• Animoca, a Hong Kong blockchain game developer, has been valued at $2.2 billion in the midst of the NFT craze

  • Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based blockchain game developer and investor in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has raised $2.2 billion in new funding from investors such as France’s Ubisoft Entertainment and Sequoia China.

    Animoca announced on Wednesday that it had raised $65 million in its most recent funding round, which included Liberty City Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, and Jack Ma’s protégé Justin Sun, the founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron, among others. Animoca had previously raised $88.9 million in a funding round in May, elevating the seven-year-old company to unicorn status.

    The company rose to prominence through its play-to-earn blockchain games, which allow players to collect and trade NFTs on its platforms. An NFT is a blockchain-stored digital asset that determines the ownership of objects such as art, music, videos, or in-game items. The Sandbox, which is similar to the world-building video game Minecraft, is one of Animoca’s most popular titles. The Sandbox allows players to create and monetize in-game assets such as lands, wearables, and equipment.

    Animoca intends to use the new funds to fund strategic investments, acquisitions, product development, and intellectual property licenses. “The future is already here,” said Yat Siu, cofounder and chairman of Animoca. “Animoca Brands will continue to advance blockchain in gaming—and beyond—to introduce billions of gamers and internet users to true digital ownership,” says the company’s new strategic investors.

    The company’s most recent funding round highlights the rapidly growing popularity of NFTs. According to an industry report published by DappRadar, trading volume for tokens increased by 704 percent in the third quarter to $10.7 billion. Billionaire Elon Musk recently joined the bandwagon by selling a song as an NFT, and celebrities and athletes like Lindsay Lohan and Lionel Messi have begun to launch their own NFT collections. However, the hot market has attracted skeptics who claim that the nascent market is already looking frothy.

    Animoca began as a spinoff in 2014, developing games for smartphones and tablets, some of which were based on cartoon characters such as Garfield and Doraemon. In 2017, the company made its first foray into blockchain games, and since then it has released several hits, including a play-to-earn racing game licensed by Formula 1.

    Animoca has also made investments in blockchain firms focused on NFT-related businesses. According to DappRadar, its portfolio includes Dapper Labs, the company behind the pioneering blockchain game CryptoKitties, Sky Mavis, the creator of the global sensation Axie Infinity, and OpenSea, the largest marketplace for NFTs.

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