Bozena Rezab is CEO and co-founder of gaming platform Gamee. We caught up with her recently at Web Summit in Lisbon, the day after her company launched its first NFT game characters G-Bots for its mobile esports platform Arc8. Rezab was in town to join a panel discussion on the future of the game.
The Czech company started out seven years ago and has matured from its humble start-up origins to a workforce of 30, dotted around the globe, and a gaming community of 30 million users.
“We saw incredible growth in the community of gamers,” says Rezab. “We always focused on creating a destination platform for casual style games for people to be able to play, share, and basically create entertainment.”
Last year Gamee was acquired by Animoca Brands which is a leader in blockchain gaming, a new area Gamee was keen to venture into.
“One of the reasons we picked this strategic partner was that we saw some strong signals in the gaming industry, and also in the community that it was a time for change,” she explains.
“We were trying to experiment with different models, like how can we actually make the community grow and get more excited about gaming. So, one of the first non-blockchain experiments we did was we took part of the revenue we made from advertising, and we gave it back to gamers as rewards.”
As you can imagine this model went down a treat with customers.
“They absolutely loved it, because they not only could play games, but they could earn some real currency in the game,” she adds.
With the customers interests piqued Gamee began to look into digital property rights and what this could mean for the gaming industry. They began to build a new generation of their product powered by the blockchain which quickly gained a lot of traction.
“It has one and a half million users right now and we’ve just introduced our first blockchain based game characters,” says Rezab.
“I’m very excited about that for multiple reasons – we have a game currency that’s based on Ethereum – that enables us as a company to offer gamers digital property rights of the gaming currency. So, when they earn something inside the game, they actually own it,” she says. “We actually keep the value within the community, and this concept in gaming is called play-to-earn.”
Play-to-earn means gamers can earn extra rewards or money and can also trade items, such as game characters with other players to increase their income.
“Once you have a game character, or skin, or some item inside the game that’s based on blockchain, you own it, which means that you can trade it with other players,” Rezab explains. “But there are some very new concepts like you can rent your character to another player. And we have seen in, in games, these are new economic concepts where people actually invest in an in-game item, and then have other people play with it, to basically enable them to earn inside the game.”
One prime example of this is the game Axie Infinity from Sky Mavis– a pioneer in the use of NFTs in the gaming space.
“Thanks to the digital property rights, the gaming not only competes for players leisure time, but also for productive time, because increasingly, players are able to earn value and, it sounds almost crazy, but have it as their job,” she says. “The gaming industry, with the blockchain technology, has the possibility to create jobs and that’s fascinating – the economy is within the game.
It certainly is fascinating, and we are sure it’s music to the ears of those who would only love to spend their days as a professional gamer.
Creating games for the blockchain mean that developers must take a slightly different approach because although they are in control of developing the game, with this new model, there are more moving parts to consider.
“Imagine, normally you create a game and then think about more adding more characters, more skins, more levels for that game,” she explains. “With NFT’s, for example, which we launched for our game characters – the asset stays with the owner forever, and it’s also interoperable, which means that they are able to take it from one game to another, it’s not locked within one ecosystem.”
Although to date moving gaming to the blockchain has been a success for Rezab and her team how is she so convinced that gamers will understand this new concept of gaming?
“Gamers already understand the concept of virtual currency, they have seen that in games since ever they began playing, only it never belonged to them,” she explains. “It’s the same with digital assets, right? They have always had characters and skins and items and swords.”
“They never had the digital property rights but it’s something they understand really quickly.
It will be one of the first and strongest use cases of blockchain and again, it will push gaming to another level,” she adds.