The Blankos Block Party is on.
Andreessen Horowitz-backed Mythical Games has finally launched its first game, a milestone for the fledgling gaming company which achieved unicorn status late last year after hitting a valuation of $1.25 billion, according to a statement.
The 3D multiplayer, which allows users to buy and sell non-fungible token (NFT) avatars, is the first metaverse game to land on the Epic Games Store, the company behind Fortnite. Blankos had previously been available on an early-access basis to a limited number of users, but Wednesday marked its official worldwide release.
Blankos represents a step forward for web3 games. The metaverse gaming space has yet to be populated by titles offering large-scale 3D gaming environments with complex graphics and gameplay on par with massively popular games like Fortnite, Crossfire and PUBG: Battlegrounds; platforms which boast hundreds of millions of registered users and act as online spaces where people can both play together and network.
Compared to most other metaverse games which have hit the market, like the two-dimensional web3 game Axie Infinity, with Blankos players can interact with one another through avatars operating in a 3D virtual space. Other existing web3 games like Splinterlands and Alien Worlds also lack the sophisticated gameplay which may be required to draw mainstream users unversed in web3 and NFT trading.
Early reactions to the game appeared largely positive on a Blankos Discord chatroom with more than 150,000 members although some commented on encountering some bugginess; a common occurrence when games are first launched online.
Los Angeles-based Mythical, which co-developed the game with Third Kind Games, calls Blankos a “free-to-play multiplayer party game set in a vibrant online world.” Playing Blankos users can race and spar with one another as they attempt to gain prestige. Additionally, players can earn, buy and sell playable digital assets, or NFTS.
Despite Axie Infinity’s relatively modest gameplay, its success spurred interest and investment into metaverse gaming projects. At one point, Axie not only boasted 2.7 million daily active users but was also home to more than $200 million in weekly NFT trading volumes. Though Axie Infinity’s daily active user numbers and weekly trading volumes have slid dramatically in recent months, that doesn’t appear to have scared off investors bullish on the long-term prospects of metaverse gaming.
So far this year $2.9 billion has been invested in both individual metaverse gaming projects and gaming studios (excluding virtual reality and sports-betting games) according to data compiled by The Block Research. The total investment since 2021 has hit $5.5 billion, it said.
The list of metaverse gaming investors has also become increasingly diverse over time.
Silicon Valley venture-capital firm a16z led Mythical Games most recent round of funding, worth $150 million, but the gaming company’s investors also includes illustrious names from the world of sports and entertainment, including NBA legend Michael Jordan, the National Football League’s investment arm 32 Equity, and RedBird Capital Partners, an investor in Skydance Media, the company behind the Terminator franchise.
Mythical Games co-founder and CEO John Linden has said players “spend billions of dollars on digital assets each year” but have so far been unable to unlock the value of the digital assets they acquire while playing.
Previous to Wednesday’s official launch, players granted early access to Blankos had already bought and sold more than $600,000 worth of in-game NFTs, according to the world’s largest marketplace OpenSea.
Mythical has three other web3 games scheduled for release next year including NFL Rivals, which it is creating in partnership with the football league, the company said in a statement. The company’s efforts are led by a team that includes gaming industry veterans who have contributed to the development of major franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.