All of a sudden, everybody worldwide is trying to figure out how to grab a chunk of the metaverse market segment. Metaverse has become a buzzword signifying the universe of virtual worlds that are interconnected. Back in 2021, Facebook was rebranded as Meta, underscoring the company’s investment in the metaverse.
There are reports suggesting that the global metaverse revenue opportunity is expected to be worth $800 billion by 2024. As a result, the sector has seen heavy investments in recent months, across the world. Recently, Epic Games (creators of Fortnite) raised $2 billion and the company announced that it will invest over $1 billion in the development of the metaverse.
Currently, NFT games are viewed as a stepping stone to the metaverse. The sudden global spotlight on the metaverse has made many gaming companies focus on getting into the metaverse. Notably, gaming is a crucial tool in the development and incentivising of the metaverse. Here, we at TFN have listed some ambitious gaming startups that are betting high on the metaverse trend.
Founder/s: Joe Ferencz
Founded year: 2019
Gamefam, a Los Angeles-based game publisher and developer has released more than 30 live games on the popular Roblox platform. A part of Gamefam’s model allows major companies like Disney, Sony and Ubisoft to integrate their brands into advertising experiences that fit within a game. The company has over 6.5 million unique daily users in the US and 15 million users globally.
In March this year, Gamefam picked up $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Konvoy Ventures alongside participation from Play Ventures, Makers Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners and Galaxy Interactive. The funds will be used to fuel its business of linking Roblox game developers to brands looking to advertise to Generation Z audiences with a target on the metaverse.
Sky Mavis (Vietnam)
Founder/s: Aleksander Leonard Larsen, Jeffrey Zirlin
Founded year: 2018
Vietnamese gaming studio Sky Mavis is the developer of the popular blockchain-based online game Axie Infinity. The company specialises in developing NFT-based strategy and role-playing games.
Last month, Sky Mavis raised $150 million in funding led by crypto exchange Binance to help reimburse users who lost funds during a $625 million hack of its play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. This was the largest crypto heist to date. The round was led by Animoca Brands, a16z, Dialectic, Paradigm and Accel.
Founder/s: Utsav Umang, Rohit Raj, Vikas Goel
Founded year: 2020
Indian SaaS-based esports tournament management solutions provider, EsportsXo, has developed a platform named Battle XO. The platform designs, launches, and manages online gaming competitions. Also, it has a gaming house offering infrastructure for the creation and management of content.
Late last year, EsportsXo secured $1.1M funding in a round that saw participation from We Founder Circle, Wami Capital, SucSEED Indovation Fund, FAAD Network, SOSV, and others.
Krafton (South Korea)
Founder/s: Chang Byung-gyu
Founded year: 2007
Krafton, formerly Bluehole, is a South Korean video game developer best known for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Recently, Krafto stepped into the Metaverse by partnering with NAVER Z to create a new Web 3.0 and a non-fungible token project, which will be aimed at building an NFT metaverse platform.
In August last year, Krafton raised nearly $3.8 billion in its float, making it the second-largest IPO ever in Korea. The company announced that it will use the majority of the proceeds to acquire game developers.
Founder/s: Ari Meilich, Esteban Ordano
Founded year: 2017
Chinese virtual reality platform, Decentraland, allows users to explore the metaverse and experience novelty. Users can just grab a VR headset or use the web browser and get immersed in a 3D, interactive world. What’s more, it is possible to purchase land and other objects in the virtual world through the Ethereum blockchain.
In 2017, Decentraland raised $25.5 million in the digital coinage Etherium in exchange for the first MANA tokens. These tokens are used to buy property and other goods and services on sale in the virtual world.
The Sandbox (US)
Founder/s: Sebastien Borget, Arthur Madrid
Founded year: 2018
Yet another US-based startup in this list is The Sandbox, which develops a decentralised gaming platform that leverages non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology. The community-driven platform lets creators make voxel assets and gaming experiences and monetise them on the blockchain.
Late in 2021, The Sandbox grabbed $93 million in a funding round led by SoftBank to help grow its virtual world based on nonfungible tokens. Besides SoftBank Vision Fund 2, other investors, including Animoca Brands, True Global Ventures, and others participated in the round.
Founder/s: Herman Narula, Peter Lipka, Rob Whitehead
Founded year: 2012
Headquartered in London, Improbable is a metaverse technology company that solves the challenges of building virtual worlds and pioneering the path to the metaverse. Improbable unlocks the next-generation gameplay through virtual worlds. Its platform, SpatialOS, lets developers transcend the limits of regular computation.
Last month, Improbable raised $150 million in funding to establish and develop M² (MSquared), a network of interoperable Web3 metaverses powered by its Morpheus technology. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz and SoftBank Group Corp and values M² at $1 billion.
Founder/s: Srini Anala, Murali Reddy
Founded year: 2021
Bullieverse was founded with a vision to create an open metaverse DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) in a fun and adventurous way. It intends to create a DAO involving gaming and a metaverse play that will deliver an unparalleled gaming environment for the community.
Earlier this year, the open-world metaverse platform netted $4 million in a funding round led by prominent Web3.0 venture funds and investors to build an arcade of play-to-earn games for the community.