Montréal gaming studio Bravo Ready has raised $3.9 million in seed financing to support the development of BR1: Infinite Royale.
BR1: Infinite Royale is Bravo Ready’s flagship, Solana blockchain-based video game. It is a first and third-person battle royale shooter that combines Web3 and traditional gaming, allowing users to purchase NFT characters and earn SOL, Solana’s native cryptocurrency, for every kill they amass.
According to Ryer, initial NFT hype led to a flood of “random, no utility, no value crypto projects” that drained liquidity from the market.
Bravo Ready co-founder and CEO Evan Ryer grew up playing a lot of video games—his personal favourites were online role-playing games like RuneScape, World of Warcraft, and Rust. But despite this love, Ryer saw a fundamental issue with their return on investment.
“The biggest problem with these games … is it’s truly a waste of time,” Ryer told BetaKit in an interview. “You’re committing time to these games, levelling up guns to get skins, or aggregating resources to build things … And no matter what, you see 1,000 hours in the top left corner of your screen, and there’s no liquidity for it.”
Ryer believes that gamers should be rewarded for the time they spend playing video games, and that items they accumulate while playing “should be liquid and transactable.”
Solana Ventures and Twitch co-founder Justin Kan also believe in Ryer’s vision, as both have invested in Bravo Ready as part of its seed round. Investors also included 6th Man Ventures and Shima Capital.
“People want this,” claimed Ryer. “They’re going to build it [and] it is a race to delivery on this concept.”
The financing, which represents Bravo Ready’s first round of venture capital, was raised via a SAFE with a token warrant that enables investors to acquire a Bravo Ready token should the startup decide to launch one in the future. According to Ryer, approximately half of the $3.9 million total came in cash and half in USDC, a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar. Bravo Ready also hopes to close an additional $650,000 as part of the round.
The startup first launched the game earlier this year. Since then, cryptocurrency asset prices have collapsed, over $2 trillion USD in value has been wiped out, and the NFT market has seen sales flatline in recent months.
In these conditions, Ryer said Bravo Ready has seen a “huge decrease” in NFT trading volume across all secondary markets, which is notable given that part of the startup’s revenue is derived from a royalty on secondary market sales. The startup has also noticed a decline in the number of new participants joining the NFT ecosystem, and a drop in the value of its SOL holdings, as the Solana token currently trades at $38.36 USD—far below its 90-day high of $115.81.
Ryer is not deterred, though. He believes this fall will be a good thing for the ecosystem over the long-run. “People lost a lot of capital, and that’s so disappointing, and it sucks,” said Ryer. “But the amount of due diligence that companies are doing now is through the roof, and as a result, we have these very high quality projects that are emerging from the dust.”
“We’re hoping the market cycle over the next two years results in a lot of these VC-backed projects delivering the future of gaming, the future of Solana, the future of NFT projects,” said Ryer.
Speaking to the rapid rise, and now decline, of NFTs, Ryer claimed that the market quickly became “flooded with random, no utility, no value crypto projects” that drained the liquidity from the NFT trading space.
“In the NFT space, we’ve seen a lot of low-quality projects,” said Ryer. “There was this hype that originated about two and a half years ago around trading cards and collectibles … what originally started as this run on collectibles quickly translated into the popularity around NFTs.”
Vancouver-based Dapper Labs was one of the players that capitalized on this trend with NBA Top Shot.
According to Ryer, the flooding of the market has led to “huge resentment” for projects that ultimately never delivered and a lack of belief in founders and builders in the sector. “This creates a lot of FUD—fear, uncertainty, and doubt—and then you pair that with an economic collapse, a socio-political collapse [and] it’s the perfect storm.”
The world of crypto gaming is growing, to what degree these games will be able to reach people outside of the Web3 world—including traditional gamers who aren’t already crypto-savvy—remains to be seen.
Some existing players have been shaken by the recent downfall of one of the world’s most popular Web3 games. Earlier this year, hackers breached the blockchain that powers Axie Infinity and stole more than $600 million USD worth of cryptocurrencies from users’ accounts.
Another issue is, as Horizon Blockchain Games’ co-founder and chief storyteller Michael Sanders previously told BetaKit, “most Web3 games that we’ve seen thus far are—they’re crap, like they’re bad experiences. They are financial tools masquerading as a game.”
Toronto-based Horizon Blockchain Games and other Web3 developers believe it is possible to build good Web3 games by focusing first on providing a quality gaming experience. Bravo Ready co-founder and CTO Jon Cohen agrees. “In Web3 gaming, the game always needs to come first and the economic model has to support the game,” said Cohen.
“People lost a lot of capital, and that’s so disappointing, and it sucks … But the amount of due diligence that companies are doing now is through the roof.”
Bravo Ready wants to bring the play-to-earn idea to the already-popular free-to-play, last person standing, battle royale-style shooter games. Games that were popularized by the launch of PUBG Studios’ PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic Games’ Fortnite in 2017.
Bravo Ready’s game requires users to pay a small entry fee to spawn, and gives them the chance to earn other players’ entry fees or 10 percent of the wealth on them by killing them. Players spawn at the edge of a remote island and work their way towards the centre.
Bravo Ready plans to use the funding to grow its 18-person team to 25 to accelerate its deployment of the desktop version of BR1: Infinite Royale, which Ryer said “has to be scaled significantly” in order to support more users.
The startup also sees an opportunity to expand into the mobile space as well: last month, Solana announced plans to roll out its own Web3 Android phone as early as 2023. “We very much would like to drop a mobile-based version of the game sooner [rather] than later, so that we could potentially get it onto the Solana phone,” said Ryer.
Feature image courtesy Bravo Ready.