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It’s taking the gameplay of virtual pets — like the old Nintendogs game — and modernizing them based on blockchain and metaverse ideas.
Susan Cummings and Lee Cummings, who have two decades of experience making games, started the Petaverse Network, which aims to combine games, XR, and web 3 to define an open standard for digital pets in the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
This is the first blockchain partnership for Petaverse Network, but it may not be the only one. Petaverse said the deal marks the first of many platforms Petaverse Network will partner with, powering its mission to become the first cross-chain platform for digital pets — beginning with the first drop of Petaverse Network cats this summer.
While NFTs have run into lots of resistance among hardcore gamers, Susan Cummings believes that NFT titles with more gameplay and emotional connections will fare better, especially with broader mainstream audiences that include women players as well as men. Cummings talked about this at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2022 event.
The launch of these first cats will come with immediate utility in the form of the PhotoBooth web/mobile application with further experiences across multiple platforms and genres in the works. The company plans to expand support for more blockchains and more varieties of pets this year with further announcements imminent.
By supporting Polygon’s layer-2 scaling platform built on the Ethereum blockchain, Petaverse Network enables developers to build decentralized, user-friendly applications with low transaction fees.
Petaverse Network will also be supported by Polygon Studios, an organization for onboarding developers, brands, artists, and content creators to web 3 through investment, marketing, developer, and community support
“Polygon and Polygon Studios are committed to building a decentralized future so that everyone can have access to Web3 applications,” Brian Trunzo, metaverse lead at Polygon Studios, in a statement. “Through this partnership with Petaverse Network, we look forward to fostering growth amongst the Web3 community who are entering the metaverse through decentralized apps and taking their digital companions along too.”
In March, Petaverse Network announced its public launch and that it closed $7 million in funding led by Fabric Ventures. The company recently announced a partnership with Curvegrid, a blockchain software company, allowing Petaverse to further accelerate its cross-chain capabilities through a series of custom smart contracts, as well as its first Shopify store integration.
“We are incredibly excited to see this partnership come to fruition as we begin the Petaverse Network journey,” said Susan Cummings, CEO of Petaverse Network, in a statement. “As we continue to expand cross-chain support for multiple blockchains, it’s important that we focus on creating meaningful partnerships that support utility. Launching first on Polygon is a significant milestone as we deploy multi-chain support and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
The Petaverse Network founding team includes gaming veterans, and it has a board of advisers including Kristian Sergestrale (Super Evil Megacorp), Sebastien Borget (The Sandbox), Perrin Kaplan (Zebra Partners) Terry Schussler (Deutsche Telekom), Joe Eagan (Polychain Capital), Anil Hansjee (Fabric Ventures), and serial game industry entrepreneur Nick Button-Brown.
Lee Cummings and Susan Cummings have been partners for over two decades including long tenures with Rockstar Games and 2K Games / 2K Sports (which Susan co-founded).
Most recently, they have significantly expanded the size of their team following the successful delivery with Fictioneers of a major Innovate UK R&D funded series of projects which included Wallace & Gromit: Big Fix Up / Fix Up the City.
The company has 24 employees. In an email to GamesBeat, Susan Cummings said she wasn’t concerned about the decline in demand for NFTs.
“Our goal is long term and the average user isn’t even aware NFTs are a thing. There are around 10,000 “core” active NFT users out there right now. [But] 25 million people bought copies of Nintendogs,” Cummings said. “This all needs to be kept in perspective, and a market adjustment for one use case of a new technology is insignificant in the scheme of things (e.g. how much money is going into building products in the space).”
She noted that right now is a period of experimentation like the early web 1.0 days.
“Most of those companies didn’t survive (Pets.com, E-Luxury, Alta Vista, etc etc), but out of this crucible came Amazon, Google, Ebay, and so many more,” she said. “We’re not worried. We’re just getting started.”
She also believes that ownership has more meaning for gamers.
“We’ve been renting our in-game assets for years and now they can be ours — to collect and save or to sell,” Cummings said. “This is what excites us about web 3 — less the play to earn and more about owning and controlling your stuff. And interoperability between experiences. That’s what drives all of our decisions as a company.”
She added, “The other side of this is the fact that data tends to be open and free in web 3, which lets games which lean on blockchain technologies be fundamentally different experiences – the idea of an open network for interoperable metaverse pets just doesn’t work properly without web 3 technology and ethos.”
Cummings said that the NFT-based cats will be valuable thanks to interoperability.
“We see this as a fundamental shift in how we think about pets, both physical and virtual. A pet that you can take with you in all variety of experiences and on all variety of devices and platforms, wherever you are in your lives,” she said. “A pet unconstrained by the laws of the physical world – one day a child allergic to dogs will put on AR glasses and have a pet ownership experience close to, but in some ways so much better, than owning a real pet.”
Cummings added, “Some day an older person will leave their home and pets to go into long-term care, and while their favorite cat has to be left behind, a digital twin can be at their side until the end. The idea of a persistent, resilient, re-interpretable pet, running behind you in a 3rd person shooter, sitting on your desk in AR, running around the bottom of your browser like a feline Clippy, just hanging out wherever you are, facilitated by a web 3 tech stack network, is the promise and the value to the user. How much a user cares about this will vary massively; but we’re betting those millions of Nintendogs owners, Tamagotchi owners, and Petz franchise owners will be excited by the idea of a persistent, breedable, provably ”theirs”, digital pet, with an ecosystem of games and experiences to take that pet into.”
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