Palo Alto, California-based Aptos said that Npixel’s millions of gamers already engaging with its games will be able to safely own and share assets on Aptos’ upgradeable and user-friendly network.
This strategic ecosystem partnership with one of South Korea’s fastest-growing game developers signals Aptos’ build blockchain-based gaming projects. That’s interesting because the South Korean game companies appear to be all-in on blockchain games.
“It’s no surprise to us that the market in South Korea, which is digitally native, is really excited about the technology and what Web3 can bring to the consumer experience,” said Mo Shaikh, CEO of Aptos, in an interview with GamesBeat.
And Palo Alto, California-based Aptos has raised more than $400 million to build out its Web3 technology, said Shaikh.
Shaikh said the Aptos Network is now live in the market, launched a few weeks ago.
“We’re not only the builders of this protocol, but we are now focused on building user-facing applications and tools that will help support Web3 companies where they are today and also help Web2 companies enter this space,” Shaikh said. “Within Web2, as you look across various industries, gaming has been one of the industries that’s been most excited about the potential for Web3. But it has sat on the sidelines. And obviously, with our partnership with Npixel, we’re going to help accelerate that adoption.”
Founded in 2017, Npixel hit unicorn status with its Series B round in August of 2021. The firm is best known for its first massively multiplayer online role-playing game titled Gran Saga, which became a top-grossing game on the Apple App store with a four million downloads since its first launch in Korea and Japan. Npixel aims to expand its user base with the upcoming Gran Saga’s global release this year.
“Our team chose Aptos because of their vision of bringing masses into Web3 through better user experience, unparalleled technology, and easy developer onboarding. We could not be more thrilled for this strategic partnership, not only with Aptos, but also with the Aptos community,” added Jeonghwan Ko, head of blockchain department of Npixel.
This partnership comes at a time when the Web3 gaming industry is in serious need of remodeling, Aptos said. Npixel has top-tier expertise in triple-A-quality and engaging gameplay, while Aptos provides a fast-growing ecosystem, scalable network, and focus on user and developer experience, the company said.
“We are excited to partner with one of the world’s largest gaming companies to build the next generation of games on Aptos. This is an amazing opportunity to bring quality gameplay and open user ownership together for the first time,” said Shaikh. “The Aptos network was built for enjoyable development of projects that share a vision for an open and accessible Web3 ecosystem. Partnering with Npixel has been a dream, and we look forward to optimizing the use cases on the Aptos ecosystem even further as we onboard these top-tier strategic ecosystem partners.”
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Ching has a doctorate in high-performance computing and working on things like finite element analysis and protein-folding simulations for some of the largest supercomputers. He also worked on search and data infrastructure to support web search, indexing and analytics.
Then he worked for Facebook for 10 years, working on infrastructure stack for analytics across the company. In his last three years at the company, now Meta, he worked on the Libra cryptocurrency project and the Novi wallet. He became the technical lead of the cryptocurrency platform team, but Meta chose not to launch it due to opposition.
There, he worked with Shaikh, who became the CEO at Aptos.
“With every single product there along the way, I built systems that scaled to millions of machines,” he said. “When the project was winding down at Novi, we decided that we weren’t done yet. We had a lot of excitement for the technology and the societal problems we were trying to solve. A lot of our team came with us to start Aptos. This company is only about 11 months old, but the passion behind the project has been going on for many years.”
Ching said it turned out to be a good thing that the crypto technology — across a lot of different companies — now exists outside of Meta. He said it shouldn’t be owned by just one big company. Instead, it should be owned by the people who operate it, he said. And Aptos is an Ohlone word for “people.”
“We’re obviously excited to be able to actually bring those ambitions to fruition, with Web3 and blockchain. And crypto has often tried to give people the value back, give creators the value back where large platforms have benefited and extracted that value along the way with middle parties,” Shaikh said. “And we believe in that Web3 mission of bringing that proximity and that value creation back to the original creators. Web3 and good architecture allows us to do that. And when you think about, you know, who are not only the creators, but people that consume, whether that be art or music, or in-game assets, those people also should be able to benefit as a result of more efficient technology.”
Because of the background of the founders, the company has had good results raising money. The company raised its $400 million from investors such as a16z, FTX Ventures, Jump Crypto, Binance Labs, Katie Haun, Multicoin Capital, PayPal Ventures and Coinbase Ventures. Shaikh noted the company has received its money from FTX (which is filing for bankruptcy) and taken the cash upfront and so is not impacted.
As for the current crypto crisis triggered by the collapse of FTX, Shaikh said he came from a world where managing billions of dollars and trust were very important.
“With the unfortunate circumstances with FTX, we see how that has played out. I think it has impact on the entire space. But we think, overall, that it is quite healthy that bad actors are no longer going to be in the space,” Shaikh said. “And it actually gives an opportunity for folks that are very serious about this technology that we talked about, operating with the best of ethics, with amazing investors to actually to rise and take advantage of this opportunity. And that’s where our focus is today. Our heads are down and we continue to build.”
“We launched our mainnet just a couple of weeks ago and I’m really excited about how the ecosystem is building up rapidly around it,” Ching said in an interview.
On to the metaverse
Npixel’s Metapixel is a next-generation Web3 gaming ecosystem that will introduce a metaverse consisting of triple-A game IPs, through cooperation with Aptos. By providing quality games using original IPs, true ownership of game assets, and cutting-edge gaming models, such as free-to-own, to open up a new open economy for gamers, Metapixel will shape how true Web3 gaming is perceived, Aptos said.
Ching said the aim was to create a battle-hardened infrastructure that could operate at scale. The company has partnered with Google, which is testing and running validators for the network.
“We’re gaining a lot of confidence from these large enterprises and gaming companies that trust our infrastructure relative to all the infrastructure that’s been out there in the past.”
Aptos is trying to make its technology friendly for users, who shouldn’t have to worry that they might get hacked and lose everything. You should be able to transfer your assets from one account to another if needed. You should be able to customize the recovery scheme if you lose a crypto key. Such things are very important for a non-technical audience, Ching said. The network must also be robust enough to handle billions of users and transactions.
“It’s designed in a way to protect gamers, who have been spending hours collecting assets or building their identity within different games,” Ching said.
Those gamers should be able to travel through the metaverse and take their assets within them from one place to another in an open way with real portability.
“It’s very exciting to see these game companies with hundreds of millions of users and an awareness of how to build games come into this,” Ching said.
The company has more than 90 people and there are developers in the ecosystem working on more than 200 projects.
As for the backlash from gamers against the scams in blockchain games, Shaikh said they are aware of those concerns, and there are good reasons for them, given the “events of last week.” But Shaikh said those who are investing a lot of time in the topic see this as the future.
“[The companies in this space are] looking for the right technology partners that are very long-term thinkers in the space,” Shaikh said. “They will build for not just one or two games, but for a period of five or 10 years and they want technology partners they can trust.”