This post is written by Justin Kan from Fractal’s founding team.
When I was in high school in the late 90s, I spent an absurd amount of time playing Ultima Online. Richard Garriot had created the first massive multiplayer online role playing game and it was a masterpiece. Thousands of players could play together in a virtual, persistent fantasy world. Team up with players to kill monsters and collect loot. Die in the game, and your hard earned goods could be looted off your corpse by random passerbys. It was brutal, unforgiving, but I loved it for how high stakes it felt.
UO’s designers were ahead of their time. Players were able to build persistent houses on the map where they could keep their digital treasures. Real estate was scarce: the available land for houses didn’t expand with the number of players, and eventually houses started selling on eBay for hundreds of real dollars.
A real economy started up, and some players began farming and selling in-game currency online. To anyone not playing the game, this sounded ridiculous: how could something inside a video game be worth real dollars? The idea that digital goods could have monetary value wasn’t yet established.
Almost twenty years later, the world has changed. It isn’t weird to make your entire living online now, making games on Roblox, trading cryptocurrency, or entertaining the masses as a Twitch streamer. Game companies have embraced digital goods: in its first two years Fortnite made $9B in revenue primarily from selling skins. The business model of gaming has shifted away from game sales revenue to selling items and skins that have durable in-game value to players.
Putting these durable in-game assets on a blockchain is the next step in gaming. While players have recognized the value of items in centralized games for a long time, when game companies create lasting durability beyond their games by making their in-game assets NFTs on a blockchain, tremendous amounts of value will be unlocked for players and the gaming ecosystems themselves. For players, this will mean they can truly own the value of their in-game work: items they own will be buyable, tradeable or sellable. For game companies, their in-game assets become persistent platforms on top of which other developers will be able to build experiences.
This is the future world we are excited to power with Fractal. Fractal is a marketplace for gaming NFTs: durable assets that let you do something inside a gaming universe. Our mission is to create an open platform for the free exchange of digital goods. We’ll do that by partnering with the best gaming companies launching NFTs and building tools that help them reach their customers at scale. We’ve got an exciting launch line up planned that we will be dropping soon. We’ve partnered with gaming studios with deep game building experience.
Players will be able to discover, buy and sell gaming NFTs on Fractal, through both a primary market (initial drops by gaming companies) and a secondary market (p2p trading). Eventually, we see ourselves creating infrastructure for emergent use cases of NFTs as well, such as the lending / scholarship model in some play-to-earn games. We are starting with the Solana blockchain, as we see the low cost and high speed of transactions as appealing to game creators who want to have a high number of in-game assets.
We’ve started Fractal with an all-star team of serial entrepreneurs. Robin Chan founded and sold a mobile gaming company, XPD Media, to Zynga, and was previously head of Zynga Asia. David Wurtz was the cofounder of Google Drive and an advisor to Shopify. Mike Angell is a twenty year e-commerce veteran who was previously at Fast and Shopify. Previously, I cofounded Twitch, have been investing in crypto since 2013, and have been an advisor to decentralized projects like Theta and Audius.
I’ve spent a lot of my career helping connect games, creators and gamers. Twitch is already a big part of the metaverse: more and more people are living important parts of their lives online. Fractal is the next step.