Height Games CEO Gabby Dizon thinks the science fiction-inspired virtual reality Metaverse is increasingly being created all around us. “The Metaverse means different online worlds that are interconnected through some form of shared economy. Usually this economy is based on a blockchain, ”explains Dizon, who also leads Yield Guild Games.
While he thinks we’re still “in the very, very early stages” of building it, blockchain-based games like Axie Infinity and The Sandbox are already developing robust in-game economies. Dizon thinks it will snow from here, as ever-increasing automation makes it increasingly difficult for people to find a job and a place in society.
“A lot of people will lose jobs in the physical world, and what are they going to do? I think they will go online and play games. In particular, they will start playing games to make money. “
This is not entirely without precedent, as the locals in hyperinflation-stricken Venezuela have been mining virtual gold for many years for profit in the game RuneScape to feed their families.
Dizon’s game design studio, Altitude Games, is based in Manila, Philippines, where many Filipinos have managed to survive endless COVID-19 lockdowns by raising and selling NFT creatures that are known As Axies. Although his game design firm started with free-to-play games, he now helps build the leisure economy through a game model to earn.
He believes reinventing gaming is the answer to some of the world’s problems. “Play-to-earn has the potential to reduce the wealth inequality that is currently going on in the world,” he says optimism. This model is especially relevant in developing countries where it has already become a reality.
In 2020, he co-founded Yield Guild Games as a guild of investors buying up a portfolio of in-game NFTs with revenue across a range of blockchain games.
Play to earn
Back in the day, gamers only paid the purchase price once for video games that offered endless gameplay, with levels unlocked through in-game progression. Then came pay-to-play, where players had to make small purchases to unlock levels or skills that allowed them to progress.
Free-to-play is another model that can be played for free, although benefits can usually be purchased. Such games often have purchase boxes containing random in-game goods. This has proven controversial, with European Union regulators calling them “problematic design features” and some countries such as Belgium viewing them as a form of gambling.
Play to earn is a somewhat radical concept that suggests that players actually earn money through the process of gameplay, usually by completing tasks to earn items that will benefit other players. An early example of play to earn can be found on centralized multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft and Runescape, where players can earn in-game gold that can then be sold to other players in exchange for fiat at exchanges such as DMarket.
Dizon explains, “The problem with much of the gold farming in games like World of Warcraft and Runescape was that the gold business was actually set up in sweatshops,” which increased the supply of in-game currency. This led to in-game items becoming more expensive, making gameplay more complicated. “These games themselves are not built for that kind of inflation, so in the end, value was taken out of the game and the economy in the game in general was hurt,” he continued.
It’s different with blockchain games.
Gamers in the Philippines can earn three times the minimum wage by playing blockchain games. While computer games are a free or cheap pastime for many around the world, especially given the global blockages caused by COVID-19, a growing number of people are realizing that there is money to be made playing:
“They are gamers who play League of Legends six hours a day. Then they see on Facebook that some of their friends are getting rich playing this game, and they think, “How is that possible?” So they dive into our disagreement. “
Once on the Yield Games Guild Discord channel, they quickly learn the basics to get started. This includes setting up a Metamask wallet and security tips to never reveal their private keys or seed phrases. Right now Yield Games focuses on teaching newcomers how to make money in Axie Infinity, a game where players buy, raise, trade and fight creatures called ‘Axies’. Since the game runs on Small Love Potion tokens, which can be easily traded on Uniswap and other DEXs, there is real money involved.
“You don’t have to be special or highly trained to do it. You have to be computer literate and have a mobile phone with internet access and a little bit of game skill – and then you can start making money, ”explains Dizon.
One key to realizing play to earn, according to Dizon, is to make the process easy to understand. Knowledge about blockchain technology is not required. “When I want to drive or start a car, I don’t necessarily know how the combustion engine works,” he explains. “You don’t really need to know how a distributed ledger works to use it in a gaming context.”
Bring home the IP address
Dizon remembers being around computers since he was three years old. That first computer was a 1981 Commodore VIC-20, which his father – an engineer who often traveled to the United States on business – took home to the suburbs of Manila where Dizon grew up. He became interested in games at the age of six, remembering that the Commodore “had a few games – it had Hangman, it had Chess, and one or two more.”
He attended Ateneo de Manila University, graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems. “I wanted to make games, and it was difficult when I graduated because there were no companies making games,” he recalls the lack of gaming studios in the Philippines at the time. His first job was in PHP web development, but when he saw a game developer job opening in Manila three years later, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Dizon recalls going to Anino Entertainment’s game studio after applying. “There were several people who slept on the couches and made what became the first game in the Philippines. I really liked the energy and have been in games ever since. “
In the 2000s, the IT industry in the Philippines was based almost entirely on outsourcing. Dizon had his own outsourcing company, FlipSide Games, where he oversaw Filipino designers working for overseas clients from 2005 to 2009. However, this interaction did not please him, as he felt that his fellow countrymen were deficit because of not receiving intellectual property rights. The rich countries exchanged money for the fruits of Filipino creativity.
“The usual case was that someone in America, Europe or Japan would outsource their work to the Philippines, where workers would get a flat rate, but they would never actually create their own intellectual property. I got really tired of that, so I closed the business. “
In 2009 he joined Boomzap Entertainment, a small independent company that was making its own games in Manila. “They made their own intellectual property, and that’s what I really wanted to do – make my own IP,” Dizon proudly recalls.
Four years later, in 2014, he became restless and decided it was time to start working for himself again. “I knew the next step was to have my own business again, but this time create my own IP,” he says. Dizon founded Altitude Games, a studio that makes free-to-play games in Manila. Game titles include Dream Defense and Kung Fu Clicker, the latter of which has over a million downloads.
His company struggled to raise money because local investors did not understand the business model of creating IP locally. International investors were also reluctant to finance a game studio in the Philippines.
Fundraising was very difficult, and it was very unusual for a Southeast Asian start-up to be able to raise money quickly, he recalls. There was a sense that all of Southeast Asia was lagging behind and always catching up to more advanced countries.
Doing what others did ten years earlier didn’t appeal to Dizon. He wanted to be on the edge. That is why the company switched to blockchain.
“I felt like I was walking for a trend for the first time in my career – learning about smart contracts at the same time as almost everyone else in the world. You could be one of the foremost experts in the world somewhere and still be based in the Philippines. “
The company’s first blockchain game, Battle Racers, allows users to design and race model cars in Decentraland.
Here’s a closer look at the Battle Racers development roadmap! 🛣️ Who’s excited about competitive racing and in-game $ SCRAP rewards?
More information: https://t.co/52gZYf7hvN pic.twitter.com/81U7uMLuFg
– Battle Racers (@BattleRacers) April 1, 2021
In the metaverse
Last year, Dizon founded Yield Guild Games with the help of 2500 investors from around the world. The company is investing in in-game NFTs that generate revenue within blockchain games, and plans are underway to transform the company into a decentralized autonomous organization.
“The guild owns the entities in these games,” he says, referring to in-game elements that take the form of NFTs, such as in-game real estate. In addition to Axie Infinity and The Sandbox, some of the blockchain games the guild has invested in are F1 Delta Time, League of Kingdoms and Star Atlas.
“The nice thing about these blockchain games is that they are suitable for marketplaces from day one. We actually work with the developers so that we invest in the economy, and of course our players receive some revenue from that. “
Dizon sees his work as that of an early pioneer plotting the path to a coming mega-city. He is also a collector of NFT art, which he exhibits at the Narra Gallery in Decentraland.
– Gabby Dizon (@gabusch) October 3, 2020
“We are bringing in the manpower needed to populate it [the Metaverse]We bring them from all over the world, and it gives you equal opportunities whether you are from the Philippines, or Nigeria or France, ”he says, adding that the Metaverse does not discriminate based on things like skin color, age or location. – roadblocks that Dizon himself encountered.
To me, it’s like establishing a new nation in the same way that America settled in the 18th century. We are now establishing a digital nation with people striving for a home from all over the world. “
Dizon is convinced that the range of jobs to earn will be expanded. “There’s a whole bunch of jobs available in the Metaverse, and it’s going to look a lot less and less like ordinary, you know, kill monsters and get loot, and it’s going to be more about the different things it takes to run a city. real life, ”he predicts.
Dizon emphasizes the need for skills of all kinds to help build these virtual worlds, including programmers, artists, fashion designers, storytellers and architects, to name a few.
He has one piece of advice for anyone of any age, anywhere, who wants to join the revolution.
“Start by joining a community and bringing value to that community. […] As long as you add value to a community in the Metaverse, you will find your own place in it. “