On the heels of last week’s $75 million fundraising announcement, NFT gaming startup Mythical Games today announced that its debut free-to-play PC game—Blankos Block Party—has launched into an open early access phase and will roll out big-name collaborations over the coming months.
Mythical has teamed up with fashion brand Burberry to launch a Burberry Blanko line for release this summer—the first NFT offering from the British brand. Blankos Block Party will also feature an NFT collaboration with electronic artist Deadmau5, who has been involved in other crypto endeavors, as well as The Marathon Clothing, a brand started by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Blankos Block Party will also launch collaborations with artists from across both the vinyl toy and crypto art space, with upcoming drops by Michael Lau, Hackatao, El Grand Chamaco, Quiccs, and Thomas Han. The game has already featured collaborations with artists such as Pete Fowler, Tara McPherson, Jon-Paul Kaiser, and Junko Mizuno.
— Blankos Block Party (@PlayBlankos) June 14, 2021
NFTs are essentially blockchain-based tokens that represent deeds of ownership over digital items, such as images, videos, and in-game items. Though the market for NFTs has exploded within the last year, particularly in the digital art space, the technology has been around for years and initially found a home within the blockchain gaming world. Mythical has been involved in the NFT gaming industry since 2018.
Today’s announcements from the company came during a stream amidst the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), one of the video game industry’s biggest conferences. During an advance briefing last week, Mythical’s Rudy Koch, co-founder and SVP Business Development, and VP of Marketplace Stoyan Stoyanov shared their vision for the game and the future of interactive NFTs in gaming.
Bringing NFTs to gaming
Mythical Games was founded by industry veterans, including former executives from Activision, Oculus, and Electronic Arts, who came together to create the tech and experiences around the concept of player-owned economies. “Blankos Block Party was our way of showcasing this vision we had of bringing NFTs and blockchain to mass-market gaming,” Koch told Decrypt.
Blankos is a cartoonish playground where users can play mini-games with other users, but also create and share their own games with a straightforward drag-and-drop interface. Traditional games like Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite have grown into enormous hits with tens of millions of active users apiece, and players pour hours into them creating content for the community.
The difference with Blankos Block Party, Koch posits, is that those players who create significant value for the game and ecosystem can reap some of those rewards as their NFT collectibles appreciate over time. “With NFTs now, they get to participate financially and benefit from the value that they create,” he said.
Mythical Games has leaned into the designer vinyl toy influence that is clearly visible in the game, which has an array of distinctive collectible NFT versions of the Blanko avatar. Along with artist collaborations, elements like scarcity and collectibility are key to the experience. NFT buyers can keep their items in blind boxes for resale later for example, or open up their characters and use them, leveling them up over time and potentially increasing their value.
As a result, Koch says that some players are buying multiples: one to open, one to keep boxed for later. Players can also do a mash-up between two distinctive Blankos NFTs, creating a unique variant version that simultaneously removes the original NFTs from the overall supply, potentially boosting the value of any remaining versions.
“We actually get to play with scarcity, and that’s not something we’ve ever been able to do effectively in games before,” said Koch. Added Stoyanov, “It’s adding multiple dimensions of decision-making [for players] that wasn’t there before.”
Expanding the vision
The NFT industry blew up earlier this year, with NBA Top Shot notching more than $700 million in trading volume for tokenized video highlights, and NFT artwork reaching eye-popping prices—like Beeple’s $69.3 million artwork sale. The overall market has cooled down significantly since then, although there are outliers: NFT game Axie Infinity, for example, appears to still be growing all the while.
Mythical wouldn’t share numbers yet, citing the game’s beta status prior to today’s early access launch. However, Koch said that they’re still seeing growth—and that they believe that NFTs that you can use in some way, such as in video games, will continue seeing increased demand.
“We had this sudden attention on NFTs. We had a few big sales, and suddenly everyone was in on it. It created a little bit of a gold rush,” Koch explained. “A lot of people that I saw were like: How do we get in on this? How do we make some money here?”
“The problem is, in our opinion, that created a bit of a bubble. It’s not sustainable when you have items that really don’t have any intrinsic value outside of the fact that they are art,” he continued. “That’s going to settle, but that doesn’t mean that NFTs aren’t still on an upward trajectory. In our opinion, what’s going to emerge is NFTs with utility.”
With last week’s $75 million Series B raise, which included participation from Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerFund as well as Galaxy Digital, Mythical Games sees an opportunity to expand its team and work towards launching additional products. They plan to “go beyond Blankos,” said Koch, in part by releasing the tools for other game developers to implement player-owned economies in their own games—potentially in any type of game.
“We see this being a staple in the games industry long-term,” he said. “Once people figure out that they can own items, get closer to the games that they love, and participate and make money playing the games that they love, I don’t think there’s a way to go back.”