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Mighty Bear Games has raised $10 million through a token sale to launch a blockchain game division and make its Mighty Action Heroes Web3 game.
The Singapore-based company wants to develop a series of immersive triple-A Web3 games that are “novel, fair and thoughtful,” said Mighty Bear Games CEO Simon Davis, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Framework Ventures led the round in the in-game token sale, which included additional investment from Mirana, Sfermion, Spartan, Dune Ventures, Sanctor Capital, Folius Ventures, Polygon, Play Future Fund, Everblue, Ancient8, Ready Player DAO, Razer, Avocado DAO, DWeb3, Great South Gate, mrblock and more.
Davis also said that the company is launching its first Web3 game, Mighty Action Heroes, later this year. The game is a multiplayer third-person battle royale that puts an emphasis on fun, skill, and chaos.
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Founded in 2016 (from the ashes of Nonstop Games) by a diverse group of industry veterans with experience at the likes of King, Ubisoft, Lucasarts, Disney and Gameloft, Mighty Bear Games has a proven track record of developing highly engaging games that appeal to universal audiences. The team has released five games in the past four years.
The raise follows an impressive period of growth for the studio, which has rapidly established itself as a partner of choice for the world’s leading IPs and platform owners, with immersive, multi-platform games such as Butter Royale and Disney Melee Mania — both for Apple Arcade — under its belt.
The new game
Davis said the company was happy with how Butter Royale and Disney Melee Mania turned out on Apple Arcade. Mighty Bear Games isn’t working with Disney or Apple on this game.
“But I think for us, it was the sheer scale of the opportunity that presented itself with this platform shift,” he said. “What excites me most as a creator is that the audience for Web3 games is a lot more diverse than triple-A. There are people in Latin America, India, Indonesia — it’s a very global audience. That’s really cool.”
The battle royale game will probably have 60 players going head-to-head, with a browser-based version of the game coming first and mobile versions coming after that. It will be a multiplatform title. As for the game, Davis said it has dynamic gameplay and it will have a focus on esports gaming.
“We’ll be looking to bring the game to as many, many players as possible,” Davis said. “Our goal is to create the world’s first Web3 sport, which is a big ambitious goal. It’s one that I’m very excited to try and tackle because someone’s going to crack that eventually.”
Pivoting to Web3
“Being based in Southeast Asia, we were looking very closely at what was happening in gaming last year,” Davis said. “The Philippines and Vietnam are not far away. Indonesia is on our doorstep. And so we were ahead of the curve with casual multiplayer for mobile gaming. Back in 2016 and 2017, we developed a whole thesis around this, which turned out to be right. But it’s a very, very tough space.”
Then the company saw the rise of blockchain gaming coming as early as 2017.
“We saw what was happening within the region, as it exploded in the Philippines,” he said. “And we realized this is probably the next big platform shift. I know that there’s still a lot happening. But I’ve been in games a long time. And this reminds me actually a lot of 2008 and 2009, when I started making free-to-play games.”
Back then, he had come from console games and there was a lot of hostility toward free-to-play mobile games from console developers, Davis said.
“It’s a cycle repeating. But I think it’s a really fascinating opportunity. And I think our location and our experience, creating basically taking very complex experiences and bringing them to a more mainstream audience, actually put us in a a really good state,” Davis said. “I’m really excited about what we’re building.”
Back then, developers failed to appreciate how mobile games were different, Davis said, and he said the same thing is happening today.
“It’s a bit like comparing an arthouse film to like a big Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s for very different audiences,” he said. “They have a different structure and way of working.”
“At Mighty Bear, we believe first and foremost, in games being fun. Web3 is already here, but in many ways, its games are lagging behind — lacking the imaginative gameplay and polish the wider gaming community has come to expect,” said Davis. “Many existing blockchain games feel like work, with players grinding away at often dull and unrewarding gameplay in exchange for financial gain, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Resistance to NFTs
Davis agrees that players have been underwhelmed with games with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which use the blockchain to authenticate unique digital items. Players view the games as gimmicky or scammy, and Davis hopes Mighty Bear can change that.
“Our approach to Mighty Bear Games’ blockchain division is and always will be games-first and fun-focused, with ways for players to own assets and earn from them built naturally into the game experience,” Davis said. “We’re proud to be backed by such a stellar line-up of investors who have the conviction and foresight to be supporting teams in this ‘bear’ market. They truly are the ‘mighty’ ones.”
I asked if Western hardcore players hate NFTs while Asian players are willing to experiment and embrace them. Davis doesn’t try to target them.
“It’s just the same as free-to-play, where 10% to 15% of the audience really love what you are doing. There are maybe 10% to 15% who are ideologically opposed to it. And then there is everyone else who is curious and open to it,” he said. “I’m not going to worry and expend energy on those we will never win over. But on the other hand, I think most players, if you present things in a way that makes sense, and where they can see the value will build, they are open to it.”
How to make a better Web3 game
Eventually, Davis thinks NFT games will become as accepted as a business model as free-to-play games are accepted, like Clash of Clans, Fortnite, and League of Legends.
Players can use regular fiat currency (like U.S. dollars), debit or credit cards, or cryptocurrencies. That allows the company to reach the largest possible market.
“I don’t want to reach 10,000 people,” he said. “I want to reach 10 million people.”
Building upon the studio’s expertise in developing genre-defining experiences from scratch, Mighty Bear is focused on eliminating the traditional barriers to entry to blockchain gaming to engage non-crypto native and crypto native communities alike, Davis said. The studio’s games-first, play-and-earn approach in Web3 will be fun and fair – helping define the next generation of gaming by allowing players to feel truly rewarded for their skill-based gameplay, he said.
The company has sold its own tokens, which give the owners a say in the future of the ecosystem. The company isn’t developing just one game. It envisions a whole series of games. The company has a back-end tech that it has been working on for years as part of its platform. The holders of the tokens will get benefits once the game ships.
The company isn’t planning on doing to do primary item sales as that creates friction between players and developers. It creates gaps between paying players and free players.
“One of the interesting things about the Web3 business model is that the studio is getting a cut of secondary sales,” Davis said. “You don’t need to sell primary items. You could just reward players at the end of every season with your goodies. And then the way the studio makes money is just when players trade between themselves. As a studio, that is really cool because it incentivizes you and aligns you with the players because all you have to focus on is just keeping people in the game, having fun and creating the best experience. I feel like this is something that’s not really talked about enough because it kind of flips the free-to-play dynamic on its head — that adversarial relationship between players and the studio.”
Players will be able to own their assets and trade them freely with each other. You’ll be able to see the top-performing players on leaderboards. In free-to-play games, 3% to 5% of the players will buy something. But Davis thinks it will be bigger with blockchain games thanks to digital ownership.
“Web3 does change that,” he said.
Mighty Action Heroes will be powered by Polygon, which is intended to be a carbon-neutral Ethereum scaling solution designed to improve Ethereum functionality and promote infrastructure development.
“With the entire crypto gaming industry still innovating and defining the most effective game mechanics, we think the Mighty Bear team is one of the best positioned to launch genre-defining titles in this new space,” said Daniel Mason, operating partner at Framework Ventures, in a statement. “With decades of combined experience from multiple, established gaming giants, as well as a track record of successful Web2 game launches at Mighty Bear Games, this is a team of industry veterans that we think, with the right resources, will deliver games that close the gap between the economic potential of Web3 gaming and the artistic, narrative, and experience elements that drive Web2 gaming.”
Mighty Bear Games will also receive support from Polygon Studios in the form of funding, marketing, technical advice, strategy and ecosystem support.
“Mighty Bear Games’ player-centric approach is precisely what we look for in quality Web3 projects, and we’re thrilled to welcome them into our burgeoning ecosystem,” said Urvit Goel, head of games business development at Polygon Studios, in a statement. “Their recent raise demonstrates the appetite for a game-first approach to Web3 gaming exemplified by Mighty Bear’s products, and we look forward to seeing Mighty Action Heroes come to fruition.”
Ahead of the launch, Mighty Bear will release an NFT PFP collection and engage the community this summer, with each NFT offering “immense utility” within the game and beyond. Each PFP holder will gain early access to the game during the Early Access Preview and be able to give feedback and stay involved throughout development. PFP holders will also be able to collect in-game rewards and cosmetic items when the game releases in late 2022.
The company has a studio of about 60 people, and about 40% of the staff are women.
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