Tribo raises $1.17M for Web3 multiplayer games

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Tribo has raised $1.17 million for a new game studio that is making multiplayer games with Web3 technology.

The team is working on a casual free-to-play multiplayer game to be revealed at a later date.

The Helsinki (and virtual) company will make games that create player-owned economies powered by digital collectibles using non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The money came from Play Ventures, Sisu Game Ventures, and Joakim Achrén, said CEO Miko Kuusisto, in an interview with GamesBeat.

“Multiplayer is where Web3 shines,” Kuusisto said. “We have experience with deep collection systems and deep economies and can do them well from Web2. Now we can level up those games with Web3.”

Kuusisto has been thinking about player-owned economies ever since he put thousands of hours into World of Warcraft and ultimately wanted to sell his account. There was no option supported by Activision Blizzard to do so.

The five founders have 60 years of combined experience in building mobile games. They worked on games such as Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies, and Nonstop Knight.

“For us, the Web3 opportunity is less about the tech and more about new design possibilities and the general expectation that there is a better way. Players are already demanding more from their games,” Kuusisto said.

He added, “With free-to-play games, we have 15 years of labels on how to do these things. And now we want to create something new that hasn’t been possible in the virtual world. That requires rethinking on how to do metagame systems and economics. Our target is multiplayer for the mainstream.”

He believes that digital ownership and open economies are key building blocks for Tribo to pioneer new gaming experiences. The games that are being designed from the ground up to best support long-lasting and community-owned worlds will be the ones that succeed, he said. His intent is to create something fresh that players have to see in Web3 comparables, or in the first wave of Web3 games.

“Gaming audiences will migrate over the next few years to player-owned economies and new types of experiences built around them,” Kuusisto said.

To celebrate today’s announcement, Tribo is kickstarting its core community by launching a free NFT collection called Flameys for its community. It is releasing 2,000 unique avatars that grant the owners perks and a VIP role in the Tribo community. Flameys can be claimed at www.tribogames.com. These owners will later be rewarded with airdrops, allowlist spots, early access to games, and VIP status.

Kuusisto is on his third game startup, with the previous one being Kopla Games. The company’s founders have worked at companies such as Rovio, King, Wooga, PopCap, Flaregames and more. The team has a total of seven people. Over time, Kuusisto said he hopes to grow the team to 20 to 30 people.

The NFT price crash

Tribo’s Flameys NFT avatars.

In the last few months, the crypto market crashed again and NFT prices collapsed. As a result, Kuusisto said the company will be more careful with spending. Kuusisto said his conviction remains strong, but the company will be more careful.

“The crypto market has changed. The funding market has changed. We will pull down our plans,” he said. “But our conviction about the Web3 space is strong and it hasn’t changed. We knew there would be another crypto winter market. It was inevitable. To us, it doesn’t matter. In the long term, it is inevitable that these changes are coming.”

Meanwhile, Kuusisto believes that big companies will stall on their plans to launch blockchain games as they have an innovator’s dilemma, where they have to worry about Web3 games cannibalizing their Web2 games. They’re more concerned with consolidation in Web2 than launching Web3 games.

“That kind of leaves the audience in the middle, or what people call the mid-core games, and the main mass of players that plays mobile games as well as the target audience for us,” he said. “The whole mission for the company is to pioneer Web3 multiplayer games for the masses.”

Kuusisto believes multiplayer games get more engaging with your own assets on the line. It’s like playing poker with real money, where there is more at stake.

The innovator’s dilemma

Eventually, the problem is that the existing franchises lose steam in the market and players want to move on to something new. The trick is to have something ready when that happens. Meanwhile, startups like Tribo want to work on those next-generation products from the start and be ready with them when the market switches to something new, Kuusisto said.

“This is how market cycles and disruption happen,” he said. “We’re talking about familiar playbooks. I feel excited as an entrepreneur in a space that no one has figured out. For us, small companies have a chance to become the big companies of the future.”

At the same time, authorities around the world are setting regulations for crypto and blockchain technologies. Tribo will watch how that proceeds, and Kuusisto said that it’s nice not to be first in line when those regulators make their rulings on the companies pioneering the space. In that way, the company can observe what regulators decide on the first companies and learn from that.

“Many of the early companies are copying what has been done, but many of the early models are not sustainable and not focused on quality,” he said. “You should really be thinking more outside the box with Web3. The whole space is moving super fast. Many of the ideas we had half a year ago are now in the trash. It’s like we are speedrunning. It feels like we are moving fast than we did with free-to-play games.”

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