Gaming platform

TikToker Michael Le discusses new crypto-gaming platform, Joystick

We reach out to creators to explore the good and bad of new trends and uncharted territory. This week, we’re discussing the divisive world of Web3, that is, the world blockchain-based technologies – with TikTok star Michael Le, who recently co-founded a crypto-based gaming organization and NFT asset lending platform alongside CEO and serial tech entrepreneur Robin DeFay.


Web3 can be confusing, controversial, and unstable, which is why many creators choose to avoid it altogether. Some have taken a decidedly anti-crypto stance; others are skeptical, but interested; and others wholeheartedly believe that blockchain technology will allow them to take greater ownership of their digital creations.

One such Web3 evangelist is TikTok star Michael Le, who recently announced that he is co-founding a new crypto-based gaming organization called Joystick., which intends to lend players NFT assets for a variable monthly fee. The (@justmaiko) is a TikToker with over 51.4 million subscribers who exploded for his dance and choreography videos. In 2020, Le was listed by TikTok as one of the 10 biggest stars of the year, alongside influencers like Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, Bella Poarch and Noah Beck.

Le was ahead of the TikTok curve, joining the app and rising to fame early on Musical.ly, and quickly became one of the app’s top earners. Le told Passionfruit in an interview that he considers his early arrival on Musical.ly the reason for his internet fame. But despite Le’s rapid rise to virtual stardom, he said he soon became disappointed with what he was doing on social media.

“I was entertaining and making cool videos, but it was the same thing over and over…The second I discovered Web3, it kindled a passion,” Le described. “I really saw something that was untapped potential, really. And I wanted to be one of the first to move, like I was with TikTok.

Le said he was inspired by Web3’s “financial opportunity” for creators, and after taking the time to learn about the space, he said he found a particular interest in games. play-to-earn.

Unlike games that use in-game currency to reward players, like those “coins” you use to buy extra mushrooms in Mario Party, play-to-win games are based on cryptocurrency. The idea behind play to win is that if a game stays in vogue, the cryptocurrency or exclusive NFTs you collect while playing can be sold to other players and exchanged for real money. Typically, players are encouraged to purchase play-to-earn games by purchasing an NFT subscription.

The model works against traditional “pay-to-play” games, where the only rewards after purchase are entertainment and socializing. Publishers like Ubisoft and Epic Games have ventured into gaming to win, and blockchain games like Axie Infinity, the Sandbox, Gods Unchained, Splinterlands, Alien Worlds have already grown in popularity.

However, many gamers are opposed to gambling to win due to the environmental impact of blockchain, unregulated speculation in the crypto market, and the financial barriers presented by gambling buy-ins.

People are also skeptical of the “purse” system found in games like Axie Infinity. The game typically requires users to purchase a team of three NFT “Axies” to join, and some Reddit users say a “decent” Axie will cost a player over $300 each. Those who cannot afford to buy Axies on their own (“scholars”) can borrow NFTs from other players (“managers”), who will then receive a share of the revenue generated by scholars in the game. This system often reduces the amount of money academics can earn and can create a hierarchical system of exploitation.

Due to criticism of the game to win, Ubisoft had to face the Internet backlash and internal conflicts at the company in December for its announcement of blockchain-based games. Additionally, the Daily Dot reported in March that approximately $625 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from Ronin Network, an Ethereum-related sidechain used for Axie Infinity. The Ronin hack has raised doubts about the security and reliability of blockchain-based games.

Yet optimists, like Le, see opportunities for players to monetize and turn their passions into full-fledged careers. Joystick aims to create a loan system that maximizes player profits.

“The long-term aspiration is to create an environment where owning game assets and other tokens is accessible and beneficial to a large majority of the world,” Joystick states on its website.

Like other gaming guilds, Joystick will lend NFT assets, such as weapons, land, and characters, to users to use in popular games to earn money for a varying monthly fee. Rental fees range from $15 to more than thousands of dollars per month depending on the rarity and value of the borrowed NFT, a Joystick spokesperson explained.

For example, a user can rent land owned by Joystick in a game, create NFT skins using the resources from that land, and then sell them to keep 100% of the revenue. Joystick spokespersons said this differs from the traditional game-to-win purse model, which requires players to share around 30-50% of their revenue with asset owners.

Le said the organization also intends to create an esports community that will provide educational resources, tournaments, NFTs and “JOY” tokens. JOY tokens, which will be issued on the popular Ethereum blockchain system, will provide opportunities for things like exclusive Joystick merchandise, private communities, and game assets.

According to a press release from Joystick, the startup has already raised an $8 million seed round and is pursuing an additional $110 million in a Series A round. On its website, Joystick says it already owns assets in top gambling games to win like Axie Infinity, the Sandbox, Defi Kingdoms and others.

Le said he recommends influencers interested in Web3 get informed via Twitter and YouTube, and recently launched his own YouTube account called JustMeta, where he explains Web3 terminology, how to get started in the Web3 world, and how to “avoid scams”. Le also thinks that most influencers don’t understand the projects they promote and just see them as a quick paycheck.

“Learning about space and everything is like stepping into the Wild West,” Le described. “For any influencer who wants to be a part of this, I think they have to educate themselves first before doing anything, because it’s a very unregulated space.”

Countless creators have promoted cryptocurrency and NFT projects over the past two years. It’s a risky business, and some famous influencers, including Jake Paul and Kim Kardashian, are facing class action lawsuits after being accused of recklessly luring their followers to “pull the rug” or “pump and pump” crypto projects. empty”. These schemes often promise huge returns on investment or exclusive community benefits, and use celebrity endorsements to increase and inflate the value of a project, only for the project founders to sell their shares and disappear after making millions. of dollars.

Le said he understands why people might be weary of rug draws or skeptical of blockchain-based games. However, he urged people to take a look at his team, which he says is experienced and skilled in blockchain technology and entrepreneurship. He believes their experience lends credibility to the project.

“They are disruptors in blockchain games, Web2 and Web3. They understand how to market. They understand how to create real products,” Le said. “They’ve been in the blockchain tech world since 2015. Like, really, really, really early.”

Le said the team includes 13 people with experience in the tech world who will serve on Joystick’s advisory board and leadership team. The team includes blockchain engineer and CTO Paul Jin; and CEO Robin DeFay who is said to have founded start-ups in blockchain, internet and music technology.

In an interview with Passionfruit, DeFay said that despite Web3’s risky reputation, he hopes his professional experience will allay fears that Project Joystick is illegitimate.

“Any time you have a new unknown technology and you have this developing industry and market, you will have bad actors and you will have good actors. There are definitely some bad actors out there, and there are definitely a lot of people out there who are intent on delivering the goods and who for some reason were unprepared or unable to do so,” he said. DeFay said.

However, DeFay said he believes Web3 will improve over time and begin to improve the gaming experience.

“Ultimately, as the whole space becomes more and more developed and more and more involved, there will be more and more checks and balances in place and everything will be much safer and much more user-friendly” , DeFay said. . “It’s this new layer of the gaming experience that’s going to provide a whole new level of realism.”

DeFay praised Le for being well connected in the Web3 world and pointed out that he has been creating Web3 content for over a year. He said his “large, loyal and dedicated number” makes him a good candidate for the project.

The encourages creators to get involved with Web3 if they’re interested, but also said the most important thing for a creator’s success is being ahead of the next big thing, whatever it is. .

“Always evolving, always looking for the future. You know. I think the competition is going to get tougher and tougher over time. And the people who really have an opportunity are the ones who are looking for the new, the first to move. It’s a first-mover market,” Le described.


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