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Blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands said it has agreed to acquire 70% of Darewise Entertainment, the indie game company that is making the metaverse-like blockchain online game Life Beyond.

The deal shows Animoca Brands is serious about acquiring high-quality games that can help show that blockchain games can mix well with triple-A content. The deal comes just days after Animoca Brands bought racing game developer Eden Games.

Paris-based Darewise was founded by veterans of companies like Ubisoft, and it is making a blockchain-based massively multiplayer online game called Life Beyond.

“It has been going for some time, but it’s very exciting that it’s finally happening,” said Benjamin Charbit, CEO of Darewise, in an interview with GamesBeat. “At the core, what we have been developing since the beginning was a great fit for decentralized technology because we wanted to run a real-money economy. Back in the beginning, we thought that blockchain was maybe too hardcore to and not developed enough. And then we started changing our mind at the end of the first half of 2021.”

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Darewise’s team has made games such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Dying Light 2, Black & White, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and the Fable series. Charbit, a former Ubisoft game director, started the company with Samuel Kahn, former Crytek tech lead. They will both continue to operate the company after the acquisition.

Common ground

The environment of Life Beyond.

The collaboration between Animoca Brands and Darewise Entertainment will facilitate planned growth, accelerate game development, and combine expert triple-A video game development with blockchain integration, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and play-and-earn capabilities, said Charbit.

“What was really fascinating was their humility. And, and for us, it was very important. We were excited about the technology, but at the same time we are very careful and realistic about where it is,” Charbit said. “I’ve met a lot of fanatics and they were all very annoying. And and when I started my conversation with Animoca, they were very different. They were extremely realistic and aware of the state of the technology. They were not disputing most of the critics. They were trying to address them. Andthat built a great sense of trust for us.”

Animoca Brands will assist Darewise Entertainment to fast-track development and publishing in the web 3 space. Animoca Brands raised $358.8 million at a $5 billion valuation in January on the strength of its blockchain portfolio. Animoca Brands has made 170 investments in blockchain game companies.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said in a statement, “Bringing on board Darewise Entertainment is incredibly exciting. Its game Life Beyond is an MMORPG of great beauty and scale that will be a strong addition to the open metaverse. Benjamin and Samuel have built a world-class team that is creating a play-and-earn game universe that is intricate, sophisticated, and deeply engaging.”

(Siu will be a speaker at our GamesBeat Summit 2022 event on April 26 to April 28.)

Darewise Entertainment’s first game, Life Beyond, is currently in development. It is a fast-paced and ever-evolving modern persistent massively multiplayer online game set on Dolos, an alien world where players will create and foster a new society in which social behaviors and technology will determine success.

How the game will work

Alien architecture in Life Beyond.

Life Beyond will be free-to-play (F2P) and will have a low barrier of entry; a series of free drops of the NFTs required to play the game will be announced soon. Initially, the game will be available on PC.

Powered by Web3 and blockchain technologies, Life Beyond hopes to pioneer the emerging genre of the play-and-earn MMO. Its guiding principles are the true ownership of digital assets, a player-driven social in-game economy, and decentralized governance.

Initially, user governance in Life Beyond will be enabled by gameplay-based tools, and later upgraded to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) when the unique token of the game is made available.

The game experience of Life Beyond will revolve around the three main pillars of Pioneering, Settling, and Politics.

In Pioneering, players will explore the mysteries of the magnificent landscape and engage in combat. The can tame ancient nanotech corrupting the world, collect resources and ancient tech, cleanse ancient ruins in order to conquer regions.

With Settling, players can transform conquered regions into lands to be settled by players. They can Build housing and provide leisure and economic activities for the populace. They can trade resources and goods, blueprints, and tech to support a new civilization of pioneers. And they can deal with thieves and criminals and organize town defenses against attacks from nano enemies.

And with Politics, players can define and enact the rules of the society. They can choose whether to pursue personal wealth and control of a neighborhood, or develop a more democratic organization. They can hold elections, organize the market, impose taxes, regulate the economy, define policies, and deploy police forces to maintain order.

They can also convince other towns to follow one model or fight against them to impose supremacy. Life Beyond will empower players to make decisions both on an individual level via their own play choices as well as collectively by making critical decisions on the future direction of the game. The society of Life Beyond will evolve according to the choices, user generated creations, and behaviors of its players.

“We are incredibly proud to join Animoca Brands and add our triple-A games experience to the company that has been so instrumental in the development of Web3 gaming,” Charbit said. “Since late 2017, we’ve firmly believed that virtual existence will become at least as important as the physical one. Over time it became obvious that we’re a Web3 company at our core and that blockchain offers the means to achieve our vision. It took visionary entrepreneurs like Yat to leap ahead and build such an impressive ecosystem, paving the way for everyone else.”

He said that as his team watched Animoca Brands set out the blueprint of the open metaverse with projects like The Sandbox, REVV, Phantom Galaxies, they knew that they would benefit enormously from its web 3 expertise and
network.

The road ahead

A cantina in Life Beyond.

Darewise will be dropping its first free NFTs that players will use to player with the game by the end of the month.

“It is an asset that an item that gives you some privileges in this world,” he said.

The company will also publish its white paper describing its plan and roadmap for blockchain technology. Darewise has 100 people now and the company wants to hire a lot more and expand its footprint in Europe.

Why Charbit trusts the blockchain

Charbit believes that digital ownership will create better trust between game companies and players, as it will be clear who owns what. After a players buys an NFT, they can understand its scarcity level and verify the ownership.

“When I started to dig into the technology, and understand two pieces of blockchain, which are programmability and composability, of the smart contract,” he said. “And this is to me, it’s like I discovered a new world. As a game developer, programmability means that these you can start creating these assets with some code inside. Your NFT is a smart contract. You can program the NFT so that it behaves this way.”

Composability is the idea that a smart contract can be a contract of another contract. So you can call another contract. And again, because it’s a program, so you can embed things within it, Charbit said. And Charbit wanted to enable players to become entrepreneurs in the game and start their own ventures.

You could, for instance, start a rental car service inside a game. The player can create a contract that the car is available to rent and someone else can rent it. You could program a car to transfer ownership to a player for a certain amount of time and then when the contract expires, the ownership reverts to the original owner. That kind of transaction in a game could happen quite easily without a lot of effort because of the smart contracts, Charbit said.

“It can lead to so many levels of experience truly create a free market economy, which is what I’ve been chasing for so long since I’ve been a developer,” Charbit said. “How can we make create economies where supply can meet demand?”

Charbit said the game will have an alpha test in the summer. The team is thinking about how players can make a profit, enjoy liquidity, and get utility out of what they’re buying.

“The whole beauty of the blockchain and web three today is that it is easier to better distribute the value created among all the stakeholders,” he said. “If you’re famous and you go to a nightclub, shouldn’t you be rewarded for the value you bring to the venue?”

Charbit said he studied the impact that blockchain would make on energy usage and the allegations of scams and he came around to understand how to use the technology properly without having any bad impacts. He sees a need to educate players in a community so they can understand the opportunities behind the tech.

Charbit said he believes Siu at Animoca Brands is a visionary who patiently explains the reality and promise of blockchain technology.

“I’ve seen the movie already. I was there at the beginning of free to play. I was among the architect of this whole thing, the free to play strategy at Ubisoft,” Charbit said. “When people were throwing tomatoes at us, [his cofounder Vincent, then at Ubisoft] told me we were trying to evangelize them because it was really received with the same kind of skepticism or even sometimes anger. And today, some of the games are among the biggest free to play games. So I’m not too concerned. We’ll get there. What matters at the end of the day is still really big games. We need to have good games, regardless of what they’re doing with blockchain or not.”

When those good games launch, players won’t care if they use blockchain technology or not, he said.

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