For a brief moment in 2021, it seemed like cryptocurrency had finally found its killer use: video games. Axi Infinity’s play-to-earn game has gained millions of users and sandbox-like platforms have received venture capital funding. Perhaps the most promising of all was the very popular Metaverse project from Argentina called Decentraland, whose token, known as Mana, exploded by 6000%.
As the hype around crypto games grows, Ari Meilich, co-founder of Decentraland, decided to launch his own game, an NFT-based multiplayer RPG called Big Time. . The project has raised $10.3 million from major crypto investors and has gone through a successful test run that has reportedly generated millions of dollars in profits. Meilich then decided to invest in the crypto markets.
As the Genesis bankruptcy filings show, Big Time has invested most of its capital in the high-risk crypto lender not for growth, but in hopes of more than 5% growth. His $20 million stake is currently frozen, making him one of Genesis’ largest creditors. Experts say that the Big Time bet was not only an extremely unusual move for a game at such an early stage of development, but also a reckless gamble that could jeopardize the future of the company.
The rise of cryptocurrency gaming
Ari Meilich began developing Decentraland with Esteban Ordano in 2015 as part of a Buenos Aires-based crypto-centric hacker house called Voltaire House, which sees the Metaverse platform as a kind of utopian alternative to the real economy. imagines.
In the coming years, games have become a potential medium for crypto to enter the mainstream – players could participate in role-playing games or first-person shooters and be rewarded in the form of tokens and NFTs, which the developers say will give gamers more control and autonomy.
Decentraland bills itself as a cryptographic version of Second Life’s groundbreaking virtual world, allowing players to purchase virtual lands and other items with Metaverse tokens, mana. Despite attracting only a handful of players, Decentraland became the first metaverse project to use blockchain technology, quickly making it a favorite in the crypto industry. In 2021 and early 2022, Mana Decentraland’s tokens surged, while big brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and JP Morgan profited by opening a virtual lounge on the platform in February 2022.
Because of Decentraland’s reputation, Meilich’s next project, Big Time, caused a stir at a time when crypto investors were drooling at the thought of a Web3 game going mainstream. While Axi Infinity has amassed an impressive number of players, most of them came in hopes of making money – especially young workers in the Philippines and Vietnam who treat the token farm like a full-time job. However, Big Time promised to be an NFT-based game that would connect with real players.
Luck Received a presentation that Big Time will be launching in December 2021 ahead of its planned Series B funding round. Big Time was in the early ‘alpha’ development phase and the game was available to players who buy nft passesAs the overall NFT market has grown, Big Time boasts impressive numbers for a still publicly closed game, including $38.5 million in NFT primary sales and over 89,000 users.
The deck is revealed when Big Time raised a $10 million Series A funding round in March 2021 with investors including Sam Bankman-Freed’s Alameda Research and Digital Currency Group, the parent company of Genesis. On deck, Big Time also said it had raised $110 million in Series B in January 2022.
This funding round never came to fruition, as did Big Time’s ongoing atmospheric development.
According to Crunchbase data, Big Time did not raise additional funding after the $10.3 million Series A. And today, the game is still in closed alpha, only available to players who own the NFT Pass.
Ari Meilich did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Luck.
Luck Polygon also contacted several major investors, including Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, North Island Ventures and FBG Capital, but received no response.
“Extremely strange and highly suspicious”
With the onset of the “crypto winter” in 2022, the NFT market has evaporated, and the total trading volume has fallen by 97%.
Since Big Time is still in closed alpha, analytics platforms such as Dapradar do not yet monitor the activity of many of the NFTs traded through Big Time’s private marketplace. Pedro Herrera, head of research at DappRadar, said that once the game goes live, players will start earning rewards on the network through NFTs, or tokens that the platform can track. Currently, the only way to track Big Time’s popularity is through public marketplaces such as OpenSea and Binance, where Big Time sells NFT passes that provide early access.
The two Big Time hoards listed for sale on OpenSea have a combined value of 2,000 ETH, or about $3 million at today’s prices, but trading volume has declined in the past 90 days. One collection sold only 64 pieces for about $5,000, and another was even more lethargic. Together, the owners of both collections number less than 2,000 people.
Even with the apparent drop in revenue, Big Time still has the potential for a huge runway thanks to the crypto boom cycle and the profits generated during the company’s Series A funding round. However, Genesis documents show that Big Time has $20 million in treasury parked on a now bankrupt lending platform — an investment that is currently on hold.
Leading VC at Crypto Gaming who spoke Luck described the move on condition of anonymity as “very strange and very suspicious.”
Prior to the collapse of fictitious crypto projects TerraUSD and Three Arrows Capital last May, the venture capitalist, who did not invest in Big Time or Decentraland, said it was popular among companies to invest some of their funds in Genesis as a platform offering income. above 5%.
Big Time was likely holding a large percentage of its treasures in Origin when it stopped withdrawing funds, which gaming VC said would be a bad decision for any company. However, Big Time was still releasing a game that had not yet been released to the public, making the move even more risky. Venture capital said the money should have gone to hiring and other development instead. While negotiations between Origin and lenders could release the frozen funds in the coming weeks, they are currently not available to investors.
Meilich, the founder of Big Time, was not the only one among his colleagues from DeCentrland who trusted Genesis with his money. Its co-founder Esteban Ordano had over $25 million in genesis through Panamanian-based Vinah Securities, according to bankruptcy filings. Decenterland’s current CFO Santiago Esponda had over $55 million in creation through a separate company called Haleiwa International Corp., which is headquartered in the same building as Vinah in Panama City.
Decentraland Foundation, a non-profit organization that oversees the Metaverse platform, disclosed He also had about $8 million in loans last week. Like Big Time, Genesis’ parent company, Digital Currency Group, is also an investor and one of the largest owners of virtual land.
Given the cyclical flow of money, the choice of name for Decentraland’s central plaza should come as no surprise: Genesis Plaza.