Twitch co-founder Justin Kan’s Fractal has raised $35 million to build its gaming non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace.
San Francisco-based Fractal has opened up a marketplace for gamers to discover, buy and sell NFT games. Fractal recently released the Fractal Launchpad, a new product that helps game companies sell their NFT starter collections to the public.
Paradigm and Multicoin Capital led the round with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Solana Labs, Animoca, Coinbase, Play Ventures, Position Ventures, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Crossover, Shrug Capital, TerraForm CEO Do Kwon, and Tim ferriss.
Paradigm’s Matt Huang will join the company’s board of directors. This round of funding comes two months after Fractal was released to the public on December 30, 2021. The new funding will be used to hire more engineers, recruit and support game developers, and grow a vibrant ecosystem of GameFi participants. .
Fractal examines the quality of 3 web games and accepts only 5% of applications for the Fractal Launchpad, Kan said. Games that have been released on the Fractal launchpad include real-time strategy games (House of Sparta), multi-mode games (Tiny Colony), racing games (Yaku), and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (Cinder and Nekoverse).
“I wanted to partner with the best games out there,” Kan said. “We are building great experiences.”
One of the reasons to be selective is that NFTs have met with a lot of resistance from some players and game developers. Ubisoft found this out when fans reacted badly in December to their NFTs for Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, and others like Troy Baker, Team17, GSC Game World, and more met with resistance.
Fractal also suffered a security breach in December. A scammer hacked into the startup’s Discord community announcement bot, which then sent out a fraudulent link to thousands of users. He asked them to pay for a new NFT. Fractal had to pay $150,000 to cover the losses. The world of cryptocurrency can be a scary place, as Sky Mavis found out this week when hackers stole $624 million worth of Ethereum cryptocurrency and US dollars from the Ronin Network that backs the popular game Axie Infinity.
Part of the key is communicating with players, and Fractal has done this with its Discord community, Kan said.
“While the NFT world is rife with scams and rug-pulling, our goal is to make Fractal the trusted marketplace for the best blockchain games and triple-A titles coming out,” Kan said. “What we’ve learned is that the best game companies want to be in a market dedicated to meeting their needs.”
The market opened in February. Every game that has released with Fractal has sold out its NFT collection, with Tiny Colony raking in over $2 million from its initial sale. Peak traffic reached more than 33,000 buyers for a single-game NFT collection launch, Kan said. The community has more than 100,000 members.
Kan said that the unwanted carpet for NFTs is like the reaction to free games 15 years ago. Games like FarmVille really upset hardcore gamers, who denounced the games as scams with poor gameplay.
“Fifteen years later, we have League of Legends, Free Fire, Fortnite. Almost all the great games are free,” Kan said. “That is a dominant model because it turns out that the players will pay. With blockchain, people say the same things. Is a gotcha. Games suck. But we haven’t had time to bring really good games to market. Behind the scenes, there are all these guys from the traditional gaming industry who come in and make really amazing games.”
He said that 10 years from now, we will see blockchain gaming as a better model for gaming.
“The reason I think it’s going to win is that it’s better for both the game and the game developer and the players. And for the game developer, the reason is when you’re basically doing an economy from a closed economy to an open economy. And when you create an open economy, I think it will prove to be much more robust,” Kan said. “The more people build on top of it, you know, with other people building games on top of your entities, the better it gets.”
And he thinks user-generated content creators will come if they have a stake in the game through things like NFTs.
“For game companies, there is a sacrifice of control in exchange for creating an open ecosystem that is ultimately much more robust in the long run and then they will cash out. They will get a percentage of all these NFT trades. That is potentially much more valuable to them,” Kan said. “Then on the player side, I think it’s more valuable because you own your assets. And you’ll have, when you’re done, the ability to trade them. You can sell them instead of just buying them.”
Players will be more excited once they see that they own them, he said. It’s like using skis to ski any mountain, rather than renting them for use on just one mountain, he said. As for the games being terrible, he said that players should give it time and experiment a bit.
“Fractal is building a layer of trust in the web 3 gaming ecosystem,” Kan said. “NFT markets are still the wild west right now, with many teams not delivering on their promises. We are working with the best triple A game studios with great communities to bring the best gaming experiences to players. The transition to blockchain assets is a new business model for gaming, and in 10 years there will be an even bigger change in the gaming world than Twitch ever was. Fractal hopes to onboard the next 100 million cryptocurrency users through blockchain play.”
The sale of in-game digital assets has become a huge industry in recent years, as blockbusters like FIFA and Fortnite have raked in tens of billions from the sale of digital items. Today, more games are moving to list their virtual items on public blockchains, giving players full control over those assets and allowing them to own and resell them later. Gaming NFTs are the fastest growing NFT category and recently surpassed 1 million active crypto wallets with gaming NFTs last month. Blockchain games generated over $5 billion in sales in 2021.
“Game companies want to be listed in a marketplace that is focused on and supportive of the gaming community,” Bill Karamouzis, CEO of Addicting Games, the game studio behind blockchain game ev.io, said in a statement. “The Fractal team has been a great partner to us as we move towards our initial release.”
That’s a bit of payback, as Kan said he can remember times when he was addicted to Addicting Games.
Getting Off The Ground
The seed funding comes two months after the company came out of stealth in December and one month after it was launched to the public. Games wishing to list their NFTs on Fractal can now apply via the company’s website. Goat Capital previously led Fractal’s seed round in January.
“We are in the midst of a generational shift in gaming, powered by cryptography, where gamers expect a greater degree of ownership and control of their digital items,” Huang, co-founder and managing partner of Paradigm, said in a statement. “Justin and the Fractal team understand this change better than anyone and we are excited to invest in his vision to better serve players.”
The seed for Fractal emerged from a brainstorming session with Kan co-founders David Wurtz (CEO of Fractal) and Robin Chan.
“We were all loaded with crypto and looking for opportunities to build,” Kan said. “David was excited about NFTs and the ways in which that value would evolve as NFTs continued to gain utility. For us, the obvious next step was to play – as a player, I had already been spending real money on digital assets for years. Putting them on a blockchain to certify real ownership was clearly going to happen.”
“The Fractal team is supporting games that are creating truly open and decentralized economies,” said Mable Jiang, partner at Multicoin Capital. “Just as free-to-play games launched a new business model for gaming over a decade ago, we believe that blockchain will enable a paradigm shift towards gaming models of the future.”
Kan said it’s better for game studios because, as game studios will discover, when they make their economies and assets open and programmable by putting them on the blockchain, they will create ecosystems that other people are much more willing to invest in. with your time and money. money.
He said we’ll see the biggest games become open economies that support other developers building businesses on top of it. Kan predicted that the business model of minting digital assets, building a massive ecosystem, and receiving a royalty on those assets as they are traded, will prove to be a very lucrative business model in the coming years.
“It is better for game players, as actual ownership of digital assets on a blockchain will allow gamers to participate in the success of the game, as well as make the decision to trade a game’s assets if they want to move to something. more,” Kan said.
Kan’s company has about a dozen people and plans to hire more.
The Fractal Market is like a secondary market where players can sell things they have bought in the games. But Fractal Launchpad is a place where people can buy NFTs for the first time. The launchpad helps big game companies to mint their initial NFT releases.
“We do that for them, full stack,” Kan said.
Fractal is now working with the Solana blockchain, which has low transaction costs, low environmental costs, and high transaction speeds. Kan wants the games that are released to be great gaming experiences.
“We are using the money to continue to build the team and do marketing for our gaming partners,” Kan said. “We’re trying to help them have the biggest impact possible or the biggest audience possible.”