VitalXP has raised an additional $3 million in pre-seed financing for its action-packed gameverse platform and its first game, Lowlife Forms.
The round was led by Streamlined Ventures and Marbruck Investments. And it shows that Web3-based games are still getting funding in spite of a crypto meltdown and tough times in the blockchain space.
Lowlife Forms is an evolved modular shooter set in a gritty yet humorous science-fantasy world filled with alien smugglers, droid bounty hunters, mercs, cons and psycho crime lords. The deep lore behind the game lives at the intersection of advanced alien technology and mystical shamanistic magic.
“We’re building this new Lowlife Forms IP from the ground up for the blockchain,” said Tarik Malak, creative director for Lowlife Forms. “Including the community from day zero is a defining trait for the crypto space, and we’re excited to include the players and fans on this journey in charting the course for both our fiction and the game’s development over time.”
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Malak added, “Things that happen in the community can bubble up into our game’s lore, and the game itself will shape stories in other media as we bring Lowlife Forms into animation, film, and other entertainment platforms. A gang we haven’t even thought of is forming as we speak in the community, and might be in the IP and story next year.”
Malak said that he has been thinking about the game for a long time, but it was a side project. The team came together in 2018 and 2019 as Malak got together with Roberto Rodriguez, cofounder and chief technology officer. Rodriguez had worked at Insomniac Games and Infinity Ward. Malak had a background in live-action animation as a director, writer and producer.
They raised a seed round in 2020, and they are likely to seek a new round later this year. Their idea focused on realizing the potential of blockchain gaming. Their flagship sci-fi fantasy and crime intellectual property, Lowlife Forms, is being created from the ground up to exist both cross-media and cross-chain.
“The game is based on this idea of the intersection of the criminal underworld and science fantasy,” Malak said. “I was always obsessed with these ideas, as a writer. And I felt like it was a missed opportunity in a way. There is some science fantasy that is crime oriented. But the intersection of these two hasn’t really been done. Like [Cyberpunk 2077]. If you go back to the roots of science fantasy in the 1970s, that is the thing that I would like to capture. So movies were the main inspiration.”
Films like Scarface or The Godfather captured a criminal underworld in the way that Malak wanted to do, with a focus on characters. They thought of ideas like a prison planet and gladiatorial combat in the prison.
“The environment is enticing. I think the sense of humor is very important,” Malak said. “It’s a world where everything is tongue-in-cheek. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Then they started looking at blockchain technology and the intersection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and gaming. They worked on how to integrate NFTs into games in a deeper way than just collectibles or cosmetics. The idea was to use NFTs to unlock deep customization, with collective ownership.
“You’re benefiting [from the NFTs ]in the sense that now we all have access to this mod that’s going to make us play in a sandstorm or we all have access to this thing where all the weapons or explosives are and there is a giant kaiju,” he said.
It’s not a pay-to-win game where you have to own NFTs. The optional NFTs will give you access to mods that could make the gameplay different.
“It’s more about deep customization of the gameplay experience,” Malak said. “It’s a real game. It’s fun to play. It’s not pretending to be a game or a casual game with a layer of gambling. It’s a really fun game that you can play even if you don’t have the NFTs. The NFTs open up the possibilities.”
While most of the game platform lives off-chain, key game assets will be minted and stored on the Solana blockchain as NFTs. The initial drop, planned for March 9 on Magic Eden, will feature the first set of playable characters selling for 4.4 Sol each ($100), and will be followed by quarterly drops of additional collections that will help players customize the game even further.
VitalXP views Lowlife Forms as a true multi-chain project and will also offer future drops on Solana, Ethereum and other blockchains in the future.
“What VitalXP is doing is crucial for both the entertainment and web3 spaces,” said Ullas Naik, founder of Streamlined Ventures, in a statement. “Whether players know it or not yet, ownership of digital game assets will change the industry. With so many popular gaming ecosystems, users spend a lot of time and effort making the world their own, but the financial benefit only flows to the publishers. We think that user-driven gaming economies will be the new normal very soon.”
Proceeds of the round will be used to finalize production of the first episode of the game, due to launch on PC by late 2023. More episodes will come out after that.
Headquartered in Woodland Hills, California, with development resources across the globe, VitalXP’s mission is to blur the boundaries between developers, players, modders, community members, and investors as they aim to involve its community in IP development and company roadmap from its inception. The team has about 20 people.
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