Animoca Brands Gets the Jump on Web3-enabled Gaming

ONE Championship teams up with Animoca to bring an NFT-powered mobile game to mixed martial art fans

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Johnathan Ball/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Notre Game, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, is developing a mobile game utilizing NFT technology in partnership with ONE Championship, a Singaporean mixed martial arts organization. 

Before its official launch in 2024, the game will undergo testing to identify and fix any glitches or bugs later this year. Upon release, it will be available for free download on both Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

The upcoming game, ONE Fight Arena, will differ from traditional sports games as it emphasizes strategy over action, according to a press release published Thursday.

Players can choose from a wide range of athletes including ONE Championship fighters such as MMA icon Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon.

The game affords players ownership of in-game assets, including the ONE Championship athletes with their own distinctive looks and styles. 

This sort of partnership is important for crypto games to find an audience and juice adoption, according to Dan Nissanoff, CEO of derivative-gaming metaverse Game of Silks, who called it “representative of a flurry of creative partnerships taking place right now that involve digital assets and their integration into sports and entertainment.”

“There’s a lot happening behind scenes, and most of these partnerships involving entertainment and sports aren’t yet getting major attention,” Nissanoff told Blockworks, adding, “but that will change in the next year or two.

Yat Siu, chair of Animoca Brands, said the company was thrilled to assist ONE Championship in creating more meaningful connections with their fan base.

“Our partnership with ONE to create ONE Fight Arena will enable the fans of the world’s largest martial arts organization to access a novel gaming experience with true digital ownership at its core,” he said in a statement.

In December, Animoca revealed plans to raise between $1 billion and $2 billion for a metaverse-focused fund called Animoca Capital. The fund was looking to invest in mid- to late-stage metaverse businesses. As one of Asia’s major blockchain investors, the company was last valued at $5.9 billion.

Animoca’s move is seen as “bridging the gap of Web2 and Web3,” by Karl Blomsterwall, CEO of Planet IX.

“Every time an established brand takes a serious step into the web3 gaming arena we get one step closer to broadening the adoption,” Blomsterwall told Blockworks. “MMA is extremely popular and Animoca Brands stand to potentially onboard a lot of fans and viewers of the sport.”

The brand counts over 240 investments and several subsidiaries in Web3, including metaverse game The Sandbox. 

Animoca was on a roll last year, participating in 122 venture capital investments between January to September 2022, representing a 165% jump from the prior year, per Blockdata. And blockchain-based games were its favorite slice of the piece, with over 50 investments in this space made in 2022 alone.

Nissanoff sounded an optimistic note that this is the tip of the gaming iceberg. “After the hype from the last bull run fades, that’s when the real building happens, as is happening now, and there are many cutting-edge collaborations in the works right now,” he said.

Updated April 27, 2023 at 11:08 am ET: Added comment from Karl Blomsterwall, CEO of Planet IX.


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