Today I’m excited to announce that Multicoin Capital has co-led a $35M investment in Fractal with Paradigm, with participation from a16z crypto, Solana Ventures, Animoca, Coinbase, Play Ventures, Position Ventures, Do Kwon, and Tim Ferriss.
We are on the verge of the hyper-verticalization of the NFT space. Much like the early internet, in which general-purpose “NFT” trading consolidated around a few generalized marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist, general-purpose NFT marketplaces are about to be surpassed by a plethora of verticalized marketplaces.
Let’s consider a few categories of NFTs such as profile pictures (PFPs), digital art, and NFT achievement badges. PFPs have historically been the most popular category for NFT trading. People want front ends that showcase their PFPs to reflect their digital personality. For generative art, connoisseurs want to showcase their collection via personalizable digital galleries with (public/gated) access. For achievement and credential badges, holders want to see their badges being part of their profile in the labor markets, forums, and other interfaces where members of digital organizations interact with each other.
For in-game assets like weapons, skins, treasure, etc., trading is naturally going to occur in game. Gamers will want to analyze and compare all the parameters of the in-game assets to optimize their performance. There’s also a natural demand for asset rental as gamers try out different games and asset owners want better capital efficiency for their idle assets. The achievements in one game can now be meaningful outside the game, as long as they can be recorded on the blockchain and showcased by a platform that serves these games.
Fractal is trying to enable all of the above, and then more. It is co-founded by Justin Kan, the co-founder of Twitch, David Wurtz, the founder of Google Drive and an advisor to Shopify, and Robin Chan, who built a mobile gaming company with millions of revenue from its global studios and XPD Media, a Zynga acquired company. This is a dream team.
Come for the marketplace, stay for community & discovery
Today gamers either buy the assets from a large NFT bazaar like Opensea and Magic Eden, or purchase directly via an in-game marketplace. It’s clear that an immersive shopping experience for games will be very important.
Web3 is about community fostering and inclusive participation. In addition to allowing game developers to list assets directly on a public marketplace, as a Web3 amusement park Fractal also empowers game developers to engage their fellow gamers in many ways and grow an organic community through discovery and curation. Game developers come to Fractal today just as they went to Twitch many years ago. In the early days, the team at Twitch interviewed every game developer carefully and offered the developers exactly what they wanted for their players. Only through this meticulous approach did Twitch create a truly loyal user community.
Today, there are already hundreds of crypto-native games, but there is essentially no curation or discovery layer available for the game community to filter out the good games in their preferred genres. Fractal will be this foundational discovery and curation tool across the market. In addition to offering classic features like initial in-game asset launchpad sales, Fractal will allow games to have interactive ways to market themselves. There will be live game experiences on Fractal where gamers can get a quick feel of a game (see what they have for Mini Royale, Portals, and Panzerdogs), tournaments organized by the community leaders, Fractal Radio for the founders to unveil all the backstories behind the games, and community signaling where players can express their view to impact the popularity ranking of games.
While large game developers may have theoretical resources to build their own community kingdom, the upside of being on an open platform is huge. The cross-selling opportunities, based on on-platform engagement (some are on-chain), for games within the amusement park is a huge advantage. Other platform-wide incentives include leaderboards and other competitive ranking tools. These crypto-native features are simply not possible in traditional games; it is a major step forward from today, where all user bootstrapping and community building happens within a closed ecosystem around a single Web2 game. Games that keep evolving and engaging with users in innovative ways via the infrastructure that Fractal provides will continuously climb up the ladder and gain the best visibility among users. Fractal exists to reward developers who create the most engaging games, and to give back to communities who spend their time and energy within those games in a Web3-native way.
A metagame and the Fractal NFT
When the Fractal platform launched on December 25, 2021, Fractal conducted the largest NFT airdrop in history—it airdropped 100,000 fractal NFTs (which look like snowflakes) to its community members for free. Each of these fractal NFTs have different attributes and power levels, and can be upgraded by completing tasks on the Fractal platform.
The launch of fractal NFTs marks the beginning of Fractal’s journey of becoming a metagame: players are not only coming to the Fractal marketplace to buy in-game assets, they are coming for the Fractal amusement park, a place where community members can engage not only in the individual games but in the broader Fractal metagame. Specifically, the upgrade of a Fractal’s power level or the enhancement of an attribute will be tied to a player’s achievement in the games on Fractal. In this way, the growth of the platform is aligned with the growth of the games on top of Fractal. Users are incentivized to buy the in-game assets and try out the games as this process will be a scavenger hunt to unlock more unique experiences on the Fractal platform.
The gamified engagement process of Fractal makes it intriguing for the users to engage with the platform over time, as they can unlock more unique experiences based on their on-chain activity history. The retention of these users through such an interactive loyalty program will also become a driver that attracts more game developers to Fractal. The relationship between Fractal and the users is far beyond a simple seller-customer relationship; users’ interactions with the platform and with each other will become a growing network that supports the core of the Fractal community.
We are thrilled to back the vision of a Web3 amusement park. If you’re also pumped by the myriad possibilities of the metagame and want to join the force, Fractal is hiring!
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