The former head of the short video giant TikTok’s gaming unit, Jason Fung, is launching a blockchain game launch as one of two co-founders, he told Reuters in an interview, as buzz around blockchain games is growing while heavyweights in the sector are still on guard.
The 34-year-old left TikTok last month after two years in the company, and his departure comes as TikTok and its Chinese owner ByteDance have aggressively expanded into the global $ 300 billion gaming market to take on rival Tencent Holdings, an effort that has given mixed results so far.
It also reflects a growing interest among entrepreneurs and investors in blockchain games – a new generation of online games built on blockchains that allow players to trade items in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFT).
Fung, whose new venture is called Meta0, said he left TikTok after seeing an opportunity to offer a solution to the current segregated nature of infrastructure options available to developers looking to build blockchain games.
“Right now, if you look at a developer when implementing NFTs or blockchains in their games, they have to choose a single blockchain, be it Polygon or Solana or Binance Smart Chain. But imagine a more interoperable alternative,” he said. he to Reuters in Hong Kong, citing popular existing blockchains.
“So we decided, let’s do it. Let’s start founding this company. Let’s give up my cozy business life on TikTok and take a giant risk,” said Fung, who was based in Shenzhen and had reported to TikToks CEO Vanessa Pappas.
Meta0’s founding team consists of six members in addition to the two co-founders, and the company has completed a first round of financing, Fung said.
He refused to disclose details about the other co-founder, the rest of the team or the investment. He said the company was looking to raise funds by issuing tokens, as well as from venture capitalists and strategic investors.
Big names steer clear
Proponents of blockchain games say they will disrupt the gaming industry as cryptocurrencies can make virtual objects more transactable and even distribute gaming ownership to players. But blockchain games are sometimes also associated with fraud, and the virtual economies of some games have collapsed just after players buy in.
Most established gaming companies such as Tencent, Sony and Microsoft have not yet made any major bets on blockchain games.
Fung, as TikTok’s global head of game strategy and operations, was tasked with expanding game content and testing new features such as hosting mini-games on the app.
TikTok and ByteDance expanded aggressively to gaming during Fung’s tenure, with ByteDance’s acquisition including a $ 4 billion acquisition of gaming studio Moonton, and TikTok trying out mini-game features on its app.
The effort has yielded both successes and setbacks. Last month, data tracking company Sensor Tower said ByteDance’s portfolio of mobile games had generated more than $ 1 billion in worldwide sales over the past 12 months.
However, ByteDance also disbanded its Shanghai-based 101 Studio last month, laying off half of its more than 300 employees. A product of the acquisition of Mokun Technology in 2019, 101 Studio was the first development unit ByteDance has closed down as it struggled to perform.
Fung, who headed the e-sports units of Alibaba Group Holding and Electronic Arts in Asia before joining TikTok, declined to comment when asked who could replace him at TikTok.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Blockchain Games And the investment trend
Despite caution from some in the industry, blockchain gaming has become one of the hottest investment trends discussed by cryptocurrencies from Silicon Valley to Dubai.
Prior to the recent meltdown in the crypto market, the blockchain gaming industry had raised a record $ 1.2 billion in the first quarter, according to a report by investment banking firm Drake Star Partners in April. Last year, a total of $ 3.6 billion was raised for the sector.
“We have built a protocol for game developers, and we take a flexible, blockchain agnostic approach to their game development,” Fung said, discussing future prospects for blockchain games.
“With a protocol we develop, developers can easily build their game-exploiting strengths to different blockchains, giving the user the flexibility to transfer NFTs across chains.”