To date, the Sacramento, California-based company has raised $25 million in seed funding and it has said it is working on a game called Legions & Legends.
Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the investment from its $600 million fund for game investments. And other investors were NFX, Coinbase Ventures, Play Ventures, and Franklin Templeton.
“We believe that the unique ownership and economic models Web3 provides will revolutionize how people play online games,” Arianna Simpson, partner at A16z, said in a blog post.
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The funding shows that even in the downturn that high-quality game companies can still raise funds for blockchain games. Last year, blockchain games accounted for half of all funding for game companies. But since the cryptocurrency downturn and the collapse of FTX, NFT games have have had a tougher road.
The company is run by Mark Otero, who previous led the development of Electronic Arts’ smash mobile game hit Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes while he was at Capital Games. That game has generated more than $1 billion to date, based on EA data in 2021.
In an earlier interview with GamesBeat, Otero said Azra Games is on a mission to create deep, immersive game universes, with a specialized in-game economy and virtual collectibles, powered by Web3 technology such as NFTs.
Otero is working with fellow entrepreneurs Sonny Mayugba and Travis Boudreaux. The company has also hired veterans from Capital Games.
After leaving Capital Games some time ago, Otero took a break from gaming. Then he started trying to do some programming on the blockchain, and he felt like he had an “aha moment” as he fell in love with the concept of gamers being able to own the game assets that they purchased. Normally, players essentially rent the things they buy, and if the publisher ever shuts down, the players lose their whole investment. With NFTs, Otero felt like players could authenticate their unique items and truly own them.
Otero, who grew up in South Korea playing Dungeons & Dragons and then eventually immigrated with his family to Sacramento, said he will enjoy being a Dungeon Master again.
While there is a lot of skepticism about blockchain games, Otero said in our earlier interview he hopes the team’s credibility will help it succeed with the NFT-based game. That is why the company started its funding with credible game VCs rather than an NFT token sale.
Otero said he has his own philosophy of fun and how to build great games. He noted some of the NFT game entrepreneurs have never built games before.
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