Andreessen Horowitz is among the most aggressive Silicon Valley investment firms when it comes to the burgeoning blockchain and NFT gaming market, and it has now made two additional investments in such companies as of Thursday.
The first new investment is in Faraway, a browser-based game developer. Faraway raised a $21 million series A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, alongside others investors including a16z, Sequoia Capital, Pantera Capital, Jump Capital and Solana. Faraway bills its product as the first online multiplayer game built on the Solana blockchain. Because that game, a first-person shooter called Mini Royale: Nations, is built entirely in the browser, it's accessible with a few clicks.
"You can do amazing things on browsers. When we first started looking into browser games, we were shocked by how far the tech has come," CEO Alex Paley told Protocol in an interview this week. "It's better for us and it's better for our players because they don't have to worry about the game being removed."
Blockchain gaming is of particular concern to some platform owners, namely Valve, which banned the category last month with quiet rule change to its Steam terms. But Paley is unconcerned, adding that "until the platforms figure it out, we're sticking toward the browser, where we don't have to constantly zig and zag with the different changing rules." Mini Royale has no NFT or crypto component right now, but the company already has hundreds of thousands of players and plans to begin adding components, like a live in-game economy and token and non-fungible game assets for players to collect, in the coming months.
The second blockchain gaming firm on a16z's radar is Mythical Games, a fast-growing platform that allows other developers to incorporate NFTs and the accompanying in-game economies into their own products. Andreessen led Mythical's series B of $75 million, valuing the startup at eye-popping $1.25 billion.
These follow the $152 million series B round Andreessen led early last month in Vietnamese gaming firm Sky Mavis, the developer of NFT gaming poster-child Axie Infinity, that's now valued at more than $3 billion. The firm is reportedly now eyeing a gaming-focused fund to manage its newfound interest in the intersection of gaming and crypto.
"Players spend billions of dollars on digital assets each year, but the value of their collections has been locked away from them. Utilizing NFTs in gaming creates a whole new set of game design principles built around scarcity vs. inflationary free-to-play economies," Mythical CEO John Linden said in a statement. "As gamers and collectors ourselves, we believe players should have tangible assets that they earn and buy. The Mythical Platform leverages playable NFTs and blockchain technology to open the doors to the economy of any game and invite the community in; soon it will seem crazy we as players ever spent time or money on games without getting real value in return."