Forging the Future of Games

Last month, we unveiled Forte, a new company formed to accelerate adoption of blockchain technology in the games industry. Our motivations come from a long history of building technology for game developers and shipping more than 50 free-to-play games with many noteworthy successes along the way, yet feeling a lingering discomfort shared by many of our colleagues in the industry about the current expressions of this business model. We believe blockchain technologies offer a path forward, toward greater agency for players as valued participants in game economies and improved alignment with the creators of these game worlds and economies.

Today, we’re following up with multiple new announcements. For the better part of a year, we’ve collaborated closely with Ripple’s Xpring team on architectural designs for trustlessly hosting software services in a decentralized ecosystem using Codius and facilitating cross-chain transactions using Interledger Protocol (ILP) for interoperability and XRP for inter-asset liquidity, all open source projects. We believe these projects offer a strong foundation for a future we’re excited to help game developers build: where game economies offer multi-directional transactions between parties, greater player agency, minimized counterparty risk, multi-network contract interoperability, and trust-minimized computation. We’ve also put together a $100M inaugural fund for game developers with Xpring aimed at bringing these and other core technologies of our blockchain platform to market.

Many of my colleagues in the game industry are on a cautious footing with blockchain. It’s new, often overhyped, and has attracted many unsavory opportunists. Any of those observations warrant skepticism, but the game industry is also impressively dynamic. Game developers are historically fearless adopters of new technologies in pursuit of greater creative potential, business advantage, and the ability to attract & entertain global audiences.

We started Forte because we think contemporary expressions of the free-to-play business model in games are not the mountaintop. We think there is new, better territory to discover in game design. While we’re proud of the products we’ve built in the past and admire the efforts of our colleagues who do their utmost to serve as benevolent dictators of, command and control in-game economies, we feel like it shouldn’t have to be this way.

Developer tools for player-driven economies

We believe that there’s room to dramatically improve on where we’re at in 2019. We believe greater player agency is a good thing, that transacting value should be a multi-directional affair — with value flowing not just from player-to-publisher, but player-to-player, and publisher-to-player. We believe virtual economies in games can more closely mirror our experience in real economies, and that our ambition as game developers should be to build these economies in a way that maximizes openness and interoperability. We believe that creating games that embrace these economic designs will lead to larger player bases, happier players, greater alignment between players and developers, and ultimately more success for the industry and for the creators of these new kinds of games. Blockchain technologies make achieving this vision possible in a way it never has been before. At Forte, we want to build this path and help open-minded developers cross it with us.

If you find our vision for game economies of the future as exciting as we do, you’ll be encouraged to hear that we’re taking a very thoughtful and deliberate approach to building the Forte platform. Initially, we’ll help developers with some of the difficult but essential basics. We’re building a wallet that will be easy to use and integrate with both new and existing games on many platforms and facilitate cross-chain transactions using Interledger. We’re building a container-based hosting solution compatible with the Codius specification for running game-specific chains and flexible, secure, performant computation that rich, engaging games need. We’re building a security-audited smart contract framework and tools to inspect nodes, update contracts, reconcile new data, generate data reports, and mint new chains. We’re securing licenses for regulatory compliant operations in all major markets. We’re offering market-making services to address cold start economic challenges in new game economies. We’re building a white-label marketplace framework with embeddable filter-by-game views. We’re composing these solutions based on a deep evaluation of public blockchains, layer 2 solutions, and off chain computation in combination with our own substantial research and development efforts.

Our aim is to support the decentralization of these technologies, where open protocol networks support a wide variety of game economies based on what’s at stake. There is an amazing degree of research and innovation happening across the entire sphere of blockchain development today, and our goal is to use the best of breed solutions across the entire space, and to enable game developers to do the same so that they can focus on creating great games for their players. This desire to support the best of breed solutions across the entire blockchain ecosystem means we need to support multiple blockchains and empower cross-chain interoperability for developers and players. That is where our partnership with Xpring and the truly outstanding innovation they’ve created with both the open source Interledger Protocol and Codius come in.

We’re currently working with a select handful of partners to apply these platform technologies and tools to games today and anticipate opening them up to the industry broadly on an aggressive timeline. If you’re building games today and want to support multi-direction economic systems that give players increased agency in your games, our team will be meeting with developers all week March 18–22 at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Please feel free to reach out to us and start the conversation. Say :)

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Brett Seyler

Brett Seyler

Brett is a game industry technologist, operator and investor with over a decade of experience designing, building and commercializing technology for developers.