Decentraland Founder Unveils Project of Bringing NFTs to 'Big-Time' Video Games

Decentraland co-founder Ari Meilich is teaming up with gaming industry heavyweights to launch Big Time Studios. Everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Sam Bankman-Fried is involved in the $10.3 million Series A round of funding.

AccessTimeIconMay 12, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:19 a.m. UTC

Big Time Studios, a company formed by gaming industry veterans whose mission is to bring blockchain-based games to a mass audience, came out of stealth today with an announcement that it has raised, or is set to raise, $21 million in new funding.

Big Time raised $10.3 million in a Series A funding round from such investors as North Island Ventures, Digital Currency Group (the owner of CoinDesk), OKEx's Blockdream Ventures, Sam Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research, USDC builder Circle and Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures, according to an announcement on Wednesday. An additional $11 million in funding that will be used to invest in partner gaming companies is almost complete, the company said.

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  • Online video games have been around forever, but they tend to be "Walled Gardens," which means they are enclosed so that the user is restricted to certain websites or online services. Thanks to crypto going mainstream, especially with all the interest around non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it’s time for the gaming world to break through its silos. 

    Big Time CEO Ari Meilich, who was previously a co-founder and CEO at Decentraland, a virtual reality platform that is built on blockchain technology, says he plans to create the first "AAA," or highly rated, action title that allows players to acquire, hold and trade NFT-based virtual items with ease. 

    Big Time Studios aims to bring NFTs to mainstream gamers.
    Big Time Studios aims to bring NFTs to mainstream gamers.

    NFTs’ next step

    In 2018, Meilich organized “Nifty,” the first blockchain gaming and NFT conference, where he gained firsthand experience of the sort of complications users run into when they deal with blockchains, wallets, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

    “We knew for a fact that this couldn’t scale in the short term to a mass market audience,” Meilich said in an interview, adding:

    “So we are building tech that gives regular players who know nothing about crypto, access to their blockchain-based virtual goods. That means providing hosted wallets and a fully managed experience where we custody their assets, and also taking a lot of the transactions off-chain to save on gas.”

    Meilich said the project is being built on Ethereum but with “proprietary tech to scale off-chain.”

    Meilich is joined by former Decentraland compatriot Thor Alexander and a founding team that includes key players from games such as "World of Warcraft," "Call of Duty" and "League of Legends."

    “The market for in-game assets is massive, and yet in today’s world, players do not possess and usually cannot trade the items they purchase,” North Island Ventures managing partner Travis Scher said in a statement. “In-game NFTs can give players true ownership and their proliferation can bring the Metaverse one step closer to fruition.”

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