Cauldron, the spin-off from fintech unicorn Thought Machine, has secured $1.4 million investment to fund their ambitious but secretive web3 gaming projects. Founded by Mark Warrick and Fox Rogers from Thought Machine, and joined by BAFTA-nominated Matt Hyde, the investment will help expand the team and market their first independent game ahead of a planned summer launch.
The oversubscribed round was led by Seedcamp, with existing investors IQ Capital and Playfair Capital joining. The team’s project sees them take the experience they gained developing games at Thought Machine to start developing a sci-fi experience that promises to bridge the gap between traditional gaming and crypto.
From kids’ pocket money to the whole universe
The Cauldron team started world-building at Thought Machine. Speaking to TFN, Mark Warrick, CEO and co-founder, explained they took a unique approach even there, “we were completely driven by showing a very different view of what banking could really be like.”
The consequence was a conversation with Thought Machine about their future direction. Warrick said, “we’d developed so much skill in the gaming area: our Unity development skills, characterisation, and game world creation. We wanted to pivot into the gaming space.” Thought Machine were receptive to the idea and last November Cauldron became an independent company, retaining the intellectual properties the founders had developed.
Despite garnering attention for their work in the financial space — their kids’ pocket money app Nestlums was featured by Apple, and Santander bought their Money Monsters concept — their focus is firmly on gaming. They are, however, keen to reassure the many parents, and children, who love Nestlums they will be keeping that product available.
Their current project is a web3 game. “We got our investment because of a science-fiction project we were working on to completely outside of finance,” Warrick says. “We were really excited by the promise of web3. There’s a lot of coverage of NFTs and blockchain, but there’s a lot of sound technology in both of those areas that is in its infancy right now.” They realised that gaming presented an opportunity to create a product that appealed to two very different audiences, traditional gamers and blockchain enthusiasts.
A new way of gaming
Cauldron aims to create a world that satisfies both audiences. Rather than simply using blockchain as the foundation of a traditional gaming experience, it will be a core part of the game, creating games that were not possible before web3. Matt Newcombe, Cauldron’s CTO suggests it is not just creating a game. “When a big technology drops, it massively changes the type of experiences that are possible. We want to take this technology and create another level of emotion in building gaming worlds and stories.”
Seedcamp’s investment reflects the market potential in this space, and Cauldron’s ability to occupy it. “We know gaming will be one of the main drivers behind mainstream crypto adoption,” explained partner Sia Houchangia. “Cauldron have a strong market vision for a Web3 gaming niche.”
The model is different to existing gaming models. Rather than developing a game over several years and releasing it for outright sale, or using a freemium model with in-app purchases but with little overall development, the technology means that that game can develop over time. Players will, literally, invest by purchasing properties in the in-game universe. “They feel so passionate about owning a part of it,” says Warrick. “But when they feel they’ve finished with it, they can sell what they own and what they’ve accrued in that universe to others.” However, Cauldron stress it’s a game first. “We don’t want to be in the business of trying to maximise the volumes and the secondary market, we want to be full of players who want to play.”
A world-changing prospect
Cauldron plans for the investment are to increase their team, currently six, and the capacity required to support the project and game once launched. They will also be investing in marketing, building the anticipation for their secretive project. However, the blockchain community is well-known for getting behind projects like this. “You can pick up audiences in the blockchain space,” Fox Rogers, co-founder and creative director, to us, “we’ve seen Discord channels go from no-one to 20,000 people overnight because it’s a new-adopter audience, they are all looking for the next big thing.”
However, Cauldron plans to be more than just another game developer. “When people look back at web3,” says Rogers, “we want people to say we pioneered with something that couldn’t be done on any other technology. That’s what we’re excited about: being able to lead the new vision for what gaming can be.”