Trading card games (TCGs) have always been the most natural fit for web3. Their real-world analog cousins are inherently collectible, generally have a notion of rarity, and have a thriving secondary market. 

So it is no surprise that some of the earliest and most hyped entrants into web3 gaming have been TCGs, and perhaps none more so than Parallel, the Toronto-based company building an ambitious sci-fi themed game. To realize its ambitions, the team raised $50 million at a $500 million valuation and is making waves - one of its 1-of-1 cards sold for $1.1M million in ETH, and the game recently won the top prize at the prestigious GAM3 Awards dedicated to recognizing the best of web3 gaming. 

To learn more about what Parallel is building and how divorce software (yes, it's a thing) can prepare you for a career in web3 TCG game design, your host, Niko Vuori, sat down with Kohji Nagata, one of the founders of Parallel, for an enlightening conversation. 

To learn more about Parallel, visit You can find Kohji Nagata on LinkedIn.


Also, big thanks to ZEBEDEE for making this episode possible! ZEBEDEE provides a plug-and-play API and SDK for seamless integration of instant, borderless, and low-fee payments using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Want to better engage and monetize your global user base? Start for free at 

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 Vourie. We have a great episode for you today. We are talking about possibly the Buzziest Web3 game out there, and that is Parallel is a trading card game TCG, where players collect cards, put together a deck and compete against others.

As we've discussed on prior episodes, TCGs have always been one of the most natural fits for Web3. There are real world analog. Cousins are inherently collectible, generally have a notion of rarity and have a thriving secondary market. The infamous Black Lotus card for Magic Gathering earlier in 2023, broke its own sales record at 540,000 US and post Malone famously paid $2 million for the one Ring card.

So there's a long history of high value cards changing hands in this space. So I was no surprised that some of the earliest and most hyped and best funded entrance into Web3 gaming were and still are, TCG's and today. We have one of the founders and the head of design of Parallel from Toronto Canada, which is building a sci-FI themed TCG.

Our guest is Koji Nagata and he has a really interesting background, which you're going to want to learn about, and Parallel just won the top prize at the game three Awards, the most prestigious Web3 gaming award out there. So Koji, congratulations on the win and welcome to the pod.

Kohji: Thanks for having me.

I appreciate being here. And yeah, the win it's always nice to win stuff and is a surprise to me. It's crazy. But yeah, thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk about my favorite subject, which is parallel and myself.

NIKO: Alright, you and I have that in common, so this is gonna be a fun one.

Alright, with the intro outta the way, let's get right into it. The very first question I have here for you is as I hinted in the intro, you have one of the most unique backgrounds of any gaming guest I've ever had on the show. And so we have to start there. You don't come from traditional gaming at all, I believe. I know you're a big gamer. You play a lot of games and you've obviously play a lot of tcgs, but I believe you come from a company called divorce Mate, which makes, as the name suggests, software for divorces, which I didn't even know was a thing until I started looking at your background.

So please, we have to start with that. You have to tell a listeners more about how Divorce Mate has prepared you for a career and business in game design.

Kohji: Yeah. I will say that I've spent a lot of time my free time designing mostly actually board and card games, but like the physical versions, not so much the digital versions.

I worked in software for a number of years at a bunch of software companies, most recently legal tech stuff and Divorcement being one of them. And so it's, it is family law software. And essentially what that means is that anything family law related when it comes to divorce, custody asset division, all that stuff it takes care of it.

But it's a sort of major use here in Canada which is almost has a monopoly, is basically that when it comes to asset division and divorce and what have you, there's a lot of very complicated math and how things get the pie gets divvied out is, there's some rules, but it's, they're not hard and fast rules unless we're talking about child support in which in case there are hard and fast.

I won't bore you with the sort of intricacies of family law but essentially a lot of heavy math there. And the software does a lot of that, and I help put together a version of that software and card games as well. A lot of math, right? When it comes down to the actual, game design of it. It's not so much, what is the tactile feedback of this gun? How much damage is it doing how fast are the guys moving? That sort of thing that you would get in some of these other games? It is a more, I don't know, we'll say pure representation of game design.

As asset division and game design, the things that they have in common is a lot of spreadsheet layouts. Yeah, I think that's what sort of prepped me for doing this whole parallel thing and the desire to escape, not divorcement, I enjoyed that job, but maybe that life in general is what sort of fueled me to create this game.

NIKO: Yeah, I just love this background. I, you truly are a, one of a, kind, one of one, if you will, in the TCG terminology here. With that background, I honestly didn't know that divorce software existed, but of course it does, right? There's software for anything. I also love how.

You connect the heavy math to the game design piece, which I think just, it makes a lot of sense. So yeah, excited to, to hear that story and I'm glad we could share that with our listeners. Okay, so follow on question to that then. Going from that to, to parallel, we're gonna talk about parallel in a second of course, and we'll talk plenty about it.

But I wanna hear your journey into Web3 in particular. I always like to ask our guests what took you down the rabbit hole? What got you red pilled into the world of. Yeah, tell us a little bit about your journey.

Kohji: I think what got me Red-Pilled is our CEO and one of my best friends he goes by Kalos online.

He essentially got a bunch of us together and a few of us have worked together in the past as well, but he got a bunch of us together and said, Hey. Let's try and do this thing. We had been talking about it a lot in Kovat. We wanted to make a game. And he brought some people together and said, I, I'll, here are some people.

We have a aligned interest, let's figure it out. And some of those interests were, let's make a game. One of the artists very talented artists that the head of art at parallel, Oscar Marr. Wanted to get into NFTs and then we had some, a bunch of smart contract developers and other people that we knew, and so it all just got mashed together.

I wasn't a Web3 native at all when the project started, like I was aware of it and I had dabbled here and there in, in some things, but I didn't know to what extent the degeneracy how deep that went really.

NIKO: It goes deep. It goes deep. Yeah. You can go really far down that rabbit hole, that's for sure.

Kohji: I watch from a distance with binoculars the true degeneracy, but but anyway, yeah, I, the experience with the game, I was very hesitant, as most people are, I think when they get started. But really working with these guys that, that I trust and making some new friends along the way.

I was. Really brought around to the benefits that Web3 could bring us. And it it's not just about ownership. 'cause obviously when I first looked at it, I was like, yeah, you can buy, sell and trade the cards. This is amazing. 'cause I love magic and I still love going to the card store and buying and trading stuff.

And so that bit of it, I was like, okay, this makes sense. But then there's so much more to it. All the interesting intricacies of tokenization and the systems that you can create and the utility that. Smart contracts bring so that you don't actually re really need to rely on people.

And it's very automated if you do it right. Makes a lot of sense to me. And so anyway, yeah. That's a very long-winded answer to say that working with these people is what really brought me along.

NIKO: Fantastic. Alright let's talk about Parallel. And the game itself. There are obviously a lot of TCGs in Web3 which I'm sure you're aware of.

And of course as I sent in the intro, it makes a ton of sense. Because, collectability, tradeability all the features that make a TCG work in the real world work in Web3 particularly well around ownership in and. We did an episode just a couple of weeks ago. If listeners haven't listened to that yet we did a whole piece on Web3 TCGs and what the marketplace looks like, heading into 2024.

But I wanna talk about parallel and what makes it different from some of the other Web3 TCGs on the market Koji. Can you tell us a little bit about what parallel is and how you're positioning it differently from what's out there?

Kohji: There's a lot of levels to that question.

I think the most obvious first one is it's a sci-fi trading card game. Anyone who's familiar with the likes of magic, the gathering or Hearthstone or Runeterra or any of the sort of more modern card games the gameplay will feel natural, but there are obviously some mechanical changes, but I think it's very important to highlight the sort of sci-fi nature of it.

There, there have been a few. Successful sci-fi TCG is like one of my favorites. And I know this is in a question that's gonna come later. I know I told you that I didn't read all the questions, but I skimmed it and I saw that you asked about other TCGs. There's a game called Net Runner that is a somewhat sci-fi based that it, really spoke to me when I was younger.

And but. Generally speaking, when one thinks of TCGs, they think of fantasy. And you even just look at the sort of Disney TCG and even their characters operate in a sort of fantastical world. It's not tech-based. And so I think the flavoring is very important because we're in an era now where people.

Especially in the space that we operate in, people are very future focused and the big buzzword of the time is ai. And so everyone's like looking towards tech. And so I think making a game that is tech focused makes a lot of sense. Of course, we didn't know that AI was gonna be the buzzword when we started this card game fortuitous.

But so there's that. And then mechanically speaking, basically what we did, what I did is I took all of my favorite elements of the card games that I loved, smashed 'em together and got rid of all the rest. And so on a, very basic level I think magic, the gathering is one of the greatest card games ever made, but I don't think it translates very well digitally.

And one of the things that holds it back is the sort of mana system. You have to draw mana from your deck, and that means less cards you actually want and less consistency. I think that Hearthstone iterated on that and said, okay, let's get rid of Mana entirely, and you just get one per turn and that allows you to play your cards.

And I thought, that's great, but I. There's more that could be done, and we created the banking system, which allows you to take any of the cards that you have in your hand and use them for energy as opposed to playing them for their intended purpose. So you have to make a choice there.

But then we also have cards that interact with what we call the bank, which is where you put those cards so that you can swap cards in and out. So you can flip cards over. You can reveal information about your opponent or about yourself. You can faint information about your opponent or yourself, I come from a bit of a poker background, so the idea of bluffing was big for me and that's some something that I wanted to incorporate in the game. The game itself. Also, you assign generals, which we call paragons to your deck, which will essentially give your deck a passive ability that exists throughout the game that is unique to that paragon.

As well as the paragon itself. Most of them are playable cards that when you have enough energy to play them, you can play them for a bit of a. To turn the game, turn the tide in your favor, and that's a bit of a dawn and a wink to magic commander. I think the point is that there are a bunch of familiar things here, but done in very different ways that add up to a very unique experience.

NIKO: Yeah, you mentioned the sci-fi theme, which was actually a planned question I had anyway, and I just wanna dig a little bit deeper into that that realm. S the sci-fi theme is pretty unique among TCGs especially the one, you mentioned fantasy is your traditional air quotes, traditional way to go if you're gonna do a TCG and you've gone very sci-fi theme.

But by the way, I love your art style. I really do. Very impressed with that. Whoever you've got. On staff doing your art is is doing a great job. So I love the sci-fi theme. I love the look and feel of it, but it is very different. So when you started down this path, did you say, Hey, we're gonna deliberately go down, Hey, we wanna do sci-fi because it's different?

Or was there, were there more like gameplay elements that you were thinking about that made sci-fi the more natural fit?

Kohji: No. So actually we started with the the lore and the story and the sort of feel of the game and then went to the mechanical nature of the game. And I think the reason why we chose Sci-Fi is again the, me and all of my friends that we work with were all sort of technologists.

It also, definitely speaks to the, our, our at the time was our only artist, but is now the head of all the art of parallel Oscar Maher again. He in fact always jokes that he has never seen the Lord of the Rings and he hates that nerd shit, quote unquote. I hope I'm, I hope I'm not outing you here, Oscar.

But basically it was sci-fi or nothing, which was okay with us because we, we appreciate tech and I think that also. I don't know if this was an active thought at the time, but maybe it was just somewhere nestled in our brain. The fact that we are building this game at the cutting edge of tech and the early adopters of tech in Web3.

It only makes sense that the game be tech focused. Like most sci-fi sorry. Most fantasy-based games take place, in a distant past or, some semblance of what the distant past would be, and that doesn't really make much sense. Tech focused people in my mind.

NIKO: Yeah, that's actually a great segue into my next question, which was who is your target audience?

Is it traditional TCG players from the analog world or Hearthstone players from web two? Is it crypto enthusiasts? Web3 early adopters? What's the, did you have a conscious, here's our segmentation, here's our target demographic that you're going for when you first started building and has that evolved over time as you've.

Obviously been building this game for a couple of years now.

Kohji: That's a good question. I think, what's funny is I think that a lot of the questions that you ask or that people ask, you get different answers depending on which founder you have sitting in front of you. But for me, my main focus was to make a card game for other card game nerds.

I wanted people who were familiar with the games that I loved to sit down. Play peril and be like, oh, I see what's happening here. I see why they did this. Or, oh, this is a really fun, interesting twist on XYZ. And that was the only segment that I cared about. Now, obviously, that's probably not the smartest move when it comes to building an audience and making money.

And thank God that, whoever, I'm not a, I'm not a religious person, but thank you know, whoever that that other people have gravitated towards it and it's been more wider reaching than that. But I will say that we've had a lot of great card game influencers come in.

I have to shout out, the parallel queen herself, Razza, she is the best, but immediately she played the game. And this was before we were working together. She played the game and she was like, I love this. And I, that made my day because she was one of the only influencers that I knew from before.

I'm not a huge I don't know streamer watcher but I had seen her do Hearthstone related things before. And so the fact that she loved it was incredible. And then we had a bunch of other influencers more recently. Play in a grand scale parallel tournament. And a lot of them are either current or former Hearthstone pros.

The winner bunny Hopper he is the current Hearthstone champion and a bunch of them have stuck around and continue to play and have told us that they, really enjoy a lot of elements of the game, which is that's it, I did what I set out to do. I, the game speaks to my people and knock on wood again, thankfully there are also a whole bunch of other people that the game speaks to.

But yeah I, again, very long-winded answer to say that I really just wanted to make a game that excited people like me, because I think that if you're not excited about it yourself or if it doesn't speak to you directly and you're actually just trying to. Hit an audience, people can see through that, and I think it in order for me to really build something with like care, it would have to be something that was made for me. Yeah,

NIKO: It's a great feeling as a game developer or a e any product owner, when you put something out there, you have a thesis and then actually resonates with the people you want it to resonate with.

That's a really good feeling. You're, that's your classic product market fit, right? PMF? From the tech jargon here. So awesome. I'm congratulations on, on, on hitting that goal and getting that target there. So this is gonna bring me to the, so your audience is TCG players, right?

You've got your Hearthstone champions in there. You've got your kind of trading card influencers in there. And you've said that Hearthstone and magic gathering, for obvious reasons, are some of the biggest inspirations for parallel. What are the other games and categories of games. You mentioned poker, the bluffing.

What else is inspiring you as you're building this product? I was a TCG is its heart, but it seems like it's going broader and touching on a lot of other genres that, that have inspired you as well.

Kohji: Sure. At a base level, there are other card games that I look at. I mentioned Netrunner in the sort of nineties magic boom.

I played every game under the sun. There was a football based card game called Grid Iron that I used to play another game called Illuminati that I played. I couldn't get enough of that stuff. And then again, there are a bunch of board games that, that sort of really speak to me.

I, I don't wanna, I don't want to I could probably list off names of stuff forever, but I will say this, that, when I also talk to people about joining our team and hiring them, especially when it comes to the game design side of things inevitably Dungeons and Dragons comes up and the tabletop pen and paper role-playing game.

And that's because creating this stuff I mean we have a amazing staff writer. His name is Greg. He's written the comics and done some other stuff and he helps the lore as well. But our team is also very responsible for creating the characters in the lore on the cards. And sometimes.

The functions of the cards inform the story, and by that I mean we come up with an interest card and then we build a character around it. And sometimes the opposite is true. The story informs the cards and it's oh, you know what? This class of people behave in this way, so let's build a card that's demonstrates that mechanically. And so I think you need to have both sides of that coin. You can't just have people who are coming up with interesting mechanical things and have no mind for their story and vice versa. Yeah, D&D is a big part of that. And I try and take inspiration wherever I can find it.

I play any game I can get my hands on it doesn't matter what the genre is and, I may not spend it an order and amount of time playing Call of Duty or whatever, but if a new Call of Duty comes out and people are like, this is the best game ever I'm gonna pop in there and play it.

And I, so I look for people that, that sort of do that. Okay. I'll give you a little. Tidbit here. Before all that we talked about my work history. At one point I was a musician and I used to go around and play music all the time. And one of the things that inevitably musicians do, you can probably talk to any one of them, is when they go listen to another band play, it's very hard to turn off your musician brain and be like, just bop along to the song.

What you're doing is you're basically. The guitarist will do a crazy lick or the the drummer will do some sort of crazy fill or play some sort of crazy beat, or there's an interesting transition and you're like, oh, I see what they did there. Oh, that's interesting. Like you're picking up these little pieces and dissecting them.

And I think that a good game designer does that too. So it's not like I draw inspiration from a small pool of games, but I'll play any game. Hone in on very minute elements of it and be like, oh, that's interesting. I like that. Oh, that's interesting. I like that. And it may not all apply. To card games, but you build up that Rolodex in your brain and you can when the time comes it's there, ready for you.

NIKO: Yeah, that resonates strongly. As I don't wanna bore our listeners with a story from my long-distant Zynga past. But very briefly we took inspiration from draw something. Which was obviously a picture style game on mobile when that was blowing up and saying I bought it and everybody was playing it.

And we put it into one of the Ville games, FrontierVille in this particular case, which was a completely different genre of game. And that one feature we, it was called Prize Pigs. It was, we call it the partner mechanic, where you just pick one person and you. Go back and forth just like you did and draw something.

And it, it totally reinvigorated the economy of Frontierville. And so what you're saying almost gives me goosebumps because you're exactly right. As a game designer, I'm not a musician. I. I'm completely tone deaf, but I'm a game designer. I love games. And what you just said about, you're looking at other games, you're trying to get inspiration.

You can't switch off your game designer brain. That's so true. And so I love that you're bringing elements of other genres. I. Other games and other experiences into Parallel in a way that seems to be resonating with your players, so that's awesome. Okay, let's switch gears a little bit and let's talk about the Web3 elements here.

Parallel obviously is a Web3 game. It has NFTs. But beyond collecting trading NFTs, how else are you incorporating elements of Web3? What is inspiring you about the Web3 ethos, if anything that you're bringing to Parallel in a way that makes it unique and not a web two experience.

Kohji: Sure. So we're trying to meld the two together such that the web two and Web3 experience, like Web3 augments the web two, quote unquote web two experience, as opposed to having it be its own thing or separate things or, what have you, because I, I think that we like to use the analogy of boiling the frog. I think that to bring people into Web3, you gotta put them in a room, some room temperature, water, and turn up the heat. And you hit it on the head that initially the Web3 element the biggest Web3 element is the ownership of the cards, the buying, selling, trading, and, potentially borrowing and some of that other stuff.

Of course we also have an ERC-Twenty associated with the game called Prime. And that is earnable if you engage with Web3. And the way that works is essentially that depending on the makeup of your deck or how many NFTs you have in your deck, that is proportional to the amount of prime you can earn for winning a game.

If you have a full deck of NFT cards, you'd get a hundred percent of the emissions et cetera. And Prime can be used for a lot of things in and out of game. But one of the big things that I think is maybe very specifically Web3 is you can spawn new cards. Without getting too detailed the way the game works, we'll take a card called Annihilate as an example.

It allows you to target a unit or a relic and destroy it. A very useful card that a lot of people have in a lot of decks. I don't know what the edition size is, but let's just say it's 2000 or something like that. Like obviously if we are gonna need more than 2000 players in the game for the game to be viable, and if the card is only limited to 2000 copies, what do you do?

So the first thing we did is we implemented what's called apparition cards, which are cards that are not sellable, not tradable, tied to an account, but function exactly the same in the game. Now, obviously cosmetic they look differently and there's some other bells and whistles they don't have. From a player experience standpoint, when I play Annihilate, it will destroy a unit or relic no matter what type of card.

It's, so there's that. However, of course, we want as many people to engage with the Web3 side of things as we can. So what do you do? We created a replication, which essentially allows you to. Earn experience on your existing Annihilate NFT. If you own one of the, we'll say again, 2000, I don't remember what the edition size is, but one of those 2000 cards you own, you earn some experience playing that card, and once you have enough experience, you throw a little bit of prime in there and you get a second edition version of that card.

As a player, that's an NFT that you can then, I don't know, use as an NFT so you can have an additional copy in your deck or. Give it to a friend, trade it with somebody, put it up on whatever marketplaces you use. I don't know. But what it the system allows you to do is the players become the secondary or the primary market for new players, not even the secondary, the primary market.

Because we'll never create any more for like copies, NFT, copies of an of Annihilate. Outside of the edition size that we've printed, it's now up to the player base to, to provide those additional cards to those players. And that's something that you can't do. Without Web3. I was gonna say, there's other elements to it too.

Like I, I alluded to being able to loan people cards. That's something that you could do very easily with the Web3 side of things. And then one other thing that I'll mention very quickly is throughout our battle pass, which is like our seasons pass and some of the other cosmetics that are available in game, just generally as a web two player, you can earn those and you get prompted by saying, Hey, if you're.

If you have a wallet, if you want to pay the gas, you can turn this into an NFT. In fact, as any type of player you can turn this asset into an NFT and maybe, you're a web two guy and you're like, I don't care about that. I'm not gonna do that. Fine, you don't do it. But maybe you, because you're interested in the game, you play the game, you start to see.

Inevitably a story about this card sold for even $20, $30, $50, whatever it is, maybe less, but like the gas fee's, like a dollar or, I don't know what it is, but I'm just making this up. Why wouldn't you, the next time you get offered that, be like, wow, I might as well try this, and then I own this thing, and if I ever want to get outta here, the liquidity is there, or whatever. So that's another sort of Web3 element, and I'm sure I'm missing a whole bunch of them. And the more Web3 focused guys on my team are gonna be like, Hey we need to put you in media training or whatever.

NIKO: But you don't need media training with Naavik or with me.

You're good. You're good. Okay. Rob Ron. Unfilters is how we like it here on this podcast. So a lot of very interesting. What's nice about Web3, and in my opinion, I'm assuming you're gonna agree with this, but is you can do interesting things. You can do new things that you can't really do. In web two and you've just listed a whole bunch of those, and we don't have to rehash that, but it also comes with some pitfalls because you do have to balance the economy, not just for Web3 and, but also for web two and vice versa.

And then some players do care. I. If you're straddling the two worlds, some players really care deeply about the ownership and the ethos and the philosophy of Web3, and you know what digital ownership really means. And then there's other players who just care about the gameplay and that, that's fine.

That should be totally fine. But as a game designer and a game developer it's hard to. In both worlds at the same time. So my question to you is, how are you finding that balance? What are you doing to make sure that you're respecting what the Web3 players want? And you're respecting true digital ownership while also.

Catering towards a much larger audience. Like you said, you can't build a Bible business off two, edition of 2000, but at the same time, you can't be minting more in the future because that completely breaks the packed, almost like the contract with the players that meant that first edition.

Long, long question, but. Really the point of it is how do you balance Web3 and web two elements in a way that stays true to both worlds?

Kohji: Okay. Great question. I have a question of my own for you first. Am I allowed to swear?

NIKO: Yes. Go for it.

Kohji: Okay. I don't give a fuck about Web3 players. And so that, that's how we balance it.

But I mean that in the most respectful way. I'm like, obviously kidding. I do care about them, but I don't design with them in mind. But that's the amazing part about the way that we built this company. So there, we, there's a bunch of founders, there's six of us, we're all buddies, and we all come from a different specialty.

And we all pick up on each other's blind spots. And so when I design something that is maybe an issue they come to me and they're like. Hey, have you thought about this for these people? And maybe my first response is the response that I gave you, which is I don't give a fuck.

But they're like no. Here's why you gotta consider this. And then I, I mull it over and then it's oh, okay. And then we figure out a way to like the happy medium or, whatever it is that, that, that makes everyone happy. And that's what makes it perfect.

And the opposite is also true. They design a bunch of amazing Web3 systems that are. Focused at the people who, who love that sort of stuff. But then I'm like, wait, that excludes the traditional player. As, I'll give you an example, right? Like, when we first built a project, some of these guys were like, oh, we'll just make people buy packs like starter decks.

Like you would, imagine the gathering in the store and I'm like, guys. No way that's gonna work, no way that's gonna work. This game has to be free to play and anyone needs to be able to access it without even forget about a, like a crypto wallet. They just need to be able to download the game and play it, and they were like, what are you talking about? And the opposite has also been true. Like we've had these conversations back and forth. And so the I am not the one who balances it. We as a collective, balance those ideas, but we have people who are very much in one camp or the other.

And that's what makes it work. Nice.

NIKO: Okay. Alright. I've certainly found as a Web3 developer myself, I've certainly found that there is definitely a balance to be found between the web two and the Web3 elements. And kudos to you for finding that balance or hope, hopefully at least getting close to finding that balance.

I do wanna bring up one moment that you guys had, which is, I believe you sold a one-of-one card, which doesn't actually have any utility in the game, but is a one-of-one. And it sold for I think, a million dollars, give or take, $1.1 million in ETH. So why don't you tell us about that moment and how it happened and how did you guys feel when something you've created a digital asset sells for a million dollars?

Kohji: That's. A cool thing and a bit of a milestone, I think for for the TCG Web3 industry. So I'll tell you this. And this is how I feel about most of our sales, especially when things mint out and go crazy and whatever. I'm, the only thing I'm thinking is fuck. We really gotta do it now.

It's not I don't get me wrong, obviously, like the signals are there and it's Yeah. A happy moment and all that stuff, but I am also a neurotic mess. And so I can never enjoy anything properly. And the only thing I could think of is we gotta deliver a, this guy paid a million dollars for this thing.

Let's make it worth a million dollars, or else. And that is true, but I also use that as drive for okay let's actually make this good though. Because there's like legitimately people who truly believe in this, believe in us. And it's not even just about the dollars that they spend.

'cause there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time on our discord. Shout out to our mods, who are incredible. And all the community that's there. 'cause one of the things that has made parallel great and I think drawn people into the game and the world and all that stuff is the people that are around who love it, but because they love it so much, we have to really do it.

And I'm definitely. I'm happy that it happened and very appreciative and all of that. It, for me it's not about oh man, like fuck yeah, we sold it for a million dollars for me. It's oh, okay. So now this game has gotta be at least a million dollars.

NIKO: Good. Yeah I was gonna, I'm actually gonna say it's gotta be at least $50 million.

Good. Because this leads me to my next question, which is you guys raised a whole bunch of money, I believe it was 50 million at least, I dunno if you've raised before that at a $500 million valuation, at least according to TechCrunch, led by Paradigm, which of course is one of the top.

Crypto-focused web-three-focused VCs. And of course it's better to be well-capitalized than not. The alternative sucks. But when you have a big raise, just like when you have a big sale for a million dollars, there's big expectations. And so how are you guys thinking about those expectations?

You've teased it a little bit by this $1 million sale, but it's not just about. That one sale or those players is also about your investors and the VCs and the partners, and the stakeholders, other stakeholders that you guys have. So yeah, just talk a little bit more about that raise and how are you guys spending that money that, that capital and how are you balancing getting to market quickly, getting great product out there with obviously commercial, success in the future?

Kohji: I think that this is another one of those questions where maybe you brought on the wrong founder because, I know how I'm spending some of the money, which is an amazing team of people that helps me make this game great. Shout out to all of them. I now have two Johns. We most recently got somebody named Andrew who's working out famously.

But as far as, what a raise like that looks like, what do you use it for? Whatever. I think it's no different than any other game studio, except I will say that our our CEO, and again, my good friend Kayla, sees a forward thinker. Like when we first raised that money, we were making a card game and he hired a bunch of 3D artists who specialize in AR and VR.

And like, why would. Would you do that with a card game? For a number of reasons. Right now, we're ready for. Possible AR and VR explorations. And we know that a certain fruit-themed company is coming out with a headset very soon that could change things. And then because we have corresponding three-D assets for each one of our cards, when it comes time to work on another game, which we are colony, and we want it to be in something like Unreal Engine, we have those assets already.

We kind of front-loaded that development so that we could plug-and-play games later on, or more plug-and-play games later on so that we could get this whole thing done. And I also will say that making and promoting games is really hard and like insanely expensive. And.

What's interesting about it? Okay. I know this isn't really the question you asked, but this is what the one I'm gonna answer that's like a, the interviewer's trick right here is yeah, I'm like, presidential debate. I'm gonna answer the question that I want but the thing here is that like having money is great and everyone's oh, you raised all this money.

You can make the best game ever. You could, let's just say you wanted to make the last of us three. Okay. If you had an unlimited budget, you could probably make it, rather than five years. Maybe you could make it in four years. But there is literally no sum of money that would allow you to make that game in a day.

You could have every dollar in the entire world and still not be able to make that game in one day. It's just not possible. Funding is an accelerant. A catalyst maybe to some of this stuff. You need to have good ideas and good people in order to execute. And I think that's something that people really need to take into account when it comes to funding and all that.

Because there's always questions like, oh, you raise all this money, when is this stuff gonna come out? How, why is this taking so long? All of this, it's just yeah, it helps move things along, which, we've got a closed beta that people have been playing for a while. In a year and a bit, or two years, which is like insane by gaming standards because we didn't do any pre-production.

Here's a, I don't know if like we've ever mentioned this before, but there's been no pre-production on the game before we started. We developed it all in real time and pretty much out on the internet for people to see, if you go back through our Twitter feed, you could see the history of it and all the explorations and it's all just been out there which is unheard of.

I think that what have we done with it? We've accelerated our clock and we've future proofed. Company, but there's still more to come.

NIKO: Yeah. Yeah. There always is. Games are hard. Takes time and effort and you need to polish and, super self famously keeps things in soft launch for years sometimes, and then still kills the game after all that time.

Totally the end the side that, okay. Let's talk about revenue model. So curious about your revenue. You said it's completely free to play. You said you don't wanna charge for starter packs or card packs. I believe you take 10%. Of secondary sales, of which half goes to a prize pool for the competitions for players, and then the other half presumably goes to you.

Is that your only stream of revenue or do you have other kind of business models that you're exploring as well?

Kohji: We do have card packs that you can buy. So those apparition packs that I mentioned as a free to play player, you get starter decks for free and you can earn packs through playing the game.

But like any other traditional web two game, you can buy packs as well. You buy packs with an in-game currency called Glintz and Cosmetics and all the other stuff, very much most of our contemporaries, however you can purchase those glints. Using your credit card or your your prime, and depending on what you do there, any of the credit card purchases, a certain percentage of that goes to the Echelon Foundation, which is the one that issues the prime and they use it for whatever means they're gonna use it for understand that, they may be buying back some primer or I'm not sure what their whole thing is.

You'd have to ask them. And then a certain percentage of the prime throughput. Also goes back to them. A majority of it probably again I'm definitely the wrong person to ask about that. There's several papers published on that, just that and all the sort of sinks that we have in the game.

Go back. Some of them go back to, or sorry, all the sinks in the game. Some percentage of that goes back to Echelon and the token and all that stuff. Yeah. How are we funding the game? There's some impressive stat that I don't know because again, I'm not the one who usually does this in the sort of talking points, but in the time since open beta is open has, oh my God, this is, see, this is the problem with not reading the questions ahead of time.

You flub your answers here, but in, in the time that the closed beta has been running, we've had an obscene amount of cash or like credit card purchases from our. Web two and Web3 players no issues there. And then prime is a strong token. So we're happy to be taking that in on that side of things.

And yeah, that's basically how we're finding it. It's, it is not so dissimilar from the web two version of things. And of course we have our pack sales. When new sets for the game comes out, we drop NFT packs for those cards and. So of the primary and secondary markets from those cards go to fund the game.

NIKO: Nice. Okay. Good answer. You definitely seem like the right guy to ask given you're the only one in the room here, so you're the right person for.

Kohji: I should also mention that we have, the other things, like we have a bunch of cosmetics. There's emotes for your paragons, there's paragon skins, there's a bunch of other stuff.

And some of those are locked prime exclusive. Some of those you can buy with glints. Some of those you can only earn in a battle pass. And that battle pass revenue, of course, is another source for us. So there's, diversified a bunch of, yeah, diversified is the answer there.

NIKO: Yeah. If we were to boil it down to one word, I think diversified revenue streams would be the one there. Alright, let's go back to gameplay because I know you're the right guy for that, for sure. And you have announced, or at least I heard that you are working on a three V three.

Team mode for parallel. And I'm very curious to hear. I'm not a huge TCD player. Certainly nowhere near as huge as what it seems like, you are and have been in the past. But I know enough about this to know that three V three is pretty unusual. So very curious to hear what is this game mode when is it coming out and how does it work?

Kohji: Essentially what it is you're teaming up with two other people. Each of you is gonna pick a unique parallel. So you can't have two Markolian players or what have you. And the makeup of all three of your decks has to be unique. So that card annihilate that I mentioned, that is in a lot of people's decks.

If it's in my deck and you and somebody else are team with me, then it's not gonna be in your deck because we also have universal cards. Obviously the, all of them are calling cards are gonna be unique to me. You, let's say I'm the Mark William player, gonna be unique to me and you're not gonna have access to them anyway, but any of the universal cards can't be put in your deck.

So there's a bit of strategy around attack building for the three of us. And then the matchup you get paired with another team of three and there's a coin flip. And let's just say that we win the coin flip. We choose first. So I can choose to have my. Mark William deck, or one of my teammates decks face off against one of the opponents decks.

So I can try and choose a favorable matchup there. And then the other team gets to choose the other two matchups. Those three matches get played at the same time separately, and it's up to you as a team to communicate and say oh, this guy just played. Again, we'll use an islet.

This guy just played an islet in my game. So you two are now safe to throw out your big boys because you know they're not gonna get completely destroyed by that one card or that's one piece of removal, that the other players don't have, and so it's a bit of a cerebral experience.

You have to really know the game, but it's also one of these things that makes. Card gaming feel a lot less solitaire. You're actually in a team with some people and there's some strategy involved both in the construction and the implementation. And that's it in a nutshell.

NIKO: And this is all happening in real time or it's turn based.

Ho how does the pairing work? How does the gameplay, does it happen synchronously?

Kohji: So as of now, the game will happen. The three games, obviously this is subject to change, but the three games will happen at the same time. But as far as the game itself is turn based and is very dependent on when each player hits the end turn button.

And so it's not as if I hit turn on my game or on my turn, it's gonna flip the. The turn for the other three it's three independent matches played at basically starting at the same time, and then having the players communicate with one another. Gotcha. Gotcha.

NIKO: Okay, we're getting close to the end here.

And I do wanna ask one of the questions that I always ask our Web3 guests, which is distribution. One of the hardest thing in gaming in general is distribution, regardless of whether you're web two or Web3 or whatever. But it's particularly hard in Web3. To get distribution, it's very hard to get in front of your target audience.

So I'm just curious to hear, how are you guys approaching that? What's your kind of marketing strategy, go to market strategy, distribution strategy for getting your game games? Sounds like you've got multiple in the works here to the right people that will appreciate it and, presumably spend money in it.

Kohji: That's a good question. It's tough because of the Web3 side of things. It's still a bit. Precarious and untested. Just ask God's Unchained. I'm sure we all read about that. But essentially, our strategy right now is cast a wide nut. It's on Steam, it's up on Steam to be wishlisted at the moment.

One logic would dictate that eventually the game will be downloadable on Steam or some version of the game will be downloadable on Steam. We're working on the Epic store as well, so we're gonna meet the web two gamers where they are and allow them to engage with. Web3 on their own terms.

We're also gonna be distributing it on our own website. I think that basically as things pop up that allow us to get games, the game into people's hands, we'll be utilizing all of it. There's not one strategy I think that probably the way that I would like gamers to experience the game is to our website, learn about.

Game, the lore, the story and all that stuff, and then download it. But I'm real, I'm a realist. I know that like things on, on, on Steam and Epic are certainly, easier for people to get their hands on and more trusted. So we're gonna be there as well. Ho how have you found your audience so far? Just outta curiosity

NIKO: You've got some of these influencers from the TCG world playing your game. You've got the Hearthstone champion playing your game. How have they found it? And I'm presuming that's a pretty viable strategy for distribution is to partner with some of these streamers and or influencers to get in front of their audiences.

Kohji: I, I think having those people on our side is incredible and getting. The already entrenched card game players is very important. And, we've been getting those people at a steady clip. I think that one of our greatest closed beta invite codes is the Alistraza invite code. It is eclipsed even my own code, which makes me very sad.

But, yeah, it's definitely a viable strategy. But I've also heard from a lot of people, especially in the Web3 space, 'cause obviously that's where we started, that this is their first card game and they thought that they wouldn't like card games and they love card games.

NIKO: Oh, that's really encouraging, by the way.

'cause I, I have not heard that from, we've had other TCG guests on the sh in the show, for all the reasons that we talked about. But I'm, you're the first one to say that you've actually introduced. Your TCG Web3, two, a brand new audience, which is awesome. That's really great to hear.

Kohji: Yeah. We've been really lucky. I know I mentioned it earlier, but we had a lot we have and had a lot of entrenched community members even before the game was playable. Who were just like, I love what these guys are doing. I love the art, I love the story. I'll figure out the game when it comes out.

And that's what they did. And again, a lot of them are new to Tcgs and so I think that, given that if it's possible, we want to hit people outside of that world because I think that, it's been a long time since the TCG has come out that has really spoken to a wider audience, not since, and I don't want to knock Runeterra 'cause I think Runeterra is probably one of the best-built card games out there, but I think not since Hearthstone really has like things gone truly parabolic in the card game world.

And and I'm not promising that's gonna be us, but I think that maybe we have a chance and. If we do, the only way we're gonna have that chance is if we give ourselves that chance. And so I think trying to hit people outside of the TCG world is important. So we've done things like we have a comic book, we've created all these shorts.

We're gonna have an amazing trailer. I don't even know if anyone knows about this yet, and I probably shouldn't even mention it, but here we are. We're gonna have an amazing trailer that's gonna come out. When we announce our open beta that's gonna, begin to tell the story of parallel, which, I think that there are gonna be people who watch that and say, I wanna play that game, and they're not even gonna know what it is.

And yeah, I. For me, I and I talked about this earlier, my bread and butter is always gonna be the card game players 'cause that's who I made this game for. But I think that success will hinge on whether or not we can actually get people from outside the genre to play. And so far we've been doing pretty good.

NIKO: Nice. Congratulations on that. Alright, brings us nicely to our final question. I was like, end on a high note and that was definitely a high note. The question I ask all our guests this year in particular, 2024 is what three games are you playing or what three games are you most excited by at this moment in time?

Kohji: Oh, amazing question. Okay, so the Say It number one will be the same answer. For the entirety of time, it seems, 'cause I have like thousands and thousands of hours in this game. But it's the binding of Isaac. Okay. Is like my, one of my favorite games ever. It's just so interesting to me the way that they can stack things.

Obviously it's not multiplayer game, so it doesn't have to be balanced, but how fabulously unbalanced it can get is tickles me to no end. So that game will always be my most player game. For sure. I'm quite excited to try the new Prince of Persia. I've heard a lot of good things and it's a roguelike and being a dad, I don't have much time for game loops that are, more than half an hour or forty-five minutes, so that, that fits pretty well.

And it's a return to form to the Prince of Persia series because I'm old enough to remember the original DOS-based Prince of Persia.

NIKO: And oh, as am I. Trust me. Trust me, as am I. That was one of my favorite games back in exactly. Nothing has ever actually come close since then. Yeah, let's see how this latest version does.

Kohji: Yeah, I agree. I'll, I, I gotta give it up to Sands of Time. Not exactly the same type of game, but like the rewind element was a lot of fun. It was kinda like the first time you played max Payne or something, and it's wait, I can slow down time and move. And now you can do that in pretty much every game.

But when it came out, you were like, this is the craziest thing I've ever seen. It's incredible. Okay. And what's number three? That is a great question for me. What's number three? One of the games that started it all for us at parallel and that I continue to play with my friends now. Or I've just recently picked up again to play with my friends now because my daughter's now a little bit older and I have at least, 30 seconds a week to try and play some games.

Is Apex Legends Oh. I have a lot of fun with Apex Legends, so that's up there. I, I have to say though honorable Mentions two the very first Fallout game will always be my favorite and I always go back and revisit it. One and one and two, excuse me. Both of those are quite incredible and, it's a cop-up of Baldur's. Gate three is one of the best design games I've ever seen in my entire life. The amount of effort they've put into every tiny detail in that game is Astounding you. Like you'd think they'd get lazy and be like let's not voice some of these lines. This rat that, that 95% of the players will never turn into a rat to speak to.

They're let's leave that out. And they're like no. We're gonna, we're gonna do literally everything we can to this game. And shout out to them for really making that experience like the most insane, the immersive thing that has ever existed. I just wish that I had. It's time to give it the attention that it deserves.

NIKO: Nice. Yeah. So far a hundred percent of our guests this year. It's obviously only January, but or the end of January. I think this episode comes out in February first week of February. But a hundred percent of our guests in 2024 have mentioned Baldur's Gate three, and I've mentioned every time that it's on my list.

I just wish I had time too. So yeah, listeners, Baldur's Gate three, it appears to be resonating with guests on the Navic Gaming Podcast. Alright, cool. This is a great place to end here. Koji, thank you so much for coming on the pod today. It was a real pleasure and I learned so much about parallel and what you guys are working on and kudos to everything you've done so far already.

And good luck going

Kohji: forward. Hey, thanks for having me. I really appreciate, you have me on. And even though I before we started this, I said straight to your face that I will never read a question that you send me. You were like, that's no problem. So yeah. All good. All good.

NIKO: I, it was a nice, natural conversation and I enjoyed our chat.

Kohji: Yeah, me too. Me too. I, if you'll have me back again, I will come on anytime. So thank you.

NIKO: Absolutely. We always welcome back our guests and I know you guys have a lot of exciting things in the works and looking forward to that trailer for sure. See what that looks like in the open beta.

Yeah, we'll wanna have you back once you've got some real data from the open beta and actual players in the wild playing the game there. The way you intend them to. Cool. And a big thank you of course, as always, 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.

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

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