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Mythical Games is a behemoth in the blockchain gaming space. The company has raised more than $200M since 2018, is comprised of a team of industry veterans, has launched a blockchain game with more than 1M downloads, and its larger aim is to build technology that will provide a blockchain enablement engine for games. It is top of mind for many industry analysts due to the announcement in June that Blankos Block Party (Mythical’s flagship title) will be the first blockchain game to launch on the Epic Games Store — a huge achievement as it is the first of its kind to reach mass audiences through a third-party storefront. This announcement marks a turning point for mainstream blockchain gaming.  

To help us better understand Mythical Games’ ambition and strategy, we interviewed its CEO and founder, John Lindon. This conversation was exclusive to Naavik Pro, and we include key snippets (lightly edited for clarity) throughout this piece.

Mythical Games - Overview

Mythical is one of the most well-capitalized startups in blockchain gaming, and a big reason for that is the team behind it. Mythical Games was founded in 2018 by John Lindon (CEO), Jamie Jackson (Chief Creative Officer), Rudy Koch (Business Development), and Chris Downs (Infrastructure Operations). All four co-founders worked at Activision, and John and Jamie were both studio heads working on Call of Duty and Skylanders among other franchises. After leaving Activision, John started Seismic Games, developer of Marvel Strike Force, which later sold to Niantic. Along with its veteran founders, Mythical has made a number of other key hires including:

  • Jeff Poffenbarger (Chief Operating Officer), most recently he was a studio head at Oculus VR with extensive experience as a senior executive producer at Activision and Activision Blizzard, leading multiple game launches for the Skylanders, Tony Hawk, and Marvel franchises.
  • Pete Hawley (Chief Product Officer), formerly CEO at Telltale Games and was a senior vice president of games at Zynga, chief product officer at Red Robot Labs, vice president of product development at Electronic Arts, and executive producer at Lionhead Studios.
  • Nicole Yang (Vice President of Marketing), most recently VP of marketing at Telltale Games and product marketing at Zynga.
  • Chong Ahn (Vice President, Head of Americas), most recently the head of product management at EA, and before that mobile-related director roles at Scopely, NCSOFT, and Take-Two Interactive.
  • Greg Deutsch (General Counsel), formerly general counsel at Activision for many years.

Mythical Games has raised more than $250M in venture funding (second among all blockchain gaming startups), and this is due in no small part to the veteran team which also consists of several serial entrepreneurs.

What Does Mythical Games Actually Do?

Mythical Games is both a game developer and a technology platform developer. The company summarizes itself as “a next-generation game technology studio creating new gaming economies driven by player ownership." There are two components to Mythical’s business:

  1. Owned games: internally-developed blockchain games (i.e. Blankos Block Party)
  2. Blockchain platform technology: technology that will enable other game developers to more easily adopt blockchain within their games

In many ways, Mythical Games is reminiscent of a young Epic Games — both startups have a core competency in building owned technology, aspirations to own a marketplace, UGC functionality, and a marquee game. One key difference is that Epic hit mass market success with Fortnite, and the company has used those winnings to accelerate investment elsewhere (UGC, storefront, additional technology capabilities). 

We discussed with CEO John Lindon if Mythical’s ambition is to earn the majority of its revenue through games or through the platform:

“We modeled our business after Epic and Valve. They have part SaaS business and then they have a hit [game] every now and then that they reinvest in. There are a lot of missing pieces in web3. There is no standard, so we are leaning heavier into our slate of games, and then we will eventually use that data and learning to feedback into the platform and marketplace.”

The platform that John referenced has a variety of components:

Mythical’s ambition is massive. The platform, if successful, would dramatically mitigate most of the issues that arise when adding a blockchain layer to games. In many ways, the “Mythical Platform” has parallels to game engines like Unreal and Unity, which provide robust tools to streamline development (not too long ago, every developer would create their own engine for their games). The platform would be a very sticky product; once adopted, it would be hard to strip out, making any first mover advantage even more pronounced. It’s still difficult to discern how “plug-and-play” the platform is/will be, but having an off-the-shelf tech/tool kit that would 1) add blockchain, 2) inventory management, 3) token(s), 4) a marketplace, and 5) anti-fraud and regulatory support is something very ambitious.

If Mythical can deliver on this mission, there would be incredible value offered to developers, and as long as this suite of tech is not insanely expensive, it would likely be a no-brainer for teams adopting blockchain into their games. However, a key risk is security: if the Mythical Platform has security issues, game teams and publishers will opt to build their own in-house tech to avoid potential issues. Unlike other blockchain ecosystems like Solana or BNB, Mythical is focused less on the actual chain and more on the live operations technology that connects game activity to the blockchain. For many developers, this type of tooling must be built in-house (and therefore suck up scarce resources), because there is no off-the-shelf solution, and Mythical’s aim is to become that solution.

In many ways, Mythical Games is a market leader and first mover in the blockchain gaming space. The company has been working with legislators and first parties for years in an effort to pave a way for blockchain games. As John Lindon says:

We have been doing a lot of firsts. We’ve been working with Epic Games for almost a year to get policy changes in place. When it comes to policy, we open door for others - but we are first. For example, we got an ESRB rating and are helping to set the standard. Right now, we have bi-weekly meetings with Apple and Google.”

One important distinction to make is that Mythical Games does not appear to have the aspiration to own a centralized storefront (like an Epic Games Store or Steam), although I wouldn’t rule it out in the long-term. Storefronts are useful for companies or aggregators that have a critical mass of games (or gamers) to justify their own platforms. Because Mythical is still a single title company, it makes more sense to get its games on other platforms in an effort to get maximum player exposure.

Mythical’s Games

Mythical’s slate is strong, with three games being based on existing IP and coming from proven teams. The game that is the furthest along is NFL Rivals, which had an early access NFT drop through Rarity League on August 30th. The NFT drop consisted of 10,000 total NFTs (5k for the Rams and 5k for the Bengals). As of the final edit of this article (48 hours after NFT drop), there are still more than 2,500 NFTs available for the 0.14 ETH primary market price. Based on the game’s latest roadmap, before global launch in early 2023, we will see the following: 1) gameplay reveal, 2) player presale, and 3) a beta. Given there is still no gameplay footage, it’s difficult to assess the potential for this game. Based on the first NFT drop, though, with only ~7,500 sales, it appears players and investors are hesitant to invest in a project before seeing any footage. On the flipside, if there is anything I’ve learned from FIFA Ultimate Team and NBA Top Shot, it’s that professional sports leagues bring spectacular player and fan interest. For now, this game appears more like an exploratory marketing mechanism for the NFL

Nitro Nation and Epic Spell Wars are more nebulous as there is little available information online, and they seem to be in a more nascent stage. Nitro Nation fits well with the goal to integrate real-world collaborations, as most racing games use real brands and vehicles. Epic Spell Wars is based on a somewhat niche board game, but there could still be a hardcore audience for it that helps propel early user adoption. Ultimately, it’s too early to make a critical assessment of these projects. 

Examining the slate from a more holistic perspective, there’s no clear theme or throughline across the games; each serves a distinct player fantasy, platform, and game mechanic. This could be intentional as Mythical is A/B testing the slate to “see what sticks” and iterate from there. The downside is that it’s harder to create an ecosystem where players come into one game and then naturally funnel into other games (it’s hard to imagine many PC Blankos Block Party players transitioning to their mobile device to play a more core racing game). Based on our conversation with John, it doesn’t seem like Mythical is planning to launch an ecosystem token (a la $GALA) anytime soon, which makes sense given the small and varied slate.

From an economy perspective, Mythical is taking a long-term approach to economics in blockchain gaming. Unlike many of the web3 games in the market today, Mythical is focused purely on digital asset ownership rather than tokenization. As we are all too familiar, one of the most challenging problems that games face when it comes to "earning" or "financialized" elements is creating sustainable economies. To get a better understanding of Mythical’s core pillars, we asked John how he approaches creating a sustainable web3 game economy:

The first thing not to do is launch a public token for a single game, because the second demand falls the token value plummets, and it’s the death of the game. Massive games, like a Fortnite, could support a token, but smaller games cannot. We have thought about an ecosystem token but that is down the line. We do have premium currencies in Blankos, but they are not tokenized. We are focused on digital assets, and we see the king opportunity is the digital assets. The challenge is that people are thinking about these games as massive investment opportunities - aka ‘I'm going to 10x this tomorrow.’”

Want to read our deconstruction about Mythical’s leading title Blankos Block Party? Excited to learn more about the company’s approach to user-generated content?

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