The team behind buzzy bitcoin trading game Hxro is about to open its app to thousands more players, with 35,000 emails on a waiting list of 115,000 to be whitelisted today.
For those who haven’t caught up on crypto’s latest gaming craze, Hxro (pronounced “hero”) gamifies crypto trading with its own token, HXRO. The team behind it seeks ways to take normal trading behavior and amp up the excitement, with real money at stake. For now, there’s just one game on the site: betting on whether BTC’s price will go up (MOON) or down (REKT) over a five-minute interval.
There’s a new card every five minutes into perpetuity, and it doesn’t matter how much or how little the price goes up or down. If BTC is one penny lower at the end of the interval, everyone on the REKT side shares the HXRO placed on the MOON side.
Dan Gunsberg, CEO of Hxro, the startup behind the game, told CoinDesk:
“We are really intersecting trading and skilled- and social-gaming. And that’s really uncharted territory.”
The company was founded by partners with prior experience in trading and gambling. Gunsberg has 20 years experience, primarily in derivatives. He got into crypto in 2015 and went full time in 2017.
He and his co-founders started developing the application in May of last year and the beta opened Jan. 1. It only has about 600 people in it now, many of whom got some free tokens to play with. (Full disclosure: Hxro gave CoinDesk 500 HXRO to try it out in an account that can’t make withdrawals.)
Minimum bets are 10 HXRO, or a little under $1. As of this writing, CoinDesk is down, but not that badly. Our strategy: mainly bet REKT, but sometimes impulsively bet MOON. Also, forget about it a lot and then maybe throw a few more in at random times. We’re still working out the kinks.
“I can tell you from my own experience that if you play actively your day can quickly get away from you,” Brian Krogsgard, a crypto Twitter personality known as @LedgerStatus, told CoinDesk.
The main purpose of the tokens right now is to play them on the site. Krogsgard got into the beta early, with 2,000 free tokens to his name. He hasn’t put any in or taken any out since, but the leaderboard shows him up 337,000 HXRO, enough for second place on the leaderboard.
Krogsgard told CoinDesk that he’s found it fairly addictive. He recommends new players never bet larger than 10 percent of the pool on a card and err on the side of not putting more than 1 percent of their holdings on any one card.
“It doesn’t take much in terms of price movement of bitcoin for the game to be exciting,” Gunsberg said.
How it works
As for the game itself, its user-experience embraces crypto culture full-on. It’s 100 percent geared around price movement and mass psychology.
There’s this concept in the game called “the ratio.” When a player goes to bet on a card, all they can see before their wager goes live is how much HXRO has gone into the pool. They can’t see which side people are betting.
That said, users can see how many people bet on each side on all the prior cards. So, if BTC has been getting REKT for the last three cards, it’s a very safe bet that the crowd is favoring REKT for the current card. That’s the safe bet.
The trouble with being on the side with more HXRO – the safe side – is that the winnings are less. So, it goes when betting the favorite, be it on bitcoin or horse racing. “You can win seven out of 10, but if you’re only getting 1.2x, you still lose,” Krogsgard explained.
There’s a second level that develops in the game. The longer BTC goes in one direction, the more likely people will start to take the other side, chasing the long-shot odds and a big win.
That said, other players may stick with the trend just because they know the other side will grow the longer a streak goes, marginally increasing the safe-side bet.
One way a player can make their guess more educated is by reading or even engaging in the trollbox on the site (basically, a chat window) as well as joining in its beta Telegram channel. By stirring up those hornet nests, a player can potentially move bets in the direction they desire.
“The social gaming layers over the top of it has been the most shocking thing to me,” Gunsberg said.
CoinShares’ Meltem Demirors got in on the beta test (she’s not an investor in the project), and she told CoinDesk:
“Hxro is all about understanding the psychology of the other players and strategically betting when odds are good. After three moons in a row, will everyone go moon or rekt? Since it’s a paramutuel game, you want to be on the side of the order book no one else is one. Being a contrarian pays.”
Place your bets
Down the road, the Hxro team sees the website going beyond a game to a full-on product that larger investors use as part of their real strategy.
Hxro did a $500,000 pre-seed round last year to fund development and is currently raising a $2 million equity round, with another $500,000 already sold, according to Gunsberg. While it did not do an initial coin offering, Hxro did do a small token pre-sale for $250,000. It actively sells tokens to users on the site as needed, too. In addition, the company takes a small cut off of each card.
There are a maximum of 1.575 billion HXRO tokens, but 325 million are locked up indefinitely. Only a little over 52 million are circulating right now. The price as of this writing for a HXRO token is $0.08, according to CoinMarketCap.
Right now, hxro only trades on Bittrex and IDEX, with about $15,000 in volume over the prior 24 hours of trading on Monday morning. The game itself will undoubtedly change when thousands more people are given a chance to play.
“If we’re starting to see some saturation then it’s a good signal that it’s time to start spinning up new games,” Gunsberg said.
To accomplish this, the company could launch games with different time intervals or games that follow different currencies. Hxro also has another forthcoming game called “MUHBAGS,” which will work something like fantasy sports, but for altcoins.
While it has largely been insiders who’ve made it in so far, Gunsberg says the product has had an interesting effect on trading n00bs. He told us:
“I guess more from the game side of it, it really, a lot of the people who’ve come on who’ve been enthusiasts, they learn more about trading crypto faster in a unique new way.”
Website image courtesy of Hxro