Gabby Dizon – co-founder of Altitude Games and Yield Guild Games – believes that the science fiction-inspired virtual reality Metaverse is being created at an accelerating rate all around us. “The metaverse means different online worlds that are connected to one another in some form of the shared economy. Usually this economy is based on a blockchain, ”explains Dizon.
While he believes we are “at the very early stages”, blockchain-based games like Axie Infinity and The Sandbox are already developing robust in-game economies. Dizon believes there will be snowballs from here as increasing automation makes it increasingly difficult for people to find work and a place in society.
“Lots of people are going to lose jobs in the physical world, and what are they going to do? I think they will go online and start playing games. In particular, they will start playing games to make money. “
This is not entirely without precedent, as the locals in the hyperinflationary Venezuela have been mining virtual gold for profit in the game RuneScape for many years in order to feed their families.
Dizon’s game design studio, Altitude Games, is based in Manila, Philippines, where many Filipinos have managed to stay afloat through endless COVID-19 lockdowns by raising NFT creatures called axies and have sold. Although his game design company started out with free-to-play games, he is now helping build the leisure economy through a play-to-earn gaming model.
He believes that reinventing gaming is the answer to some of the world’s problems. “Play-to-earn has the opportunity to redress the inequality of wealth that currently prevails in the world,” he says with optimism. This model is particularly relevant in developing countries where it has already become a reality.
In 2020 he co-founded Yield Guild Games as a guild for gamers, many of whom are active investors and who are buying up a portfolio of income-earning in-game NFTs in a number of blockchain games.
In the past, gamers only paid the purchase price once for video games that enabled endless gameplay, with levels unlocked as the game progressed. Then came pay-to-play, where players had to make small purchases to unlock levels or skills that they could use to progress.
Free-to-play is another model that can be played for free, although benefits can usually be acquired. Often times, such games have purchasable loot boxes that contain random goods in the game. This has proven controversial as European Union regulators refer to them as “problematic design features” and some countries, such as Belgium, view them as a form of gambling.
Play-to-earn is a somewhat radical concept that suggests that players are actually making money through the process of playing, usually by performing tasks to provide other players with an advantage. An early example of play-to-earn are centralized multiplayer games like World of Warcraft and Runescape, where players can earn gold in-game, which can then be sold to other players on exchanges like DMarket for Fiat .
Dizon explains that “the problem with much of the gold farm in games like World of Warcraft and Runescape was that gold operations were mostly set up in sweatshirts,” which led to an increase in the supply of in-game currency. This resulted in items becoming more expensive in the game, which made gameplay more complicated. “These games themselves were not designed for this type of inflation, so ultimately the value was extracted from the game and hurt the economy in the game as a whole,” he continued.
It’s different with blockchain games.
Players in the Philippines can earn three times the minimum wage through blockchain games. While computer games are a free or inexpensive pastime for many people around the world, especially given the global bans due to COVID-19, more and more people have come to realize that there is money to be made from gaming:
“They are players who play League of Legends for 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 discord. “
Once you’re on the Yield Games Guild Discord channel, you’ll soon learn the basics to get started. This includes setting up a metamask wallet and security tips to never reveal their private keys or startup phrases. Currently, Yield Games is focused on teaching newbies 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 need to be special or well-educated to do this. You need to have computer skills and a cell phone with internet and some gaming skills – and then you can start making money,” explains Dizon.
According to Dizon, one key to making play-to-earn a reality is making the process easy to understand. Knowledge of blockchain technology is not required. “When I want to drive a car or when I start a car, I don’t necessarily know how the internal combustion engine works,” he explains. “You shouldn’t really have to know how a distributed ledger works to use it in a gaming context.”
Bring the IP home
Dizon remembers being on the computer since he was three. That first computer was a 1981 Commodore VIC-20 that his father – an engineer who often traveled to the United States on business – brought to the suburb of Manila, where Dizon grew up. At the age of six he became interested in games and remembered that the Commodore “had a few games – he had hangman, he had chess and one or two more”.
He attended Ateneo de Manila University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems in 2000. “I wanted to make games, and it was difficult when I graduated because there weren’t any companies that made games,” he recalls the lack of game studios in the Philippines at the time. His first job was in PHP web development, but when he saw a game developer job advertisement in Manila three years later, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Dizon recalls visiting the Anino Entertainment game studio after applying. “There were several people who slept on the couches and played the first game in the Philippines. I really loved the energy and have been into games ever since. “
In the 2000s, the IT industry in the Philippines was almost entirely based on outsourcing. Dizon had his own outsourcing business, FlipSide Games, where from 2005 to 2009 he oversaw Filipino designers who worked for overseas clients who did not receive intellectual property rights. The rich countries exchanged money for the fruits of Filipino creativity.
“The common case was that someone in America, Europe or Japan would outsource their work to the Philippines, where workers were given a fixed rate but never actually got their own intellectual property. I’m really sick of it so I closed the shop. “
In 2009 he moved to Boomzap Entertainment, a small independent company that developed its own games in Manila. “They created their own intellectual property, and I was dying to do that – to create my own intellectual property,” Dizon recalls proudly.
Four years later, in 2014, he got restless and decided it was time to go back to work for himself. “I knew the next step was that I wanted to have my own company again, but this time I wanted to create my own IP,” he says. Dizon founded Altitude Games, a Manila-based studio that makes free games. Game titles include Dream Defense and Kung Fu Clicker, with the latter offering over a million downloads.
His company struggled to raise money because local investors did not understand the business model of local intellectual property creation. International investors were similarly cautious about financing a game studio in the Philippines.
Fundraising was very difficult and it was very unusual for a startup from Southeast Asia to raise money quickly, he recalls. There was a feeling that all of Southeast Asia was lagging behind and was always on the cutting edge of advanced countries.
Dizon didn’t like doing what others had done a decade earlier. He wanted to be on the bleeding line. That is why the company got into the blockchain.
“I felt like I was facing a trend for the first time in my career – learning about smart contracts with almost everyone else in the world. You could be one of the world’s foremost experts on something 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 roadmap for developing Battle Racers! 🛣️ Who is looking forward to in-game competitions and $ 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. The organization invests in high-yield in-game NFTs within blockchain games, and plans to transform the company into a decentralized autonomous organization.
“The guild owns the units in these games,” he says, referring to elements in the game that take the form of NFTs, such as: B. Real estate in the game. In addition to Axie Infinity and The Sandbox, blockchain games the guild has invested in include F1 Delta Time, League of Kingdoms, and Star Atlas.
“The nice thing about these blockchain games is that they come with marketplaces from day one. We actually work with the developers to invest in the economy and of course our players take some proceeds from that. “
Dizon sees his work as that of an early pioneer who is laying out the streets for a future megacity. He is also a collector of NFT art which he exhibits at the Narra Gallery in Decentraland.
My @CollectorshubA art gallery has been updated – too many new works to mention. See it here: https://t.co/dBUWMWdcW9 pic.twitter.com/xQJ5OI5AM4
– Gabby Dizon (@gabusch) October 3, 2020
“We’re bringing in the manpower it takes to populate it [the Metaverse]. We bring them with us from all over the world and it gives you the same opportunities whether you are from the Philippines or Nigeria or France, ”he says, adding that the Metaverse does not discriminate based on skin color, age or location – Roadblocks that Dizon himself encountered.
“To me, it’s like we’re colonizing a new nation the same way America was colonized in the 18th century. We’re now building a digital nation with people who want homes from around the world.”
Dizon is confident that the range of play-to-earn jobs will be expanded. “There are quite a few jobs available in the Metaverse and it will become less and less like killing monsters and getting loot and more about the different things it takes to get one make the city really come alive, ”he predicts.
Dizon emphasizes that all kinds of skills are required to build these virtual worlds, including programmers, artists, fashion designers, storytellers, and architects to name a few.
He has advice for anyone of any age, anywhere, who wants to join the revolution.
“Start by joining a community and adding value to that community. […] As long as you add value to a community in the Metaverse, you will find your own place in it. “