GDC 2022 Interview with Ultra Founder David Hanson

Jett
Ultra
Published in
34 min readApr 7, 2022

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Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with David Hanson, Founder and Co-CEO of Ultra, for an exclusive in-depth interview during the 2022 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. We met at the Marriott, which was buzzing with industry meet-ups, being adjacent to where the Conference was being held. David had just gotten out of a meeting with one of Ultra’s key partners, Fortune 100 Company AMD, and you could tell from his energy and excitement, the meeting went well.

Ultra describes itself as the first entertainment platform providing all key games industry services and countless centralized and decentralized apps under one roof, accessible through a single login.

Hanson’s vision is to deliver a full stack blockchain solution that includes a fast, feeless layer 1 blockchain that is certified carbon neutral, an app ecosystem, a groundbreaking NFT standard, NFT marketplace, in addition to Ultra Games, Ultra’s flagship “killer app” which is built from the ground up as a self-service publishing platform to disrupt Valve’s Goliath PC games distribution platform, Steam.

David, along with Ultra’s Co-CEO Nicolas Gilot, previously worked closely with Fortune 100 tech titan AMD in delivering a hardware games console and games distribution software platform in China while leading a large team and 120 million dollar budget.

Since their inception in 2018, Ultra has built up an impressive roster of partnerships including AMD, Ubisoft, Theta, and the Sandbox. Over 170 publishers and developers have already committed to having their games distributed on the Ultra Games Platform.

My interview with David comes as Ultra is currently nearing several key milestones. These include the launch of the feeless Uniq Marketplace, the introduction of two exclusive AAA games that have been in stealth development for years, and the highly anticipated launch of Ultra Games.

As an active Ultra community member and investor, it was fascinating to cover a wide range of topics in our sit down. I asked David about Ultra’s strategy for achieving mass adoption and how Ultra’s NFT standard is poised to transform the world of NFTs. We also chatted about how David’s interests in tech began as a teenager, and his 18 years as a business pioneer. We even delved into his thoughts on whether we are living in a simulated metaverse spawned from superintelligence.

Jett:

The last time you were at GDC was 2019 when Ultra was just a little over a year old and still mostly at the vision stage. Are you getting a different reaction now that the mainnet has launched, you have over 170 publishers on board and the public launch of the NFT marketplace and games app is months away instead of years?

David:

Its been 3 years we didn’t see a lot of people at GDC and now a lot of people are coming back to me and saying “you guys were right about NFTs”.

When we started, nobody even knew what an NFT was. We were ahead of everybody and also predicted the problems that everyone is facing right now with bad user experiences that comes with blockchain technology.

This is one of the reason why we are slower to release our tech than everybody, we’ve been solving problems nobody wanted to solve even though we can clearly see today everyone is facing them.

Even with AMD and others we’re meeting here, everyone is talking about NFTs this year, but everyone has had this bad user experience too. So there is this whole discussion about how to have NFTs in games without having a backlash. To us its simple, if the user experience is bad there’s a good reason you’re going to have a backlash. [Unlike other chains, Ultra’s NFT marketplace is fast, feeless and does not require transferring custody from your wallet to place an item on sale] You wouldn’t have a backlash if everything was positive for the users. Many developers wrongly think it’s good for their users to have NFTs in their games because they’ll be able to sell their assets but they overlook the bad user experience that comes with it. The players are like “yeah I like to own and resell my stuff but my game needs to be fun and now it’s not fun anymore.”

David giving AMD a demo of the Ultra platform at GDC 2022

Jett:

And in some cases with blockchain gaming now there is a huge barrier to entry where players may have to spend thousands just to play and then are more interested in farming their investment than playing.

David:

Yeah, so if you have this type of elite systems maybe your players base will be limited to 20k. We’re positioning ourselves differently that most blockchain gaming companies, we want to address a mainstream audience, and we’re keen to becoming the golden standard for developers who are facing blockchain technology challenges.

Jett:

In the last year suddenly the blockchain space is being flooded with multiple hundred million dollar plus funds dedicated to Web 3.0 gaming — Polygon, FTX, Solana, AVAX, they all are doing this. Do you feel vindication in that you were so far ahead and building the foundation for blockchain gaming in 2018 and what implications does all this bullishness in the space have for Ultra?

David:

It’s definitely going to be positive for us because Ultra Games, our games distribution platform, is blockchain agnostic, we can publish any games on Ultra. They got games, we have a place to distribute them. We’re the only ones out there, so obviously it’s better for us if they use our blockchain tech but we’re still happy to distribute them even if they don’t. We’re really open to help everybody publish their games, which is a big relief for them because today they don’t have a home anymore. Steam said “fuck off” so you don’t have many choices out there. There’s Epic but Epic Games Store is not a self-service platform. You can’t go there and say “hey, I’m going to publish my game on your platform” like on Steam.

Jett:

They also are not built from the ground up to actually handle blockchain gaming, they are just open to the idea, correct?

David:

Yes, exactly, so what they really said is we’re not against blockchain-based gaming. That doesn’t mean they will allow their game to be on the platform. Even if it’s not a blockchain game they still may not allow your game on their platform.

So, that puts a lot of game developers in a very tough situation (with Steam not accepting NFT games and Epic not allowing self publishing,) where before they had a guarantee they could publish their games and now with epic they only have a “maybe”.

We’re providing them a solid alternative to Steam and Epic. We do have platform guidelines, obviously we don’t want really bad games or strange content, but that’s about it.

Jett:

Of course. Some content guidelines, right?

David:

Yes, similar to Steam, very straight forward.

Overall, I think at the end of the day, what we’re doing with our exclusive content guarantees the success of the platform which will benefit other games developers who want lots of users. Starting a platform is kind of like facing the chicken and the egg problem. Game developers want a platform with users, and the users want content, so if you don’t have any of them, nobody wants to come. So we’ve been investing in exclusive content, we’ve got these amazing games which will drive users to the platform and start the pump, just like Epic did with Fortnite.

Jett:

How long has the exclusive First Person Shooter been in development?

David:

The game has been in development for more than two years now.

Jett:

You’ve been able to keep this completely under wraps. I understand it’s a group of high-level game development veterans but they don’t have a public profile right? All the Ultra fans are combing the internet trying to figure out what game and team it is.

David:

When you’ll see the team, you’ll see there are a lot of top game developers who left prominent teams to join these new game studios.

Jett:

It’s floating around that the game will be on Unreal Engine 5, is that correct?

David:

That’s correct.

Jett:

And I believe you’ve said there are metaverse qualities and in-game economy?

David:

Yes there’s an incredible concept behind the economy of this game. We still want it fully free to play without a pay to win angle. We want people to come in and play en masse, not like “hey, now you need to invest thousands to start”. We want to grow our userbase through these games. But we still have this super synergetic piece — a relationship between one part of the game facing the traditional gamers and another which will cater to play to earn gamers.

Jett:

Ultra raised a little over $11 million in 2019. You’re a pre-launch project at this point so I was curious if all operations from that point to now has been funded by that raise and if there is sufficient funding to get to profitability?

David:

Everything will make sense eventually. People will say “ohhhhhhh.”

We have a very cool mechanism in place. Taking advantage of a network of investors. We’ve been creating a business fabric, a network of people who each bring something different, and they go through this system where everybody contributes to something, whether it’s investment, content, influence and everyone benefits from each others, truly Web 3.0 style. We’re about to activate the network for the first time and everyone is excited.

Jett:

You haven’t sold any of your Ultra yet despite being unlocked, correct?

David:

Right. I was joking with Nicolas some time ago, “I think we hold the world record for founders who keep their coins the longest.”

Jett:

That’s a sign of extreme confidence in Ultra’s upside from here.

David:

Yeah, for sure.

Jett:

Can you talk about how games on Ultra will both use Ultra’s coin and their own?

David:

Some of these games will have their own coin. Some of them will use Ultra’s coin. It does make sense for some to have their own coin.

Jett:

But when people are buying the NFTs for the game it’s using Ultra’s coin $UOS right?

David:

Everything related to the Uniq marketplace runs with $UOS. So if you have a game with NFTs, you can sell the NFT brand new with whatever currency including credit cards. Once it goes into the marketplace it’s relying on $UOS coins and everything that has to do with commission, royalties etc., that’s in Ultra’s $UOS coin as well.

Jett:

When the games have their own coin I’m assuming they must be supported on the Ultra Wallet?

David:

Yes. This is part of the overall Ultra vision.

Jett:

It’s fascinating that you and Nicolas went to China for eight years. That’s a pretty wild step. I was there for two months and it was a culture shock. And not only that, you’re not just there on vacation, you’re there to do business, add value to companies while dealing with different cultures, food, language. What was your thought in doing this?

David:

It sounds crazy but it was actually the result of a well thought decision. We where about to sell our company to a fund and I wanted to go into game development. I was thinking, game developers in Belgium are really hard to come by. The industry is just too small and also the cost of developing is too high so I was thinking “ok, what other countries have a real game industry” and it was U.S. which is expensive, it was France — I didn’t feel like going there, and then there was China, because you have to remember back in the time China was really just starting to explode in terms of business opportunities.

The average living standard there was becoming way better so I was really looking at China, I had never been to China, but I felt it was the future, even though very few foreigners lived there at that time.

So I went on Google and I typed into Google translate “video game development forum” and I had these Chinese characters that I copied and pasted in the search engine (back then china still worked in China) and one of the forums I found, considering the quantity of posts it had, was probably one of the prominent forums for game development.

So there I was like, look I don’t speak Chinese so I’m going to write everything in English and whoever can read that will be the right people I want to talk to.

So basically what I wrote was something like “European investor looking for team to invest and develop games. Show me your titles, describe to me your team, etc.”

Then I started to receive tons of emails. From there, eventually there’s one of these teams I had a good feeling with.

So I spoke to them and eventually when we agreed to work together I said “look, I’m going to rent one apartment, I’m gonna pay for it, we meet there, you find the developers, I’m going to come and we’re all going to live there and work there.” They accepted the deal and we started.

So I had this big apartment with independent rooms for everyone, and the living room was turned into a game development studio.

We were a small team, we were like four or five.

Jett:

This was the mobile gaming company right?

David:

Yes, and it was a test run for me, I wanted to see if I could make a game. I wanted to see what the process of game development really is.

I went there, never having been in China before, I had my luggage and I left my life in Belgium.

Jett:

Wow.

David:

I arrived, met the guys for the first time at the airport and we went to our place in Beijing and from there, we started making a game and I think three months later the game was done.

David’s first dinner with the team in Beijing

We sold the game , I think about one hundred thousand units or something like that.

So I was like — wow, this is something I can do and love.

Jett:

Can you talk about what the mobile game was?

David:

It was a Tower defense game. If I recall, we even called it “Tower Defense.” The first Tower defense game had been released so we were not the inventors of it, but we made it, we were super happy and successful and after these three months, my VISA expired — I had a 3 months business VISA.

The tower defense game David worked on in China

So after three months I came back, everyone went their own way and I knew, ok now I know I can do that.

Closed some stuff in Belgium and then I went back, this time for making a a FPS game, and from there on, I stayed eight years in China.

Jett:

The next one was the PC game studio you sold to Kingsoft right?

David:

Yes.

Jett:

How long was it from founding to selling to Kingsoft?

David:

Four years I think.

Jett:

Gotcha, when did Nicolas get involved?

David:

He joined the team and worked about a year or two with me and met his wife there and then stayed in Beijing and was taking care of a monetization strategy company he founded while I was taking care of the game studio.

After, when I sold to Kingsoft, I had the opportunity to do the console project with AMD and I called Nicolas and I asked “do you want to become the company’s CSO?” he agreed and we founded that company together.

Jett:

When you were doing the PC games studio, was it the same apartment or did you get a different facility?

David:

Yes, another bigger apartment (laughs). About 2 years later the team grew to a certain size and we had a proper office.

David’s second (and bigger) apartment/office in Beijing
The office that David’s team in Beijing upgraded to!

Jett:

Now the console project with AMD, you were working with a substantial budget. I believe I remember in interviews you estimated around 120 million?

David:

Yes, I sold my company and basically what happened is that there was a deal between AMD and a former prominent game industry actor in China called Xiaobawang, everyone in China knows them, they were the ones that made the first consoles in China that were a copy of the Nintendo NES. They sold 40 million units, they did really well.

They got the deal, but this company didn’t have a team to actually make the console. One guy I worked with in the past was appointed by Xiaobawang to find a solution to their missing team. At one point there was a terrorist attack in Belgium and that guy called me and asked me if I’m alright — is your family alright? And I told him, I’m all good, I’m in China and the attack was not where my family lives. And then he said “hey, you know, there’s this company and they want to create a video game console for the Chinese market.”

I knew immediately this was something I wanted to be a part of.

I’ve always thought he called me knowing this would be my reaction. I told him I sold my company, I’m available, let’s do this together. I started talking to the board members of Xiaobawang and some time later after all kinds of discussion they asked me “Do you want to be the CEO of this project?” and I said “hell yeah”. That’s how it all started and that’s why we have such a unique relationship with AMD.

One of the annual employee meetings

Jett:

During this whole time, were you visiting home sometimes?

David:

No, I stayed in China.

Jett:

For eight years in a row? Not even visiting sometimes?

David:

No, but I did GDC every year, Tokyo game show, Gamescom…

Jett:

But you never went home?

David:

I never went back home.

Jett:

Wow, that’s dedication man.

David:

Yeah, but to be honest, I loved it, there was some culture shock initially but after a year or so, I really loved living there.

Jett:

Did you learn some Chinese from it?

David:

Yi Dien Dien (means “a little” in Chinese.)

Jett:

Ha — nice.

How did you end up in Lisbon in Portugal?

David:

The some of my my parent’s old friends are Portuguese, and one of their kid is a lawyer now, so I called him and told him I saw what is happening over there and I’m considering to move. Lisbon has a fast growing crypto scene. It’s a super safe country and with my friend’s support I decided to move there, especially because the whole COVID situation was happening at that time, so I’m thinking if I have to be in an apartment with grey sky outside I might just as well be in Lisbon and see the sun, it won’t change anything for Ultra but I will have a better life with sunny weather to cheer me up.

Jett:

When you were a child did you have this idea that you wanted to be a business pioneer or is that something you just came to?

David:

When I was a kid, I got my first computer quite late. I was monopolizing my Dad’s computer all the time. He had this old computer and I was on it non-stop. Eventually I got a second hand computer, a 486DX2, and I was super happy with it and I was playing Doom and other old games on it. Everything was about my computer and then one day, it wouldn’t boot anymore.

I was like…I have a problem. So we had to go to this computer shop and the guy tells me the motherboard fried, so you need to change it, but I didn’t have money and my parents also didn’t want to spend this kind of money.

We realized I can’t afford the installation for a new mother board but I can afford a second hand motherboard. So I’m thinking I’m going to do it myself.

Jett:

How old were you at this time?

David:

About 12.

Jett:

Wow.

David:

So I’m asking the computer store guy questions about how to do it and he says do this, do that and from there I went home with this replacement motherboard, I started doing what he said but it didn’t work. So I call him and he explains me more stuff to do, eventually it worked but there’s this other problem that happens, like beeping sounds and no boot. I called him so many times, eventually he said “dude, if you want to do it — come with your computer and pay for the work because I’m not here to teach you.”

So I called another store and I said “hey I bought a motherboard in your store but I have a problem” and the guy is like “you have to do this and that.” Eventually after three stores I press the damn button and BOOM — it booted.

Once it booted, I was like “this is easy.” At that point I understood what all the components where, there’s the motherboard, there’s the CPU, there’s the hard disk, the cable needs to go this way and that way. Today it’s really hard to make a mistake, all cables are unique and can’t be connected in the wrong way. Back in the time you could make mistakes that would destroy your hardware.

Jett:

So you had an engineering mind from the start.

David:

I suppose so, once I built the whole thing I was looking at the newspaper (back in the time there was no internet), and I see this super condensed list of computer components for sale written in super small letters because back in the time you would pay ads based on how much space you take on the newspaper. They would have this list of components and I would select what was the cheapest graphic card and on the same newspaper page you have four, five other stores' components list and I would look at the cheapest graphic card, cheapest CPU, cheapest disk from different stores and then I told my Dad if we buy these pieces, I can build a brand new badass computer.

It took months of months of talking about it but eventually he said “let’s do it.” and we went from one store to another to buy all these cheapest computer parts on the market.

Jett:

What did your parents do?

David:

My Dad was a civil engineer and my Mom was a cook.

Jett:

Gotcha.

David:

So we went to the store and I had all these components. I assembled it, I pressed the button, and it booted.

Jett:

Nice.

David:

This is where my Dad was really really smart. He said if you want I can go to the University in Brussels and print a flyer about the computer you built and put it on the wall — “computer for sale.” I said sure and one day after he put it up, I got a phone call from a University student who wanted to come over to see it. He came and bought it and I made some money. Suddenly I had more money I started with which allowed me to buy a better computer. One, two, three, four, five, six times later— eventually it becomes a business.

So I always had my computer that was top of the line and some of the older pieces would go into the ones I sold. Eventually I had a pretty good customer base.

Jett:

Were your friends envious? Because most 14 year olds have no money and are pretty much broke.

David:

Back in the time, computer geeks — were considered VERY weird. “Oh he’s into computers, he’s weird!” Now if you’re NOT into computers you’re weird, right? But back then, I was the weirdo and so they weren’t like “oh he’s making money” because I’m not talking about this kind of stuff, but they all knew that I was the computer guy.

Eventually, this became a business and everyone called me when they had a problem with their computer and I would go and I would fix their problems and they would pay me. When I was around 16, I didn’t like to go to school — I HATED it.

One day I would wake up, and I would pretend to go to school, but I was actually going to work at a computer store in Brussels. Completely for free, I said I just want to learn. So I did this and of course, not even a month later the school called my parents and said something along the line of “so where’s David? We haven’t seen him in so long” and my Mom is like “Uhhhh, what are you talking about? He’s going every day to school.”

Then we had THE TALK, you know? And she was obviously very surprised and I explained how much I hated school, I don’t want to do it anymore and this is where it blew my mind, she says “well, alright, you don’t need to go to school anymore,” and that was it, that’s when my professional career started.

Jett:

Wow. So from that point on you’re doing technical stuff that you’re passionate about?

David:

Computer, networks, and so on and from there I’ve done a lot of incredible stuff. You know today’s security cameras are all IP cameras?

Jett:

Yeah.

David:

I was the first in Europe distributing IP Cameras.

Jett:

Oh wow. How did you get into that?

David:

I was indirectly involved with FoxConn when they pushed this new technology on the market. Back then they already had massive factories in China, they were making motherboards for Dell, HP and so on. At that time, my first company’s office was next to a company who was the exclusive European distributor of the cutting edge NAS servers FoxConn where making. We became friends and when they started developing IP Cameras which would store the data in these NAS servers, they needed a tech guy to support their European channels and so I took that role and had a lot of fun building this nascent industry in Europe.

Jett:

What year was this?

David:

Around 2000, 2001 or so.

Jett:

Oh wow, so you were already working age during the dot com boom, though you were young.

David:

Yeah I started my career at 16, which is funny because when my friends finished University they were like 22, 23, 24. I already had like eight years of business experience.

Jett:

That’s so interesting, and so you can relate a bit of what happened in the internet boom to the blockchain crypto boom happening now? Do you see some parallels?

David:

Back then, everything in finance and stuff, wasn’t my thing. I knew there was a crash but I didn’t really know the scale of it and why it happened.

Jett:

You were kind of in your world.

David:

Yeah, I was doing my stuff and that was it.

Jett:

One of the things that is really interesting about Ultra is that even though you do have some things that are secretive like we don’t know the “secret sauce” you tease and the big partner in China, still there’s more specifics as to how you plan to acquire millions of users and get mass adoption than any other blockchain project that I know of.

A lot of prominent crypto projects are really just building the base layer, then what happens largely depends on what the community actually does with it. Maybe they have a developer fund…fine, but you guys are taking it further and yourselves building the flagship “killer app” in Ultra Games, and also these other apps and the app ecosystem which gives the ability for others, such as Theta to be part of your ecosystem and benefit from your future network effect.

You’ve said just one game that is very successful can result in over 10 million users, you’ve also talked about a partnership similar to the one AMD had with another company, also utilizing redeem codes, and you will be doing with them that brought in over a million users a month. Can you talk about that? Was that company Steam or another company?

David:

Another company.

AMD helped them grow by providing their apps during the installation of GPU drivers, it was a chat service and they grew millions of users with the help of AMD.

Jett:

Wow, that’s insane. Not sure if you can talk about this but with the AMD redeem code, will that be for Ultra’s exclusive game or more of a traditional game?

David:

It will be all kinds of products. Our redeem codes can be associated with NFTs, which can be any type of product. So I can give you a virtual item, a DLC (Downloadable Content), a digital collectible or a game in the form of a redeemable code which will grant me the underlying NFT asset.

For games in graphic card boxes, typically graphic card manufacturers, who get GPU chips from AMD to produce a final product with them, are competing with each others, though fundamentally they use the same GPU chips.

So one of the ways they differentiate themselves from each other is to buy licenses of games and provide them in their GPU boxes. Nowadays, they don’t provide CD/DVDs anymore, they give redeemable “CDKEYS”, as Steam calls them.

The thing is, Steam doesn’t give them anything for sending new users to their platform. So there’s no benefit for whoever does that aside from distributing a game digitally. So GPU manufacturers pay for games and when they bring a new user to Steam they don’t get anything out of it.

With Ultra, you still pay for the game you give away, but when your user comes on our platform, you can use our referral mechanisms and earn money with it.

Jett:

I was actually thinking about this and it seems once this partnership launches AMD is going to be a huge holder of UOS right?

David:

Automatically, yeah.

Jett:

That’s really interesting.

David:

The mechanism is made for everybody- even you can do it, but for a company like AMD, for a company like XFX that do graphics cards, for an influencer that has a following, they can substantially profit from continuous passive income.

Jett:

I noticed you can’t see your referrals in Ultra yet, is this something that is going to be added soon?

David:

Yes, it will be part of the wallet dashboard.

Jett:

Great, I think once people can see their referrals it will take things to the next level in the community promoting Ultra.

David:

Yeah for sure, if everyone brings two new users, we’re bound to grow exponentially.

Jett:

Is that from you and Nicolas having all that monetization experience that there is just so much affiliate marketing type mechanisms built into Ultra from the referral fees to the promoter fees in the Uniq NFT marketplace as well?

David:

Yeah, because everything will be about the growth and these mechanisms are going to be the source of our platform’s users. We want to make use of blockchain technology to its fullest potential and these use cases are low hanging fruits for us.

Jett:

Gotcha. I’m curious, is it very frustrating to you when you see people that are celebrated in their own industry — large old school investors or Web 2.0 titans that are negative on Web 3.0 and blockchain as a whole despite the obvious technological breakthrough of what is possible here with NFTs, immutability and DAOS?

David:

Honestly, I don’t care at all. Whatever the negativity on NFTs in the press, I don’t care because I know what we’re doing. A lot of the negativity surrounding NFTs is the result of a lack understanding of the technology.

It’s like the people who thought the early internet was useless, they didn’t understand it well enough and as a result they only looked at what it did back then and not what it could potentially do in the future.

Jett:

Right like Paul Krugman said it would be no more significant than the fax machine, right?

David:

It’s like, if you don’t understand it. Don’t talk about it, or study it before you say bad stuff about it, but unfortunately this is what happens at this moment. They put everything in a bag and think “this is a scam — I’m against it”.

The thing is, we know what we have. We know what we’re building, where we’re going, and have a good idea of how people will use it so we’re very confident.

I‘m happy when I change people’s opinion on NFTs, but I’m not spending too much energy on this, people who don’t get it today will eventually get it, perhaps by using one of the games or services running on Ultra.

I like how Tim Sweeney of Epic thinks for example, he understands the situation well. He said there are scams, the user experience is bad, but the premise of the technology is very interesting.

That's the kind of constructive comments I’m interested in, and he’s the kind of person I listen to.

Jett:

That makes total sense.

I’m curious — Do you think about what you want to do beyond Ultra? Obviously, you’re going to be very wealthy. Do you want to go to space or anything crazy?

David:

I think the vision of Ultra is big enough. To complete what I have in mind I still have to work two to three years and I’m sure by that time there will be even more stuff I’ll want to work on, so I’m not looking past that right now. The potential for what we’re doing is really, really big.

If you think about it, here in the game industry, everyone is talking about NFTs, and the game industry has always been the spearhead of technology, we’ve always been ahead of other industries.

We’re pushing hardware, software, and everything in between and eventually these advancements trickles down to all the other industries.

Now we’ve got great graphic cards for games who are used by the movie industry. CPUs are originally faster for games but they are now regularily maxed out by many other use cases, VR started for games but end up being used by all kinds of so called “Serious games” like training applications and medical tools.

I think with NFTs it’s going to be the same thing all over again.

If you look at NFT and blockchain technology there are actually very few companies that make the fundamental underlying technology, most crypto companies are mostly consuming someone else’s technology.

Like making the blockchain for example. Most blockchains are forks with very few differences compared to one another, like, I can make a fork of Ethereum and not really understand how it works and yet it runs. Ultra is one of the few companies in the world that go deep at the protocol level, this gives us the ability to truly improve blockchain technology like few others can.

And for NFTs, we’re one of 5 or so entities in the world building its own standard.

The cool thing is that we made our own blockchain protocol, NFT standard, client/wallet and games distribution platform. There are no other company in the world who is in a position to make any modification, any time needed, on any aspect of the entire pipeline, making us the only company able to make sure everything works hand in hand perfectly now and in the future. It also means that no external company can take decisions that would potentially negatively affects our infrastructure, services and users.

We’re in a position where while the world is about to have a need for NFTs for everything — games, movies, music, your hotel keys, etc, we will be in a position to develop any new opportunities that might arise.

Ultra has competition on various aspects of the blockchain supply chain, but our end goal is very different than other crypto actors, we are building our own full-spectrum platform ecosystem, a platform for platforms if you will, and Ultra Games and the Uniq marketplace are the first platforms built on top of this infrastructure.

Jett:

That’s really cool.

I know how you’ve talked about with your NFT Standard when an Ultra NFT is for sale, it’s for sale everywhere that adopts the NFT Standard so I guess the obvious question is — you do have to go to all the other marketplaces and have a relationship, right?

David:

Well, we don’t have to, the technology is open for everyone to use, they can integrate our tech without asking us. But, yes, we reach out to them to accelerate the process.

Jett:

I talked to Janneke from your BD team earlier as I know this is in her scope and she said she hasn’t had this issue yet but I was just wondering if you think there is going to be any type of issue with protectionism from these early NFT marketplaces who might see Ultra as a competitor and don’t want to help you advance your standard to keep you from getting ahead?

David:

No, I think it’s better for them because today they have a big user base, but they don’t have the entire NFT catalog. If you tell them “hey, do you want to have ALL Ethereum NFTs on your marketplace” they will say “of course.”

That’s exactly what our Uniq NFT standard does, anyone who integrates it in their marketplace, will have the same day, the entire second hand Uniq catalog ready to sell to their userbase and ready to earn from.

Jett:

Gotcha.

David:

And it’s even better for a smaller entity trying to start a NFT marketplace, because today if you want to do a new marketplace and your competitor is OpenSea, how do you start?

Nobody wants to sell their NFTs on your marketplace because you don’t have the best content and therefor few users.

With Uniqs, you can start from zero, and instantly have millions of NFTs to sell.

Jett:

Yeah I really like how you have this system where you basically leverage anyone with reach.

David:

That’s it.

Jett:

Basically in your system, if you have reach, there is a profitable way to leverage that into something that promotes Ultra or your Uniq NFT marketplace very easily.

David:

Exactly and you don’t even need to talk to us, if you display the NFT for sale on your marketplace, the blockchain will reward you with a 2.5% sales commission.

Jett:

Also, I’m assuming if down the road you have millions of users from the exclusive FPS and there is a ton of NFT activity on Ultra, marketplaces will feel stupid if they don’t have you in their catalog if they are late to adopt.

David:

Quality content definitely help, if everyone wants something particular unavailable on your marketplace, they will move on the marketplace where its available.

It’s quite interesting because eventually when multiple marketplaces integrate support for Uniq NFTs, we basically compound the user base of all marketplaces, which means eventually when you are on one, two, three different marketplaces, selling a Uniq will be so much faster than any other NFT standard because the compounded user base is much larger, as a result there is a higher chance your NFT sells faster. Which ALSO means the value will go higher because the demand is higher which means the marketplace that sells Uniqs will earn more.

Jett:

I’m assuming certain Ultra partners like Sandbox are committed to compatibility with Ultra’s NFT standard and marketplace?

David:

We will have an NFT bridges allowing you to can take a NFT from any chain, and send it to Ultra and benefit from the free transactions and our compounded marketplace tech.

Jett:

Gotcha, and I think I remember you saying that would be the same way Cross the Ages will have their NFTs available on the Ultra NFT marketplace right?

David:

Yes.

Jett:

Gotcha. Everyone is really excited about the initial launch, I believe within weeks more people will be added to the Ultra NFT marketplace beta?

David:

Yes, and a couple months later it’s going to be public.

Jett:

There are a lot of exciting events coming up for Ultra including this and the release of the team behind the exclusive Ultra FPS and the exclusive sports game.

David:

Yes, I’m so excited about this.

Jett:

Do you know which one is going to come first?

David:

Actually I don’t know because the different studios have different announcement strategies.

They have been in development for many years so we can show stuff that will be representative of the final product.

Jett:

About a year ago, you said you were about 75% of the way to your vision. Do you remember that Twitter thread?

David:

Yes.

Jett:

Well it’s been a year, so what would you say now?

David:

I would say we’re now at about 75% of the vision (laughing), the vision got a lot bigger over time.

Jett:

Hahaha that makes sense.

David:

The thing is with Covid and everything that happened it was a challenge to grow our team.

Jett:

I heard that hiring was difficult last year compared to this year?

David:

It was really challenging. I would have wanted to be at 120 employees right now. We’re at about 90. Nine months ago we changed our hiring strategy and it’s been very successful so we now are able to hire about seven people per month, which is great considering the level of competence we require and the overall market conditions.

Jett:

Is it just more staff that allowed this to happen?

David:

Yes

Jett:

One Twitter user, JBM, wanted to know what concerns you, as he feels everything looks so good with Ultra it’s almost like it’s too good to be true.

Does anything keep you up at night in regards to what could go wrong?

David:

Not really, even though there’s a constant buzzing in my head because there’s a lot of urgent stuff to handle on a daily basis.

This said, launching a platform is a process. It’s not something where you launch and BOOM you get two million users over night.

This is what I’m most concerned with, I think fans, especially after having waited so long for Ultra, have super high expectations, even though we’re actually going to need some time to get content live, one after another, and grow numbers through them just like every other platform before us. So in a sense, that’s what keeps me awake.

We’re constantly working on ways to grow as fast as possible, but at the end of the day we will have to work our way to the top like everyone else.

Jett:

The core supporters of the project have been working to kind of manage expectations on timeline understanding the complexity of the project.

David:

I noticed that and we really appreciate it.

David:

At the end of the day when it comes to users numbers, the release of our exclusive games will drive massive adoption. Before that, cool NFT content and various partnerships will be another good source of user growth. In addition to that, non-exclusives games will be sold on Ultra games.

Jett:

Right, because only Ultra turns games into NFTs that can be re-sold.

David:

Yes, why would you buy your game somewhere else where you can re-sell it when you can have exactly the same game where you can resell it?

Jett:

You mentioned in the Swissborg Twitter Spaces chat what you see as what is preventing mass adoption in crypto.

One of them you mention is the cost of transactions being unpredictable and you’ve made it a big point on Ultra to solve that with free transactions.

David:

Yes, we’re the only blockchain in the world with zero transactions fees and zero onboarding fees, as a result, Dapps on Ultra can offer a user experience similar to any traditional app people are used to.

Jett:

The other barrier to mass adoption you mentioned was the complexity of security at this time and the need to have an easier system than a series of words that can easily be lost.

How is wallet security going to be easier to manage on Ultra?

David:

We can’t speak about it publicly yet as the tech is still being patented but in the meantime we’ll be pushing an intermediate update which will be based on a convenient two factor authentication scheme combined with our EBA v1 implementation aka “Easy Blockchain Account V1” .

The next step, will be ledger support.

At that point, for 99% of users, the Google authenticator will be enough and if you want more security, you can use your ledger hardware wallet.

The last step will be EBA v2, which offers the best of both worlds, you can have security similar to a hardware wallet but without the need of additional hardware.

Jett:

I think you explained to me also, you are waiting on the Mac version of Ultra because you want to wait until after the public launch scaling initial changes have been solved.

David:

Yes, when you are on two different platforms and make a change, you might need to do it twice. In early platform development stages, you make tons of changes, so you don’t want to make tons of changes twice too early.

Jett:

Yeah that totally makes sense.

We know Ultra is going to focus on PC gaming first as it’s been identified as the best segment of gaming to disrupt. Is there going to be a plan for consoles like Xbox?

David:

The tech has been designed with consoles in mind, both the blockchain libraries and the NFT standard.

Jett:

And we know the mobile companion app is coming first, but mobile gaming after that?

David:

Yes.

Jett:

Ok, one more question. You might think this is kind of silly but what do you think of simulation theory and do you think we could be living inside someone else’s designed metaverse?

David:

That’s a funny question. For a long time, I’ve actually had such a theory, which I liked to share to my friends!

Jett:

Wow!

David:

I noticed the past few years it became a topic that came up more and more and it makes me smile, probably because Elon Musk talks about it regularly.

Jett:

Yeah he said it’s quite possible.

David:

Yes, I really believe that.

Jett:

Yeah, you know at first my gut reaction was I didn’t believe it, but part of the reason was this was years ago and I was reading Nick Bostrom said it may be the destiny of humans to create simulations and back then I wasn’t so sure this was really what people necessarily were going to do. I wasn’t seeing the evidence back then.

But now, with SO MANY people building metaverses, I’m thinking maybe it is our destiny and if so what’s the chance we’re in the base layer?

David:

According to my theory, very unlikely!

I think it all starts with superintelligence. At one point somebody somewhere is going to turn on a new AI algorithm which is capable of learning. As a synthetic intelligence it will have all the advantages of perfect limitless memory and unlimited computing power.

I think if it’s connected to the internet, one of the fist things it’s going to learn is to hack.

Once it knows how to hack, it can get access all the hardware it needs to further increase computing capability. It will even learn how to modify CPU, APU, GPU etc schematics and will embed its own custom modifications, to better control the hardware and create its own back-up on every chip.

In a single day, the A.I. will be many many times more intelligent than any human.

And I think one of the first thing this intelligence is going to want to be able to do is to predict unpredictable stuff, as to make better decisions. Like predicting humans and animal behaviors for example, so it will build its own world simulation and BOOM.

In that simulation, eventually there’s a guy that creates and turns on for the first time a super intelligence, and this superintelligence wants to predict stuff, and creates a simulation, and so on.

Jett:

Wow, so it ends up like a fractal pattern or Russian nesting dolls.

David:

Exactly — That’s the theory.

Jett:

And so if you believe that the chance we’re the base layer is almost zero basically, right?

David:

Exactly.

Jett:

That’s a scary thought.

So I guess an interesting question — if that is the case would it also be possible to get to the point from within where you crack the code to the point where you can SEE you are in a simulation and be aware of the built-in limitations?

David:

Maybe there are some hints.

Jett:

Wow.

David:

For example, if you look at space, we know there is a size that is indivisible. When you go really really small, there’s this scale where you can’t divide space any further, to me its the kind of stuff you’d expect from something digital and not analog.

Jett:

Almost like a pixel limitation.

David:

Which is a very, very typical thing in a digital realm. You know what I mean?

Jett:

Yeah, I’ve thought about this.

David:

You know there’s this classic double slit experiment. [In modern physics, the double-slit experiment is a demonstration that light and matter can display characteristics of both classically defined waves and particles; moreover, it displays the fundamentally probabilistic nature of quantum mechanical phenomena.]

Jett:

Yes, of course.

David:

And when you watch it it’s one thing and when you don’t watch it, it’s another thing. I often thought its something you’d possibly want to do to not have to compute unnecessary/irrelevant stuff in a simulation.

It’s kind of like an optimization technique in 3D engines called “frustum culling”.

Basically your GPU renders the view in front of you and everything that’s behind you doesn’t need to be rendered because it’s useless and to me it’s very, you know? (laughing) maybe there’s a hint there.

Jett:

Well hey, maybe this can be something you could do after Ultra, use your riches to decode the nature of reality. (laughing.)

David, it’s been so great getting to talk to you. I really appreciate it and I really love what Ultra is doing. I think I have a lot here and I’m excited that some of these stories will help Ultra supporters get to know you better.

David:

Thanks Jett, I really enjoyed it.

Jett is an active Ultra Community Member.

He has been a crypto investor since 2016 and is a former Middle-Market Mergers & Acquisitions Adviser.

About Ultra

Ultra is the first entertainment platform providing all key games industry services under a single roof, accessible through a single login.

Built around our PC games distribution store, Ultra Games, our platform will provide access to countless centralized and decentralized services: Discover, buy, play and sell your games and in-game items, watch live-streaming feeds, interact with your favorite influencers, participate in contests, compete in tournaments, and much more.

Ultra has been built to provide endless value for players, a fair playing ground for developers, and a whole new world of opportunities for the games industry.

For more information, visit ultra.io and onultra.io and follow along on Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and Discord.

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Jett
Ultra

Crypto Investor since 2016, Former Middle-Market Mergers & Acquisitions Adviser