Ripple’s Xpring Investing in $100 Million Fund to Support Blockchain-Powered Games

On Tuesday (March 12th), Ripple's incubator arm, Xpring, and blockchain startup Forte announced that they had formed a $100 million fund to support game developers who are interested in the use of blockchain technology.

Xpring (pronounced “spring”), which was announced by Ripple on 14 May 2018, is an "initiative that builds infrastructure and helps innovative blockchain projects grow through investments and partnerships; it is "strongly focused on projects that build on and utilize XRP and the XRP Ledger." Xpring's objective is "to build a robust community of developers, entrepreneurs and companies who believe that blockchains, and the XRP Ledger in particular, will transform industries." One of its main areas of interest is novel use cases for XRP as a payment mechanism, "such as micropayments, machine-to-machine payments, paid APIs and wallets."

Blockchain startup Forte, which has Kevin Chou as its CEO, was only announced on February 21st:

Forte was co-founded by Kevin Chou (Chief Executive Officer), Brett Seyler (Chief Platform Officer), Kent Wakeford (Chief Operating Officer), Mahesh Vellanki (Vice President of Strategy and Operations), and Weiwei Geng (Managing Director for China). Forte's backers include "a16z crypto, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Canaan Partners, Coinbase Ventures, and 1confirmation". 

In a blog post published on that day, the Forte CEO explained his reasons for starting this company:

"Blockchain technology and new crypto-economic business models open up these possibilities, and the implications for games are massive. Similar to how cloud technology and free-to-play business models shaped the games industry over the past ten years, so too will crypto-economic business models and blockchain technology shape the next ten.

I envision a future where players can transact with each other directly instead of only with the developer. A future where developers don’t need to figure out the maximum value they can extract from their player base, but instead are creatively and economically motivated to foster new types of peer-to-peer gameplay. I believe this vision is possible all while keeping games free and easy to access for billions of users. Reshaping the relationship between player and game developer will bring about a foundational, positive change to the gaming industry, and it’s a future I’d like to spend the next decade of my life building.

So today, I am excited to announce Forte. I’m passionate about taking everything my team and I have pioneered over the last 10 years in cloud gaming, gaming-as-a-service, and yes, free-to-play. Forte’s mission is to build a more collaborative future in gaming by realigning the economic relationship between players and developers. We are accomplishing this with an ambitious set of products and platform technologies which we will unveil over the coming months — stay tuned!"

On its website, Forte says that its mission is "to upgrade the games industry with seamless and accessible blockchain technology that benefits players and developers" and that it is doing this "by building, incubating and funding the most promising decentralized products and solutions."

The fund announced yesterday, which will be managed by Forte, will "operate alongside Forte's platform technologies and include open-source solutions designed in collaboration with Ripple to accelerate the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology in gaming." It will be "primarily targeting game developers operating live game economies with over 50,000 daily active users and an interest in using blockchain to unlock support for new game designs and drive business results."

What is interesting about Forte's technology stack is that it "includes components designed in close collaboration with Ripple, namely leveraging the open-source Interledger Protocol with XRP serving as a base pair settlement and the container-based hosting solution Codius supporting seamless transactions across blockchains." Forte's focus on "cross-chain interoperability" right from the start should hopefully "set the foundation for long-term, sustained consumer adoption of blockchain technology."

Brett Seyler, Forte's Chief Platform Officer, had this to say:

"Blockchain technologies' key innovations unlock vast potential for nearly all forms of digital interaction. Gaming is a $140 billion global industry driven predominantly by digital micro-transaction economies, which we believe will benefit immensely from the integrity and resilience of blockchain technology. The industry needs solutions that can support these economies at scale with cross-chain interoperability."

The Forte CEO made two very interesting comments via Twitter:

  • "We'd love to fund existing games with audience, no matter what size... and because this is a *real* 3rd party fund (as opposed to cash sitting on our balance sheet), we're very incentivized to deploy it with great game makers in the next 20 months!"
  • "The best part - we're not even taking equity in companies we 'fund'. This is real revenue for game developers without giving up dilution or board seats."

As for Ethan Beard, Senior Vice President of Ripple's Xpring, he stated:

"We are thrilled to partner with such a world class team of game industry veterans. Both Forte and Ripple have a shared belief that blockchain technology will have a massive impact on games, and that providing tools that are easy-to-use, chain agnostic and interoperable is a necessary step in driving scale consumer adoption."

Emi Yoshikawa, Senior Director for Joint Venture Partnership and Global Operations at Ripple, was equally excited by this partnership with Forte and tweeted:

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Ripple Labs