Gaming guilds arose from the Axie Infinity craze that placed the Philippines on global news where thousands of Filipinos—from tricycle drivers, security guards to medical students and even young business people—made some money under the play-to-earn scheme at the height of the pandemic. The economy is recovering albeit slowly, but a much better picture has been emerging in the gaming sector. Multiverse PH spoke with Peter Ing, founder and CEO of the Blockchain Space on how the company is helping such guilds scale better and faster.
Multiverse PH: Can you give me a brief description of your company and how you came to conceptualize it and put it up?
Peter Ing: Blockchain Space actually started initially as a community builder in the Philippines for crypto and blockchain education. In 2020, we realized that we could pivot our business model and scale onboarding of communities faster into crypto by focusing on online communities rather than offline communities.
Gaming guilds, basically online communities that are running online digital businesses that need infrastructure to be able to support their scaling and so Blockchain Space actually focuses on building infrastructure for this for these gaming guilds.
Multiverse PH: If understand you correctly, you have your own kind of blockchain system? So how is it different or what are its strengths?
Peter Ing: Actually, our own business is not a blockchain on its own. So we leverage the blockchains of other applications or games that already exist. So we don’t need to provide the infrastructure for this. But instead, what we’re doing is that we’re building the infrastructure to support or the tools to support people that are now onboarding into those existing blockchains and they’re coming in through the games that are being built on top of those blockchains.
Multiverse PH: In the case of Axie in the Philippines, what are the lessons learned?
Peter Ing: The first thing I would say is, in terms of, like crypto adoption or adoption of new technologies, the Philippines has really created an example for the world to follow in terms of you know, just being technology savvy and being open to explore kind of new technologies. So I think also the culture of sharing knowledge, educating others and onboarding has been incredibly fast in the Philippines. Which has allowed crypto adoption to scale very fast, right?
There were of course, in this time, some pain points that emerged was the community was scaling into this game so fast. Was this sustainable? Were the earnings sustainable? Were the investments sustainable? Probably not. But now we’ve seen it. It was very hard to say when the businesses were doing so well, when you scaled from 700 players to three million players in the space of eight months. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen any crypto blockchain application scale that fast. So it’s very hard to say that it was unsustainable. But if you had to look at the token models, there are some specialists that would have said yes, I could have preempted this but I think hindsight is very easy to tell to say this. Yeah, I think there are definitely some learnings that we can take and some things that we’re working on already, which is the first thing is making sure that the right information disseminates throughout the communities. So when technologies kind of booming and proliferating so fast, ensuring that the information that circulates is legitimate and that they’re not scams, and that you know that people are properly advised of the risks that they’re taking when they actually invest or participate in new technologies.
I think that’s very important and that it’s something that we focus on today. Not only this as mentioned, we kind of see these online communities or what we call guilds, as these new businesses that are emerging, and of course, like any other business, there will be some good actors and there will be some bad actors. And it’s our job actually now to legitimize or to accredit those that are actually more legitimate or have reputation history and differentiate them from those that do not have any history or that might be bad actors in space.
Multiverse PH: I was able to talk to a stock trader who also got into Axie for a while and is now also into cryptocurrency trading. The trader is of the opinion that for such kind of games to really expand, they should not just be about making money, but also enjoyable to play in the first place. How would that help in supporting gaming guilds?
Peter Ing: Yeah, absolutely. So I 100 percent agree with the logic that players are driven by necessity. I think that’s always going to happen. And I think if, when we look at NFT games, as long as there is a token that you can earn within the game, there will always be someone who will try to maximize the earnings from that token, they will try and work out the mechanism that allows those earnings and then try to kind of maximize based off necessity. I think that’s not just true for the Philippines. I think there are other countries where we see similar habits. So we actually address global markets. We see the same thing happening in Venezuela. We see it happening in Argentina, in Brazil, also in India, other developing nations, where, you know, basically the earnings that you may be able to aggregate at the end of the month, let’s say at its peak was around $1,000-$1,500 per month. You know, that is actually meaningful to people in developing markets, whereas those that are coming from kind of higher-earning income countries that were exchanging time, whether it’s kind of like four hours a day or whether it’s how many hours a week it may not be worthwhile for other people in other markets, but I definitely see, we definitely see kind of developing markets being the first to adopt based out of necessity, they really do have the time to offer right and I think there is a mix of like, so the first version of Axie, which was being played in the Philippines, yes, it was very repetitive.
However, you know, there are multiple iterations of Axie since then. And I think the focus right now is not on the earning components. So much and then, but it’s more on the gameplay itself. So I mean, I think, you know, there is a general statement, you can also make that games should ultimately be fun, and that’s what makes games go viral, and why people would actually spend four hours a day in it not just to earn right and I think those people that have kind of left the ecosystem now. They were kind of a regular people, let’s say people that work in coffee shops or restaurants, people who worked in BPOs right? They’ve now left the kind of NFT gaming ecosystem in return to return back to their regular jobs than regular 9 to 5.
But I think there will still be, you know, the spaces so early on right now that I think we will see more business models coming from these games, where there will be more earning opportunities. And it is for the industry to kind of find out a balance, you know, how to make kind of earning sustainable and to be able to bring more money kind of into the space that actually creates kind of sustainable growth, as well. So initially, it was really a lot of people extracting value out of the economy, and not so many people putting value back into the economy. And I think that really takes time for kind of for the industry to mature.
Multiverse PH: Offhand, any games to watch?
Peter Ing: Yeah, so there, there are a couple of games that are still very much on our radar. Of course, Axie Infinity still remains one of the most played NFT games in the world. So it’s hard not to continue watching Axie Infinity. And then another game to watch would really be Sandbox, which is like a Minecraft or Roblox, but on the blockchain. So you can imagine how many people play Minecraft and Roblox every day, how many billions of users if you’re able now to have an earning component or an ownership component, where you whereby you can create your own experiences and monetize from this you know, this becomes very interesting and you can imagine what the potential would be.
Additionally, I would look at games that are coming from what we call the Web 2 sector. So the Web 2 sector is really traditional games that don’t have cryptocurrency components previously. But then now shifting into Web 3 they’re actually very interested in exploring a brand new market for their games and these gaming publishers coming from Japan, Korea. They are coming with existing communities that are over eight million players, over 20 million players, you know, said they will really usher in a lot of new players into our ecosystem. And these people of course, they come for the game first because they are existing gamers within the web two space right and yet, once they hear about the additional ownership and earning components, this will be just an added value for these existing games.
Multiverse PH: You want to put some peso or dollar figures on the goals in the next three to five years, especially in the infrastructure work that you’re doing?
Peter Ing: I think that the figure that’s most commonly cited is really the 2.7 billion gamers in the world, and currently only 11 million players in the NFT gaming space. And so we do believe that a lot of existing gamers will be converted into the NFT gaming space. So if we look at 11 million where we are today versus 2.7 billion, we have a long way to go. I feel like this is this is very much the very early stages and the learnings here will be very important for how we actually scale this from 11 million players into two billion. Right and understanding where to focus first.
Multiverse PH: How does your company do its work?
Peter Ing: Let me throw some numbers out there. So during the Axie Infinity boom, around 24,000, what we call micro guilds emerged into the industry. These 24,000 Micro guilds are around 100 people in online communities and they were managing approximately 20 players per community online. Now, management of these players online is a brand new concept. You don’t really hear too much about people running businesses by managing kind of small communities of gamers, which meant that there was a new demand for kind of tooling and infrastructure building for these kinds of for this type of business, right?
So what Blockchain Space has been focused on is actually supporting these online micro guild communities. So firstly, building out CRM systems which allow them to kind of sweep wallets in one transaction. So previously, what would happen is one, let imagine doing payroll for 100 people, right? If each time you had to cash out one person for payroll, it took five minutes, and then you’re not able to shortcut this and then the five minutes you have to multiply by 100 becomes 500 minutes, it becomes really painful to be able to do payroll. And so imagine having a tool where you could press one button and you could just do all 500 payouts in one click. It became a lot simpler once we created such kind of tools. In addition to this, because the space is so early on, we’ve been building analytical and research tools to help these micro guilds to understand you know, what are the trends in the space? So what are the new opportunities? Where should they be parking their investments, or where should they be kind of like, what is the state of the market and should they be holding on to their cash reserves? So right now that’s something that we try to provide this transparency and in what the opportunities are in the current market.
Secondly, our database is called the Global Guild Database, which is actually powered by a more powerful database that we’re running in the background called Closer. And that in addition to this, we have a number of new tools that we’re building out. We realized that the market is just so early and nascent that what is actually required is actually a platform where you can aggregate kind of multiple different tools that are being built not only by ourselves, but also by third parties that have been vetted, right? And so that’s another thing that we’re doing is we’re building something called Guild Hub.
Ing said 97 percent of the guilds are micro, two percent are mid tier while one percent are macro.
Multiverse PH: Everybody’s talking about a possible recession next year. Do you have any thoughts on that? How would it affect you?
Peter Ing: I think because we focus on the gaming space, I think and if anything, what we’ve seen from COVID Is that gaming is quite recession proof or if anything is adopted even more during recessions. But so during COVID, that’s when we saw the explosion of more online gaming rather than less. So this is actually very exciting for us, we’re actually looking forward to when people are spending more time or have more time available, and when they start to look for things to do during downtime. Of course, gaming is kind of one of the first things that we’d look at, of course, if there is an earning or owning element to that would be an additional benefit. And so I think that’s something that we have to communicate clearly to the new communities that are coming in. And hopefully we don’t have a crazy kind of like, run up or hype cycle in this space, but rather have kind of like slower, more kind of like controlled adoption, this time, so that proper education kind of gets around the community.
Multiverse PH: So far, how’s your experience in the Philippines?
Peter Ing: My wife is Filipino. And so, and I’ve been in the country for a number of years now. And so, I have a very strong advocacy towards building up the Philippines and, you know, and the Philippines has been a very welcoming country for me. So, yeah, I have a very strong affiliation with the Philippines.