprisingly, Animoca is continuing to invest actively.
In 2021 we saw tremendous growth in this space and Animoca Brands has been one of the forefront leaders in the development of this industry.”
One of Animoca’s metaverse game projects, The Sandbox, allows players to purchase virtual land in a 3D virtual world as an NFT. This means that players can personally own their plot of land in the game and earn cryptocurrency from their activity in the game. The land in the game can go for considerable prices, especially because celebrities have been buying up virtual land and, according to Rolling Stone, one person paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dog’s neighbor.
In 2021, NFT markets and game platforms attracted a great deal of venture capital interest, especially GameFi.
One of the biggest rounds went to Forte, a blockchain technology infrastructure platform provider for game companies, which raised $725 million in November.
Expensive game titles, rapacious in-app purchases, costly skins, pay-to-win offerings, and the like – often all at once.
It’s therefore no surprise gamers are wary of NFTs, because they think that it’s just another exploitation strategy. In the wrong hands that could be the case, of course, but what gamers don’t yet fully grasp is that NFTs also represent a potential paradigm shift that is very much to THEIR advantage: the transition from a feudalistic operator-owned system to one where individual users finally enjoy digital property rights.
Consider how we approached this issue in our games REVV Racing and Phantom Galaxies: the several thousand NFTs we dropped were completely free. More than 90% of users who joined our games became first-time NFT holders whose first experience was to earn something simply by participating, and which was worth real money.
According to Animoca Brands, the newly raised capital will be used for continued strategic acquisitions and investments, as well as product development, and intellectual property licenses.
The company said that it aims to continue its work to “build the open metaverse,” adding that this will be done by bringing digital property rights to users through blockchain technology and NFTs. This opens up possibilities for decentralized finance (DeFi) and GameFi (gaming + DeFi), asset interoperability, and “an open framework that can lead to greater equitability for all participants,” the firm wrote.
This capital raise comes after the firm last year raised a total of USD 216.28m from investors, the announcement said.
“In 2021 we saw tremendous growth in this space and Animoca Brands has been one of the forefront leaders in the development of this industry.
Animoca Brands is championing a more decentralized, open, fairer, and more inclusive future where everyone can truly own their digital goods and benefit from them accordingly. We are extremely proud to be working with Yat and his world-class team to build the future of asset ownership and management.”
The funding comes off other big blockchain gaming financing, including Forte’s raise of $725 million. Concept Art House raised $25 million and Galaxy Interactive raised a $325 million fund to invest in blockchain games.
Bitkraft raised a $75 million token fund. Sky Mavis raised $152 million, Dapper Labs raised $250 million, Mythical raised $75 million, and biggest of all Sorare raised $680 million.
According to BGA member BlockchainGamer.biz, an estimated $4 billion has been invested in blockchain gaming in the year 2021.
It also publishes licensed racing gameF1 Delta Time, among other crypto game projects.
Animoca invests exclusively in projects that are building towards an open, interoperable metaverse, in which NFT assets can be used across various immersive platforms. An NFT is a type of token that essentially functions as a receipt of ownership over digital items on the internet, including art, music, and video game assets.
Founder and Executive Chairman Yat SiutoldDecryptin Octoberthat he views tech giants like Facebook and Tencent—both of which aremaking moves around the metaverse—as a potential “threat” to the open future that many crypto startups are building towards. He believes that such centralized firms may not be building with the same kind of cross-platform, interoperable ethos.
“We’re kind of in a hurry to make this happen,” said Siu of investing in open metaverse startups.