Episode 88: Blockchain Gaming with Horizon

Ben Lakoff, CFA
October 10, 2022
Listen to this episode on your favorite platform!

Blockchain Gaming with Michael Sanders of Horizon Games (creators of Trading Card Game Skyweaver).

In this episode with Michael we go over the state of the blockchain gaming industry where it is and where it could be going, we talk about blockchain game developers - what chains they’re interested in and how to get started building a game, and a lot more.


Listen on your Platform of choice:

Check out for all the listening options (Spotify, Apple, etc.)

Show Notes

0:00:00 Welcome and context

0:02:30 What is your background?

0:04:15 What sparked your interest in blockchain gaming that early on?

0:06:10 What excites you about the current trends in blockchain gaming?

0:08:01 Where are we with blockchain gaming?

0:11:49 How did Skyweaver started?

0:16:05 What makes blockchain games appealing to players?

0:20:31 Why should game developers look into sequence?

0:24:00 What is the gamers' preference for blockchains?

0:25:45 Where should newbees start with blockchain gaming?

0:28:02 What are some of the Anti NFT gaming thesis?

0:31:05 What blockchain enabled features are you incorporating?

0:39:00 Where do you see guilds fitting in blockchain gaming?

0:41:20 Where could blockchain gaming go wrong?

0:44:41 Where can people find out more about you?

Show Links


Horizon Games

Episode 71 with Bored Elon

Episode 73

Episode 77 with Samee

Helpful other Alt Asset Articles

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Ben: Welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast, exploring alternative investment opportunities available to the everyday investor. Here's your host Ben Lakoff. 

Hello and welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast. Today's interview is with Michael Sanders. I've had a few episodes on blockchain gaming at this point, episodes 71 73 77 with Bored Elon.

Ryan Wyatt and Sammi respectively. At this point, I'm super bullish on the prospects of blockchain technology, enabling new styles of play and new game mechanics that people haven't quite thought of yet we're early. That doesn't mean that everything is up into the right and everything that exists now will continue to exist in the future.

No, but this means that we are truly in the early innings of. Blockchain gaming could look like. Michael is the CEO of horizon games, which is produced sky Weaver, which is a pretty freaking cool trading card game, blockchain aside, many believe that this game is super fun and has tons of potential. And it's even better that they're using NFTs.

So horizon has very much been eating their own dog food. When building sky Weaver, they developed and pro productized the tools they needed for building. They ended. Creating sequence, which is a developer platform to help developers and make games more easily and nifty swap, which is the swapping of ERC 1155 S a type of NFT.

In this episode with Michael, we go over the state of the blockchain gaming industry, where it is today and where it could be going. We talk about blockchain game developers, what chains they're interested in and how to get started building a game. And we cover a lot. More before we jump into this episode, I wanted to take a second to thank you for all the great questions and feedback I've been getting.

If you want to hear from somebody in the space that I haven't talked to yet, please make an intro. I'm always happy to get, take warm intros from my listeners to someone that might be a good fit for the show. And as always, if you're getting some value from this podcast, share it with a friend, give me a.

Give me a subscribe, give me a review. All of these things really, really help. All right, Michael, on blockchain gaming, let's go, Michael. Welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast. Excited to have you on today. Welcome sir. 

[00:02:29] Michael: Thanks so much for having me Ben. Yeah. 

[00:02:31] Ben: Excited to do this and man catching up before we could talk for ages about a number of different topics.

But today, specifically covering blockchain gaming had a few other episodes with Ryan White, which you saw and, and numerous other ones. So blockchain gaming, super hot. You're very experienced in the space. So want to get into all those things, but let's start off with your background, how you got into crypto and doing what you're doing today.

[00:02:57] Michael: Cool. Yeah, so I first became interested in Bitcoin back in 2010 and then I met Vitalic Rine Ethereum's inventor in January, 2014. And he was speaking to a room of about 20 of us 18 months before Ethereum's launch and hearing him talk. I was covered in goosebumps. Convinced that he's an alien from the future here to teach us about technology, economics and love.

And that's when I fell in love with web three, even though we weren't calling it at that time, but this next generation of the internet and these decentralized economies and these new forms of applications were users and creators benefit. And, you know, I spent a lot of time thinking about like, how can we usher in these technologies to, you know, Regular people using them so that we can benefit as many humans and entities as possible.

And to be honest, I didn't have that many great ideas, but then in middle of 2017, I met Peter Keka one of my co-founders and our CEO at horizon. And to my knowledge, the first person who ever conceptualized blockchain games. And as soon as he said it and this idea for sky Weaver and building a platform, I thought, holy shit, this is it.

This is how we can welcome the world to web three and do it in a really fun and loving way. 

[00:04:11] Ben: That's awesome. And man, early on, so I was just looking up the ethere myco was August, 2014 and hearing those terms at that point, I mean, Breaks your mind, right? A bit. It was like at very early stages. All of these things were just little kernels of, of of thoughts in Vitalic, big old brain.

But that's, that's fascinating. And then, so blockchain gaming, I mean, you very, very early seeing the premise and then potential of blockchain gaming. It sounds like what. What about that conversation? I mean, were you a gamer in the past and you saw some inefficiencies or, or what sparked your interest so much in blockchain gaming at that time?

[00:04:54] Michael: Largely because games are fun. And I love playing and I love this harmonization of doing something fun with web three and crypto, and I did grow up a video gamer and honestly, I stopped playing regularly around the age of. 14. And ever since I've really been perceiving this experience of life as the most incredible video game there is.

And I have a ton of friends who are gamers, my younger brother's a hardcore gamer. And I was always like interested in his experiences and we would talk about it. So gaming's always been and playing has always been like really special and important to me. And when. Peter had this idea, you know, he had like within five minutes, I was, we had met for the first time I was ready to invest in his company before he told me I don't have a company yet.

Like, I'm just validating the idea. But it was this notion of being able to own video game items, which we understood that people spend billions of dollars on every year, yet they don't actually get to own them and, and turning them into you know, a token, a cryptocurrency that truly becomes their property was.

Illuminating when he said it, I was like, how did I not think of this before? Like how did someone else which is suggested to me, it was such a brilliant idea. And so yeah, we co-founded the company shortly thereafter.

[00:06:09] Ben: So the idea of true ownership of these game assets, this is like one of the big.

Premise of blockchain gaming, but now after a couple years of experimenting and thinking more deeply in it, like what excites you most about blockchain and gaming in this new convergence and new game mechanics that are enabled by it? 

[00:06:28] Michael: Hmm. Honestly, the thing that excites me most is the exploration, because I don't think that.

Anyone has landed on the full proof solution for how to make web three gaming. Awesome. For the long term, I actually think we're doing some really amazing and groundbreaking stuff with sky Weaver, but we've all seen like the industry as a whole, you know, the play to earn phenomenon is. I mean, I don't know if it's fizzling out entirely, but there's certainly like a, a bit of a negative sentiment towards it.

You know, we've actually never positioned sky Weber as a play to earn game because we never wanted it. The, the focus to be purely on making money. It, we wanted to be game first. And I think even that notion like being game first is now a term that a lot of folks use. But yeah, to me, it. It's the discovery process, right?

Like we're kind of let you know, we're four and a half years deep into web three gaming and there's some cool ideas. And we now see like more minds and hearts entering the space who are, you know, a combination of web three native and folks from big web, two gaming studios or indie studios all coming in to like collaborate together, start their own projects.

So that, that's what I'm most excited about to see what comes from. This era and also to see what we do with sky river. 

[00:07:48] Ben: Yeah. And I mean, this is, this is the joy of this global. 24 7, 365 market. Right. It's just so quickly iterating and innovating. It's. Yeah. Innovation moves very, very quickly. So let's start by kind of let's step back and kind of state that the current state of blockchain gaming, where we are right now, like as an industry and then kind of what needs to happen.

Structurally to get us to that next level. 

[00:08:22] Michael: Cool. Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, for anyone listening, it's July, 2022. If you're listening to this in the future and there have been some cool concepts for blockchain games and sort of, as we just alluded to there's this play to earn phenomenon and it's kind of maybe not the, be all and end all of web three gaming.

We've seen some. Let's say more naive approaches to economy design, where folks could fairly easily mint assets. And of course, those types of environments become hyperinflationary and the value drops. And if the focus is purely around earning money, And then you create this hyperinflationary experience.

Well, then it kind of destroys everything for all the players and you need to really pivot. So I think one of the things that needs to happen is creating truly game first web three games. That would be fun regardless of whether there is any. You know, financial reward and just having that ownership and the tradeability be core to the experience.

But not, yeah, not necessarily focusing on profitability. And I think a lot of what needs to happen is actually on the infrastructure and the onboarding side of things, which is where we've invested a lot of our energy at horizon. For, for the listeners out there we've made a, a free to play trading card game that's web three game.

And you know, the cards are tradeable and ownable ERC 1155 tokens, and 60% of our user base is brand new to web three. And, and we were very committed to doing this, to enabling a seamless experience for anyone you don't need to know about crypto to play. And in fact, our. User bases, trading card game players like magic, the gathering Pokemon hard stone players.

And in order to create that seamless experience over the last four and a half, almost five years now, we've had to solve so many pain points around the blockchain infrastructure. And that goes from being able to create Web three collectibles and NFTs to exist in game to being able to have like a node service that's reliable so that all the data is online and in sync to creating a wallet that is tailor made for gamers.

And let's say the consumer crypto experience so that anyone can onboard super easily without thinking the wallet is some crazy research project and needing to understand seed phrases and like installing extensions and like all this. Crazy friction we've seen up until this point. So we built a very user friendly, smart contract wallet state of the art capabilities and security and seamlessness.

So we really achieved something special and unique here and, you know, on ramps and NFT marketplace protocol. So providing all of these tools so that. Other game developers building for web three, don't need to build all of these themselves. And then they can just focus on actually making a great game, focusing on like core game moves, game design, game mechanics, in addition to whatever economy design they're going to have, because I think those elements are a lot to take care of to begin with, let alone, trying to figure out all the blockchain component.

Yeah, no, they, they 

[00:11:28] Ben: definitely are. And I mean, as blockchain gaming gets more and more interesting for more people like having these structural tools will be, will be very, very important. So kudos to you guys in sequence and all that you're doing there. Let's let's talk about, so 60% of the user base is brand new to web three.

These stats are crazy. So let's start with like, from. Idea to where you are now was the flow kind of starting with dream Weaver and then building out into Hori horizon sequence, nifty swap, like walk me through that and then give me some stats on dream Weaver in terms of number gamers or whatever ones, you know, off the top of your

[00:12:09] Michael: head.

Yeah. So just quick correction by sky Weaver. Not, not dream Weaver. Oh, 

[00:12:15] Ben: I said dreamweaver. 

[00:12:16] Michael: Yeah, no worries, man. That's a cool name too though. So yeah, so we, the origins of horizon, it started around the idea of a trading card game called sky Weaver, because we really wanted to build an experience that was fun and that our friends could play a lot of our, like a lot of the founder's friends are magic to gathering players and You know, har stone and stuff too.

So we wanted something that like they could play and then crypto and web three would make sense to them, but just first and foremost, to have fun. And, and so within about like a week of venturing down this journey, we realized, whoa, we have to solve so much infrastructure. And fortunately like Peter keel, Tika, our CEO, His expertise.

Like he's an infrastructure developer. His open source software is used by like CloudFlare 99 designs, Heroku, like he's already built and sold two successful tech companies. And so, so, you know, he's very passionate about this. And so we were well equipped right from the beginning to actually solve all these infrastructure issues.

But it was, yeah, it's, it's been from day one that we've been really building. Two products in tandem, like sky Weaver and then sequence to facilitate sky Weaver, and then realizing that all of the solutions we're coming up with can be productized and will be needed by anyone building a web three application in the future.

And which actually like uniquely positions us in the market. Because as an application developer, we have a, a very deep understanding for what's what's required from the infrastructure. And yeah, that's how the journey started and yeah, it's, how's been progressing as well. 

[00:13:47] Ben: Yeah, that's incredible.

And I, I. Eating your own dog food and productizing the things that you need and use. So that that's typically works really, really well. And, and with sky Weaver and sorry for calling it dream Weaver, sky, sky Weaver 60% of the user base is brand new, but like what other stats? These days still people using it a lot.

I mean, a lot of your energy at this point is sequence and nifty swap and all the other things I would imagine, but it still sounds like there's quite a few people playing 

[00:14:15] Michael: sky Weaver. Oh, yeah. And just to clarify, our company is essentially two divisions, so one focused on sky Weaver and one focused on sequence.

So yeah, the people working on sky river are always working on sky Weaver and we planned for that to be like a multi decade IP and like for people to love it. So definitely like going full steam ahead on that. And then yeah, another division of the company is focused on sequence and nifty swap. So yeah, in terms of our player base off the top of my head, I think we have 400 and.

40,000 total users. We just entered open beta in February. So I guess that's five months ago. And that's when we made the game, we opened the game up so that anyone can play. Yeah. And there's obviously like you can win silver and gold collectible, NFT versions of the cards. And so there's a lot of market volume.

I wish I could tell you off the top of my head, how much market volume there is, but I'm just, I feel like I'd just be guessing at this point, but there's been a lot back. Can 

[00:15:12] Ben: drop it in the snow show, show notes afterwards, and people can check it out. I mean, no, I, I, so I mean the key concept online trading game or trading card game.

Each each asset within the game is an NFTE. They're all on polygon. It looks 

[00:15:27] Michael: like. Yeah. Yeah. All the sky river cards are on polygon and there are we have what's called starter decks and base cards. So you can get these through. I mean, you just get, get them to play with, and they're actually non blockchain items.

But then if you buy any of the cards or you win cards by being skilled at the game, these will be either silver or gold NFT versions of the cards. And they're, they're simply cosmetically enhanced. They don't provide you a gameplay advantage compared to the base ones, but they give you this like status intra.

[00:15:59] Ben: interesting. Super, super, super, super cool. I, so I mean, a lot of these blockchain games are still early stage, so what is kind of the secret sauce besides creating a game that people love and care about in terms of attracting people interested to play your game interested in your ecosystem, what kind of secret sauce have you used at this point?

[00:16:22] Michael: From the very beginning, I think we've had a really loving ethos around what we want to build and something that people will really enjoy, that they can also benefit from. And that they'll have fun. And we're like the farthest thing from predatory in terms of our business model. Like it's a really fair business model that serves both the creator us and the, the community very well.

So I think having that ethos and. Welcoming the, and fostering the community from the very beginning, you know, like we, it took us about, I think, 10 months to get to a playable alpha of the game. And we invited 20 people into our office to have like a play testing session, you know? And then that's when we created the community discord.

Maybe we'd create it shortly before, but you know, it wasn't that big at the time. Like maybe there's a hundred people. And then just slowly over time, you know, we, we always welcome the community's feedback and now our discords over a hundred thousand, but it was always like, you know, slowly growing. And we were listening to the community's feedback and deploying patch, updates, every single one to two weeks for years, like I think, yeah, we're actually approaching patch number 100.

And we're now doing it on a biweekly basis. So this. Constant iterative approach and, and really listening I think is key to, you know, building community and growing a game. And Yeah. A lot of like serendipity and stuff too, and being really just focused on the product and wanting to deliver the best experience possible.

[00:17:55] Ben: Yeah. I didn't go all the way through the onboarding process, but just obfuscating over way. The the crypto esque aspect has probably been a very key to people using it. A and the newbies kind of coming on board and, and using it, I would imagine. 

[00:18:14] Michael: Yeah, totally. Cuz like, you know, for example, we have like world champions of Pokemon professional magic to gathering players, professional hard stone players.

And a lot of them, they did not come to sky RER because it's a web three experience. You know, they heard it's a cool trading card game and they really wanted to try it out. And I've even seen some folks on stream who win a gold card through conquest and they say on stream, they're like, ah, holy shit.

Crypto just made sense to me for the first time because I actually own this thing. But like. If the onboarding experience had them creating a seat phrase and spending 45 minutes, trying to figure out what a wallet was like, they wouldn't, they wouldn't have gone in, you know, most of them I'm guessing.

Right. So it's really important to just like, get them in the experience, like right away and have them ex have them enjoy like what the game's all about, which is like, which is having fun. And then as you progress and play more, you can kind of dive deeper into the market and, and the mechanics.

[00:19:09] Ben: Yeah, that that makes sense.

And I mean, for gaming to be the next Trojan horse, to get more people in, like, you can't have people writing down 12 magical words and bearing it in their front yard that magically unlocks all the key to their wealth. Right. such a foreign concept for everybody. Like what are you talking about? like, yeah.

You know, there's no password reset. That's kind of part of it. 

[00:19:32] Michael: totally. I mean, actually with sequence, we do we've enabled account recovery through a multi key system. So it's actually making that aspect even easier for folks, but yeah, you're right, man. Like, I'll be honest. It took me like over a year, probably two years to really understand what, see, like I wrote them down.

I was keeping them safe, but I'm like, what is like, what's going on here? You know? So it took me a while. And then if, if you're not actually coming into the space for the crypto aspect for another aspect, then I, I think it would be extra confus. 

[00:20:01] Ben: Yeah, a hundred percent. So the, probably a good transition into sequence.

So tools for game developers. I have some friends at this point that are starting to develop games, you know, from gaming background. Interesting crypto it's the perfect convergence of both of their interests. Let's, let's just kinda give the pitch for sequence and for game developers looking to get started, why they would look at something like sequence and what it, what it offer.

[00:20:32] Michael: Yeah, totally sequences an all in one developer platform and smart wallet to make building web three games. Metaverses NFT projects and other applications easy. 

[00:20:43] Ben: Oh, you nailed that one. That's pretty easy. Is it a it's so is, is it specifically for polygon or this can be used on different chains. I know at this point seems to be a lot of uptick on something like Solana for the gaming ecosystem, as well as.

Other layer twos, you know, optimism and immutable. 

[00:21:05] Michael: Yeah. So sequence all of the architectural, the wallet is compatible with all EVM compatible chains. In case anyone listening doesn't know what that means. It stands for Ethereum virtual machine. So using the same architecture that Ethereum is built with.

So that includes networks, side chains and layer two such as polygon Binance smart chain. Optimism, arbitral avalanche Phantom and a whole bunch of other networks that are coming online. And we, yeah, we continue adding support for more and more of those different networks. So yeah, it's built for the entire EVM ecosystem and even like, you know, The networks that aren't EVM compatible at the moment, they're all striving to become EVM compatible.

Whether or not they achieve it remains to be seen, cuz it's not a trivial pursuit, but yes. Sequence, yeah. Supports all EVM compatible chains. Be curious with, 

[00:21:57] Ben: with your view from sequence, it. Should provide this unique perspective into where game developers interests lie. So I'd be curious if you could share any insight on different blockchains or different side chains, L two S like where where's most of the interest and, and why do you 

[00:22:15] Michael: suppose that is?

Yeah, I mean, We hear so much demand for EVM compatible chains and we even see folks leaving non EVM compatible chains to become part of the EVM network. This is, I mean, there's a number of different reasons. Like there's, composability, there's. Portability. There's the fact that there's just the biggest ecosystem with respect to number of developers number of people building in the space number of users, number of wallets the ecosystem.

Personally, I, I also think it has the best ethos. But you know, I, I think a lot, you know, there are other nice ethoses out there as well. And yeah, like, you know, if you're part of the EVM ecosystem, then your tokens and your smart contracts will work with all of the different networks. So should you decide, like you need to move over somewhere else?

It like, you know, like let's say something happens to the blockchain you're working on, you know, if you're part of the EVM ecosystem, you have so many options and they all have different trade offs, right? Like some have. Greater security. Some have greater throughput. Some are better for games. Some are better for financial applications, but you have many options and many really strong options.

So that's why being part of the eco EVM. Ecosystem's so attractive for developers of all kind gaming developers and other applications as well. 

[00:23:31] Ben: Yeah, tough to beat, but I definitely am biased in that in that area, like pro. Ethos and EVM compatible chains. Have you started to see any sort of tribalism or like within the gamers themself, like, whereas the gamer mindset, they don't care.

They know that they're picking up assets as they play along and they want a game, regardless if that's on an EVM chain or other 

[00:24:00] Michael: yeah. You know, it's interesting. I I've seen some. Folks who are very enthusiastic about polygon and some folks that are very enthusiastic about finance, smart chain. And yeah, it's I, I'm actually not entirely sure where.

It originates, like some of these people could simply be token holders or they were exposed to that particular network first. So they have a personal affinity for it, or maybe they've assessed the technology and they think it's better. But yeah, I, I don't, so I don't really notice anyone coming into a game as like a pure gamer and then.

Becoming like a maximalist about the network that it's on. At least not right away. I, I think it would require a deeper dive. And that's one of the interesting parts about like gaming and what we're building is actually those networks. They're sort of abstracted away. Cause like if you're using sequence, you can connect to applications on all these different networks, which is, you know, analogous to a web browser, granting you access to all different websites, whether they're hosted on Amazon or Google cloud.

Similarly you can use sequence to access all these games and applications, whether they're hosted on polygon or Ethereum or avalanche or wherever. Right. So I think like over time users will become. Particular about it and will ha end up having experience working with this multi chain ecosystem, which we certainly seem to be progressing towards or, and already existing in you.

[00:25:29] Ben: Yeah, no, the future's definitely multi chain and it's the, the transition from one to another will be a lot more seamless and safer right now. Bridge is not the most safe thing. We've, we've seen time and time again, but it you know, it's early in a number of different ways. That's one of them In, in terms of like advice to game developers wanting to get started in the ecosystem and thinking about blockchain that they adhere to, or, or, or any other kind of general advice to somebody getting started in the space, 

[00:26:02] Michael: Yeah.

I mean, my, my advice would be to go to and join our discord. If you wanna chat with some of our devs and our, you know, the people who help with integrations in the community because that's a great place to really learn like. What tools are available to help you out. And we'll do a even better job of marketing on our website and also creating more awareness for sequence and all the tools that are available.

But you know, just super high level, like there's the wallet. There are NFT APIs, there's a node gateway. There are on ramps to help bring your users into crypto, whether that's, you know, Going from fi to crypto or Fiat to NFT. We have a mentor, we have transaction relay. So you can enable gas list transactions for your users, which is really critical.

I believe to onboarding cuz new folks aren't gonna have like madic to transact on polygon necessarily. Right? So you can actually get rid of that friction. We're working on a unity SDK to make integrating sequence with unity powered games. Nice and easy. And then yeah, we have the nifty swap protocol to enable you to build a custom NFT marketplace as well, or, you know, web three collectible.

I use the term NFT and web three collectible sort of interchangeably. But yeah, so I'd say go to sequence, do XYZ slash developers, join our discord and, and come, come chat with us. That's awesome. 

[00:27:19] Ben: So for any game developers interested, check it out. There's a, there's a lot of resources there. Let's, let's touch on kind of the, the anti NFTs in blockchain gaming movement.

So Lots of people like yourself and myself believe that, you know, NFTs have this integral part of the game that like can improve the game experience and new unique game mechanics. But there are some gamers that, that have negative thoughts on NFTs. I'm curious. I mean, we don't have to go through their negative opinions, but like what kind of valid arguments do they have in your opinion?

[00:27:56] Michael: I think the valid claims from their perspective is that they probably haven't experienced a web through game in which they've had a great time with. Right? Like they've probably seen a lot of stuff that feels scammy. And a lot of it is like a lot of these projects are kind of fly by night or they do a big NFT drop and say, yeah, the game's gonna come out in four years.

Meanwhile, people have spent tons of money on it. And then you have these weird community dynamics. I mean sometimes, you know, they'll say like the game's coming out in one year. You know, it takes a while to build a really good game. So I think people can become impatient and it, it kind of destroys sentiment.

And yeah, I think a lot of these folks who are upset with NFTs or anti NFTs just haven't had a great experience and I believe that'll change in the, you know, the very near future, just as better games come online. And then I think something will pique their interest and it'll, you know, it'll be a, a transitory, like, it'll, it'll take a bit of time because I think there are some really like people who are just very down on the space.

Right. And I, I think this is a very vocal group and I think it's a minority. And then you have advocates like you and me who really believe in, in how this actually empowers gamers and creates better economies and better game experiences. And then there's a whole ton of people in the middle who have just heard either of those two camps speak.

And they're like, yeah, maybe it's cool. Maybe. A scam and they don't really care. They don't really know. And they're just gonna wait to actually have an experience and assess for themselves. And I think that group, I don't know, probably represents like 80% of the population or something. And so I believe all of them will end up having a great web three gaming experience within the next few years.

And then we'll see the tide shift. Yeah, 

[00:29:40] Ben: it's typically just a matter of timeline, right? I mean, we're so early with this, like, and games don't get developed overnight as, as you know, like, I mean, they take a really big team, a lot of energy put into it to have anything that resembles some somewhat of a fun game, let alone, like off skating out the web three aspects that like also improve on onboarding these things all take time.

I'd be curious with, with sky Weaver in, in particular, you, you talked about some, I mean, NFTs as ownership, but what other unique blockchain enabled use cases are, have you guys integrated in, or you're excited about experimenting around with more, I mean, we talked about play to earn these kind, these kind of things were early stage, but I'd be curious what other ways you're incorporating blockchain to like improve the game, play significantly.

[00:30:31] Michael: Yeah. So some of the ways we're incorporating blockchain is that, so one of the game modes is called conquest and I've just, just stayed step back. So the game is free to play. You don't need to spend anything and you can actually end up winning items that, you know, you could trade. Later on. Right.

But you don't actually have to spend anything. And then we have a competitive game mode called conquest, which is a pay to enter mode. What, where you pay either 1.5 USTC or you enter with a silver card, which is a. A collectible version of a sky Reber card, and it's a tournament moment. And so if you get eliminated, you're out, but the more matches you win, you can win these rarer collectible NFT items.

And so that's a really, I think, novel gaming experience. It's like tournament format where you can actually mine cards into existence on skill based manner, right. And like a bit analogous to mining. Bitcoin just, you need to be skilled at a game instead of doing proof of work computations. And because it's on polygon, it's super environmentally friendly, cuz I know a lot of, you know, that's really important with respect to how we're moving forward.

And then like, To also the ability to have a, a marketplace built in game. So we have the sky Reber market, which is powered by our nifty swap protocol. And what this enables is the ability to instantly buy or sell cards. Because the way nifty swap works is for those who are familiar with uni swap nifty swap is like uni swap for ERC 1155 tokens.

So it's like uni swap for game items and web three collectibles. Which means that you, yeah, you can instantly buy and sell them. And that that's a really amazing feature for. Gamers with respect to understanding that they own their items and the ability to trade. Cuz like, if you think about a trading card game in the physical world such as magic, the gatherings.

Trading's obviously like, people love that, right? But like, you have to get together in person and you have to, you know, go to a shop or go to a tournament to be able to do that. Whereas with sky Weaver, you can do that online, no matter where you are in the world you know, get, gets rid of a lot of logistical issues in that sense.

We also have a cool referral program for those who like bring their friends into the game and are legitimate users. We have a way for, you know, verifying that and then they can win these cool stickers, which are tradeable and the stickers are a way to like, Express yourself in game. Like if you've made a cool move, you can like post a cute sticker that celebrates it, or like, you know, like different ways of expressing yourself.

And we're also building out our, our community tournaments and stuff, and you know, it there's like some groups like ind gigg there a, a sub do of ygg yield, yield games. One of the really big gaming Dows and Yeah, ind gigg like they out of their own Goodwill and interest, they actually run sky weave tournaments and they reward their users typically based in India for their performance, with their token.

And like, they've put up a lot of, you know, value in terms of sponsoring that. And I, I think that's really cool because it's like, you know, even, even though there is a negative sentiment around play to earn, it's still a very interesting concept. I think perhaps the branding of it needs to change. And like, but if, you know, we, we all saw what happened with AIE right with people in the Philippines who don't earn as much as folks in north America.

And like some folks in north America say like, oh, that's a waste of time. But like, if you're in the Philippines and you could earn like $5 playing this game, you know, you're pretty excited about it. And so How that manifests in the future will be really interesting because it is, it is cool that folks can actually derive value through their fun experience.

So yeah, I, I think there's just all sorts of innovations that will come out and we're actually working on like, New features like these hero skins, which would be additional ways that they're tradeable and, and ways to express yourself in the game. And a few more items. And I'm just trying to remember in my head, like, if we've announced them yet, if I can say them yet, but yeah, we, we got all, but you can talk 

[00:34:31] Ben: in generalizations too.

If, if, if, if easier, you know, because like, The blockchain does enable these new game mechanics that people get excited about. So it's kind of fun to peer into the, the mind of somebody super involved with a game. So talking specific of like other blockchain enabled game mechanics that could like enhance game play in some way.

[00:34:52] Michael: Yeah. Well, some something we've talked about is having in game guilds. And so for. In case any of the listeners don't know how gaming guilds work like in, in traditional video games like web two games, guilds are really about social coordination and playing with your friends and like, yeah, just kind of having a team that's sometimes lasts like decades.

You know, people play the same games with each other and web three guilds up until now have largely been focused on finance and like kind of earning. But, but it it's shifting now and actually like. Yeah, the, the, the guilds are sort of pivoting at the moment. It seems. But in any case in sky Weaver, we talked about this concept of like this almost hybrid of like you have the ownership in the web three aspect, and then also with the social coordination in the web two aspect.

So that like a sky Weaver player could actually take, let's say a silver card. Let's say they take the silver fun guy card. It's this mushroom card. And they, they burn it. To then create a Guild that has fungi as its mascot, and then anyone else can burn, like, you know, a certain number of fun guys, and then they can become part of that same Guild.

And then those Guild members now have the ability to share resources amongst one another. So I could be like, Hey Ben, like, oh, you don't have the Pandora card. I'll let you use it for the next week. Right. Or you could like potentially rent it out. But I think within Guild, the idea would be like this more sharing experience.

Yeah. And like, there's even an idea. Like those guilds could actually become their own Dows and then they could go, you know, do whatever they want, like have their own discords. And so I think stuff like that's really cool if you think about, because like where that goes, right? Like into the metaverse and into web three and the future iterations of that, it could just be like, I don't know, like you can have lifelong communities formed.

Through a game. And then, but I don't know, like when you start thinking about like VR and AR and the metaverse and it's like, well, it's like people living together in this different realm, like all fun guy as their mascot or something. Right. Like it's just, yeah. 

[00:36:53] Ben: Well that shared interest, right. And this is, I, I don't know if you've read Bey's new book, the network stake, but he talks about this, this like virtual.

Virtual community centered around some idea fungi. And then we end up like seceding from the us and creating our own or C setting. And, and it's just this little group. It like, it goes from virtual to physical. So it's, it's not that far off really. Right. So. 

[00:37:17] Michael: Totally man. Yeah. I, I haven't read the book yet, but I listened to biology.

Talk about the network state with Tim three hour. Yeah. 

[00:37:23] Ben: It was three and a half hours. I, I, I, I made it through it. That's a good primer for the book. You could probably skip the book. He talks about a lot about the concepts, but yeah. Yeah. 

[00:37:32] Michael: Cool. Yeah. But yeah, totally man, those like online communities centered around an idea and then like, but yeah, just becoming even more important to people than perhaps where they're physically located.

[00:37:46] Ben: Well, I mean, it's, it's a like redesigning society from, from the ground up, right? Like we're friends with the people physically around us because we were children running around with them. But like now when I can call you in Toronto very, very easily. And, and this is like a very 2d sh. Crappy experience of interacting, but in the future when we're in our VR headsets and whatever.

So definitely, definitely getting there. I, I, I'd be curious, you talked a bit about guilds and thank you for the overview. But in, in terms of like them pivoting, so like guilds, like why gigg, I I'd be curious where you see guilds kind of fitting into the gaming, the blockchain gaming web three gaming ecosystem going forward and, and what those look.

[00:38:31] Michael: Yeah, to be candid. I don't have a fully formulated thought about this. There are certainly other people on my team, like in our community and our economy design who have who would have much better ideas, but something I've considered is. Like their guilt are really great for developing community. And they can, I think one area obvious area of aspects is for them leading tournaments and like partnering with games to do so.

But yeah, I yeah, I think if I had known, you'd asked that question, I would I would've. I would've touched base with those guys and been like, Hey, what's your latest thinking on what guilds might focus on? I, I, I, 

[00:39:06] Ben: yeah, I wasn't thinking about it until, I mean, you're right with this whole play to earn thing, like the kind of the, the monetary model of a lot of these games needs to shift.

And I'm not sure where, like, you can't see around that, that many corners to see where it's going, 

[00:39:22] Michael: but also maybe like educational. Platforms, you know, like teaching around the streets, educational, onboard. 

[00:39:29] Ben: I could see a lot of that. I mean, cuz we're gonna get a lot more games and we have, there's a ton of gamers worldwide, but like onboarding them into web three and getting them up to speed as well as the financial things of, you know, leasing out assets that are more expensive to use or whatever mm-hmm

But. Fascinating. Yeah. I, I'd be curious to, like, you you've been in crypto for a while and we always kind of have our crypto permeable hats on, or at least, you know, I try to break out of the, the echo chamber from times to time, but where, where could this go all wrong in terms of blockchain gaming, not being just the thing, like, we've just totally.

I'm not thinking about this wrong incorrectly or, or some regulatory where, where could this all go wrong? 

[00:40:20] Michael: Hmm. I, I like, so I don't foresee it all going wrong, but I guess if just like some really big scammy projects happened and. They hurt a lot of people, you know, or just like, I don't know if something got like millions of users or like tens of millions.

And then it was all turned out to be shit. And either through an act of malevolence or through an act of just incompetence or just naivete, cuz not, not everything that. Crashes and burns is because the folks were like trying to screw people over. Right. Like a lot of times it's just cuz some of these problems are very hard and you just have inexperienced people trying something out and likely over promising in a lot of scenarios.

Right. Yeah, whether it's delusion or they're lying, like I think it's a case by case basis, but I think if there were to be some wildly seemingly successful project, Created this like mass awareness towards it. And then the whole thing crumbled and like people lost a bunch of money or I don't know something else of importance.

I think that would be seriously. Detrimental and would just probably take some time to recover from, I still actually don't think it would kill the space because like there's so many projects with integrity that are building. And so they would eventually surface and like, I don't know, it'd be kind of analogous to like when Mount GOs crashed back in 2013, like, and I guess for anyone new, like it was a, a big crypto exchange that it was centralized and it just, it disappeared.

People lost. I don't know what it was at the time, but like probably a 

[00:42:04] Ben: crazy percentage of Bitcoin. I mean, it was like 40% of all Bitcoin. There's something nuts. I mean, yeah. So it would be analogous to you know, Celsius and Blackfin. All these guys blowing up basically. 

[00:42:16] Michael: Good point, good point. Yeah. Right.

And like, even those things aren't gonna destroy the ecosystem. Right. They, they certainly tell us what's flawed and like what business models need more thinking and ideas. We shouldn't Execute in the same way. And learn from, you know, it's like, I think all these things are about building resilience and or what some people call anti fragility, right?

Like it's you learn from the failed attempts and, and then you build stronger in the future. So, yeah, that's, that's sort of what I think about the potential. Because I also think if you had a really big scammy thing like that, you might have regulators saying like, oh, web three games aren't allowed or whatever, and then that would suck.

But yeah, I don't, I don't foresee that happening. 

[00:43:00] Ben: Yeah. Well Yeah, I was trying to find the Mount Cox percentage. I think it was, it was responsible for more than 70% of Bitcoin transactions at his peak. So I don't know what percentage was locked up. But it was, it was definitely up there early nascent market

Alright. Let's end on the most exciting. Things about everything that Horizon's touching. That's like, kind of at the near term roadmap, and then kind of where you wanna send my listeners to find out more. 

[00:43:34] Michael: Cool. So is the best place to go, cuz then you can connect with sequence and, and sky Weaver as well.

And yeah, like our focus is just on we're onboarding a ton of different games and metaverses and marketplaces and collectibles projects and socials. Onto the sequence developer platform. There are a bunch of them ranging from like me chain and of course, nifty swab and sky river powered by sequence.

But we also have like the zone boxing, which is one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in the world. We have cool cats, which is one of the biggest NFT ecosystems. We have community gaming, which is an awesome Automated eSports platform or, or community tournament platform. We have, yeah, like nifty island of Freeland metaverse and, and, and other games.

And, and we also have Some more projects that like kind of big web two gaming companies that are collaborating with us. And we'll share more about that. So really excited to just like have eventually thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of applications building in web three, using sequence and being able to deliver their users a, a wonderful and seamless experience.

And then on the sky river side, like making it, like really having it live up to its potential because I don't, I think I might have said this earlier, but like we've had a lot of hardcore trading card game players tell us you have the best ingredients or sorry. You have the ingredients to make the best trading card game ever, like independently of web, any web three component.

And like, we really wanna like live up to that. You know, if these people are telling us that it's like, let's like, let's deliver that experience. And then also I mentioned the nifty swap protocol that we built that automated market maker. So pretty soon we'll launch nifty, which is a general marketplace for all web three collectibles and ERC 1155.

So you know, like you might think of open sea as like this amazing place for one of one items and, and seven 20 ones. Right. And then and so like unique artworks and then nifty swap will be this place where you can trade. Digital goods and, and game items where there are multiple copies of those of those items.

And it's for it is kind of analogous to like how there's the uni swap protocol and then uni as the front end. It's like nifty swaps the protocol. And now there will be nifty is a general marketplace for everything. And yeah, really excited about all those things and just ultimately making web three easy, fun, and powerful for both builders and users.

[00:45:58] Ben: Amazing. Michael I've really, really appreciated the conversation. Where else, anything you left off your own personal Twitter? Where, where can people find out more 

[00:46:10] Michael: Yeah, My personal Twitter is at underscore Michael Sanders and yeah. Thanks everyone for listening. And thanks so much for having me.


[00:46:19] Ben: you. It's been great. There you go. First off. Thank you very much for listening all the way through. I hope you got a lot of value out of that conversation as always. You can find show notes, links, and [email protected]. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested and derive any value from this conversation.

And as always, you can reach out to me for any feedback or questions. Please give the video a like, or even better subscribe on YouTube or your podcast player of choice. This really helps others find the podcast or the video as well. Thanks a lot. Hope everybody has a fantastic day and stay safe out there and invest wisely.


Ben Lakoff is an entrepreneur and finance professional. He has developed strong global finance experience through 10 years of international assignments in the US, Brazil, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Czech Republic and through the award of his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.