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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance’s venture capital and incubation arm Binance Labs has invested $15 million into blockchain game publisher Xterio, the firm announced Wednesday.
Xterio bills itself as a “free-to-play-and-own” game developer and publisher, meaning that it’s embracing the dominant free-to-play gaming model, but will also offer players the ability to earn NFTs by playing its games.
“We believe that blockchain technology makes for a better gaming experience,” Xterio’s website reads. “And player ownership is a key aspect of every Xterio game.”
The startup is currently supporting the development of 11 games listed on its website, ranging from mobile Japanese role-playing games (RPGs) like Blackdawn to massively multiplayer online (MMO) PC games like Blocklords and the RPG Abyss World.
Xterio also appears to be taking a multi-chain approach to blockchain games, as Blocklords will launch its crypto elements on Polygon while Abyss World has set its sights on the recently launched Sui blockchain.
Xterio said that it will use the funds for game and technology development, as well as exploring potential artificial intelligence (AI) integrations into its titles.
Xterio is currently developing an “emotion engine for artificial intelligence,” said Binance Labs. Xterio’s AI toolkit also aims to generate 2D and 3D game assets for developers. The startup is also using its AI tech to develop digital companion game AIpal, which is slated to launch a closed beta later this year.
Last August, Xterio raised $40 million in funding from investors like FunPlus, XPLA, and the now-defunct FTX Ventures. Early this year, Xterio itself invested $2.5 million in Overworld, a multiplayer RPG game studio helmed by Xterio co-founder Jeremy Horn, which is developing its namesake title.
“Binance Labs’ investment enhances our ability to launch a transformative ecosystem token and high-quality games,” said Xterio co-founder Michael Tong, in a statement.
Asked if crypto gaming was a main area of focus for Binance Labs, a spokesperson told Decrypt that the firm “[believes] that blockchain gaming is a key area for application layers.”
While Binance itself is a crypto exchange that offers many tokens as well as its own BUSD stablecoin and the BNB token, Binance Labs told Decrypt that its investments are “chain and sector agnostic.”
Binance Labs said it supports traditional game developers and studios moving into the blockchain gaming space, citing its investments in game studio Gomble as well as Xterio.