Virtual worlds

Zebedee raises $35M to power blockchain payments in virtual worlds and games

Zebedee Inc. announced today that it has raised $35 million in new funding led by Kingsway Capital to expand its bitcoin-powered payments ecosystem so developers can add “programmable money” to games and virtual worlds.

Using Zebedee’s platform, any developer can add cryptocurrency micropayments into their games with low transaction speeds and extremely low fees.

The Series B round was joined by global investment bank Raine Group as well as Square Enix, developer of the critically acclaimed “Final Fantasy 14 Online” video game, alongside existing investors Lakestar and Initial Capital. This funding brings the total capital raised by Zebedee to approximately $50 million since its inception in 2019.

“This funding round gives us the opportunity to deliver on our very ambitious roadmap both in terms of expanding our infrastructure to support the hundreds of millions of users who play our partners’ games, as well as hire the top talent needed to ensure each partner has the best possible experience working with Zebedee,” said Managing Director Simon Cowell.

The concept of “programmable currency” here means that developers of games and virtual worlds can program them to incentivize play by triggering micropayments. This way, players can enjoy the world by participating in it instead of collecting and trading gold, trinkets, creatures, or land. In this way, developers could reward players for simply playing the game.

Triggers can include events such as exploring new areas of a map in a virtual world, meeting and talking to new friends, accumulating points in a competitive player versus player game, or capturing coins in a game of chess. All of these are small gameplay trigger events that would normally provide experience or progress a player’s status during gameplay, which could also provide a small type of incentive that developers could use to increase retention. players.

“At Zebedee, we see a world-class team that has created a really powerful use case for cryptocurrency in games,” said Kenny Lee, vice president of Raine Group. “We’ve seen new monetization methods disrupt the gaming industry in the past, and we believe integrating bitcoin directly into games is a new way to extend connection with gamers and engage them. a way that was never possible before.”

On the infrastructure side, Zebedee uses the Bitcoin Lightning Network, which is a layer on top of bitcoin that enables instant transfers and low-cost transfers. Otherwise, bitcoin payments have high fees that would make micropayments impossible and can take a few minutes to process.

The company opted for the Bitcoin protocol because it is the most stable and reliable for building infrastructure and it is also the most widely used cryptocurrency in the world, said André Neves, co-founder and director of Zebedee Technology, at SiliconANGLE.

“This makes Bitcoin a practical choice to use as a payment system for technical, economic, and user-experience reasons,” Neves explained. “The Lightning Network is what helps scale the Bitcoin network and makes instantaneous, near-free micro-transactions possible.”

Using this payment method, it’s possible for Zebedee to process what it calls “nanopayments” at an average size of eight cents and the company says its technology can support transactions as small as $0.0002. .

The platform is designed to keep all of this as invisible to users as possible, as Zebedee is focused on being a payment service for games and virtual worlds. It focuses on providing a seamless user experience that works behind the scenes to reward users and does not require expert crypto knowledge. For developers, the platform provides easy-to-implement application programming interfaces that eliminate payment rails and make it easy to integrate into the gaming world and set up “triggers” as well.

Neves added that the biggest hurdle users face in existing games and virtual worlds to embrace crypto is user experience. This is a problem for both bitcoin and in-game economies and is something that needs to be overcome in order to make widespread adoption possible.

“Gamers don’t want financial incentives to interfere with the fun and immersion of playing a game,” Neves said. “Zebedee is working hard to make adding programmable money to game designs simple and intuitive for game developers so that the technology can be used more creatively to enhance gameplay and introduce new game mechanics rather than interfere with pleasure.”

With the funding in hand, Cowell said it would be used to grow the company’s infrastructure to support its growing number of gaming partners. And, while bitcoin and other cryptocurrency markets are Currently in crisis, he believes the funding will also help the company weather the so-called “crypto winter.”

“We are pleased to be in a position where we can confidently grow our team and grow our business even as the macro backdrop becomes increasingly uncertain,” Cowell said.

The company currently has over 50 employees working around the world as a fully remote team.

Zebedee has had a banner year since its Series A in September, with user numbers increasing more than 100 times, on an undisclosed basis. The company has also integrated the crypto payments provider Moon Pay in May, introduced a way for the game live broadcasters to receive bitcoin tips and cultivate partnerships with developers.

Image: Zebedee

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