Former head of short-form video giant TikTok’s gaming unit Jason Fung is launching a blockchain gaming startup as one of two co-founders, he told Reuters in an interview. , as buzz around blockchain games grows while industry heavyweights remain wary.
The 34-year-old quit TikTok last month after two years with the company, and his exit comes as TikTok and its Chinese owner ByteDance have aggressively expanded into the $300 billion global gaming market (nearly of Rs. 23,700 crore) to take on rival Tencent Holdings, an effort that has yielded mixed results so far.
It also reflects the growing interest of entrepreneurs and investors in blockchain games – a new generation of blockchain-based online games that allow players to trade items in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Fung, whose new venture is called Meta0, said he left TikTok after seeing an opportunity to offer a solution to the current segregated nature of infrastructure options available to developers looking to build blockchain games.
“Right now, if you look at a developer when they implement NFTs or blockchain in their games, they have to choose a single blockchain, whether it’s Polygon or Solana or Binance Smart Chain. But imagine a more interoperable option” , he told Reuters in Hong Kong, referring to popular existing blockchains.
“So we decided, let’s do it. Let’s co-found this company. Let’s give up my cushy corporate life at TikTok and take a giant risk,” said Fung, who was based in Shenzhen and had reported to the chief operating officer. from TikTok, Vanessa Pappas. .
Meta0’s founding team includes six members in addition to the two co-founders, and the company has closed an initial funding round, Fung said.
He declined to divulge details of the other co-founder, the rest of the team or the investment. He said the company is looking to raise funds by issuing tokens, as well as from venture capitalists and strategic investors.
BIG NAMES ARE OUT
Proponents of blockchain games say they will disrupt the gaming industry because cryptocurrencies can make virtual items more transactional and even distribute ownership of games to players. But blockchain games are sometimes also associated with scams, and the virtual economies of some games collapsed soon after players joined.
Most of the established game companies like Tencent, Sony, and Microsoft have yet to place big bets on blockchain games.
Fung, as TikTok’s global head of strategy and operations for games, was tasked with expanding game content and testing new features such as hosting mini-games on the app.
TikTok and ByteDance expanded aggressively into gaming during Fung’s tenure, with acquisitions of ByteDance, including a $4 billion (nearly Rs 31,700 crore) purchase of gaming studio Moonton, and TikTok trying mini-game features on his app.
The efforts have had both successes and setbacks. Last month, data-tracking firm Sensor Tower said that ByteDance’s mobile games portfolio had generated more than $1 billion (nearly Rs. 7,900 crore) in revenue globally over the past 12 month.
However, ByteDance also dissolved its Shanghai-based Studio 101 last month, laying off half of its more than 300 employees. A product of its acquisition of Mokun Technology in 2019, 101 Studio was the first development unit ByteDance shut down as it struggled to operate.
Fung, who led the esports units of Alibaba Group Holding and Electronic Arts in Asia before joining TikTok, declined to comment when asked who could replace him at TikTok.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BLOCKCHAIN GAMES A HOT INVESTMENT TREND
Despite the mistrust of some in the industry, blockchain games have become one of the hottest investment trends discussed by crypto moguls from Silicon Valley to Dubai.
Prior to the recent crypto market crash, the blockchain gaming industry raised a record $1.2 billion (nearly Rs. 9,500 crore) in the first quarter, according to a report by the banking firm Drake Star Partners investment in April. Last year, a total of $3.6 billion (almost Rs. 28,500 crore) was raised for the sector.
“We have built a protocol for game developers, and we are taking a flexible, blockchain-agnostic approach to their game development,” Fung said, discussing the future prospects of blockchain gaming.
“With a protocol we are developing, developers can easily expand their gaming strengths by leveraging different blockchains and give the user the flexibility to transfer their NFTs between chains.”
© Thomson Reuters 2022