#10 ImmutableX | Adoni Ioannou - How can we power the next generation of Web3 games?

Okay, perfect. Let's get things started while people keep joining in. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another Poolside with Polkastarter session. You know the drill. But this is where we come together to share knowledge and experiences with the community from all the Web3 projects that are exciting in the space in a super informal and conversational way. With me today, I know I say this a lot, but this one's actually really exciting and interesting. Our chats always go on for far too long beyond the scheduled amount, but with me today is Adoni from Immutable X. I'll let you do a quick intro. But before you do that, how's it going? How's your day going to Adoni? Hi, can you hear me? Yep, loud and clear. There you go. How's it going?

00:40

Hi, everybody. It's going fantastic. Hello from Athens, Greece. Yeah, thanks, everybody for tuning in. Perfect. 

00:49

I’ll let Adoni give you guys all, you know, proper, proper formal intro in a sec. But before we get to that, let me just clear a few things out of the way. So obviously, you guys know the drill, we have an exclusive OAT Onchain Achievement Token for the first 300 submitted applications to claim to celebrate, obviously the episode live on Twitter space. So we'll be pinnig a tweet very shortly. And then once we give out the secret code, which you know comes towards the later stage of the episode, you can then throw that in, and you'll be able to claim your very own shiny, Immutable X oath from Poolside with Polkastarter. So with that formality out of the way, Adoni, welcome to the show. First of all, could you give us an intro? I have a short like description about you, but I don't think it does you justice. So I'll let you do the intro yourself.

01:36

Yeah, thanks, man. Appreciate that. Hi, everybody. My name is Adoni, I'm currently helping Immutable expand in the EMEA region focusing on gaming clients. Before this, I kind of lived all over the world in America for 10 years in London for two years. In Tokyo for four years, I built my career at an advertising technology platform that was called Adnexus, It was bought by Microsoft handles like 150 billion ad transactions a day. And so once I opened my eyes to Web3, and so Immutable, and this idea of powering scale NFT economies, I felt like it was a very natural continuation to my career of high scale marketplaces. And also my inner gamer that was in hibernation for 10 years or so, woke up. So made the jump to Immutable.

02:33

Now that we're talking about it, so could you tell us a bit more about Immutable X? And you know, how did that start? What is Immutable even about?

02:40

Yeah, of course. So we started off in, in gaming back in 2000 17,000, our founders come from an engineering and Game Dev background. And they started building a couple of games early on. And really the first big one was Gods Unchained back in 2018, which they scaled on Ethereum. I'm not sure if you guys are familiar, Gods Unchained is a quite popular trading card game has 8000 weekly active users and millions of NFT's minted from all the way to like 27 of NFT's to higher price. And we also have Guild of Guardians, which is a mobile based RPG that is coming out in the next couple of months. So that is to say our origins are in gaming. And our founders solved some of the core challenges that they faced for their own games, and then created a platform around that and said, Hey, if Web3 games are to truly break into the mainstream and address the 3 billion gamer opportunity, then this solution needs to be shared to others as well. And together crack that massive opportunity and start to, to give ownership to digital assets starting in gaming, and then in the future, we believe in other verticals as well. But for right now, it's all eyes on gaming.

04:05

I mean, that's a good segue into my next question, because obviously, a lot of times people argue that with with Web3, it's, it's almost harder to play a game because of the whole blockchain side of things. And obviously, with the fees and the transactions and everything like that. So Immutable X is a layer 2, could you explain to me as if I don't know anything about crypto, what layer 2 is and how that's meant to solve the problem that I just mentioned?

04:29

Yeah, exactly. So we're we're an excellent platform that's focused specifically to help Web3 games break into and target mainstream audiences, right and abstract away all those all those complexities of of the blockchain. And so we we help Web3 games in a few major things. First, we help them achieve mainstream scale and performance, right because they're now ideally dealing with hundreds of 1000s and millions of users, so mainstream scaling performance, but while not compromising on the found fundamental security that a blockchain like Ethereum brings. So that's, that's number one, right? Not sacrificing security, because your assets need to be secure, but then get mainstream scale and performance and uptime, so that you can deal with millions of gamers. That's one. The second one is, you know, if a gaming studio was coming to build on Web3, it's it's very complex, very slow. And it's really distracting from from their own business model, right. So we help a gaming studio build very easily on top of our rest API's and SDKs. So that they can go to market really, really easily. We help them with, you know, easy solutions like MoonPie, right, where a gamer can just buy an NFT, or digital acid using a credit card or sign up with an email, right, so they don't have to go sign up for Mehta mask and buy crypto in one exchange and transition it over to another one. Right. So really creating a mass onboarding gamer experience. And the last piece is we help games maximize liquidity and monetization. Because these games are trying to build these massive NFT economies, right. But each NFT is unique. And so for each NFT, you need to maximize all the potential eyeballs on it. And so we aggregate we bring in all of those marketplaces, I can immediately buy that that symbol and if T and maximize liquidity, so helping them get more transactions, helping the player get more value out of their, or their assets. So those four things again, first, get scale without sacrificing security, build really easily onboard mass users and then maximize your your economy and liquidity.

06:58

Perfect, thank you for that detailed description. So let me be a bit more annoying as well and use an example to kind of draw that out for anyone listening in that hasn't understood, yes. So say a game like block lords, for example, right? If they're using Immutable X, what does that mean, for the player? Right? So me as a casual gamer, I'm just trying to get into the game. If a game is using Immutable X, what does that mean for me?

07:21

Yeah, so at the foundation is when you go and play the game, right? And you try to buy or sell and then a fee an asset, it can happen instantly. Right? So the you click the button by here, it happens instantly. And you pay no gas fees, right? And so you have a really mainstream user experience, whatever you're used to doing in web two, right, where you click and it happens. Now you can have that in, in this environment, as well. Right? So so that's one in the background, as a gamer, you can also know that your assets won't get hacked, right? That's not something you worry about, like on the day to day. But you know, it's it's important otherwise, none of this really, really makes sense, right? If the whole thing gets gets hacked, but for you, it's you the user experience, right or amazing user experience. And you can do things again, like pay with your credit card, or sign up with your socials making it very easy to play the game. And then when you do try to sell your assets, right, because of this is liquidity. This is open liquidity that we have the deal, we call it the open order book, you can get more money for your for your NFT assets, right? So you get you can get really good user experience. And then when you would try to tap into the economy and sell your entities, you can get a lot more value out of it.

08:44

I think that definitely clarifies things a lot more. And I think that is, you know, super key because what you mentioned was exactly what I think the space has been lacking, which is going to be my next question. Actually. I wanted to kind of see from your perspective from your eyes. What do you think of the current Web3 gaming ecosystem? What do you think are some of the biggest issues and what could possibly be a solution for some of these issues?

09:07

Yeah, I think it's an exciting time. Oh, Mark is really fast. I believe we're moving from phase zero, where, you know, it was all about a Web3 audiences that are looking to prove out the tech looking to speculate where NF T's are really luxury goods and don't really have utility, but really fast, especially with the slip Lee's latest market movements. We're moving to phase one where we're targeting mainstream audiences. We're just liking web two. It is all about the game being fun. Right and NF T's coming on top of that to unlock new incremental use cases and not utility but not necessarily to to make the game the game rich and retire out of nowhere. Right. And it's it's exciting here because this is a massive markets 3 billion gamers Believe it's $130 billion of in game digital spend today. And so if we can address that market, even your typical, if your typical NF t's a booster pack or skin, let's say 50 cents or $1 Mark, they get traded in the billions that unlock outsized value for for all the participants. But for for these phase transition to happen. There's four layers of needs and challenges that come with it. And I think I talked about a little talked about it a little bit. But the first one is asset security, right? Web3 promise through ownership of digital assets. But over the last month, we've seen billions lost in in vulnerabilities, side chains and bridges and attire blockchains getting hacked or collapsing. So I think that's the fundamental challenge at the base of the pyramid, if you think of the Maslow's, Maslow's pyramid of needs, right? Like, the basic one is, is security, right? That's not a negotiable. After that, it becomes around, like Kenny, perform at the level that mainstream gamers are expecting it to perform? Can it scale? Is it fast? Is it cheap? And then after that, you have additional things like, Hey, can we build interesting economic models around it, where players can get incentivized, and don't get some value back from all the time that they spend playing games, that might not be nfts, of the 10s of 1000s. But it could be microtransactions that accumulate and bring some value back to to the player. But security performance and this idea of sustainable economic models, I think, are the foundational needs and challenges in in the industry. And all the thing is, you know, the narrative, right? I think the narrative around NF T's and the positioning in the market has shifted quite a bit lately. And I'm happy to see that it's finding its new home, as we move to the next phase of adoption, right? It's important to adjust in order to attract those those mainstream audiences.

12:16

100%. And the narrative definitely is changing. I mean, a few months ago, I think all the stuff that you highlighted was basically non existent. People just use the Web3 years kind of, you know, this way of making more money on games that either weren't good enough for the traditional space, or just kind of ride the trend up, but now we're seeing more and more. And obviously, you guys are doing the same because we're about to touch on the next subject, which is the fund, which is super exciting. Yeah. And developers and studios, we're seeing more high quality stuff. So now let me let me address that point. We just put the tweet up as well, in case anyone's interested in checking out that announcement. But the $500 million grant fund, I don't know what you want to call it that Immutable x now has how does that help the space a? And how does that help game development studios or game developers that are actually trying to build good games? Get access to these funds? And what does that look like at the moment for you?

13:11

Yeah, great question. So we we have a $500 million fund that's mainly in the form of ImEx token grants, right. So that means that it's free money, we don't ask for equity back. However, they are milestone based, for example, you get 10% of the grant when you reach x milestone, and then invest for for 24 months after that. And we believe that creates a really healthy skin in the game dynamic between us and our games, and the marketplaces are plugged into the ecosystem. And so they're all incentivized to succeed on us to get their grants. We're incentivized to support actively with our service teams, and which in turn increases the value of all the participants, right? What's key here is that it shouldn't be confused with immediate funding or liquidity right to fund your day to day operations. This isn't a traditional funding round, it's it's grants. Right? Separate to that we also have a network of VCs I work closely with, and in some cases, we'll share deal flow with them. And if they interested, we'll then broker those those intros. It's important to note that we give these grants to all the games that we actively partner with and support. You know, we have a big team of 1215 people globally. That's, that's that's our that's what we do day in day out, right. Like that's, that's what I do. I try to find those great teams that have experience in game development, and are looking to take something really fun to market and we find ways to support them, both from the fan perspective, but also from a servicing perspective, right? We have account teams that support integration is an engine Here's that support. And when three launch advisors because, for us, you know, we don't, our success metric isn't just bring a game on that game has to launch and scale in order for us to be successful and also make money. So we're there all along until until their their skilled success.

15:23

Thank you for touching on that I think it's definitely exciting for any you know, if anyone's listening in that's game studio or game developer or whatever, you should definitely check this out. I wanted to touch base on that tech component that you also mentioned as well. Particularly the Gamestop integration, because I think that as an announcement was super huge. took everyone by storm, everyone was like, Well, what? Traditional gaming? Like coming into Web3, how so? Could you highlight a bit more what that partnership looks like? And what that means for the space in general?

15:54

Yeah, of course. So Gamestop is one of our key marketplaces on the platform. So So Immutable, has, I guess, two sides to it, right? Just for background, everything is, is based on this idea of an open order book, right, where all the games are built on. We have a team that brings on games to operate on our on our L two. And then we have a team that brings on marketplaces that are bringing audiences to buy NF T's right. And they're all sharing liquidity. And that kind of network effect is extremely important. And so what's super exciting with GameStop, it's one of those key strategic marketplaces built on, on us that is bringing all these unique web to audiences who are looking to engage with their favorite IP in interesting ways right there. Gamestop is arguably one of the biggest gaming brands out there, they're innovative, have a huge base of fans and are hungry for new experiences, gaming experiences, right? And they they're pushing their gamers down to this path of you get to own your assets and recoup some of the money that the value after spending all this time in the game. So they're seeing it in a very healthy, innovative way. We believe they're educating mass web two audiences to to understand Web3, I think, you know, for us and them, it's it's very crucial to build a very smooth onboarding experience for for these gamers, right? Because then they'll tell their friends, and they'll tell their friends, and we want to grow that Web3 pie to mainstream audiences. So super, super excited. And then all games that are plugged into Immutable can benefit from from that demand. Right? Again, everything is built on the open order book chain sharing liquidity.

17:44

Definitely sounds super exciting. Yeah. 100% No, I mean, I think it's one of the most exciting partnerships on the space just to kind of see, it's almost like that cosine, right, we're always looking at people like Epic Games and, and all these like really popular traditional gaming studios and developers and names to get into the space, because that's, you know, the only way essentially, that we're going to tap into the traditional gamers and get them on.

18:05

And, you know, like, we're just going on a tangent, you know, we're we're speaking to, not 10s of different studios. And we see a range of types of studios that are interested to tend to the world, right, from a traditional Web3 studios with some gaming experience, all the way to large studios that are looking to make the pivot all the way from from free to play to mid core to hyper casual to, to hardcore, so and I think that went through gaming will probably look different across all those segments, like what it means for a triple A game will be very different, what it means for a free to play casual, hyper casual, gaming ecosystem. So it's also useful to think about it like that, based on the needs of all those verticals.

18:55

Since we're going on tangents, I want to take you on a different one. But since we're talking about three games, and how different they're gonna look, a big, I would say, issue that a lot of people see with Web3 games as sustainability, right? The whole kind of play to earn movements, everyone trying to make money, everyone's trying to, you know, make a living, like you mentioned, which isn't necessarily ideal or realistic. It's still something that hasn't really fully gone away. What do you think the future of what three games is going to look like from that kind of standpoint of people coming in for tokens and farming tokens and so on? Is that going to still exist? And if not, what's the solution?

19:33

Yeah, no, I think there's gonna be a place for that as well, right? There's going to be the earners, there's going to be the players. There's going to be people in between, there'll be the investors in those economies and interoperability across game economies, so I don't think that's going to completely go away. Because it probably adds value, right like a Market America does and and all of that in similar ways, but the narrative is quickly switching to play and earn, right. So don't necessarily get rich from it. But, you know, ownership of the assets like you, right. So that's the swan big narrative shift, you care about ownership of the assets other than rather than making a ton of money, so and maybe you'll earn a little bit. In some cases, what we're seeing is that these gaming studios don't even talk about it. Right. And so they'll they'll bring in users to play single player version of of the game without even talking about Web3 and NF T's. And then at some point, in the backend, they've like automatically created a wallet for them. Suddenly, you know, 10s of 1000s of people have wallets. And they bring them into the into the Web3 world without seeing the words earn or NF T's because those are dangerous, right and certain for certain audiences. And just like leading them foot in the door, leading them into into the Web3 world. So we see the narrative changing quite a bit. But of course, I think there's going to be a place for earners as well. And investors.

21:08

Yeah, I mean, since we're talking about games and their nature, as well, just put up the most recent partnership announcement from you guys, which is with a very dear friend of ours, as well, it will kick started gaming, which is under blocks. I think it's an interesting model, the whole competitive approach, and not trying to make every single player earn, but make, you know, a kind of a smaller pool of the top most competitive players earn. That's an interesting approach. I don't want to dwell too much on games and specific because I don't want you to also miss out on anyone and then get backlash later on. But could you just very briefly walk us through the current games that exist on Immutable X? You don't have to go into too much detail. But how each of them I guess fit in the Immutable X, you could call it landscape or umbrella?

21:55

Yes, we have. We're segment agnostic, right. So we're looking to work with games that are fun to play, and can can deliver the game, right. And so you'll see that some of the biggest names that we have on that everybody would recognize is, of course, our games. Gods unchained guild of Guardians, we have alluvium, that did a seven $2 million land sale sale in the bear market. And that was only 20% of their overall available land. Planet quest, we got Ember sword, and a lot of gaming adjacent IP as well. The BD team has grown to about 14 people. So we're signing 10s of deals per per, you know, per quarter. So there's a lot more a lot more coming. And all of these, like finds this niche in that segment that that they focus on, right, so we got mobile based RPGs, we have first person shooters, third person shooters that are coming. So we're not looking to partner only with a few in that segment, we just care about supporting all the High Tech High quality teams, right? Because you at the end of the day, you don't know which is going to be the game that that breaks into the mainstream. Right? And we only need one game for that to happen for the whole industry to to evolve quite, quite aggressively. Right. So we, with game development, you just don't know who that will be.

23:29

I mean, that's a beautiful list of games to have a portfolio that will be because it's such a diverse, you know, list in terms of having a card game having a shooter and so on. So I think it's great and it definitely should excite a lot more game studios and game developers to reach out and you know, explore using your tech because that I think that Iluvien Lancer was probably the highlight of how different the experiences with with Immutable x because, you know, it was it was super seamless. Gas was barely even like a question at that point. It was it was very unlike any other type of you know, large scale sale that we've seen in the space.

24:08

Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

24:11

Cool. So on that note, I want to ask you maybe a more Adoni specific question what what's your favorite game of all time? This is just a purely me going off script type thing

24:20

whether so your your favorite game of all time.

24:26

Mike doesn't have to do by the way you don't have to mention an Immutable X game.

24:30

My favorite so I'll be honest with you. I was a avid gamer until I was about 22. And then And then because of moving around the world I stopped but growing up I played a lot of was two games that took over my life kind of strike and linage Yeah, I mean

24:58

for sure enough Okay, that's that's pretty cool. I think it's definitely a good start. And it's almost like the closest thing to a Web3 game when you think about, you know, the skins and how people were actually selling boxes and weapons and knives on on the black market at the time. But yeah, that's right. That's right. Cool. Okay, so now let's let's go back to the script and the topic in terms of Immutable and future plans. I know you said obviously, large BD team looking to onboard more and more games. But what coming up I guess, into q4 of 2022, but also into next year and the years beyond what excites you the most? And what kind of future plans do you have?

25:38

Yeah, for sure. So, you know, I think we're, we're betting a lot on this idea of shared liquidity, right. Because, you know, our BD team went from two people to 14. And we're just focused on scaling the pipeline and executing, because if we can bring on, let's say, 20 3040, high quality projects, and they're all sharing liquidity with all the top marketplaces that will create a flywheel that just from there on, just just takes off, right. So we're extremely focused on on that. Right, and you're happy to talk more about it. But you know, we're focused on gaming, at some point, when the next industry is ready, for example, music or insurance or whatnot, we'll expand our focus on on that, because we want to enable digital ownership across the board. But for the foreseeable future, the opportunity is in is in gaming. So that's on the platform side, I think we're 280 People now will be 360, by by the end of the year, and for the growth. After that, we have gotten chain to keep growing, right. And we have launched guild of Guardians in the next few months. So that's also extremely exciting.

26:54

Not not a bad thing, we just, we are just executing and scaling. Yeah, I

27:00

mean, that's, that's the right approach, I want to ask you a more broad question. But before I go into that, just for everyone listening in, we're about to pin the tweet, or you can claim your oats, you know, celebrating today's talk with Adoni here from Immutable X, I'll be giving you the secret code in just a few moments. But let me get this answer out. Because this is a more, again, more broad question for you, in terms of you mentioned gaming, and I'm sure that's obviously, your focus moving forward, like you said, but is there anything else in the Web3 space that excites you? And only whether it's gaming related or not?

27:33

Yeah, so I love that, you know, with the how any new innovative technology starts and the narrative around it, and then hasn't crashed, and then he finds his place, and then over time, truly changes things. And we're at the beginning of that, right? Where the Web3 narrative, it's, it's finding its its balance of how it will change the world. And so I think gaming is just the tip of the spear, right, because it's such an innovative segment. But you know, I think after that a lot, a lot new things get a lot like digital identity, right? Like when I come from the ad tech world, when I look at it, if T's when I look at wallet IDs, you know, I spend my previous years talking about idea, phase, and cookies, and identifiers. And so then I look at gaming, and the number one problem everybody has is user acquisition. A lot of these platforms like Google and Facebook have become extremely expensive. Then I look at Web3 and, and fees. And again, wallet IDs, and I just don't see how the next 515 years gaming leads the front. But then mark tech, and other industries follow behind it, right, because it just becomes a more open way to manage identity to manage ownership to manage digital interactions that are not held by the big conglomerates. And so that's that's super exciting to me. I don't know if I'm right.

29:16

I mean, I doubt you'll be wrong. I think it's definitely digital identities is an interesting one, especially with soul bond tokens. Now, we're seeing a lot more conversations around that and I think even within gaming itself is just super exciting because you could start looking at stuff like achievement badges start looking at stuff like ownership like real real ownership that you can't just, you know, grab an NFT and go and settle on a marketplace somewhere it's like no, this is the wallet that did this for the very first time ever and that one game so I think that's that's super exciting. And like you said there's there's only one way to go from here right?

29:47

Yeah, and when we reach scale, right, like when the first game brings in 100 million users or more, then brands will also won't be able to to ignore that right like they will be economic activity, let's tight around these identifiers and and a lot more people are going to start paying attention. So yeah, I think gaming is gonna crack it.

30:10

Yeah, 100%. So, I know I've been keeping you guys waiting. But for everyone that's been listening in from the very beginning, thank you so much for joining. The secret word for the Google Form that you have in that suite is, I would say three letters that you're going to hear a lot moving forward, because of our friend here, Adoni, and everyone else that's working in the team. But the secret word is I m x. So the letters I, an x, so just got to put that in, and you'll be able to claim it once the space is done. I think I don't I don't have much. I don't like keeping you for too long. Because we always have so many different calls. But I do want to give you the opportunity to wrap things up for us with just a, I guess, a word from you, Adoni from Immutable X. But it could also just be a word from you, or Adoni, and for everyone listening in. I'll let you wrap up the show. And then I'll do kind of the last show for the socials and where they can listen if they joined in late. Does that sound good?

31:04

Yeah, one word.

31:06

It doesn't have to be one word. Now you could just give us give us an outro basically, I want the new outro for the podcast and this is going to be it.

31:13

Now Jeremy mean, like we just want to help as much as we can even if you know a game is not built on on IMAX. We love the collaborative nature of what three. And so you know, whatever it is, please reach out. We'd love to help in any way that we can and and learn from you. So that's that's, that's my outro

31:33

I like that. I like that. Okay, cool. So for everyone that tuned in. If you joined in late, you probably missed one of the best episodes on the podcast. Definitely one of my favorite ones. But don't worry, because you can always still tune in on Spotify, Apple podcasts and any other platform that you like to enjoy your podcasts and thank you so much for joining us. This was honestly one of my favorite ones but it's been a pleasure having you Adani I don't think this is going to be the last time that people hear from you on our platform and it's gonna definitely not gonna be the last time that people hear but IMX as well in the space. So thank you for joining. And for everyone else. Thank you for joining us on today's space. Thank you, everybody, for having me. Have a great day.

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