It is no secret that web3 gaming had bit of a down year in 2023. Many studios had to shut down, and venture funding was hard to come by. But where some see a valley of despair, others see opportunity.

Midnight is scooping up talented web3 studios that have run out of funding in order to go after multiple opportunities at the same time with double AA games. 

To get a sense of the ambitious plans Midnight has for moving web3 gaming forward, your host, Niko Vuori, sat down with Steve Wade, the founder and CEO of Midnight, for an enlightening conversation. 

To learn more about Midnight, visit You can find Steve Wade on LinkedIn.

This episode is brought to you by CleverTap Gaming, the all-in-one platform for creating personalized player experiences. Visit for more details. 

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Niko: Hello and welcome to the Naavik Gaming podcast. I'm your host, Niko Vuori. We have a great episode for you today. It is no secret that Web3 gaming had bit of a down year in 2023. Many studios had to shut down and venture funding was very hard to come by. But where some see a valley of despair, others see opportunity.

Our guest today falls in the latter category, the optimistic opportunist. Our guest is Steve Wade. He is the founder and CEO of Midnight, which is scooping up talents at Web3 studios that have run out of funding in order to go after multiple opportunities at the same time with AA Games, which we'll talk about later, as well as building what they call a deconstructed MMO called Evergreen, which is intended to house a whole variety of game activities and gameplay types across the portfolio of games within the MMO itself from fashion games, casino nights, sports games.

That's obviously a lot to take on. And so Steve is here and he is going to help unpack what his ambitious vision means in real life. Steve, welcome to the pod.

Steve: Ah, fantastic. It's great to be here. I've been a bit fanatic for. Many years. So this was when you reached out, I was like, oh, this is a bit of a treat.

These guys are experts and they're asking me, this is, I made it. I've made it. This is it.

Niko: All right, this is the pinnacle. This is the pinnacle. It can only go down from here.

Steve: That's right.

Niko: I'm kidding, Steve. Yeah, with all of that outta the way, let's get right into it. And so the first question I always ask our guests especially ones who have an interesting background like yours, is what brought you into Web3.

So tell us a little bit about your background and what was your journey down the rabbit hole?

Steve: Yeah, you don't start small using Web3 in the first sentence. That's great for all the game companies, that now that shy away from Web3. I think you have to be careful with Web3 nowadays, right?

There is a bit of noise in the industry and midnight or Naavik, we have a platform, right? And so I think, how do we bring calmness to Web3 and cut through the noise. So again, thanks for having me be here. My background at Web3, I would say, it started a long time ago. I was an e-sports player in 1997 Pacific Shard PVP winners numerous years in a row, Cease, Pairless, and Ultima Online.

What I did is I started turning my winnings into sales. I would go to eBay. I was like, oh, I won this castle. I won this gold, and I would sell on eBay. And then I realized, people were just buying gold. Like, why am I going, taking the time to go to these tournaments, lug my massive computer at the, because they were very heavy back uh, late night I could just set up all these bots and so I was 15.

I had seven AOL phone lines attached to my parents' house in the basement.

Niko: Wow. And just, you were one of those kids, huh? You were one of those kids? I knew kids like you.

Steve: We were very lucky to be very close to a hub. So my, my what, 56 K modem actually hit 56 K. And it was fantastic.

And, I was the first to go to university in my family and it was all because of games and I've never. I've never got big onto, blockchain and the techno battle behind it, but the idea that Web3 is the next evolution of the creator economy, that's very exciting to me because, I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't able to participate inside of these ecosystems.

And if I think about, where I came from the late 90s we eventually pivoted eBay shut us down in 2002. We were like, oh I'm, just starting university. What am I gonna do? That was my source of income. I had to become a real company. And so we reached out to a couple groups to do community management and we ended up doing community management for the world of Warcraft Alpha.

They were our first real client World Warcraft and Guild Wars. So that kind of made us a real thing. We were, trucking along, working on these large titles and then Yahoo Japan in 2005, 2006, they decided that they wanna start publishing free to play games in the U.S. I had just been to a game conference in Austin, Texas, where the two.

Probably two of the smartest women in gaming I ever met Sue Boll and Cindy Armstrong were in this panel saying, this is the death of premium games. This is the death of subscriptions. You need to be doing free to play. And I'm thinking like my entire income comes from subscription-based MMOs I better jump on this.

And so I ended up selling my company at the time to Yahoo Japan, which became Area Games here in the U.S. which eventually sold to Game Ego. And so we, brought free to play game publishing to the us. Sorry. But it was fun at the time.

Niko: Sorry, not sorry.

Steve: That's right. No, it is, it was a wonderful experience. I remember just sitting with a lot of the free to play game people in the beginning, having these lunch dates and in Silicon Valley just talk how do we get interviews on IGN? How do we get people to talk about us because it was such a new model.

And now look what it's become, right? Digital items are just, it's a billion dollar industry and gray, a lot of gray markets. And after I moved on from Area Games, I started… Every Asian free-to-play game company that came to the U.S, probably came through one of my consulting firms or my publishing practice.

And there was one company, PlaySpan, I don't know if you're familiar with it. They were the first publisher sponsored marketplace to start trading digital items, right? So it was before blockchain, but it was still the idea that your items are valuable you should be able to have some kind of agency over them.

And so we started doing that and, 2008, 2009 Visa ended up acquiring it for 240 million. So it wasn't a bad exit for the investors, but what we saw was it was a little too early and it was also very difficult to get the big guys like, Activision didn't want. Their users to trade with EA's users at the time.

But all the midsize publishers were on board, right? So we converted Dungeons and Dragons online, Lord of the Rings online to free-to-play Mew online. And so I would I would have my sword in one game and I would sell it for currency or I would trade it for something, another game I wanted to move to.

And we saw it was very helpful for retention more so than anything else. We didn't 'cause like people play one main game and even back then we would have someone in MMO they played for six or nine months and, they might jump and play something else, but the fact that they could take something with them it just became quite more valuable.

And so I've always loved that idea. And, I jumped into investment banking after I sold my third company, what, seven years ago which was a another video game publisher. And we started doing a lot of Web3 capital raises and I was introducing these guys, as veterans there's two guys in their garage, right?

And we were raising these absurd amounts of money for them. And I'm thinking if they're veterans in the game space, I'm a dinosaur or even more a fossil. But I love, real money transactions. I love the fact that people can participate and the, the fact they have better opportunities like crypto Web3 is hope to so many people.

And I would be doing a disservice if I didn't get back into it and try to give people the same opportunities I had. So I thought, I left gaming, I left investment banking, or sorry, I left investment bank to get back into gaming. And it's been fun. So I think, we're leaning into two, two heavy things which I didn't like to hear, and what I, which I'm trying to push.

Participation is the key word, right? It's not really ownership in a lot of these ecosystems. It's, you get to participate in an ecosystem that you get to spend your time. And then a lot of the companies that were giving us pitch decks when I asked 'em about their business models, like how they were gonna make money, how the token holders would make money they kept on using the word fun.

And, Hey, fun's a great word. Everyone should be playing fun. But fun is such a hand wavy word in Web3 that I really try to push down on it. And I think the right word is fulfillment. And, you, if you have a play there, there's different categories in taxonomy users. So people could be there for fun, people, there could be there, earn money, people could be there for e-sports to be competitive.

And you have, 15 different groups and as long as you can find fulfillment for combinations or various groups, I think that's the key for Web3. And that's why I get back into it, to bring participation and fulfillment.

Niko: Fantastic. What a background. This is why I always like to start with with, with this.

And a lot of the time, Web3 is about, has been about opportunity, so some of the folks who coming in a little later, to your point, there's a little sensitivity around the word Web3 now, but I always love the stories where it really truly comes from a place of, personal experience in your case.

Selling on eBay for five years before you got shut down. And it's really surprising, and maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but so many of our guests, there's some connection to World of Warcraft. Which, for granted, right? Yeah. Perhaps shouldn't be that surprising.

So I do love how you've got this kind of through thread all the way through your career coming into Web3. And I love the word fulfillment as well. I

Steve: I hope it resonates throughout the rest of of all your podcasts around Web3. 'cause I think it's the right word. Yeah, it's a good one.

Remember, think about it. If you talk about MMOs world, Warcraft, Ultima Online was my first, so I'll, that's, that'll be my first one, right? But uh, you know, we, we'd investment banking, I would see a lot of pitch decks and all the pitch decks were excuse me, searching for gold, right?

Everyone wanted to get rich and has how we're doing it. And I'm like Web3 multiverses, metaverses. It's so much more than just. Having a company and forexing your token in three months and pumping and dumping. It's like the people that play these games, like there is history, there's love, there's friendship.

There's quiet achievements of like ordinary people in these games doing extraordinary things. And like those stories are fantastic. Like I, I could recant stories of like PvP experiences and games from 20 years ago and have fun. And I think that's what matters, right? Those people stories.

Niko: Yeah, I completely agree.

Okay. That's a perfect segue then into what you're actually doing. Great background. I understand why you've got into Web3. But Midnight, which is the company what is it and what are you doing with midnight? Yeah,

Steve: Yeah, so I, there's I guess, two lines of product there. So Midnight itself, it's a game publisher, a premium game publisher, AA games, I think you could say.

We're the category leader in Web3 for premium AA games. Most people are heavily focused on free-to-play or mobile where we're PC console games. So that's where we're going. We're building from original IPs. We're licensing ips. We're looking to find companies that wanna join what we're doing and publish those games.

And through that we're building a product called the Evergreen, which is our companion app. We mentioned World of Warcraft, that's probably got the granddaddy of all companion apps that's still alive. It's a social hub, so when people think of MMOs, they think of, a persistent world and social features.

In our world, we're getting rid of the persistent hub or Yeah, the persistent world. And we're keeping the social hub and so we're quite excited for that. Publishing premium games and linking them all together through a mobile companion app. That's the two things we're doing.

Niko: Alright. It sounds so simple, but obviously there's a lot to pack under the, right there. That's right. So why don't we start with just where you guys are at operationally. How many you already have multiple studios is my understanding working on some of these things.

How many studios do you have operating currently? Where are they and how big are the teams that, that you work with?

Steve: Yeah, so we have our own internal platform studio, although I hate the word platform 'cause we're building into the mowers. We're very narrative driven. Actually there's a red flag for me.

When I was doing investment banking, whenever a game studio, it said Hey, we're becoming a platform company now. I'm like, oh, you're, are you in trouble? But we do have a platform team. We do that in the U.S and in Indonesia, we actually acquired a business. We acquired a company called Square two.

And that's the basis for our mobile companions. Square two was a fantastic company. They raised, 6 million of VC funding 40 million in top line revenue. They had what we would refer to oh three as 4.7 million registered wallets. And they were doing Play to Earn Before Play To Earn was cool.

The thing is they were doing it in hypercasual mobile games and Hypercasual mobile games took a big hit. And that's why we were able to, swoop in and acquire them. But it was really cool. 'cause like how do you, people always said like, how do you onboard people to Web3?

And they were already doing it because, if you're playing solitaire, you're playing a bubble shooter. And it was these mom groups. They were playing solitaire, playing bubble shooters and getting diapers and formula. They did 1.3 million transactions on eBay. This was a great company.

Like it's real, a real thing. And so we acquired them as our, the basis of our, as our core. So it's 250,000 daily active users. It's tried and true tech. That team is the first one that's our platform team. But of course we need real games and we wanna make PC console games.

And so we have a studio in la they're doing two games. We have a studio in the uk. They're doing one game currently, and we have a studio in Thailand. So one game. Happy to chat about the games in general, the studios, but we wanna do more, right? So the idea is eventually we're doing one game a month.

There's some great Dubway studios who've done, I think Team 17 did 26 games last year. I think Curved Digital probably did six. So it's it's sustainable, but it's gonna take a while to ramp up to that. So I think what we'll probably end up doing is maybe four to five games.

Every six months and look at it seasons until we can get to that ramp where it's one a month.

Niko: Yeah. And obviously you'll need more studios. I alluded in my intro that the fact that you're, you are swooping in and you're taking opportunity of the fact that there has been a little, consolidation and running out of money to put it mildly in the Web3 space.

So what is your criteria for acquiring teams, acquiring games? What kind of size transaction are you looking to do? Is it opportunistic or do you have a strategy for here's how we're gonna look for these companies actively? Or are they're gonna come to you? Yeah. A lot. A lot of questions in there, but really it's about what is that, what is your criteria for acquiring teams and games?

How are you going about it?

Steve: Yeah, so I think if you think of 2023 as the gaming year of layoffs, and I think we're already at 50% of the layoffs from last year, just in the first part of 2024. I do think this is the year that either companies will be shut down or acquired, and I think there's gonna be a lot of small scale acquisition, especially in the Web3 space and gaming.

We have looked at seven companies so far, and it's…

We say, we're like a typical VC fund where we say no a lot more than we say. Yes. There was only one company that I wanted to say yes on. We put a bid in, we did not win the bid. 'cause I'm still cheap. But it was the Awesomenauts creator, I don't know if you remember the game, awesome Knots.

They went through a process and they were they were sold. I don't know who to, but I think we, we lost the bid by just a skosh. But there's a lot of opportunities, whether it's a really cool brand, and I think there's a lot of brands in Web3 that, they peaked, they've got a lot of audience, but then they couldn't, they couldn't monetize that audience, right?

They didn't know how to make a game or they didn't know how to, create a technology around it. So I think there's three things. Like we're interested in IP, we're interested in teams, we're interested in technology. I just had a call yesterday with some folks at Disney, like there's an entire team that has been laid off, and I'm like, why doesn't someone just put money and make them into a studio?

Right? There is so many benefits of having people that's already worked together. This is starting from scratch. And so we're looking at various different ways to. To work on things. The scale of our games are, double-A, what I say. And I think there's probably some education for even people in the game industry.

What double-A games are Double-A is somewhere between Indie and triple-A and it really comes down to budgets. I think a triple-A game starts at about 60 million nowadays with inflation. And so our games are far less than 60 million. We're probably in the, let's say five and a half, or sorry, yeah, say 500,000 to three and a half million right now.

And then for sequels and DLC, maybe we'll put more money up to 5 million 'cause we'll chase success if a game does well. But most of our games are meant to die. The game will. Traditional since double A games, they have a three to six month window where they, they pop and then sales kind of flounder. We think with Web3 and our companion app, we can extend that eight to 12 months. And so we're pretty excited about our model. But yeah, we're just, we're trucking along. So if anyone has a game up there and, a budget under 5 million we, when just having a look I mean look at the success of of PAL Worlds, right?

Seven and half million dollars, 300 million sales. So like double way games. One in a hundred, you could get a blockbuster, maybe one 30 you get a hit, but for the most part you get one, two or three X games, right? We're a dice right now here in Vegas. I was chatting with a couple W eight publishers and they're all throwing off cash.

It's not huge amounts of money, but, 5 million, they're throwing off a million.

Niko: That's not bad. That's not bad. It's real money. That's exactly right. Yeah. So I, I love how, this is why I wanted to have you on the pod is I love how clear headed you are in your thesis and how different your thesis is to so many others.

In this space now, we have seen some kind of Web3 roll up publisher type pitches. None of them have panned out. Why do you think yours is gonna pan out?

Steve: Yeah. That's a good question. I've seen a lot of and I'm not gonna call anyone out, but passports are a big thing, right?

Everyone is like, Hey, this is my passport, right? And so Midnight has a Baja, Blast Passport protocol unit, right? We can connect to 40,000 games. But essentially what people are saying is like, Hey, I have this old web two, Facebook log in, and that's gonna be, how we roll up all these different games.

And it's a lot of really. Tiny web games that people don't really wanna play. There's no fulfillment in that, right? People were saying, oh, we've got a bunch of games as a, I call them hippometrics. I think most people refer to this family metrics and you can have a bunch of Van Metrics games in your portfolio, but if no one's actually playing those games, it's not that interesting.

We don't need a lot of users for our model, but we need, concurrently every game that we publish should be able to do 200 to 800 concurrent users. And that doesn't sound like a terrible lot, but once you get to 26 games that can support that's great. 'cause that's people actually playing meaningful amount of time.

Another thing that I think is different or unique to midnight is, when we were raising capital for our C around, in the heyday, people would always ask, where's the value flow? Does it flow to the equity? Does it flow to the token? And I'm, the Warren, Buffett, I was like, don't get caught up in the equity.

Don't get caught up in the, it's a business. You're investing into a business. If the games do well, both will rise. Our business model is like the premium side covers our, the lights stay on because we're selling games so we know that business. The Web3 side is, icing on the cake to us.

'cause we're not taking a lot of money from the Web3 side. That's all given to the users. And that's something unique to us where we don't rely on Web3 being our business model. And I think any company that is relying on Web3 being their business model, they're gonna find out fairly quickly. Like we found out in play span 2009, that it's very hard to sustain.

If you're looking at, a million wallets, you need 16 million players by free-to-play metrics. That's a lot of players for a oftentimes little crappy games. And we have a model where. If we do a dub way game, we only need 50,000, 175,000 people to buy it. That game's profitable and we're profitable.

I'll take a hit. If someone buys one or 2 million units, that's fantastic, right? I'm not gonna turn that down. But like we are made to be a predator where we can go out, acquire businesses, we know the numbers, we get a game, we have niche users, we target, and yeah it's an exciting time.

So I think we just have a fundamental understanding of how the games business works versus a lot of Web3 people getting into it. There was a project that came out in December, it's the closest thing that I've seen, to our companion app 300,000 users, they raise 9 million. They're their token pre-sale.

And then I'm like reading their white paper and there's no understanding of how the games business works. And yeah, chase my britches a little bit, but they're fantastic marketers like the, they're, there's genius level marketing in some of this Web3, and that's one of the things like, there's so much noise.

How do you cut through it? And how do you like, bring real games, real opportunities to people? And that's what we're focused on.

Niko: Midnight. Yeah. I, no, I love it. I mean, Games as a business,

Steve: yeah, would've thought what

Niko: What a crazy idea. They have to make money, really. That's right. So no I love the fact that you're focusing on the games as a business, and it's a numbers game.

I'm a former CPA in a previous life, and the X Zynga PM is my long-time. Listeners will know. I love talking about my Zynga days. But yeah, numbers, like the numbers don't lie. And when the numbers work out. The numbers work out. It doesn't matter what the game is or what the studio is or where they're based, that's right. If they can ship a game and they can make more money than it costs to make, that's a good business. Fun, fun fact there. Profit matters. When were

Steve: You at Zynga? Were you at the heyday when they were sharing on Facebook before?

Niko: Yeah. Mafia Wars on my space. Yeah. I still remember those days.

And then the launch of Farmville on Facebook canvas, and then the rocket ship that followed. So yeah, that was, those were fun times, exciting times very formative years. Everybody has their formative years That's right. In the games industry somewhere. Okay. Then I'm gonna ask the obvious question is, which is, you haven't raised a ton of money, I don't think and I couldn't find out a lot about how you're funding this thing.

So I'm gonna ask you just directly, like, how are you financing these acquisitions? I understand the business model, but to get to the volume of games as you alluded to yourself, you need to ramp up, right? And that takes money and that takes time. And yeah. My question is how are you financing these acquisitions and these activities?

Steve: You're exactly right. So the biggest risk to Midnight and the Evergreen project is the initial portfolio. 'cause that's the most capital intensive, right before we have a flywheel of games that are, and essentially we're saying it's eight to nine games before we can just self-finance.

So in order to get to those eight to nine games, it does require some capital. We had raised a 6 million seed round. Took us three weeks to do it during the high hey days, right of doing it. We got a grants, we had a, another almost $6 million grant from And then we're currently raising more.

We, I dunno if for better or for worse, we turned away a lot of money. In Twenty-twenty-two mostly from L ones. And I'll choose looking for exclusivity. I just, I couldn't buy into the exclusivity. I don't mind making a game on this chain or this chain. But none of them had,

seem like, Hey, this is the shining light. This is gonna be the winner for games. This is where you need to be. And, we'll see where that goes. But we are, we're getting ready to raise a another round. Now, we'll probably do that middle of summer. We're looking at everything from debt financing to our project debt for the games, which is always fun.

I did a lot of that in traditional or my previous life as a banker. We'll do equity and then the fun thing which is fun for me, 'cause we spent a bunch of money with Deloitte and like four different law firms is setting up offshore finance and to do a token. So our token will be launched on April 1st.

April Fool's day. I can't think of a better day to do a gaming token.

Niko: What a day? What a day for a Web3 token launch.

Steve: Yeah. It's just like you could ask for a better day. What's the token called, by the way? Echo Token. Echo. Okay.

Niko: Yeah. I thought there might be some tie-in table first, but no.

Tie-in. Can't think of it for Echo.

Steve: Yeah, we want that go because the way we look at the token is it's, again it's player stories matter. I think, we wanna be a narrative driven company, and essentially when you play, it's your echo. It's your digital echo, and that's where the name came from.

And so we're, yeah, we're excited to, to see where that goes. Fantastic. And there's a bit of a bull right now, so everyone's quite excited.

Niko: Yeah, you're timing it pretty well. Yeah. Couldn't, who knows what April 1st is gonna bring. Like we could have five roller coasters in between then and now, but but no, you're timing it pretty well.

So I had a planned question actually on this, so I'm just gonna bring it forward a little bit, which is you're doing a token sale and obviously tokens still do work, but obviously they work a lot less effectively than they did back in the heyday, you know, 2021 late. Sure. Q-Four 2021.

If you launched a token, then you could raise a hundred million dollars without, batting an eye. Yeah. So I'm just curious to hear your thoughts on have you evaluated the token raise market recently, and what are your expectations for a token sale?

Steve: Yeah, so I, I think if you look in the last 24 hours crypto VC funding has climbed, higher for the first time in two years where it's passed the previous quarter. So there is a bit of a bull where people are getting excited, the price of Bitcoin is up, so everything rises. Everyone's, happy, all the alts are up. So VCs are starting to put cash back into it.

I think, the idea or the days of here's two guys in the garage with PowerPoint presentation. You really need a product. You really need those HIPAA, or I keep on calling HIPAA vanity metrics. Like your socials have to be hot. People have to be able to touch and feel things now.

Because there were just, you know what, 90. Something with 91% of NFT game projects are dead. One in four VC funded Web3 game companies in trouble which, reach out to me. We're always looking to help. It's rough out there and I don't wanna paint a raise your picture that, midnight is a bastion for hope.

Although we, I like to think that we are it's tough, right? It is tough out there. Crypto sales in particular we've been planning for a while. There's not a lot of I would say pedigreed Web3 companies like us that have backgrounds in gaming who understand, how to make, not even make money for the company, but make sure the users see benefit.

Which is, maybe that's something different than most companies do, where we're, we're not here for a short time here for a long time. And that's, that's fun. So like we've said. How do I explain it? Last year it was difficult. This year people are competing for business again.

And so it's definitely refreshing. I've, pushed a few projects. I was like, if you can get a token out this year, I think you should. I don't know if it's gonna be a hundred million dollars raise, for us we're probably looking around 20 million somewhere 10 to 20.

And that's enough for us. We're double A games. We have small budgets. The biggest one that I saw recently, which I obviously massive fan of I'm an investor, so I probably should say that, is Shrapnel. They launched their token in November to a great success. They're, they've set the bar for Web3 games, in my opinion.

I, it's just it's fantastic. I think there, there is opportunities out there if you are a. Head-agreed team that's building something versus, here's a road pool, right? Yeah. I think the road pools are probably done. But I think the real teams that are really leaning into crypto and, allowing users to participate, I think there's opportunities out there either from investors from doing token sales getting all your KOLs aboard to, to sell to users, working at the right exchanges.

There's, you, I could list the I'm not gonna list them, but there's obviously tier one exchanges, tier two, tier three, launch pads. You just wanna make sure there's there, if you've not done it before, work with an advisor or follow someone else's playbook, right?

Look at some other companies that's already done it and just do what they did. Is success in this that, for. Maybe the next six months, like you say, who knows what's gonna happen in April. Yeah. But I think it is a viable path nowadays. Yeah. But it's not the end odds in my mind, it is just a tool.

It's another tool, right? Debt VC tokens. Maybe we do a SPAC, right? Maybe SPACs come back when there's a lot of money.

Niko: Yeah. No I mean, I think you said rug pulls are probably done. I think quite the opposite in the next six months. I think, with the the rise in the prices, especially Bitcoin and all the alts following suit you're gonna see all the ruggers come back, maybe, let me rephrase that.

Try and make a quick buck, like whenever there's money to be made, there's gonna be ruggers and scammers.

Steve: So I a hundred percent agree with that. What I meant was I don't think VCs will be investing in rug pulls anymore. I see. Yeah. But I think there will be projects that pop up.

Like I said, I think the one in December, a bit of a rug pull 'cause they have no understanding of games, but users are excited. And people wanna be excited. There's so much hope in people wanna believe. Yeah, that's right. You should get that. I wanna believe, I wanna believe Molder and Scully.

Niko: Yeah, that's right. Okay, so I had a question about audience for these games. You're doing double A games and I totally understand the logic of why it's the business of games. It's, costs are less than the revenues, hence profit, fun, fun, fun little model there. But who's the audience for these games?

Do you have a particular genre in mind? Are you genre agnostic? Yeah. And is it more for the average person who knows nothing about crypto and Web3? Or is it for crypto enthusiasts, or is it both?

Steve: Yeah, no, that's a great question. So the Evergreen Companion app, I think that's where most of the Web3 users are gonna live because that is, it's free.

You don't have to put five to 40 bucks up front to play the game. But you can farm other games and you can, the Web-to-users will be able to sell items they create to Web-to-users in the games and the games themselves. We are, we're game agnostic because that's the fun, right? So if we're doing 12 games a year, it should be a hardship.

If you don't play all 12 games, maybe you play four games, right? Maybe you like the fighting game, maybe you like the fishing game. Maybe you like the Barbie dress-up game, but you hate FPS games. But there's an item inside of that FPS game that you really want for your Barbie dress-up game. Now because of that hardship, there's a built-in marketplace, like now people who do.

Played FPS game, now they can sell you whatever that black t-shirt is or something. And so that's what I love about MMOs, that, it's these virtual worlds where you have people intermingling with people that really wouldn't mingle in the first place. But now there's, they have to, so like we encourage interaction through having different genres of games.

The games themselves are niche, right? These are double-way games. Our first games a 2D Pixel brawler. That scales mostly male. Average age twenty-seven. It's got a TAM of 119 million, right? So it's not a massive game, but that's one game. Our next game is a in that kinda overcooked chore simulators, right?

So it's, it skews mostly female, younger, probably at twenty-four less 10, maybe 90 million. So we're not looking at major games, major game categories, but if we keep on adding a bunch, right? So like we add 10 games, now we're at a billion dollars and it's a, it's. Different type of people.

They, they're forced to mingle. And that's how you create a real circular ecosystem, in my opinion. Circular economy rather.

Niko: Interesting. Interesting. And the and they do need to know about crypto though. I just wanna understand the Evergreen

Steve: No. Sorry. So the games themselves the Web2 games.

Niko: I, I understand.

Yeah. The games I understand are just web two, they're just games, and then there's the the transfer value trading marketplace aspect that goes between the games. But does that not imply that the players, even though they're playing their individual games and don't need to know anything about crypto for that, if they want to do the trading the marketplace piece, then they do need to understand what the Web3 components are.

Steve: Exactly. I'm having a large component. Yeah. No, I get what you're saying. We expect a large amount of trading to happen in platform. And so they, they may have to go to the Evergreen app to do a decent amount of trading or the crafting or how they move items behind, they're not gonna have to worry about their own wallets, right?

All that stuff is hidden. We've got our own kind of system that, cross wallet across games. What is I think, mostly unique is they log into their game. And you think of it as, I don't know if you played, Diablo IV, you plop down 70 bucks for that game and then there's like the item store.

It's Hey, do you wanna spend 15 more dollars to get this horse skin and Midnight's games? The plus version, that horse skin that's sold by other players, midnight has taken a stance that we are not, we're gonna have an item shop in every game. It's a very familiar item shop, and we actually planned the item shop for the first three months of live service.

And then beyond that is UCG. We give that to the web, three user's hands to sell to web two users. That's how we're looking to launch on Steam. That's how we're looking to launch in South Korea because the Web3 doesn't happen inside of the web two games themselves. Any of the digital items sold there is purely it looks as a web two game now.

Now I think there could be game specific crafting materials that, that they get and maybe if they're on the Apple and say, Hey, you have these materials, they're valuing other games, or, you have these seven items, you don't play this game, it's worth $700. You should go sell it. It's knowing when the message, the user at the right time, but they're not gonna come into these games and we're like, Hey, you're gonna make a bunch of money.

No, it was like, Hey, play this game. Have fun with it. Stay in this game. That's one of the things that. I think a lot of people get wrong with interoperability when they were, which you don't hear about in the last six months. No one talks about interoperability anymore. But the idea was like, Hey, this is gonna jump from this game to this game.

I was like, no, that's the wrong idea. We just did this study with Deloitte where if someone's in a game, you wanna keep them in a game for as long as possible. 'cause that's where, you know they're gonna have the most fun. That's where they're gonna spend the most money. Now if they come, they play the game, pop on five bucks, they play it for, 10 hours.

They're done with it. You wanna be able to move them to the next game. You wanna keep them inside your ecosystem. But the idea of moving users around it, it's, you don't really wanna do that. You wanna, you want them to stay where they're happiest. And then that's where they, they'll bring their friends and stay a little longer.

Niko: Yeah. Bring their friends. Actually, that's a great point. Do you have any kind of social hooks built into the games themselves? Or are they mostly first person, single player games? Or do you have, like ma massive brawlers where you've got, hundreds of players at the same time?

Steve: No. Hundreds of player brawlers, but most of our games are multiplayer, one to four players, maybe one to six. We have some ideas for some single player games, but even the single player games you want, gaming could be lonely. And I like the idea that, you beat a chapter uh, telltale did a really good job of this when you, if you remember telltale games.

Niko: Oh, I love Telltale Love them.

Steve: Yeah. Uh, They just did a star Trek not telltale, but the guys from Telltale, they did Star Trek resurgence. If you're a Star Trek fan or telltale fan, I highly recommend that game. It's it was a lot of fun. But something that telltale did, which Star Trek research didn't do.

Was like after you completed the chapter, so it's Hey, fifty-six percent of the people did a, you did B.

Niko: What a weirdo. I remember that.

Steve: I remember that. Yeah. Yeah. And so I think you can reward things and you can drop some, exclusive loot in single player games. So make people wanna go and farm that single player game.

But it's all about the experience of the story. So it's, for us, it's more RNG than Hey, if I play this game 20 times, I know I'm gonna be able to farm X materials. It's oh, if I play this 20 times and I do different things, oh, there's a chance I'll get X material or X item or, b achievement.

So yeah we're looking for fulfillment in all of our games. There are a bunch of social hooks. If I think about the companion app the thing I compare most to is Pinterest. I think Pinterest is a great way to collect your hobbies. And, we've got mini games inside of the app.

There are people will be able to farm air drops. There's a crafting system, which I think is the way how we do underoperability and make it successful. But at the same time here's your friends, this is your friend's items. This is what the NFTs they've destroyed. Or this is what they've crafted.

This is the game they've done. This is their achievement. I think it's gonna be fun.

Niko: Yeah. Yeah. Nice. It sounds like a lot going on in there. When are you planning on launching the publishing, by the way? Yes. When is evergreen, the Evergreen app launching? Obviously the games will launch whenever they're ready.

They'll just, you'll just be rolling them out on a regular cadence. Once you hit your stride, you want to do, how many, did you say you wanna do a month? One a month?

Steve: Is that right? Ideally it's 15 games a year. It's one a month, and then an extra one in the holidays. Okay. For whatever we call our holiday fest.

Maybe it's Baker's, best Acres doesn't have games.

Niko: That's, I've never heard of that before. Okay, cool. Uh, So that's the goal.

Yeah. And when do you think you're gonna hit that stride? Yeah.

Steve: So we're actually launching our open beta for Evergreen next month.

Oh, cool. And so it's got too mini games. It's got decent amount of social features and we plan to build it over the summer to when our games are, our first two games are already in October. And so people can pre-farm those games for crafting materials and it's gonna be a lot of fun. Pre-farm.

That's right. We embrace bots. We embrace bots. Excellent. By actually giving people bots and Hey, oh fun. This is your bot named Nico. And Nico can go to different games. There you go.

Niko: I like that. I like the of having my own bot. I was gonna say where can if listeners are curious or interested, where can they sign up for the beta?

Is there anywhere we can go and…

Steve: Please come to our Discord, follow us on Twitter and whatever social network that the marketing teams turns on the next week. But it should be first week of March. Android iOS Evergreen app. So I think our Twitter is play Evergreen. Just I'll throw 'em in here so you can Yeah.

Niko: We'll, and we'll put them in the show notes as well. We always put these in the show notes, so Oh, cool. We'll make sure we have something there to if people are interested in checking this out. Yeah we'll have some links there.

Steve: I was actually quite surprised. So we, when we had raised our our initial fund our investors like, Hey Steve, no one knows about you.

Do something. And I was like, all right we do a PA PR piece. And Dean of Adventure Week was kind enough to pick us up and 3000 people joined our Discord and for two years, wow. We didn't say hello.

Niko: Wow. That's crazy, Dean. Here's the thing. Dean's listening, Dean, you have a lot more pull than you should be.

You should be out there like asking people to follow you on Twitter and get an NFT for free or something, Dean. That's right, you do Dean Empties, right? Mo moving numbers. Yeah. Who knew?

Steve: Here's the crazy thing. So we didn't talk to them for two years. We said hello and we turned our Twitter on more than 10,000 people joined in less than 48 hours.

Wow. Okay. So now we're like, it's just uh, uh, there's, there's definitely built in audiences for Web3 that are craving for pedigree projects. And then, our niche, the way games, I think they have built an audience is already yeah. Yeah. I'm definitely excited to see how we mingle them.

That's, 'cause that's the, that's been the thing, like how do Web3 users and web two users chat and, do I have to create two different discords? Ah, we don't know yet. We're gonna find out.

Niko: Yeah. And do they even speak the same language? That's right. The Web3 language and the web two language and gaming.

You would think it's the same 'cause it's games, but actually it's not. They, there's a lot of, it's cross-talking and using terminology that that certainly Web two folks don't really understand necessarily. Yeah.

Steve: I don't know a lot of the Web3 language every once in a, like my, my hip-hop is up 40% on the flop network and you got a bang, bang.

Niko: Yes. Okay, so you touched on something which is near and dear to my heart, which is distribution, discoverability, getting your product into the hands of the consumers the players that you want to get it into the hands of. And no matter how good your games are, no matter how amazing your product is, supplies to any product, it.

It's gonna hinge its success is gonna hinge on finding the right audience or the right audience finding you. So either push or pull, and I ask all of our Web3 guests this, because this is such a critical piece of the puzzle. How are you intending on reaching your target audience? You've said you're gonna be cross-platform, so let's talk about the platforms you're gonna be on, and then how you're going to actually find the audience or how they're gonna find you.

Steve: Yeah. Discoverability, I think web two, Web3 it's a big issue for games, right? There's so many games being pushed out now, so hard. I wish that some of the platforms would limit have some kind of their own filter system. But it's a lot out there. I think we're in a great spot.

If you look at our top of funnel even more so than an MMO, right? If you were, if we were doing the persistent world MMO, I think that would limit our funnel versus having all these different game types different, demographic, different. Age ranges gives us a much broader top of funnel.

And I think our niche games, our niche, AA games for niche users. They have built-in audiences. Like we'll be able to find those audiences. I say, fairly easy. Most of the games we're making now with the game developers we're making with, they've already made these games. And for, so a lot of times it's, I don't wanna say a reskin 'cause we're doing more than just a reskin, but like they've already spent $6 million building this game, this engine.

They have fine base, they've done millions of installs. We're taking that or we're taking that to this niche audience. Hey, here's a new spin, or here's a new IP. And so I think the web to gamer side, we know where those gamers are. We've found them for two decades, right? And so I think bringing them on is gonna be easy.

It's the Web3 users that I actually find challenging. When I was raising our, our 6 million seed round, I had an investor said, look, it's easier to raise $6 million than to get six hundred Twitter followers. And I was like, oh, wow. And true. So think there is. Yeah. And this goes back to, the first thing we talked about there's a lot of noise in this space.

How do you cut through the noise? How do you present yourself as the right person? And I found that, we have marketing groups, we have PR groups, we have community groups. We have in Web3, all these different KOLs and KOL managers. And this is all, or I, I guess a couple years ago they were called influencers.

Now they're KOLs, which I bite my tongue every time I see it. But I like that's the main group that I think is the most challenging because our games themselves, we can find users that wanna play Barbie, dress-up games, right? We can find users who wanna play black bass fishing. We can find users that wanna play well.

I don't wanna mispronounce, we're working on a FPS game, kinda a boomer shooter with a major fast food restaurant. So I like, there's some built-in marketing there. And I think it's traditionally how a lot of game companies will do. Like original IPs are great, but using someone else's IP to boost you up a little bit isn't bad.

And. So there's a lot of, traditional Hey, we're gonna do paid UA, we're gonna do, press releases. We're gonna, make sure that this game gets x amount of wish lists because premium games x wish list translate to X sales. That's all foundational business stuff that I think we've got.

But I think it's, I think it's gonna be fun because our games are actual games. It's not like we're trying to, put lipstick on a pig and say, come pet my dog. It's here's a two-D pixel brawler. You like two-D Pixel Brawlers.

Niko: Come play ours. Makes sense. So if I were to summarize I just wanna make sure I get my understanding right.

You feel good and confident about the games themselves. The ability to find those audiences. Many of 'em have built-in audiences already doing the tried and true playbook on, the wish listing and making sure that you do the right thing on these platforms that you clearly know very well.

But the Wild Card is whether you can get folks into the Evergreen Companion app and mingle with each other, doing the Web3 things. That's right. Doing the training. That's really where, that's where the magic happens. Arguably, that's your deconstructed MMO, of course. But. That's the wild card. That's the question mark.

Steve: That is that in a nutshell. You couldn't said it better. I should bring you to, to our team and start pitching for me. That's exactly right. I can,

Niko: I can be your translator. Okay. But it makes so much sense, and I totally understand, like the value really is gonna come from that Web3 piece where we're folks are trading and mingling and having fun together, spending time being really sticky.

That's right. Yeah.

Steve: So yeah, I think if you looked at it as a chart, it's like there's a very linear path to growth to zero to a hundred million in revenue, just on premium Double-A game sales. The extra bit extra 50, extra a hundred million is on the secondary markets, what those people are trading.

And then I think there's a third, once you have enough users, like you become a social network, the companion have is a social network and Right. And so then you get into ad sales and do all the fun stuff that over's doing. They're an investor, so I have to throw them on, throw them.

Niko: They've been on the pod. They haven't been here on my pod, but they've been with I think Alex Takei's segment. Yeah, they're fantastic. They had over overall funds yeah. What a great business that is. Let's talk about roadmap. So you're thinking about the token raise that's coming.

You've got your beta coming out soon, you've got the summer to build doing a lot of things. What's the roadmap look like for the next 12 to 18 months to give or take?

Steve: So I would say at the end of 18 months, we should have a more polished companion app. We should have between four and six games live and a lot of games, hopefully in the pipeline.

And an active token. One of the cool things, I think it's cool for our token the next 18 months is, you have a lot of single token projects that have done well, but they're highly dependent upon one game's success. I think that's risky. And you know what we saw in real money transactions, whenever like the price of the WOW token or whatever your MO choice was, like those would always pop on DLC days, patch days or new expansions.

And at midnight you have a new game coming every month, right? And so yeah, you should see decent pops for that. And I think, the fun thing is. But I went back to, it was like, gamers might not like every game every month. And so you, you save your resources. I don't like, don't play this fishing game, so I'm gonna skip August, but come September when that turtle race car game comes out, I'm gonna, drop all my stuff on that and then prices go up.

So I think it, it's gonna be, it's gonna be fun launching, content. I get to work in genres of games that I wouldn't normally work on. We're working on a tea time solitary game, but so I'm excited for it.

Niko: Is that a category? I didn't even know that. Ah,

Steve: I've made it a category. It's like a, it's like a murder mystery, but I call it tea time solitary 'cause it's it reminds me like an Agatha Christie murder mystery.

Niko: I don't know. Ms. Marple.

Steve: I love Ms. Marple. Exactly. Oh man. I love her so much. Yeah, she has. She's great. Okay, so Ms. Marple has the best piece of advice from any fictional character. I've used it in banking, I've used it in gaming. And she says uh, good advice should always be given, but is rarely taken,

Niko: Oh, that's a good line. I did not know that. Came from Ms. Marple. I've heard it. Yeah. Quote, but I did not know the source of it. So that's Ms. Marple. Okay. There you go. Listeners. You probably learned something today.

Steve: I've about Miss Smart in 10 years. That's awesome that you, of course.

Niko: I loved Agatha Christie.

I loved uh, Sherlock. Holmes. Like I loved all the classic oh her. Yeah. Oh my goodness me. Those were all so good. We should try that. We could geek out on Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and what have you. Hound the Baskervilles. Oh, what a classic That is. My English literature.

Undergraduate degree coming into focus here. Oh, wow. Yeah. It's getting serious. Yeah, getting a little bit too serious for a gaming podcast. Let's let's go back to the token for a second. I did wanna ask, and I forgot to ask it earlier, so I'm gonna ask it now 'cause it just came up.

 Utility, we use this word utility in Web3, and it's been overused, I think perhaps to, to a certain degree, but for lack of a better word what is the utility of the Echo token? What do you anticipate the echo, other than obviously raising funds for you? What are the owners, the holders of the token getting in return?

Yeah. I like, or what is it used for? Let's put it that way. Or what is it used for? I think maybe that's the better question. What is the utility?

Steve: Yeah. I like the word utility. I think, all of our law firms like the word utility. It helps, right? I'm excited again, midnight.

Is a game publisher Evergreen is the MMO. It's gonna take a while for us to get to twenty-six games. And I think that is when the game is, has enough, uh, core loops enough users to be fully fleshed out, and that's when the utility of the token is at its fullest. So there is a ramp up in our token where like the first two games, maybe there's not as much utility and we outlined in the white paper, like these are the first like four or five things that can be done.

But as the MMO grows, the value goes up, the use cases go up. And we're also fairly opportunistic to look, we're looking at different models to see what people are doing now. 'cause some things work, some things don't work. But the beginning for us, like we are very heavy on cannibalizing our own revenue with that premium plus model and users putting time, effort, bringing their, their.

Networks in bringing their friends in and letting them monetize our games. So Web-to-users will be able to come in, monetize Web-to-users that we have that built-in player base and they get to cash out with our tokens. So that's that's the first thing that they get to do. Beyond that, they'll be able to, start staking for games.

When we do have our seasonal games, we have five games come out at a time, or eventually, the Baker's Dozen as you called it for the year, people will pick them and not every game is going to survive. We are very transparent that games and Midnight system might have last three or six months before they die.

And how cool would it be if you picked one of the games that lasts for 2, 3, 10 years, right? And then you have a participation in that. So I think there's gonna be a lot of opportunities to actually use the token. We have our interoperability crafting system, which I think is fairly unique to Midnight the way we're doing it.

People, like we said, in the last six or nine months, who's talked about interoperability, not a lot of people. So we built the system. I spent heads, I was heads down for six months just like writing this. This is how you do interoperability. We didn't put the full document into the white paper because everyone said, Steve, you're writing an academic paper for people with, apes don't read.

Is the saying. They're like just truncated. Put it in there. Out and out. Yeah. Oh, it was painful. 'cause I wrote 60 pages over Martin Luther King junior weekend, and then like, the team cut it down to half of that at 30, and then we put it online and then the first 357 people to see it in an hour just went straight to the token page.

And that's our first audience, right? They're just there to make sure that we're not, we're not gonna red pool 'em. There's lockup in the tokens. There's a long term treasury fund. And then every once in a while I get com surprised. Like the, we're here at dice, I mentioned, and some people like, have read it.

They're asking me about the story. Oh, where are the bluff? Where did the bluff come from? I'm like, oh, let me tell you. It's fun. I'm excited to be here.

Niko: Yeah. No, it's a lot going on for sure. That is a fact. Yeah and I'm coming to the end of the of the podcast here, but we've covered a lot of ground obviously today.

Yeah, thanks for the questions. This has been great. Yeah, no, this has been really interesting and I definitely went, like I said, I wanted to have you on the pod. I saw Dean's piece in Gamespeed and and I read it and I was like, wow, this is really interesting. And this is. Pretty unique compared to what I've what I typically see in the Web3 space.

I like that. Yeah. Yeah. No. Intrigue me. We cut a lot of ground, but any kind of parting thoughts on midnight what are the, some of the, what are the things you're most excited by about what you're doing? What are the biggest opportunities you think for midnight and evergreen that are untapped at the moment by anybody else?

Steve: Yeah, so I think a couple different things. So the uniqueness of midnight, right? We're, I I like the term category leader for premium double A games of Web3. We're hitting that pretty hard. Our interoperability crafting systems is fairly unique in the way that users can come in and actually get payouts, right?

It's not hope. It's like midnight knows how to make money. We're cannibalizing in that money and we're giving it to the users. So I think that's pretty cool. The way that we came in and started this podcast and we just talked about, there's a lot of noise and how do we bring calmness to that and.

I think there's something magical about the, 1159 P.M. right before midnight. There is a bit of calmness between those hours. And I'm, hopefully we can bring, I don't know I think Web3 needs something between a Mr. Rogers and a Batman. I'm not saying that's us, but I think it's needed.

And so that's why I'm hoping to see in the next year is voice calm. Voices will prevail in this space, and real businesses will emerge.

Niko: Interesting. Interesting. Okay. I like that answer. I like that answer. Oh, good. It's the it's a Goldilocks answer. It's the part is just right.

Yeah. No, I appreciate that. Okay.

Steve: I think that's a great place. I also, we make a bunch of money. I'm not above the money. Please don't think of me as some saint with a Goldilocks answer.

Niko: No. I, we're here to run a business there. Business of games. Business of games, absolutely. And obviously with your track record of, selling gaming companies, I obviously, it goes without saying that there is a monetary component to it, and obviously investors and token holders should be excited by those prospects.

Okay. And the final question that I ask all of our guests this is new for 2024, but uh, what three games are you playing or are most excited by at the moment?

Steve: That's a good one. I play Fortnight Weekly with my brother, sister and their kids and my wife. So we play a lot of Fortnite.

I. Just amazing what they, what a fun, family friendly game. And maybe it's unfair 'cause my nephews are like six and seven, so they're playing on a switch and I've got my gaming computer and I'm just like in parties with him. Just, knocking off six year olds.

Niko: I should get my son to play you.

So my son is 10 and he is, I am proud dad here, but he, yeah, he's objectively a very good video game player in general. But Fortnite in particular, that's the one that's he's straight up, he straight up wins games like every four games or so. He wins like number one. Yeah, that's, I'm shocked.

That's impressive. That's I've told him, I'm sorry to take over your question here, but I've told him, I said I would like to retire on your e-sports earnings, please. Uh, I'm, I'm done supporting you. It's your turn now. It's your turn. He's 10. Yeah, he's 10. Anyways, sorry. Keep going. Yeah. I, I love Fortnite.

No, that's, I suck at it, but uh, my, my son is so good.

Steve: Are you, have you got him into the Red Bull training camp for free eSports?

Niko: I think there's not yet. And here's the crazy thing. He only just started playing two months ago and he plays on his switch. So he's he's underpowered compared to what he could be doing.

So maybe I need to get him that big rig in the gaming setup make it's Rocky.

Steve: Right? Uh, you know, Drago had all that great cool equipment, but Rocky was chasing chickens, right? That's right. So your's, your son is essentially chasing chickens right now. That's right.

Niko: It's gonna, you know, there it's gonna serve him well in life. Okay. Anyway, sorry to take over your question, but so Fortnight Great.

Steve: Two more, Fortnight I beat Baldur's Gate three as many people did,

Niko: I thought that was great. A percent of our listeners have mentioned Baldur's Gate three.

Steve: It was good. Yeah. I really enjoyed it. And so my son was being born the next month after release, so I had to play the entire game. Before he was born because I knew I would've no time. And so we got that in. He's five months old now. He doesn't play Fortnite yet, but

Niko: I'm looking forward to what he does. You're never too young to start.

Steve: That's right. Star Trek Resurgence, what I mentioned. That's a great game. I enjoyed that one. But there was an indie game called Nobody Saves the World Out of a small studio in Toronto, Canada. I really enjoyed it. It was, it is more than the type of games that we wanna do.

I have no affiliation with those guys, although they're looking for a publisher. It was a good game. Nobody Saves the world. It was fun. It was a fun little co-op game.

Niko: Fantastic. I think you gave us a bonus one there. I think that was four. So thank you very much for that. That's the Baker's Dozen, the Baker's dozen Baker's Trio of of games for the Non Gaming podcast.

Okay. This is a fantastic place to end on a fun note here. Steve, thank you so much for coming on the pod today. It was an uh, pleasure. Absolute pleasure. Absolute pleasure. Thank you. Cheers and a big thank you to all of our listeners. We'll be back next week with more interviews, more insights, and more analysis from the weird and wonderful World of Web3.

Until next time, friends, stay crypto curious and feel free to send me questions, guest recommendations, and comments. My email is [email protected].

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