Carbon Based Lifeforms, a new studio, founded and led by Scottish author and futurist Theo Priestley, has secured $1.7 million in funding, led by Shima Capital and Cluster VC, to begin work on its first title, the blockchain-based MMO Project Gateway.
If the game rings a bell, it’s because Theo first conceived Project Gateway and attempted to find support for it back in 2017. However, in those days, the game’s use of blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were still not accepted as viable by funders or publishers.
While the game will feature elements familiar to players of other popular MMOs, such as World of Warcraft and Eve Online, Project Gateway will actually reward players for their time and engagement with the game.
To do this, Gateway will feature a player-driven, NFT asset-based economy underpinned by Bitcoin. Led by two economists at the studio, the game’s market economy means players can derive real-world value from items they create and upgrade.
The benefit of this is that players can craft new in-game assets and give them real-world value as an NFT, then sell them to other players to use in-game using Bitcoin.
“The in-game economy we’re designing is a fully open economy that is largely player-driven and player owned. In a way, it mirrors real world markets,” Priestley told Scottish digital technology channel, DIGIT.
“For example, says Priestley, “a player may trade base resources and materials in the game, or mine and gather them from asteroids, then by using the crafting system create an entirely new asset (like a ship module, weapon, defensive component, etc.) which they can either use themselves, sell directly to another player, or create a type of blueprint for mass production by a player corporation.”
A Whole New World
When Priestley originially conceived of Project Gateway, back in 2017, the concept of a play-to-earn MMO did not fully exist, and early development began amidst a backdrop of initial coin offerings (ICOs) cryptocurrencies which were in some cases, used to fund new games.
Despite this, Priestley took the decision to avoid jumping on the ICO bandwagon, and the project was shelved in early 2019.
“It was something that we resisted moving forward, because we could already see where the trend was going to lead. And we were right. Many of those projects failed, or simply vanished with the money,” says Theo.
“Our game design and IP centred around a real working, player-driven economy that was underpinned by blockchain. At the time, NFTs were not even considered as part of the video game industry, and as a result traditional investors couldn’t see why this was needed at all.”
In 2021 the global games market looks very different. Over the last 18-months, global interest in and funding for NFT-based games has skyrocketed and the maturation of the cryptocurrency landscape means the Gateway concept is a serious proposition for investors.
Funding The Future
According to Priestley, the recent investment – led by Shima Capital and Cluster VC – underlines the potential of the project and the future of play-to-earn gaming.
“The fund is an affirmation that a vision I had four years ago was ahead of time, and the market is now ready. With large AAA studios now announcing their intention to explore this new genre, I’m confident that our team can stand alongside and lead the industry and gamer communities towards this new future.
“The funding will be used to hire and resource the studio, build the gamer community and work with co-development partners to build early slices of gameplay. This will enable the studio to secure a larger funding round to support full development.
“We’ll be revealing the game itself in January along with a wallet and NFT marketplace via our partner, Zebedee. That will give players early access to in-game assets and starter packs.”
According to Priestley, the long-term, ambition for Project Gateway is to create a universe that will “sit within the much larger Metaverse. We believe that every online game will eventually become a piece of the whole and start to adopt the various components that are required as standard.”
We’re excited to launch the studio in Scotland and show that we can push the industry forward towards the future of video games using well thought out blockchain and NFT items that aren’t tied to just collectables.
Online player economies fit the play-to-earn model perfectly, not only introducing new gameplay mechanics that reward players for crafted assets but also new studio revenue models and partnership opportunities that will move the industry beyond the tired and much-maligned monthly subscriptions or microtransactions.Theo Priestley, founder and CEO, Carbon Based Lifeforms
Carbon Based Lifeforms
You can find out more about the studio behind Project Gateway, follow development of the game and read more from the team on the Carbon Based Lifeforms website. You can also follow them on LinkedIn, or Twitter.