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With the success of Axie Infinity, attention from large publishers such as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, and rising anticipation for The Sandbox and other planned metaverse experiences, blockchain gaming is gaining traction. A group of key crypto industry heavyweights has now offered $100 million to help the cryptocurrency gaming sector expand.
Today, cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Solana Ventures, and VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners announced a $100 million investment initiative, which will see the three partners co-invest in studios, projects, and technology in the crypto gaming space.
Although the announcement does not say that all co-investments will be focused on Solana initiatives, Solana Ventures is solely focused on the Solana ecosystem, and FTX already has tight ties to Solana. As a result, Solana is extremely likely to be the focal point of this joint effort.
The partnership underscores Lightspeed’s conviction in Solana as a blockchain gaming platform, according to Amy Wu, a partner at the business. Solana has risen to prominence in recent months as a growing network for NFTs and DeFi protocols (i.e., those that permit peer-to-peer lending, borrowing, and trading), and its native SOL coin has soared in value as a result of the increased activity.
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Part of the reason for its gaining popularity is its benefits over the leading smart contract network EthereumEthereum, notably the capacity to process transactions quickly and for minimal costs. Lightspeed also supports Ethereum projects and believes in a multi-chain future, but Wu added that game developers are showing a lot of interest in working on Solana.
“They are the number-one network right now in terms of most blockchain gaming devs building on top of Solana over other blockchains,” Wu told Decrypt. “We’ve been talking about potential partnerships to take that to the next stage, which is doing co-investments alongside them and also FTX.”
On Thursday, the partners announced their first co-investment. The three firms contributed to Faraway’s $21 million Series A funding round, which will be used to develop web browser-based games that run on Solana. The studio, which was launched earlier this year, has so far raised over $30 million.
Faraway’s first game is an online shooter called Mini Royale: Nations, which is already live and playable with some 300,000 monthly active users. It will become Solana’s first live multiplayer game when it launches its NFT components—such as weapon and player skins—and token elements in December.
NFTs, which act as a deed of ownership to a provably rare digital asset, are generally used to fuel blockchain or crypto games. As the future metaverse expands, users will be able to buy and sell their one-of-a-kind interactive items as they wish, and possibly even use them across numerous games.
The “play-to-earn” model of Ethereum-based Axie Infinity pays players with crypto tokens that can be swapped for other cryptocurrencies. With more than $2.8 billion in trading volume to far, it is currently the largest player in the crypto gaming space, however many additional games are on the horizon, including the Solana-based Star Atlas and Aurory.