Uploand uses blockchain to verify true ownership of the game’s virtual properties, enabling a Monopoly-like game where players can buy and sell real-world properties in a virtual world. To further developer Upland, Uplandme recently closed $2 million in funding, which Finlab EOS VC Fund and several prominent angel investors led.
This game uses the EOS blockchain and non-fungible tokens to confirm whether a particular player owns a given property or not. And using the decentralized ledger technology, players can buy, trade and sell their virtual properties via an open marketplace. The game uses its own in-game tokens, but they are not based on a cryptocurrency.
Uplandme uses a what it terms as a “play to own” concept, labeling it as an evolution of the free-to-play/in-app purchase business model that enables players to have greater control of their digital goods.
The company hopes the combination of familiar gameplay and virtual real estate properties that hold an emotional connection for players will make it popular in the mainstream. The game’s business model is designed to increase engagement, improve customer lifetime value, and offer a greater value proposition to players.
“One of the problems with the current in-app purchase model is that players don’t really own or control their digital goods. They can’t sell or trade them, and those goods usually don’t live outside the games themselves,” said cofounder Dirk Luethin a statement. “We offer a greater value proposition with true ownership that has benefits for both the players and the game publishers. Giving players control of their digital goods keeps them better engaged.”
Currently in closed beta, the founders edition of the game is based on San Francisco and is set to enter open beta at the end of this year, with subsequent cities planned. Using gameplay mechanics to a classic property-trading board game, Upland removes the need for separate crypto wallets or a deep understanding of blockchain technology. Uplandme believes the intuitive play and familiar locations with which players have emotional connections are key to gaining traction with the casual game audience.
The in-game property prices scale relative to the real world, with iconic landmarks and highly coveted neighborhoods being more desirable. Players can navigate the map of S.F. using their Upland explorer, purchasing properties with fiat currency and, later, cryptocurrency. They also earn UPX coins, Upland’s in-game currency, for each property they own.
Upland recently added Collections – groups of properties such as The Mission Street Collection that result in a bigger yield for the properties included once a collection is complete. Future iterations of Upland will expand to include other cities and regions throughout the world, the possibility to erect structures on properties, and enable developers to build on the platform.
“Blockchain presents so many exciting opportunities for games, enabling entire ecosystems around unique digital goods,” said cofounder Idan Zuckerman in a statement. “We have simplified the experience, framed in a familiar context, to demonstrate the benefits of blockchain in a fun and approachable way.”
Players start the game as visitors with a temporary Upland-owned EOS account. Then, as they accumulate UPX and properties, they become Uplanders with a dedicated, private EOS account. Upland’s play-to-own model is outlined in greater detail in a new whitepaper available on the company’s website. Upland is currently browser-based, with iOS and Android apps in the works.
Silicon Valley-based Uplandme was founded in 2018 by serial entrepreneurs Dirk Lueth, Mani Honigstein, and Idan Zuckerman. It has 15 employees.
You can use a custom code “venturebeat” to get into the beta. The first 1,000 people to use the code can get in, but the code expires on November 30. Rivals include Decentraland and Landlord.
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