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Major video game publishers Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive are digging deeper into the NFT gaming space with today’s announcement of a $40 million Series A round raised by Horizon, the developer behind NFT-driven competitive card game, Skyweaver.
The two firms are among those that participated in the funding round, which was led by Brevan Howard Digital and Morgan Creek Digital. Other backers include Polygon, gaming-centric VC firm Bitkraft, metaverse investor Everyrealm, payments firm Xsolla, and Initialized Capital.
Horizon also attracted some notable individual investors with the round, including Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke, Lolli co-founder and CEO Alex Adelman, and a pair of co-creators from notable NFT games: The Sandbox co-founder and COO Sebastien Borget and Axie Infinity co-founder and Sky Mavis COO Aleksander Larsen.
Skyweaver is a digital trading card game akin to Blizzard’s popular Hearthstone, albeit with the cards represented as Ethereum NFT assets that can be sold and traded—similar to rival NFT game Gods Unchained. An NFT is a blockchain tokenthat represents ownership in a unique item, including digital goods like artwork, collectibles, and video game items.
Horizon’s title first launched in closed alpha testing in 2018, but only released into open beta earlier this year for anyone to play. In addition to publishing the game, Horizon has turned the tech behind it into Sequence, an Ethereum-based development platform and wallet for other creators to tap to create their own Web3 games and apps.
In a post today, Horizon wrote that it will use the $40 million to further push Sequence, as well as continue to enhance and grow Skyweaver. It will also soon launch Niftyswap, a decentralized marketplace focused on Ethereum and Polygon ERC-1155 NFTs—also called semi-fungible tokens (SFTs)—used for games and collectibles.
Horizon previously raised $13.3 million in seed funding, including a $5 million tranche in 2020 led by Initialized and its now-departed co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. The Reddit co-founder has been an outspoken advocate for Skyweaver and NFT gaming on the whole, today tweeting that it was a “non-obvious investment” at the time.
Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive are two of the largest video game publishers around. Ubisoft is the firm behind massive franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, and Far Cry, while Take-Two’s popular brands like Rockstar Games and 2K Games have produced smashes like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and NBA 2K.
Both have also made previous moves into the Web3 space. Ubisoft has experimented with NFTs and blockchain tech for years, and more recently stepped up its efforts by releasing Tezos-based in-game NFTs for the PC game Ghost Recon Breakpoint in December 2021. The firm has also invested in and supported numerous other Web3 startups.
Take-Two, meanwhile, recently acquired mobile and casual game maker Zynga, which is currently working on NFT-driven games. In January, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick specifically cited “Web3 opportunities” on the horizon, which he said the combined company would be better positioned to tackle.
Many gamers have pushed back against NFTs citing scams, rampant speculation, and the now-diminished environmental impact of top platform Ethereum. However, many in the Web3 space—from developers to marketplace builders—believe that NFTs will eventually take hold in the video game industry due to prospective benefits for players and creators alike.