Mini Royale: Nations is Solana’s first live online multiplayer game, and it has received funding from Lightspeed, FTX, and Andreessen Horowitz.
With more than $2.8 billion in NFT trading volume to date, Axie Infinity demonstrated to the world that NFT games can thrive, so it’s no surprise to see new firms make a crypto gaming play. Today, Faraway, a startup game studio, announced an investment round co-led by cryptocurrency exchange FTX and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Faraway announced today that it has raised nearly $30 million to date, including a $8 million seed round earlier this year (raised in stealth) and a new $21 million Series A round. Faraway’s investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Solana, Jump Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Pantera Capital, in addition to FTX and Lightspeed.
Alex Paley and Dennis Zdonov co-founded the company, and they, along with Chief Technical Officer Duc Nguyen, have a long history of developing “midcore” mobile games. Paley and Zdonov previously served as heads of studio at game publisher Glu Mobile before sharing the role of VP of product at Scopely, another mobile game developer.
“Midcore” games exist between the casual and hardcore genres, combining robust gameplay mechanics with streamlined interfaces and modes designed for quick-hit action in some cases. Mini Royale: Nations, Faraway’s first game, perfectly fits that description.
It’s a first-person shooter that looks and plays like a premium game, but the matches are smaller and more approachable, it’s completely free to play, and it runs entirely within a web browser. You don’t need a powerful device to get started.
— Mini Royale: Nations (@MiniNations) October 30, 2021
It’s also powered by the Solana blockchain, which allows for the use of collectible, resellable NFTs for items like weapon skins, character skins, and accessories, as well as future additions like land plots and buildings. Mini Royale: Nations will also use a governance token (which grants voting rights) and a separate utility token, giving players a sense of ownership over the community and its future development.
According to Paley, Mini Royale: Nations has already launched and is playable, with approximately 300,000 monthly active users. And the Solana-based NFT and crypto token functionality is still on the way, with Faraway aiming to launch those features in December as it tries to scale the experience to a potentially larger market.
It’s being billed as the first live multiplayer game on Solana, a blockchain network that has seen a surge in NFT and DeFi activity, with other games like Star Atlas and Aurory on the way. According to Paley, it was the only blockchain platform they discovered that was well suited to the demands of a fast-paced 3D multiplayer game like Mini Royale: Nations.
“Are we working on a real-time multiplayer, hyper-social, ultra-complex economic game?” “The only chain that could actually allow us to make that type of game was Solana,” he told ULTCOIN365. “It’s extremely fast. In terms of transaction costs, it is extremely low. The protocol has a lot of liquidity, and the ecosystem has a lot of momentum.”
Faraway was founded on the idea of developing robust, complex browser-based games, according to Amy Wu, partner at Lightspeed, and the crypto aspect entered the picture later as Axie Infinity’s success validated the NFT gaming concept. She believes that building games that run within a web browser is the best fit for NFT-centric web3 experiences, thanks in part to native crypto wallet support.
“There was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the best team creating browser games to meet Web3,” Wu told ULTCOIN365. “We really encouraged [Paley] to pursue this path, and it was the foundation for which we co-led the Series A.”
While NFTs and crypto elements may appear to be a trendy addition to a game at the moment, Paley stated that Faraway has adhered to a core mentality: people only play a game long-term if it is fun and their friends are also playing. He believes that the crypto components can only help that approach by incentivizing community building and potentially rewarding time and money invested in games.
Leading free-to-play mobile games, such as China’s Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile, can have up to 100 million daily active users. Paley believes that the sky is the limit for Mini Royale: Nations, thanks to the ease of use of the browser-based design and the addition of NFTs and crypto tokens.
“You have [players] who have never played a game in their lives playing Axie.” They’re playing it for hours a day, making a living off of it, and forming social bonds and communities around it,” he explained. “[Blockchain gaming] broadens the definition of what and who a gamer is.” I believe that once you devolve into that paradigm, you will far exceed 100 million daily active users.”