We recently engaged Yat Siu, co-founder and Chairman at Animoca Brands, a firm investing in games with blockchain technology. Animoca Brands believes the next value of paradigm is blockchain games.
Animoca Brands is a public game company listed in Australia, and it has turned a household name in the digital collectible industry. Its subsidiary, Stryking, partnered FC Bayern Munich.
Yat Siu has been in the gaming industry for over 3 decade and now using his fast knowledge to bring modernity into the gaming world with blockchain. In this interview, Yat discussed the nitty-gritty of digital collectibles on the blockchain and Animoca Brand’s fast growing collectible world.
Thousands of blockchain enthusiasts still do not understand digital collectible especially when it relates with Animoca Brands, could you brush over that?
The worldwide collectibles market has been estimated to be worth US$370 billion. The field of physical collectibles is well established, but the digital collectibles market is still in its infancy. Traditionally, digital collectibles could not be permanent, unique, or scarce, and thus they could not accrue value like their physical counterparts.
But now, thanks to blockchain and especially non-fungible tokens, the rarity and authenticity of a digital collectible can be guaranteed. Digital collectibles can now have true digital ownership, scarcity, provenance, and similar characteristics that make up the value of a physical collectible.
We believe that digital collectibles will help blockchain adoption, in a similar way that physical collectibles helped to grow companies like eBay and Amazon back in the 1990s. We see video games, inclusive of digital collectibles, as the ideal vehicle to kick off the consumer blockchain revolution.
We have seen Digital Collectibles are the new industry trend, what do you intend to add to the Digital Collectible’s world to stay atop?
Animoca Brands is focusing on advancing the areas of digital collectibles and collectible-powered blockchain gaming. Some of our recent achievements include securing blockchain partnerships with powerful brands such as F1 and MotoGP, and auctioning four high-value Formula 1 digital collectibles, including the first-ever official Formula 1 race car NFT (the “1-1-1”) which broke a number of records when it sold for 415.9 ETH.
We also have licensing arrangements for Major League Baseball, individual sports teams such as FC Bayern Munich, and Star Trek blockchain items, and we successfully raised funding for our blockchain game The Sandbox. This is only the beginning.
Animoca recently acquired Quidd, a platform referenced as the eBay of animated art and gaming tokens, what do you aim to achieve with the acquisition?
The acquisition of Quidd is still ongoing, and after completion it will add over 325 major intellectual properties to our stable, including Disney, Marvel, CBS, HBO, and the NBA, among others. We will localize and optimize Quidd for Asian markets first and then for the rest of the world in order to scale up Quidd’s audience. In addition, we are looking into opportunities to broaden the distribution of all of Quidd’s digital collectibles, including bringing them to blockchain.
The recent partnership of Animoca Brands’ subsidiary, Stryking Entertainment, with FC Bayern Munich is still creating disruption in the cryptocurrency space. Could you please explain what the deal is all about?
The licensing agreement between Stryking and FC Bayern Munich grants Stryking the right to produce and distribute digital collectibles based on FC Bayern Munich players, and these digital collectibles can be NFT FC Bayern Munich player cards that can be used in the Fantasy Sports challenge system in the game Football-Stars.
Do you still have the intention of partnering with more Football clubs, when are you foraying into English Premiership, and other leading sports, clubs, leagues and other sports like boxing?
We don’t disclose potential partnerships that are under discussion, but we are always looking for powerful and suitable brands as we seek to bring blockchain more into the mainstream.
F1® Delta Time game, your other subsidiary, has started its Japan Edition 2019 auction on 14 October 2019, what and what is this about? And what should the collectible world expect from this?
To clarify, F1® Delta Time is our product (not our subsidiary), made in partnership with F1. It will officially launch next year, in 2020, but in the meanwhile we are pushing ahead with NFT sales and have already produced the first ever digital F1 collectibles.
Most recently we auctioned the “Japan Edition 2019” which is one of the unique virtual race cars that will be used within F1® Delta Time. This is the fourth official Formula 1 digital collectible we have issued. Like the previous three car NFTs, this is a special car and a unique collectible, and therefore extremely rare. The auction ended on 17 October at 91.5 ETH.
F1® Delta Time runs on Ethereum blockchain, and we have seen several projects pulling out of ERC20 network, do you have a plan of launching your Mainnet? If not, is Ethereum blockchain not hindering your project in anyway?
At the moment we do not have any plans of launching our own Mainnet. That said, we have many relationships and partnerships with other chains such as Harmony, WAX, OST, and FLOW, and we expect that we will collaborate with them to find ways to develop or bring some of our titles to their communities.
The cryptocurrency world is battling SEC regulatory stiffness, have you any issues with regulators.
The tokens that we issue will be predominantly for utility (such as gameplay and/or collection), so this is less of an issue for us than perhaps some other companies looking to issue security tokens.
Can you share us Amonica Brands stats?
As a listed company, our finances are publicly available. Our latest financial report for the first half of 2019 reported an operating revenue of A$8.3 million (with an additional A$2.9 million in cash received that was classified largely as unearned revenue) and A$16.6 million in cash, digital and financial current assets.
We raised A$5.7 million in new capital during the first half of this year, and a further A$2 million in new capital was issued to vendors of assets and suppliers of services. Our subsidiaries TSB Gaming (makers of The Sandbox) and OliveX raised a total of A$5.71 million in new capital from strategic investors. Animoca Brands stock price has risen 80% since the beginning of this year and our games are played by millions of users
How are you planning to stay ahead of non-blockchain digital collectibles?
We are in the process of completing the acquisition of Quidd, one of the leading names in non-blockchain digital collecting. We also have an advantage over the larger collectibles market thanks to our large portfolio of licenses and the relationships we have with numerous brands.
Beyond your present reach, any plans to go into other industry?
We are focused on games, and NFTs and digital collectibles. Games was a $130 billion business last year, while collectibles was estimated to be a $370 billion industry. I would say that’s plenty for us to chew on right now.
Have you any link with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, XRP, or Ethereum?
We have no links to any cryptocurrency, except of course that we use some of these cryptocurrencies (e.g., F1 Delta Time auctions are conducted in wrapped ether).
What is your thought about blockchain and crypto adoption?
On a consumer level, the hurdles to mass adoption are still high. We believe that the gaming industry can boost blockchain and crypto adoption, the same way that gaming has historically boosted mass adoption and development for the Internet, PC technology, and even mobile.
Does Animoca Brands have other subsidiaries?
Yes. The subsidiaries of Animoca Brands now include TicBits, Tribeflame, Benji Bananas, Fuel Powered, OliveX, Zeroth, Pixowl, Stryking, and Leade.rs. We are in the process of completing the acquisitions of Gamma Innovations and Quidd.
Aside Blockchain, does Animoca Brand make use of other primary technologies?
We rely on and work with cloud service providers, and we build and use AI tools.
What is your perception about the future of digital collectibles?
Progress is happening. A couple years ago, when we started talking about our vision for blockchain, gaming, and collectibles, we were one of the only voices making the case for digital ownership inside games. Today, there are many media, industry experts, and users talking about the importance and significance of the ownership of virtual objects inside and outside of games.
We believe in a future where digital goods will deliver direct value and true ownership, and will by extension increase user engagement. We believe that all (or at least most) digital goods will, eventually, have the option to carry value and ownership in this manner, and that one of the leaders of this trend is the gaming industry.
Let’s go personal, What’s a day in the life of an Amonica Brands chairman?
Excitement, adventure, travel! Lots of travel, in fact, and a lot of evangelizing or just explaining the concepts discussed above. We are all kept pretty busy by the challenge of bringing a new meta meaning to the games universe.