Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab Adds Another Blockchain Gaming Startup
The French gaming company responsible for massive titles like Assassin’s Creed appears to have recognised blockchain’s potential in the gaming industry for some time. It has now selected another blockchain company, Planetarium, for its start-up program the Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab. Planetarium is among the first start-ups from Asia to be chosen.
In a press release, Ubisoft Strategic Innovation Lab start-up program director Catherine Seys, says:
“The focus this season is in line with our goal to explore potential blockchain use cases for the gaming industry, and see how the technology could enhance players’ gaming experience.”
New opportunities for players and game developers
One of the greatest benefits burgeoning blockchain and cryptocurrency technology could have to the gaming industry comes from the tokenization of in-game assets. This use-case could make in-game assets portable outside of games and offers other new opportunities to monetize gaming and reward players and creators.
Many successful games have their own virtual economies and big titles, like Fornite, earn their millions from the purchase of in-game assets. The combined attraction of gaming, esports, and digital currencies to younger generations is a powerful force and an opportunity that’s not being missed by both start ups and established gaming corporations. Gaming could drive blockchain adoption and blockchain could help further fuel gaming’s multi-billion-dollar ecosystem.
Ubisoft may have been working with blockchain technology for some time
Ubisoft have reportedly had their own blockchain team investigating the emerging technology for some months. It could be close to testing using the Ethereum blockchain to power in-game assets and purchases, according to Les Echos and Blockchain Land, perhaps even with a new game title release.
The Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab is now in its fourth six-month season. It’s a program designed to support entrepreneurs and start-ups and candidates are assessed by Ubisoft’s business development experts. The program provides both physical space and mentoring.
The lab is already working with another blockchain-based gaming platform, Azarus, which recently raised $1.8 million in funding. Azarus is a game challenge network that allows gamers and Twitch streamers to engage with each other using a “smart-challenge” system. In a planned pilot, Azarus will enable Rainbow 6 streamers to award viewers who answer questions, in real-time, about their video content.
Season 4 of the Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab kicks off over a night of great sharing and great food! We're very excited to welcome Mighty Jaxx, Planetarium and Story Puppet to this year's programme. Looking forward to awesome adventures together! 🏆#seriousaboutfun pic.twitter.com/1d9xhnkk5j
— Ubisoft Singapore (@ubisingapore) October 18, 2019
What does Planetarium have to offer Ubisoft?
Of the selection of Planetarium to join the program, Ubisoft director Seys says:
“Planetarium has already demonstrated its technical expertise with its open source project and caught our attention with their new user-participatory gaming paradigm using blockchain.”
Planetarium will focus on developing its gaming blockchain technology, Libplanet, and marketing its game title Nine Chronicles. Through Ubisoft’s program it will take a space at the Ubisoft Entrepreneur Lab at Pixel start up hub in Singapore. CEO, Kijun Seo, says:
“We are excited to confirm that global game leaders like Ubisoft are investigating decentralization technology as the future of gaming.”
The start-up’s technology, Libplanet, provides tools for developers to create decentralized, cross-platform, blockchain games as well as their own blockchains to host them. Nine Chronicles will be an open-source RPG with all its data stored on its own blockchain.
Libplanet may also allow users to create their own versions and modifications of games built with its technology. CoinDesk spoke with CEO Seo earlier this year. As an example problem blockchain could solve, a custom map of Warcraft III built by gamers, which incidentally may have inspired League of Legends, was blocked by the game’s creators. Seo says:
“When game companies found out that any secondary creation by users’ modding went against their interests, they blocked the private servers that gamers installed or sued the users for violation of copyrights. I believe that decentralized games built upon our open source platform will be able to open a new era for secondary creations.”
As well as offering the tokenization, and real monetization, of in-game assets and powering other new features for developers and players, blockchain could also deliver new routes to personalizing favourite games for fans. Such use-cases could spur blockchain adoption as the new technology permeates a video game industry predicted to be worth up to $300 billion by 2025.
Esports too is developing into a billion dollar opportunity and Ubisoft may also have seen the potential for Azarus and its streaming and fan engagement platform for this fast-growth sector.