(Bloomberg) — A group of gaming veterans has raised an initial round of funding to help launch Big Time Studios, a company looking to develop what it says is the world’s first action-PC game based on crypto technology.
Big Time Studios — founded by alumni of companies including Epic Games, Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts and Decentraland — has raised $10.3 million in a Series A round, according to a statement the venture released Wednesday. That sum will go toward building its first action, role-playing game that will allow players to buy and sell NFT-based virtual items. The company said it’s also close to forming an $11 million fund that will be used to invest in gaming companies that adopt Big Time’s technology.
“NFTs are ready for prime time — we’ve seen a lot of traction as of late,” Ari Meilich, Big Time’s founder and chief executive officer, said by phone. “I’m excited about this space.”
The funding round was led by FBG Capital and includes backing from North Island Ventures, Digital Currency Group, OKEx Blockdream Ventures, Alameda Research, and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, among others. Many on Big Time’s team of 25 have worked on big gaming hits, including “Fortnite,” “God of War,” and “Call of Duty.”
The first game, called “Big Time,” will be a multi-player action game where users can team up, travel through different levels and encounter enemies who will drop “loot” — some in the form of NFTs — that characters can collect.
“What’s new here is the play-to-earn component where people can put in time and get something of value in return,” Meilich said. “Whereas, normally the items that you obtain could be desirable by other players, but they usually cannot be transferred and certainly they cannot be sold for real money.”
The “Big Time” video game will be free to play, but users will be able to buy items within it. And they’ll have more control over those virtual goods — they’ll be able to buy, sell, trade, lend or gift them. That’s a departure from the way things are usually done within traditional free-to-play games, where such control is more limited. In addition, Meilich says, Big Time Studios will be looking to bring in secondary revenue through fees garnered from the sale of its technology to other gaming companies.
Meilich is co-founder of Decentraland, a virtual world powered by the Ethereum blockchain where users can buy plots of virtual land and other property that can then be built upon and monetized. It opened to the public in early 2020 and proved hugely popular.
Meilich is currently an adviser for Decentraland and says his experience there helped him gauge potential player demand.
“I’ve learned a lot at Decentraland — I got to see how users value NFTs, what’s their place in virtual economies,” he said, adding that Big Time will try to avoid some of the frustrations present within other platforms, including misplaced private keys and struggles with downloading wallets. That’s why the company will provide users with hosted wallets and will take care of asset custody.
Development for “Big Time” is underway for Windows PCs and Meilich and his team hope to announce a beta version this year.