$NEAR Chill&Shill
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$NEAR Chill&Shill

Chill & Shill with Play Ember AMA Recap


Thanks to everyone joining our spaces, and congrats to the giveaway winner. Also, big congrats to the Play Ember Team on their successful raise! 🔥

During the AMA, we were, for the first time, joined by NEAR Guru, a NEAR influencer OG, Jon, and Hugo from the Play Ember team; we had Jon on.

Can you share more about your background and how you got here?

Jon: I’m Jon, and I’ve been in mobile games for quite a while, having a lot of fun understanding web2 players. I think across all our games; we have 1 billion downloads. We published games for some of the biggest people in web2, like voodoo, boombit… I actually built my first company with Chris Gale, the CEO of Few and Far, and it was a mobile ad network we sold to a NASDAQ company. I’ve been in the mobile gaming ad-tech space all my life.

Hugo and I met at different companies and then started PlayEmber as a mobile game studio; we have 5 million DAU. We go to all these conferences and love web3. So we looked at all the web3 games but realized there is no one playing them. We wondered who was doing an actual fun game. We met the NEAR folks; we loved their infrastructure and wallet. So we basically built our beta product quietly and did some testing. Our thesis was wondering if we can get our web2 users into web3 without talking about tokens, blockchain, etc. We’re already a top 20 game on dapp radar.

Near Guru: I’m Near Guru; you might have known me for the past 6,7 months. I started out as someone in Solana and came over to NEAR, and became one of the top voices on NEAR. I helped with the wider goal of onboarding the masses. And a couple of months ago, I connected with Jon through a tweet, and now I’m their Social Media Manager.

Hugo: I’m on the game development and design side and run gaming studios with bigger players. Got loads of downloads and then teamed up with Jon. Web3 enables us to do stuff we can only dream of in web2, so super excited.

Is PlayEmber one game or a suite of games?

Jon: It’s a whole bunch of games; we make hyper-casual games, arcade games, and more. There are currently games in the app store, and more coming out. What we’ll drop in Q4 is our idea of a wallet (doesn’t really like it because the term doesn’t work well for their audience) which will be a wallet meets reward center and showcases how we view DeFi for the web2 audience. The glue bringing it all together will be a Unity SDK, but we built the NEAR wallet within that.

We’re also looking forward to getting feedback from the community to build.


Jon: Our goal is to move web2 audience from the app store to web3. When we would build a pure web3 game, then, of course, it’d be more important to pick a chain with a vibrant gaming community. But for us, the bigger question was, what’s the best wallet for our players? We also love NEARs idea of progressive security. Our wallet is a custodial wallet, and we’re not putting much value in it, to begin with.

We also love building companies, and so the vision by NEAR to be infrastructure for builders resonated with me.

Overall it was a combination of factors, and the more we build, and despite the market conditions, nothing has changed so. Happy to be here.

We’re building real games, and you can already check them out; they are mobile games people love playing. What we love about NEAR is that there are a lot of creative people, and they love NFTs, so we are working on games that will bring web3 and web2 gamer audiences together.

Can you tell us some more about the early days of Play Ember?

Jon: Yes, sure. When we started, Hugo and I brought a lot of artists and unity devs together to create mobile web2 games to start. What’s funny is that when we thought about going to web3, we nearly started on Solana. That was when Magic Eden was flying, and everyone talked about it.

Now, we’re still very early on in our journey, and we’re just in startup mode. So we’re running a whole series of tests every week to see really what sticks.

How does blockchain complement gaming?

Jon: We believe no one has so far actually shown how blockchain can make games more fun. Most of it has been about things like gamified staking. And you can’t sustain a game economy on just thousands of players. Our vision is to show normal gamers how blockchain technology works in normal games. One of the most obvious things is bringing blockchain into mobile games. What we’re doing is unlocking centralized, controlled ad revenue and moving it to players and creators. You’ll see us partner with a lot of big projects to make that happen.

Eventually, you’ll be able to pay for things in the real world by having played our game.

What kind of games are you building?

Hugo: There’s one type of game we really like, idle arcade-like our game ralph life, where you start out with a small piece of land, and then you harvest stuff. There is another one called runners that are very simple and quick to develop. We also move more into casual games, which are games you play for over a week. One we’re excited about is a football game where people will be able to earn cards as rewards.

Jon: One area we had a lot of success in web2 are hypercards, the gatcha mechanics merged with casual PVP. A big impact on our games is pop culture. Because our audience doesn't identify as gamers. So we do a lot of tracking of pop culture.

You can learn more about PlayEmber on their website and follow them on Twitter.



$NEAR Chill&Shill is a twitter space that aims to educate its listeners about NEAR Protocol and its ecosystem through AMAs, community, and educational sessions. Hosted on Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun by @waxnear. Here, you can access all the written content produced by $NEAR Chill&Shill.

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Naomi Oba

Writer in Crypto — passionate about financial education, blockchain, books, and food.