Reddit Co-Founder Ohanian Leads $3.75 Million Round in ‘Hearthstone’ Competitor
A blockchain-based game studio is getting funding to take on “Magic: The Gathering” and “Hearthstone.”
Announced this morning, Horizon Games raised $3.75 million in seed funding in a round led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital. Other investors included Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Inovia Capital and more.
Originally closed in the summer of 2018, the funds have been used to scale-up production on a new ethereum-powered game called “Skyweaver” and a gaming platform called Arcadeum. “Skyweaver” is billed as a “Trading Card Game from Another Dimension.”
“I wanted to introduce a product on blockchain technology,” Horizon Games CEO Peter Kieltyka told CoinDesk. “We wanted to deliver something my friends could use.”
A serial entrepreneur with two prior exits already, Kieltyka’s vision is very much to go mainstream and offer a blockchain-based competitor to “Hearthstone,” which currently has over 100 million registered players.
“We realized this was a huge market, it’s a huge idea,” Kieltyka said. “‘CryptoKitties’ had come out, and we could see the movement.”
Game and platform
Horizon is both a game studio and a platform company enabling the distribution of blockchain games.
The company has been working on “Skyweaver” – a game in which players engage in one-on-one contests with other players using collectible cards – since late last year. As it did so, Horizon began needing to solve infrastructure problems around running the game, and that contributed to developing the Arcadeum platform that it hopes other game makers will find useful.
“It solves a number of token contracts and scalability issues,” Kieltyka told CoinDesk. “You can’t make a blockchain game stack unless you make a game and you know it fits the mold.”
This is a well-worn path in the gaming industry. For example, a major source of revenue for Epic Games is the licensing of its Unreal Engine.
“Skyweaver” manages its collectible cards using the ERC-1155 token standard. The free-to-play game will give users a randomly collected set of cards to use as they learn to play. Users can also buy individual cards directly from Horizon for one DAI each.
Players will also be able to earn cards by playing more and winning. Kieltyka says additional mechanics the company plans to add later will both enhance the value of certain cards and keep the overall supply under control.
Unlike most games in the space, Horizon has opted not to sell booster packs (multiple cards of mixed rarity). Instead, it will sell cards individually at a fixed price.
Horizon’s view is that the big prize isn’t to win over crypto but to win over gamers.
Nevertheless, it faces projects like “Gods Unchained” on one side – a collectible card game with a similar value proposition – and projects like “The Abyss” – which aims to help blockchain game developers smooth their path to market – on the other.
“Skyweaver” launched in beta in the last month and has 330 players, many of whom have been playing and returning to the game at length. Horizon aims to open the game to the public at the end of the year.
Built with WebGL, the game will be cross-platform at launch, playable on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. It’s playable on the web or via any of several native apps the company has already built. There will be 350 cards available at launch.
Kieltyka argues the game design of “Skyweaver” goes further than simply allowing people to own cards. Since their price is fixed and the cards can also be earned through play, it functions more like a loyalty system.
“These crazy large networks, they can reward their pro users. People on the internet are going to start demanding these things more and more.”
Team photo via Horizon Games