Saga raises $3.6M to make metaverse middleware

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Saga has raised $3.6 million to make the middleware of the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

Saga is a decentralized gaming community with a focus on expanding and enriching the metaverse through building chain-agnostic market tooling, championing emerging projects, and unlocking the power of metaverse owners, builders, and players across the globe. It can do so with cross-game non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which authenticate unique digital items using the blockchain.

Saga’s priority is to work with regulation-compliant, triple-A projects backed by professionals with deep gaming roots. By securing properties and resources traditionally only available to the wealthiest, Saga said it can empower gamers and provide governance regarding a significant portion of in-game economies to the players that most value these games.

Saga plans to form a series of game-specific councils recruited through its Soulbound system – a meritocracy that rewards real gamers. You will not be able to simply buy yourself onto a council, nor must you beg for a slot in some Discord chat.

You will earn your position in Soulbound through play in the games you already value. Pledging and attaining a role on a council will grant benefits and responsibilities in equal measure.

Over time, Saga believes this player-centered approach will attract the best minds in gaming that want to see blockchain gaming grow and thrive around the globe. Using Soulbound as the foundation, SAGA will build tiered integrations and smart contract tooling to help this next evolution of gaming and social connection.

Animoca Brands led the round with participation by Delta Blockchain Fund, Genblock Capital, Moonchain Capital, Compute Ventures, NGC Ventures, Highstreet Ventures, M31 Capital, TsingTing Capital, Metal VC, PANONY, Rainmaker Games, Everest Ventures Group, vEmpire, SL2 Capital, and AAG Ventures.

“Saga shares our vision of an open metaverse, and we look forward to working with its team as it develops solutions to unlock the potential of blockchain gaming at scale,” said Yat Siu, executive chairman of Animoca Brands, in a statement. “We are strongly encouraged by Saga’s partnerships with upcoming triple-A titles, tooling, and commitment to regulation-friendly ecosystems, and we believe that its Soulbound middleware approach will be able to assist blockchain games in growing committed player bases.”

Saga’s ecosystem

Animoca Brands is a global leader in gamification and blockchain with a large portfolio of over 340 investments in web3 decentralized projects that are contributing to building the open metaverse. SAGA joins Animoca Brands’ web3 investment portfolio, which includes innovators such as Axie Infinity, OpenSea, Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot), Yield Guild Games (YGG), Splinterlands, Star Atlas, and others. Animoca Brands also owns leading blockchain games such as The Sandbox and Phantom Galaxies.

The new funding will be used to develop Saga’s first major contribution to blockchain gaming: Soulbound — a player profile system designed to reward players for their passion and engagement across the metaverse.

To advance the adoption of blockchain gaming, Saga believes that Web3 games need to be fun, broadly accessible, and valued as entertainment first, with monetization coming second. In order to support and reinforce this dynamic, average everyday players must also be empowered by a sense of ownership.

Enter the Non-Transferable Social Token (NTST) — a new token that can not be sold or transferred. It can only earned. Soulbound will incorporate the NTST M-XP (metaverse experience points) into a new tokenized proof of play system that will track your unique achievements and reputation across the metaverse, building your saga.

Soulbound serves gamers, guilds, and games so that a healthy metaverse ecosystem can thrive for years to come, the company said.

By using the Soulbound player profile, individual players and communities will gain access to exclusive opportunities in the metaverse; guilds will be able to enrich their recruitment and engagement processes, and games will be able to grow their player bases with real players.

As gamers complete quests and missions across the various games supported by Soulbound, they are rewarded with NFTs, experience points, achievements and badges. Essentially creating their fingerprint across the Web3 gaming ecosystem. What’s fun is that any third party can attach an NFT or their own currency as a reward to a Quest in Soulbound.

“We’re very excited for the future of gamefi as we release features to integrate NTSTs across ecosystems and build a true independent profile for players in the metaverse,” said Casey Grooms, head of business development at Saga, in a statement. “Becoming the one destination for gamers and guilds to show off their game assets, such as NFTs and in-game milestones, get rewarded for game play and achievements, and perform and launch quests with partnered and supported games. Soulbound will help connect all players, guilds and games together.”

The Soulbound player profile provides more than customizable rewards and opportunities — it provides on-chain status that cannot be faked or purchased. We are currently working with several high-profile projects to incorporate our quest platform as an education and reputation system to reflect the expertise an individual brings to the games they play across multiple ecosystems.

Gamers in Web2 massively multiplayer online (MMO) and online games have poured billions of hours and dollars into walled gardens that will never reward them for the value they bring. Saga wants to change that.

Saga’s initial properties

When it comes to blockchain gaming, Saga believes it has a bright future involving triple-A games. The company has teamed up with game developers who will use its middleware.

A.I. Mansbridge, head of strategic operations and cofounder of Saga, said in a statement, “Saga holds some of the most elite planets, asteroids, and digital land in the most promising upcoming second-generation blockchain games targeted at real gaming communities. We are working on a system to enable the best players to participate in governance regarding these lands in order to help establish the best practices for onboarding and retaining passionate players within this emerging paradigm.”

Phantom Galaxies

Phantom Galaxies is an NFT game coming the PC and consoles.
Phantom Galaxies is an NFT game coming the PC and consoles.

Phantom Galaxies is one example. The game being built by a division of Animoca Brands is a third-person action RPG shooter, thrusting players into an interstellar duel of Mechanized Starfighters, which shift fluidly between classic mecha robot form and a starship mode. In mecha mode, unleash barrages of bullets in space and on the ground, even getting up close for savage melee attacks with some builds – in starship form, hurtle through the stars with tight maneuvers and searing laser attacks.

Several members of Saga’s core team have been playing the Phantom Galaxies alpha since launch, and they are impressed by the fun of the experience and the commitment of the player base. Saga believes it will be a huge draw for elite guilds and gamers – and it plans to help them find each other.

With multiple planets – including one of a very limited number of “large” planets – and over 100 asteroids, Saga be opening limited access to raids, rewards, and giveaways through Soulbound.

Highstreet

Highstreet is using Soulbound.

Other games using Saga include Highstreet. Saga will own and operate an exclusive island, Soulbound Sagalans, in this MMORPG, which combines NFTs and physical items.

Highstreet’s major partnerships with international brands and dedicated community already playing in the web browser metaverse carves out a fascinating approach to Web3 gaming. By integrating Soulbound’s quest system, Saga will help drive virtuous economic cycles in the Highstreet economy and make the space accessible to the high value player base they aim to attract.

Other titles include Influence and Big Time.

Saga said it is building Soulbound to be secure and robust platforms for its users and it is mindful that regulation will increase in this space. As part of its cautious approach, Saga is awaiting clearer guidance from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other legal bodies before entering the U.S. market.

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