(Bloomberg) -- Blockchain gaming startup N3twork Studios Inc. has raised $46 million in funding, the company plans to announce Wednesday. The cash influx comes as the startup prepares to launch two new games, and as controversy lingers over the use of cryptocurrencies in gaming.
Venture capital firm Griffin Gaming Partners led the Series A funding round, which also saw participation from Kleiner Perkins, Galaxy Interactive and other investors.
N3twork Studios launched as an independent company in January following the acquisition of the N3twork gaming technology platform by blockchain company Forte. The startup plans to release a new game, Legendary: Heroes Unchained, which will involve raising armies and conquering lands, in a soft launch later this year. The company is also developing Triumph, a fantasy world where players can go on quests and fight monsters.
The new games are part of a growing movement in blockchain gaming where offerings are free-to-play, or don’t make earning money the main purpose of the game, according to N3twork Studios President Matt Ricchetti. In these games, players may have the opportunity to earn money as a fun bonus.
“That mindset has gotten more popular just over the last few months and this year,” Ricchetti said in an interview.
This new trend stands in contrast to the “play-to-earn” model used by blockchain games like Axie Infinity, where players breed and battle monsters represented by nonfungible tokens. In these offerings, which Ricchetti called “gamified financial experiences,” players focus on winning crypto tokens and often have to spend money to join in the first place.
The use of blockchain technology in gaming has drawn backlash, with critics arguing that the addition of NFTs or crypto tokens doesn’t actually improve players’ experiences. But Ricchetti said these digital assets allow people to actually own the items they play with, since characters, weapons and virtual land can be represented by NFTs.
“We're going to have to demonstrate that we can build real authentic games with sustainable economies,” he said.
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