The blockchain gaming platform will serve as SuperLayer’s preferred liquidity service provider for projects.
Forte has teamed up with SuperLayer to expand its ecosystem beyond web3 gaming.
The blockchain game developer also invested $5 million in the venture studio.
The funds will be used to incubate startups in SuperLayer’s $25M fund announced in August.
Forte has announced a partnership with SuperLayer in a strategic deal that seeks to expand its ecosystem beyond web3 gaming. The company also revealed a $5 million investment in the venture studio’s $25 million fundraising announced in August.
The venture studio wants to use the partnership in a strategic move that will see it expand its ecosystem to other web3 segments.
According to CoinDesk, Linda Chew, Chief Development Officer at Forte said: “The core tenets of blockchain are applicable much more broadly than just games, whether it’s e-commerce or loyalty systems or social. There’s really a number of different verticals where we see enormous potential.”
A Closer Look at SuperLayer and its Backers
SuperLayer was founded by blockchain gaming pioneers Kevin Chou and Mahesh Vellanki, who also co-founded Forte. The San Fransisco-based studio is backed by some of the leading web3 companies including Polygon, which anchored the $25 million round in August.
On the other hand, Forte reached Unicorn status in 2021 after raising more than $910 million across two funding rounds.
Forte’s Role as SuperLayer’s Preferred Provider
Forte is a web3 platform that enables game makers to easily integrate blockchain gaming elements and NFTs into their titles. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a blockchain-based representation of a digital collectible, digital art, or JPEG. The NFT technology can also be used to turn regular gaming assets like character avatars, weapons and skins into tradable items on the blockchain.
Forte wants to expand its ecosystem to other aspects of web3 through its partnership with SuperLayer. According to the announcement, Forte will become SuperLayer’s ‘preferred crypto payment and liquidity services provider for projects, with the venture studio providing the infrastructure that Forte requires to expand to other verticals of web3.
The investment also gives Forte access to exciting web3 projects in SuperLayer’s incubator program.
Blockchain gaming platform Forte has revealed that it has acquired N3twork’s techology platform in a bid to accelerate the development of its blockchain games.
The N3twork team will join Forte as part of the transaction, with the N3twork games team forming a new independent games company, N3twork Studios.
The new studio will make use of Forte’s blockchain platform to develop and manage a range of new titles. The studio is due to release the upcoming mobile title Triumph and multi-platform Legendary Heroes Unchained.
As part of the acquisition, N3twork founder Neil Young will lead Forte’s Games Industry business unit.
Adapting to the changing landscape
“We have a huge vision with Forte – one that can create massive new creative and economic opportunities for billions of people around the world,” said Forte co-founder and CEO Josh Williams.
“To do that will require the right resources and talent. In an ever-changing landscape, acquiring N3twork’s platform group will enable Forte to go even faster than we can alone.”
N3twork co-founder and CEO Neil Young added: “I’m delighted and incredibly excited to be joining Forte to lead our Games Industry endeavor as we pursue our mission to reimagine and revolutionize the entire ecosystem through the blockchain.”
“Forte is helping enable this revolution, and together we see an opportunity to fundamentally change every aspect of our industry in a way that benefits every participant in the games ecosystem – from player to publisher, from marketer to maker—the impact of the blockchain on the gaming landscape will be profound and we are so excited to be a part of leading that change.”
The blockchain company plans to use the funds to expand its suite of products and services, accelerate the onboarding of the world’s largest and emerging game and content publishers
SAN FRANCISCO, November 12, 2021–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Forte, a leading provider of blockchain solutions for game publishers, announced today that it has secured an additional $725 million in financing, closing its Series B. The Series B was led by Sea Capital and Kora Management with further support and funding from powerhouse game and media publishers including Animoca Brands, Big Bets (Huuuge Games), Overwolf, Playstudios, Warner Music Group, zVentures (Razer), and blockchain partners Cosmos, Polygon Studios, and Solana Ventures, as well as investors including Griffin Gaming Partners, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), and Tiger Global.
Forte’s platform allows game publishers to easily integrate blockchain technologies into their games, enabling features such as seamless, embeddable token wallets, non-fungible token (NFT) minting and selling, payment rails, and other services built specifically for blockchain token economies and the management of digital and virtual assets. In blockchain-enabled games, players can truly own goods, rather than making pure entertainment expenditures. Players around the world can freely trade goods and services with each other, and can participate in community economies that reward creativity, collaboration, and skill. These new systems provide game players and communities all around the world with new creative and economic opportunities.
“Over the past 50 years, games have undergone seismic shifts in their business and revenue models, becoming more aligned with players at every turn,” said Forte co-founder and CEO Josh Williams. “First there were arcade games, where players had to essentially pay per minute of play. Then came home console and PC games, where gamers could play as much as they want after paying once. Next, games moved online and the free-to-play (F2P) model allowed gamers to play even AAA games as much as they want for free, with only optional in-game / in-app purchases. The games industry has grown at each turn as it aligns more and more closely with players, and today it is the largest form of entertainment globally—larger than film and music combined—with nearly $180 billion in annual revenue. We believe we are at the forefront of a new technological wave, and blockchain gaming will be even bigger than all the shifts we’ve seen before. Forte’s mission is to prepare all game developers, big and small—whether you already have a AAA title with millions of players or you are building a blockchain game from the ground up—to be successful in this new landscape.”
Forte provides game publishers built-in compliance and security products, ensuring global frameworks for regulated activity including money transmittal, anti-money laundering, tax compliance, and IP protection in order to protect both players and publishers’ businesses and intellectual properties. Another unique benefit Forte enables for publishers is its customizability and interoperability with multiple blockchains. Many Forte partners start off with Forte to introduce NFTs and other tokenized assets both inside and outside their core games and apps, then graduate to long-term business models and revenue streams through in-game economies and player-to-player marketplaces, eventually connecting to Layer-1 and Layer-2 blockchains, providing freedom of choice and maximum liquidity for their players.
“Forte has incredible traction in the gaming space, due in part to the robustness of its technical and compliance solutions,” said Daniel Jacobs, Kora Capital’s founder. “We partnered with Forte because of its ethos of building a platform that is simple to integrate without limiting developer flexibility or control, building for the long-term, solving scalability challenges that limit transaction throughput on blockchains today, mitigating high latency and costs associated with blockchain transactions, as well as future-proofing with blockchain portability and cross-chain interoperability. Publishers can grow their businesses with new, innovative technical solutions, and business models. Players are now able to truly own their in-app purchases and virtual goods. This is a win for the entire ecosystem.”
Forte platform status:
Currently invite-only and in private testing.
40+ game developer partners.
15M+ players across partner games.
LionTree has served as exclusive financial advisor to Forte this year, bringing its global strategic relationships to Forte as the company continues to accelerate growth. In May, Forte raised $185 million in its Series A, at a $1 billion valuation, led by Griffin Gaming Partners. Today’s announcement brings Forte’s total capital raise to more than $900 million in 2021.
Forte is building economic technology for games. Its end-to-end platform enables the emergence of community economics, a system where the interests of game developers and players are aligned, leading to healthier, sustainable game communities. The team is composed of longtime industry members (Unity, ngmoco, Riot Games, Electronic Arts, Sony, and Rockstar Games, among others), and is currently working with over 40+ acclaimed game developers from across the industry to reimagine the economics of games. www.forte.io
The Sims & Sim City creator, Will Wright to release Proxi NFT Game.
Proxi is all about creating memories that can blend together and create virtual worlds.
Forte will provide the blockchain infrastructure and it’s enterprise blockchain gaming services.
The game will appeal to a wider demographic and might be in track to become mainstream if done right.
The interest from mainstream companies in blockchain gaming has been increasing really fast. More and more gaming studios are joining the NFT movement not only as a way to sell, but a way to handle value to the players, and therefore convert them to loyal players. Big steps take time and truth be told, building a blockchain-based game when you are a big studio there are many factors to consider such as legal, easy of access and more.
I always liked creating. Some of my best gaming memories include playing The Sims, building a super town using money cheats in SimCity, or creating my own species in Spores.
All these games together make a multi-billion dollar gaming universe created by Will Wright and Lauren Elliott at Gallium Studios, and now they are launching Proxi, a game where you create your own world!
Seems like the Sims, but with worlds.
Just like in the Sims Universe where players can enjoy creative freedom, limitless potential for self-expression (and expansion packs), countless hours of building their own worlds, and unique masterpieces with their signature style, Proxy has great potential of becoming the next big thing.
This is due to the sound decision of Will Wright to incorporate the advantages of blockchain technology and the concept of in-game non-fungible tokens with the penchant of gamers to churn out their own content. In this game, players create core memories in Globes with in-game items, and then they use these Globes full of memories to create Worlds.
Different Worlds filled with Globes that are complete with images and words associated with different memories, the Proxi or artificial intelligence avatar of players come to life and can now interact autonomously with other Proxis within the game like family members, new friends, historical figures, famous personalities, and even fictional characters.
But this time around, these players will be granted due recognition and true ownership of their creations, a significant improvement from the time when everything belonged to the giant studios and biggest companies of the video games industry. This is where Forte shines because this company based in San Francisco will not only provide the blockchain infrastructure of Proxi like personal wallets and the aforementioned utilization of NFTs but also the legal and regulatory aspects of blockchain gaming.
This will ultimately give players real ownership of their created Memory Globes and Worlds NFTs which they can buy, sell and trade in the Proxi marketplace to earn profit because of their active participation as content creators who contribute to the growth of the community and the entire Proxi universe.
Generous Reward for Early Birds
To give thanks to its loyal fans and zealous supporters, Proxi has released exclusive presale packs full of limited edition NFTs for $10 and 50$ respectively containing unique in-game memory objects and some other extra stuff and perks. Bad news is they are sold out so if you would like to acquire an NFT early keep an eye out on future sales.
With Will Wright of Gallium Studios working devotedly hand in hand with the talented blockchain gaming developers over at Forte, Proxi NFT Game has a bright and promising future because it is the kind of game that appeals to a wide demographic of gamers who want to express themselves, get recognition for what they do, and maybe earn a little something for their time and effort.
Legendary video game designer Will Wright (The Sims, SimCity, Spore) and Lauren Elliott (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego) have formed indie development studio Gallium Studios in Berkeley, California. Gallium Studios’ team is a talented group of world-class game designers, seasoned developers and artists. Creative contributors include Pixar storyboard artist Matt Jones and board game designers Hakan Seyaliouglu and Kathryn Hymes from Thorny Games. The advisory board is a well-known group: Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, Apple legend Andy Herzfeld, neuroscientist and fellow at the Alan Turing Institute Kirstie Whitaker and Eugenia Kuyda, founder of Replica. www.galliumstudios.com
Forte is building economic technology for games that is secure, easy to use, and fully compliant. Its end-to-end blockchain platform enables the emergence of community economics, a system where the interests of game developers and players are aligned, leading to healthier, sustainable game communities. The team is composed of longtime industry members (Unity, ngmoco, Riot Games, Electronic Arts, Sony, and Rockstar Games, among others), and is currently working with over 25 acclaimed game developers from across the globe to reimagine the economics of games. Forte’s announced partners include Gallium Studios, Hi-Rez Studios, Monster Ideas, Penrose, GC Turbo, Other Ocean, Kongregate, nWay, Magmic, and DECA Games. Investors include Griffin Gaming Partners, Union Grove Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, and Canaan. www.forte.io
Forte has raised $185 million at a $1 billion valuation for its behind-the-scenes blockchain game platform. Griffin Gaming Partners led the investment in the latest unicorn to rise in the blockchain gaming market.
The Forte deal comes a week after Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands raised $88 million at a $1 billion valuation (the definition of a unicorn is having such a valuation) to make games based on the blockchain, the secure and transparent digital ledger that enables cryptocurrencies and unique one-of-a-kind items, or nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
Instead of making such games itself, the San Francisco-based Forte is an infrastructure company, using blockchain tech to enable new kinds of game economies. It makes things such as cryptocurrency wallets that blockchain games use to store a player’s tokens. Wallets have to be secure and ready to transform a currency in the form of a cryptocurrency token in a game to multiple kinds of cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin, that could in turn be changed into hard currency like U.S. dollars.
“We set out to create a platform that makes it easy for game developers of any size, including the world’s largest publishers, to incorporate blockchain technology into their games, to enable players to own digital goods and currencies, and trade with each other, have true property rights and, and create thriving economies that both players and publishers can benefit from,” said Forte CEO Josh Williams in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat.
He added, “We just launched our beta platform almost exactly a year ago, with our first games. And we’ve been growing really quickly over the last year where we created our 10 millionth wallet — a crypto wallet that’s used in games where real players in games hold token assets, including virtual currencies and NFTs. In the space of the year, we’ve grown really quickly with 10 live games now.”
Williams said that the company has created those cryptocurrency wallets as part of its efforts to help game developers and gamers make the transition to blockchain games.
“We love the notion of new games being created from start on blockchain technologies, and we think there will be explosive successes as blockchain makes things that are truly unprecedented possible,” said Nick Tuosto, the cofounder of Griffin Gaming Partners and managing director of LionTree, in an interview with GamesBeat. “I think about the way my friends and I played Magic: The Gathering in my youth. Buying cards felt like an investment. In that game, you use the cards for the core game, but you could trade with your friends and you had an expectation that your investment might appreciate over time, as at any point you could go on eBay and sell those cards and recoup that investment or even make a profit.”
By contrast, in today’s traditional games, you pour money into a game but can’t take it back out, as if you’re a serf working for the lord of the manor, where you’re renting land and don’t really own it. In a free-to-play game, for instance, you could buy an item with real money. But you can’t take it out of that game or sell it to another player. It’s like you’re renting that item from the game publisher, rather than buying it and getting the benefits of ownership.
“If someone buys a durable virtual good in a video game, that good is literally worthless the moment she stops playing the game,” Tuosto said. “We think games will absolutely prove out that there are going to be new hits that are built from the ground up with blockchain technology. But we also find it differentiated that Forte’s approach is purpose-built with the large publishers in mind as well.”
Tuosto said his firm canvassed the landscape and talked to dozens of companies in the blockchain gaming space before deciding to back Forte.
He added, “The last thing a publisher wants to do is risk destabilizing a game economy or player engagement when they’ve built a hit. What Forte’s unique integration approach allows is for a very low-risk, highly-compliant approach that allows for existing games at scale to implement NFTs and blockchain technologies. And with these games we see incredible potential because the context is already there. Players are spending hours per day, engaging with the content. They’re tied up with that content in a way that’s pretty fundamental. In some cases, their personal identities are invested into that game. So to be able to buy something and trade it or display it to friends has immense value to the player.”
Forte’s economic technology, which is available by invitation only and still in beta, aims to address the growing misalignment between game developers, players, and fans. It enables the creation of new gameplay and world designs that directly support the long-term health of a game through cooperative token-based economics, or what Forte calls “community economics.”
Forte’s roots go back to 2019, when Kevin Chou and Josh Williams started the company. Chou grew mobile game publisher Kabam to $400 million in annual revenue and 1,000 employees before selling it in various parts for close to $1 billion to Netmarble and FoxNext Games (now owned by Scopely). He also cofounded Gen.G, the esports organization, with former Kabam chief operating officer Kent Wakeford, and he cofounder Rally, which creates blockchain-based tokens for creators and influencers so they can offer rewards to their fans. Chou’s credibility is one reason why Forte got so much momentum and why it is working with a number of game companies. Once Rally was established, Chou moved to Rally and Williams focused on running Forte.
In past interviews with GamesBeat, Chou said that he and Williams started the company as a way to help fix the problems in the industry, which is overly dependent on a small number of players to produce revenues in free-to-play games, where perhaps 2 percent of players will pay real money for a digital item. That system is broken because game companies have to spend a huge amount of money advertising their games to find the 2% that will pay. On the premium game side, players won’t pay more than $60 for a game. But the games can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, putting a lot of risk on triple-A developers, to the point where many are deciding to focus on free-to-play or mobile games.
Chou believed that blockchain could build new monetization foundations for games, such as peer-to-peer economies. He also saw it as a way to empower communities. In a multiplayer game, players often form groups like clans or guilds. The clans might be able to use blockchain rewards or items to incentivize their own players to go on a quest or do something for the clan. That means the players would have control over what happens with the blockchain items, rather than just the game developers. That’s the kind of business that Rally, which is one of Forte’s customers and another company run by Chou, is doing.
“Video games play a vital part in billions of people’s lives, yet fairly monetizing them is harder than ever,” said Williams. “We envision a sustainable and equitable ecosystem for games and are building the necessary infrastructure to make it possible. We’re incredibly fortunate to work with Griffin Gaming Partners and others who share our vision, and are helping us more quickly bring our technology to game developers, players, and fans around the world.”
The problems of blockchain games
One of the big problems is the “minting” and transfer fees associated with transacting NFTs from one player to another. Blockchain taps a big peer-to-peer network of computers to verify transactions. If one computer in the chain loses data or is tampered with, that’s not a big deal, because all of the other computers in the network can verify the data. But those who operate the computers have to be rewarded, and the cost of those computers can be hefty. So there are “gas” or energy fees associated with blockchain transactions. Companies like Forte have to either pay those fees or rely on other blockchain companies to create low-cost networks that can sit on top of the cryptocurrency networks.
“Blockchain technology is still pretty nascent,” Williams said. “It’s difficult to use and to scale. If you look at what is happening in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space and the NFT space, there are a few big problems today. One is capability, and then a cost associated with transactions. And those are really salient for this technology to work at a mass-market scale, globally, with games that have audiences of tens of millions or hundreds of millions of users a month. It’s a fundamental technology that has to be built.”
The user experience is another big problem. Cryptocurrency wallets are hard to use. Someone can hack your account and steal your money. Or if you lose the code associated with your cryptocurrency, then it’s gone forever. No one else can retrieve it for you. These factors make crypto wallets into complicated beasts that are difficult to use for mainstream consumers.
“If you go try to purchase an NFT or buy a cryptocurrency, it’s a really cumbersome process to get onboarded to find a wallet, to make sure that it’s set up appropriately, and that your transaction will even complete. So our platform takes care of all that complexities,” Williams said. “We provide a really slick, embeddable, totally white-label wallet. So that publishers can integrate this capability into their games, allowing players to make purchases.”
Lastly, game developers have to be careful about money laundering. They have to know who they are doing business with and be compliant with anti-money laundering laws and money transmission laws in various countries.
“Our platform provides that capability to publishers, and really a framework to ensure that all transactions are compliant,” Williams said. “So all three of those things are fundamental challenges to overcome to embrace this technology and open up the revenue streams and the economic opportunities for publishers and for players. And it’s why we spent so much time and brought in such a great team to build this stuff out.”
How it works
Integrating blockchain in games well is so hard is because most of the infrastructure that’s actually needed doesn’t exist, isn’t mature enough, or isn’t great for games. Tokenizing game items so they can be uniquely identified and tracked is relatively easy. But to actually enable the greater market opportunity that Griffin and Forte believe is possible (and also solve monetization issues today), you need an easy wallet solution (most mainstream people give up on blockchain here), developer tools, good games, full token economy models (not just selling collectibles), marketplaces, sources for liquidity, a mechanism for people to “cash out,” regulatory compliance, and more.
Each of these technical challenges is big enough to build a full organization around. Forte is building it all because adequate solutions didn’t exist when it started, and it can ensure the end-to-end experience is as frictionless as possible for developers (everything they need is there) and players (things just work). This is what it has been doing for the last couple of years.
Rather than charge fees for blockchain transactions, Forte makes money in an interesting way.
“We make a market between the cryptocurrencies and the virtual currencies that players and publishers want to use in their games,” Williams said. “We provide that inventory that provides us with a sort of balance sheet to do market making. There are no transaction fees, but we can inventory assets and purchase more when prices are lower to provide more liquidity and sell more when prices are higher in the ecosystem, and that provides a revenue stream for us over time.”
He added, “When a user wants to cash out, they would have to wait for a coincidence of wants where there is another player who wants to buy the same type of good at the same time, in the same price range. But it would be a less liquid market. And publishers would have a smaller economy as a result. So what we’ve built out is an automated market maker. That market maker doesn’t need to charge fees as it basically uses collateral and inventory assets. So it keeps an inventory of assets with which it can use to generate revenue.”
It can buy cryptocurrencies and other tokens in bulk, and it can provide liquidity in a game instantly to players who want to sell something. Rather than wait for a buyer to emerge for that seller, Forte will buy the item and then immediately give the buyer some money. Forte can then sell the item to someone else. During this process, Forte can arbitrage the items, making money by buying in bulk for low prices and selling for higher prices. This is an automated process. Williams referred to it as automated market making.
The hardest but perhaps most critical aspects of the above are liquidity and compliance. Forte believes it is alone in focusing directly on these problems. But if people can’t exit out to real-world currency at any time, and do so in a regulatory compliant way, then there will be too much friction for blockchain games to succeed, Williams said.
Forte built its platform to be blockchain agnostic to maximize liquidity. It is partnering with multiple Layer 1 blockchains (like Ethereum or Bitcoin) and it is obtaining the necessary money transmittal licenses and educating policymakers so developers can make a game that people can play and earn income from. It is also using the companies that make Layer 2 solutions, where transactions can happen much faster and with lower costs.
Lastly, Forte is focused on the revenue at the liquidity layer. This way developers and players — who are higher in the stack — don’t have to pay fees to use Forte’s technology. The automated market makers address a lot of the pitfalls Forte sees in existing financial and DeFi marketplaces.
It uses the Interledger protocol, which enables liquidity across any blockchain. Under the hood, that’s how transactions can settle seamlessly from the user’s point of view.
“The whole point of all this is to just really remove friction from the user experience and make token assets work the same way that digital goods and virtual currencies work in games today,” Williams said.
The growth wave
Williams said in an interview that 25 game developers with more than eight million players are actively using Forte’s technology. More than five million NFTs have already been minted (or recorded on the blockchain) and used in games.
“We’ll rapidly scale up to support the customers,” Williams said.
Game projects in active development include new experiences from industry pioneers such as Will Wright, creator of The Sims, and Jeff Tunnell, founder of Dynamix, the studio behind Starsiege: Tribes. Previously announced developer partners include Hi-Rez Studios, Penrose, nWay, GC Turbo, Other Ocean, Kongregate, Magmic, and DECA Games. Williams said the company is helping those developers create games that take advantage of the unique aspects of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
“What we’re going to do with this financing is continue to scale,” Williams said. “Globally, we have a pipeline of a bunch of games today that are actively integrating with our platform. That audience of players in those games exceeds 100 million monthly active users aggregated across all those games. We think the world’s largest publishers are waking up to the potential of blockchain economies, and token economies in games. And so we will really rapidly scale up to support the current customers.”
New and existing investors including Union Grove Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, and Canaan also participated in the round. The first institutional round (Series A) will give the company money to accelerate the development of its end-to-end blockchain platform, which lets developers create fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and build scalable token-based game economies.
Forte has more than 100 employees, including people from companies such as Unity, Ngmoco, Riot Games, Electronic Arts, Sony, and Rockstar Games. Griffin Gaming Partners was founded in 2019 by Tuosto; Peter Levin, a former executive at Lionsgate; and Phil Sanderson, a venture capitalist with more than two decades of experience in game investing. Griffin recently raised more than $250 million for its fund. But you can see that it made a huge bet on Forte.
“Forte is differentiated in that they interoperate with many of those other partners,” Tuosto said. “We do think Forte has incredibly compelling potential. We think it’s the right team and the right strategy. As for blockchain gaming, we think that this industry transition has the potential to be completely disruptive. When we think about the market for in-app purchases, this market came to be almost by chance, if you look at the early days of mobile. You know, paying $1 for a download of Angry Birds. It became clear that the model that was so popular in Asia of free-to-play economics made much more sense. We think that this is one of these rare moments in time when there’s potential for the market to take a step function higher, perhaps to an order of magnitude greater scale, if you unlock the potential of these game economies that already have enormous engagement.”
One of the things that Tuosto believes this model will enable is what I call the “Leisure Economy,” where we all get paid to play games. This is where people like streamers and user-generated content creators can amass fans and make a living selling goods to or entertaining those fans. They can make a living from the games that they love and generate a return on the time they invest in those games through the rise in value of their investments, such as NFT items. This economy also benefits the game companies.
“You can enable modders to modify your game and to have a revenue stream from the monthly sales and give your game more longevity,” Tuosto said.