In conversation with CEO Robby Yung who takes us through the company’s investment strategies, future plans and his tips for blockchain entrepreneurs.
Few companies compare to Animoca Brands when it comes to embracing the metaverse and blockchain technology. The Hong Kong-based gaming and venture capital company invested in Axie Infinity before it took off and hedged its bets on digital property rights by way of launching The Sandbox, a virtual metaverse and mobile game. No doubt, they’ve always stayed ahead of trends in the blockchain world.
At the outset, Animoca Brands has placed Hong Kong at the forefront of the metaverse revolution. But more than that, it has renewed the world’s interest in the possibilities presented by the virtual gaming world.
So, what’s the secret behind Animoca Brands’s roaring success, and how can upcoming startups emulate it? CEO Robby Yung reveals.
Partnering with the best
Animoca Brands is the world’s biggest non-fungible token (NFT) and gaming platform. And it didn’t get to that position by chance alone. Strategic investments played an important role in helping Animoca Brands cement its title. Most recently, the company acquired Eden Games, a French game developer, and Darewise Entertainment, while also announcing a partnership with Grease Monkey Games. Of these latest inclusions, Yung tells us, “These three companies are the latest additions to the Animoca Brands family. As we grow our business, we are looking to continue filling out expertise across a variety of game genres.” Eden Games and Grease Monkey Games are both experts in the area of racing games. While Eden is the architect of a mobile F1 game, Grease Monkey is behind the drifting franchise Torque Drift. On the other hand, Darewise focuses on massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and is introducing a new title dubbed Life Beyond. Though their acquisition decisions are not driven by the metaverse, the concept is “the overarching umbrella around everything we do in Web3”, Yung confesses.
Animoca Brands is currently valued at over US$5 billion. It might lead you to believe that acquisitions are a five-finger exercise for the company. You’d be wrong. This impressive roster of acquisitions is the result of rigorous research. Taking us through the behind-the-scenes of acquisition decisions, Yung expounds, “This is a difficult process, but it has to do with a combination of factors including gameplay style, market size and competition for that game type, as well the outcome of our own play-testing.” With popular gaming platforms, like Axie Infinity and Alien Worlds, under its belt, it’s safe to assume that this lowdown works—and is worth making note of for metaverse investors.
Going beyond entertainment
Yes, gaming is all fun and—for the lack of a better word—games, but it can be much more. Be it through EVIland, an education and metaverse hub, or other avenues—Animoca Brands has its eye set on education as an integral part of the platform. Yung shares, “We feel that blockchain technology will have a strong role to play in future in the education field, and so we’re actively making investments in this area.” One of their first investments is in a company called proofoflearn.io, a platform that educates people on becoming programmers in the Web3 world.
Catapulting from Hong Kong
Animoca Brands is a successful case study of a brand that parlayed its local opportunities into global domination. The company has its roots in Hong Kong, and it celebrates the same by creating dedicated cultural hubs in The Sandbox and much more. “Hong Kong is our corporate headquarters and where we began, so it’s close to our hearts,” asserts Yung. That said, he does note that they are now “very much a global company”. He feels that launching the company in Hong Kong has provided Animoca Brands with “a great platform to bridge both Asian and Western audiences with our entertainment products”.
The future of blockchain gaming
Straight from the shoulder, seeing the dynamic tech environment right now, you would be right to assume that every day, a new future of blockchain technology presents itself. That said, Yung is all about the bigger picture. According to him, the future is all about “true digital ownership”. He explains, “Once gamers experience being able to actually own their own content in games—to be able to have agency over it: to buy it, sell it [and] bring it from place to place—then I think they will only want to play in that way in future.” Ultimately, he believes that gaming will be all about the individual value it offers and allows you to create.
As for the company’s future agenda, Yung notes that they are really excited about some of their upcoming AAA titles, i.e. games that promise an extremely high quality and impressive production. These titles include Life Beyond and Phantom Galaxies, as well as the company’s partnerships in content areas, like football with One Football Labs, among other things. “We have a strong lineup of new products coming out this year, and we hope consumers love them as much as we’ve enjoyed making them,” he adds.
So, how can you start building blockchain games?
Witnessing the rise of blockchain gaming, it’s natural for entrepreneurs to want to get in on the action. If that sounds like you, Yung advises, “I think the best thing to do is jump in and play other games and learn as much as you can.” He adds that you can start by making content that will interoperate with other people’s games, so there are many ways to get yourself into the industry.
On a personal note, Yung’s favorite blockchain game is Arc8 from Gamee. “I am a casual gamer”, he asserts. “I like these types of very sticky, addictive puzzle games.” Here at Jumpstart, we’re quite fond of addictive puzzles ourselves.
Header Image by Robby Yung/Animoca Brands