Billion-dollar crypto VC says DeFi-style tokens and fun could boost gaming

Quick Take

  • Framework Ventures announced last year it would invest about $200 million in crypto gaming.
  • Video game titles that deliver not only fun but also frictionless onboarding, token value and multi-platform ecosystems will likely be the projects that eventually succeed. 

Since early last year when Framework Ventures said it had “earmarked” about $200 million for blockchain gaming, the funding of crypto-enabled video games has experienced a slowdown. But that could all quickly change if developers can figure out how to unlock token potential, reduce friction and go multiplatform, according to the firm’s co-founder and partner Michael Anderson.

Asked to outline what the blockchain gaming space needs to do in order to turn the corner, Anderson echoed a similar refrain: make games that are “actually fun to play."

“Most of the crypto games that are live today are not games that people would put hours into without a financial incentive,” Anderson told The Block. "That's a major problem if the space wants to onboard new users."

Although fun trumps the pull of making a buck when it comes to convincing gamers to play blockchain-powered games, that doesn’t mean the crypto component can’t prove valuable. Anderson suggested that with some exciting titles set to go live in the coming months, the games that stand out will likely “take a page from DeFi” and “rely on token models that accrue value generated by their ecosystems.”

Easing wallet setup

If gamers do attain digital assets which have value, they’ll want to store them in a safe place, and that should be made easier, said Anderson, adding that he’s witnessed some experimentation that suggests gaming developers are closer to streamlining the process of gamer signup.

“It's imperative for the gaming space to overcome the … difficulty in converting normal users into web3 users without overburdening them with a cumbersome wallet setup,” he said. “We’re already seeing some games play around with pre-funded wallets or temporarily paying or subsidizing gas on behalf of the users and we’re confident that a solution will be found eventually.”

While Anderson stopped short of mentioning any specific titles he feels have performed well thus far, he pointed to efforts by gaming companies to create multi-platform universes. 

“One of the dominant trends that we’re seeing is the concept of studios creating ecosystems and universes in which live multiple different games that differ in platform, gameplay, and even difficulty,” he said. “With this model, web3 game studios can make inroads across mobile and mainstream gaming audiences.”

Apple and Google inroads

The push to distribute web3 games on iOS and Android mobile devices has gained steam recently as Apple and Google soften their restrictions as they relate to blockchain-powered games. Those have been “powerful signals for the future of mobile in this space,” according to Anderson.

Framework announced in April of last year it had raised $400 million for its third crypto fund, bringing the firm’s total assets under management to $1.4 billion. At the time it said it would commit about half of the new round, around $200 million, to gaming. The venture firm has made investments in gaming projects like InfiniGods and Dynasty Studios.

Compared to 2022, web3 venture funding across the board is down significantly this year, falling by 80% in the first quarter, according to K33 Research.

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