Ripple is putting an aggressive foot forward into the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry.
The company’s developer ecosystem project, Xpring, recently announced a partnership with the Andreessen Horowitz-backed blockchain gaming startup Forte, which will oversee a jointly formed $100 million fund devoted to the development of games that make use of Ripple technology, including the XRP token.
And only a few weeks removed from the launch of the fund, the response from the game developer community has already “surpassed expectations,” Forte Co-founder and Chief Platform Officer Brett Seyler tells Decrypt.
“Forte has already partnered with a handful of developers and [is] in active dialogue with studios of all sizes,” he says.
Gaming is expected to top $150 billion globally in 2019, according to market research firm Newzoo—all while largely being made up of billions of tiny, disconnected transactions over digital items. And both Forte and Ripple are confident that Ripple’s technology is ideally suited to weave this commerce together.
The San Francisco-based startup, made up of veteran executives from gaming companies such as Kabam, GarageGames, and Unity, is taking a multi-pronged approach to the advancement of this burgeoning industry.
Forte’s in-house engineers have built a developer platform that “incorporates a variety of technology components under the hood to provide a seamless experience for developers,” says Seyler, which is where Ripple’s smart contract platform Codius and its cross-chain payment solution Interledger come in. Now, armed with a $100 million war chest in XRP, Forte is looking to invest in game developers who will make use of its platform.
And fresh off a “big presence” at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last month, Seyler says game developers are living up to their trademark fearlessness as early adopters of emerging technologies. “Forte is already working on integrations with a number of game developers and will be making a series of announcements over the coming months,” he says.
The plan, at least initially, is to partner with developers of existing games that already support at least 50,000 daily active users. The idea is for these developers to use Forte’s platform to create NFTs and tokenize the in-game items being sold to players—and in a way that ensures developers receive a cut of peer-to-peer transactions and any secondary trading of those items.
But while Forte might be partnered with Ripple on its investment fund, that doesn’t mean it’s giving the cold shoulder to developers interested in building on Ethereum, TRON, IOST, or other chains.
Forte’s tech, says Seyler, is designed to be “easy-to-use, chain agnostic and cross-chain interoperable, which makes driving scale consumer adoption easier, and will help to unlock the vast potential for nearly all forms of digital interaction across the blockchain.”
In the end, however, any transaction involving NFTs on Forte’s platform will settle in XRP—which benefits Ripple, since the company still holds vast sums of the cryptocurrency.
Seyler says XRP “has proven utility in bridging liquidity between different assets” as seen in the way it's currently used to facilitate cross-border payments, acting as a bridge between fiat currencies. “Its speed, finality and low cost make it the best fit as a liquidity tool. We’re excited to explore this use case further in the context of a gaming ecosystem to facilitate liquidity between a universe of tokens and virtual items,” he says.
XRP as the pool of liquidity in which gaming assets swim across the metaverse bodes well for true believers of “The Standard.” While the project remains in early days, Ripple is very aware of the doors that gaming could open.
Ethan Beard, senior vice president of Xpring at Ripple, says gaming is a natural progression of Ripple’s vision to “build the Internet of Value”—the idea that one day money will move as quickly and easily as information does now.
Gaming represents the “potential for large markets around both fungible and non-fungible tokens,” says Beard. “This is one of Xpring’s largest investments to date, which speaks to our belief in the Forte team and the real opportunity for blockchain in gaming.”
And once blockchain takes over gaming—as industry observers increasingly believe it will— Ripple and Forte are wagering that games do for crypto what they’ve done for mobile, cloud, and VR technology. “A team of gaming veterans like Forte, taking a big bet on the crypto space, speaks to the potential that crypto is a major platform shift that will have a significant impact on a lot of industries,” says Beard.