The previous episode of Hashing It Out featured Keith LaForce of Haste, a BSV blockchain powered ILP arcade that is making waves in the gaming space. Today we hear from Lloyd Purser, COO of FunFair Technologies, a company founded by Jez San, a trailblazer in the video gaming space. Several of San’s numerous accomplishments include receiving the world’s first OBE for services to the video games industry in 2002 and in 2005 launching PKR, an online poker site known for its unique 3D poker client.
San’s FunFair Technologies was founded roughly four years ago, initially focusing on a casino platform built on Ethereum. In February of 2021, FunFair exited the blockchain online casino part of the business due to various complications (more on that later) and identified a less complicated fit for mass adoption.
“One of the key things we were looking at is NFTs, we have a lot of experience in the gaming world as well. In fact, most of our studio virtually come from video game development rather than gambling,” Purser revealed.
“We looked at things that are happening in the market and we decided to build a racing game that uses NFTs. It has its own economy. We’re still in the conceptual phases…we’re looking at tying down the specifics around things like who the customers will be, what geographies we’re looking at, the specifics around the in-game economy, how things work,” he said.
Purser explained that in the racing game, players will be able to buy NFTs through a marketplace or earn them. Players can use the NFTs to give their cars special powers such as speed or even weapons that can be used to win the races.
“It’s taking traditional concepts, but with the addition of NFTs and the addition of blockchain technology into the game…the NFTs, for us, are the clearest use case. Players can play or just buy things that have value and have utility,” Purser revealed.
Purser also pointed out the benefits of “interoperability” when it comes to NFTs, using the example of taking a “punk” that you own and bringing it into the racing game, potentially giving your car different properties or values.
“We’re looking at how do we actually add utility to other NFTs that might not be our own, for example,” Purser said.
CryptoFights, powered by FYX Gaming, utilizes the superpowers of the BSV blockchain to create an NFT economy similar to what Purser describes above. Like FunFair, FYX Gaming began their blockchain journey with Ethereum but were forced to abandon the technology when they ran into scaling issues. Having moved over to BSV, FYX Gaming on some days puts more transactions than the entire Ethereum network through the RUN protocol on the BSV blockchain.
The importance of interoperability is also a point Adam Kling of CryptoFights constantly hits, underscored by his CoinGeek New York announcement of a new product and crossover launch with Zenescope, allowing for NFTs of Zenescope characters to be used in-game at Crypto Fights or traded in the NFT marketplace.
To discuss the application of NFTs in iGaming, Purser attended iGB Live! last September 29 to speak on a blockchain panel alongside Nick Hill of Premier Chain. The pair touched on what they felt were the key potential uses for blockchain in the online gambling industry, mainly NFTs and responsible gambling initiatives.
Another point that came out of the panel was that to the customer, it doesn’t really matter what blockchain is running in the background, just as long as it works. Take nChain’s BSV blockchain-powered Kensei solution, for example. Crucial Compliance will be integrating with Kensei to improve their Responsible Gambling offering, yet clients don’t even need to know the BSV blockchain is involved in any way.
“The reality is we’re not going to be shouting about which blockchain that [our racing game] is on to our users. It doesn’t matter to them. All they care about is that it works. It’s fast. It doesn’t cost them a ton of cash to run, but also that we have the right level of security for them as well,” Purser said.
When FunFair Technologies first came onto the scene, their main project was an Ethereum-powered online casino, the first of its kind to be introduced to the iGaming industry space. While the concept was forward thinking, Ethereum did not have the ability to scale and regulatory challenges were hard to overcome.
“We had various regulatory hurdles when we set up our blockchain casino platform. And it was clear that those hurdles weren’t going to go away and that there were going to be significant barriers to entry,” Purser said.
“Our idea was to bring blockchain to the regulated gambling world, and it was very hard to do that because regulators just aren’t ready. The way that the platform worked was so completely different to a normal, centralized system. Decentralized wallets were all non-custodial. We had no access to customers funds. There was no remote gaming servers. There was none of the things that regulators are used to regulating,” Purser explained.
“Fundamentally as well, the technology was a very early stage. Running that platform on Ethereum at scale for us wasn’t working out financially,” he added.
Rather than hitting the gambling industry—an industry that is notoriously resistant to change—with a fully blockchain-powered solution, Purser believes a piece-by-piece, “traditional tech” and blockchain tech blend approach will have more success in the iGaming market.
“Incremental introduction of blockchain technology into the online gambling world is probably the best way. We obviously went with a fully-fledged complete system including affiliates, game development and operators and players and everybody and it’s a much bigger ask for someone to take that on,” Purser revealed.
“I definitely think that the regulatory side and the responsible gambling side is a great place to start because there are significant benefits around having an open database of activity in real time that can help regulators and players and operators and everybody in the ecosystem to help prevent problem gambling,” Purser concluded.
Purser also believes there could be opportunities for NFTs within the online gambling universe, but at this early stage, the applications for them are not obvious. However, NFTs are absolutely on fire within the gaming world which is likely a better place to start or at least study.
“I think the explosion is happening outside of iGaming (online gambling). I think the time will come, but I just think it’s going to take a bit more time,” Purser concluded.
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