Azra Games, a company specializing in blockchain gaming, is pioneering a unique approach to NFTs in Web3 games. Their primary emphasis is on the gaming experience itself rather than on the cryptocurrency components.
In a conversation with Decrypt, Azra Games’ founder and CEO, Mark Otero, expressed that Web3 games should captivate users with their gameplay rather than with their NFTs or in-game assets.
“The player’s encounter with Web3 shouldn’t be the primary or initial focus,” Otero remarked. “Our objective is to craft a game so engaging that the underlying Web3 infrastructure becomes inconspicuous. Players shouldn’t even realize they’re in a Web3 environment.”
He further elaborated that the Web3 aspects should become apparent to players only after they’ve become enamored with the game, serving to augment the overall user experience and enrich the game’s value.
Otero highlighted that their distinctive perspective played a pivotal role in securing investments from prominent venture capital entities such as Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), NFX, Coinbase Ventures, and Play Ventures.
Having previously held the position of general manager at the renowned gaming corporation, Electronic Arts, Otero established Azra Games in 2022. He aimed to design games that seamlessly integrated Web3 components, including NFTs and in-game currencies.
To date, Azra Games has successfully amassed $25 million in funding. Their most recent financing endeavor in February secured them an impressive $10 million, though the company’s valuation at the time remains unspecified.
During this period, the company revealed their ongoing project, “Legions & Legends”. Referring to this venture, Otero expressed, “Legions & Legends offers us a unique chance to sculpt a potentially innovative business model tailored for a fresh platform.”
In steering the company’s direction, Otero collaborates with fellow business minds, Sonny Mayugba and Travis Boudreaux. Additionally, Azra Games has on-boarded experienced talent from Capital Games to fortify their team.
Otero Shows Skepticism About Play-to-Earn Games
In his recent conversation, Otero voiced concerns about the “play-to-earn” model, a blockchain gaming mechanism where players receive crypto tokens for accomplishing in-game objectives, emerging victorious in battles, or outperforming other participants.
Otero highlighted the variance in player motivations. On one hand, traditional gamers prioritize entertainment and play out of intrinsic motivation. Conversely, crypto-centric players often have extrinsic motives; they play with an intent to monetize their gaming efforts.
He stated, “Our core belief revolves around prioritizing gameplay, ensuring the entertainment quotient, and delivering sheer fun. Why do we emphasize this? Simply because it has long-term viability.”
His remarks are particularly noteworthy given the recent downturn observed in user engagement and trade volumes in the blockchain gaming sector over the past few months.