Blockchain technology opens up many avenues for various industries and in the gaming space the team from ULTRA have exploited some key benefits which blockchain has to offer. A few examples that their game distribution platform include are the ability for game developers to tokenize their own in-game assets and for the gamers, it gives them the opportunity to generate new revenue streams just by playing the games. Mr.David Hanson offers us more details about the ULTRA platform that touches on these points and also his views on the synthesis of blockchain with the video gaming industry in the near future.
1) Hello Mr.Hanson, please introduce yourself and how your team got together to develop ULTRA?
I’m a tech and gaming addict and Co-CEO of Ultra, a blockchain-based, game publishing platform designed to put an end to the current PC game market status quo. My career spans more than 18 years running companies. I have extensive experience founding and operating them as CEO. I led Xiaobawang as CEO to develop a video game console targeted at the Chinese market, and built it in partnership with AMD with a budget north of US$100m. I was also the founder and CEO of Pixelbeam, a video game studio later acquired by Kingsoft (Xiaomi).
I founded and started Ultra with Nicolas Gilot, my Co-CEO. It is the third company we have successfully built together so it was a very obvious and natural step to continue working together. For the past two years, we have been working full time on Ultra.The more the project progressed, the more it became apparent we were onto something very special; a new way for users to consume software and games.
The disruptive and innovative nature of the project helped us grow an impressive executive team largely made up of renowned video games industry veterans and successful entrepreneurs with an impressive track record. We have had the privilege of attracting top executives from Apple, Google, Wargaming, Uber, Dell, and Time Warner and are about to announce the onboarding of additional industry heavyweights in the coming month.
2) There are so many interesting aspects about the ULTRA platform but which ones would you say are the key features?
The Ultra platform works in such a way that all of its features complement each other to provide an integrated and seamless gaming experience.
Our platform allows developers to publish their games and interact differently with their community by virtue of features that are only possible with blockchain technology. These features include our referral programs, the tokenization of games and virtual items, beta testing access, new ways to reward and communicate with their community directly, as well as other exciting features that we will reveal soon.
Ultra offers new opportunities for gamers and influencers to view gaming as a potential source of income, or at least be rewarded with free games and swag for using the platform. Introducing your friends to your favourite game, reporting a bug, or being the first to complete a new difficulty level means you could be rewarded.
By providing an economically viable model, developers can benefit by monetising their creativity and skills. We are also offering developers support for creating their games. Ultra is creating a new means of interaction between developers and gamers in order to build a truly global and interconnected community that is gaming by way of blockchain.
3) What do you see are the trends that will define the future of video games? How big a part will blockchain technology be involved?
Emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and blockchain are fast becoming unavoidable components of the video games industry. Blockchain in particular will enable many new possibilities in the gaming space, including providing new forms of monetisation, improved ways of interaction between developers and players, and instant access to games. I believe decentralised, autonomous organisations (DAOs) will also enable the gaming community to be more involved in corporate decision making in the future.
Gaming isn’t your typical industry; it is a community driven by very passionate and dedicated people. As game developers have traditionally been at the forefront of technology trends, I believe we will see a continuation of experimentation in the space. RnD in the space tends to affect other industry verticals soon after and this is why I believe gaming might be the first catalyst for a mass market widespread blockchain adoption.
4) Will the eventual shift move from consoles to cloud-based gaming and is ULTRA one of the platforms paving the way towards this direction?
Cloud-based gaming has a future but it’s too far away for us to address this right now in my opinion. Bad user experience caused by controls and video stream latencies, on top of expensive infrastructure needs, are making the current space too dangerous, so it is really a long term game. As of now, we are focusing on our mission of providing a compelling video game experience to a larger audience, regardless of their location or internet connection quality.
5) Have we even come close to seeing the potential of the e-Sports market yet? What do you foresee will happen and what impact will blockchain have on e-Sports?
I met Nicolas (Co-CEO of Ultra) while playing Counter-Strike — we participated in many tournaments and have been following the space ever since. It’s been fascinating to see how fast the market has professionalised and gained traction over the past number of years. There is no doubt in my mind that we’ve only scratched the surface of esports’ potential. We will see Olympic-sized tournaments one day and the only question is how quickly.
eSports is becoming more mainstream, with competitive gaming becoming more and more akin to professional sports such as the NBA, with structured schedules, as well as minimum wages and other benefits for players. In 2017 alone, the prize pool for some of the biggest games amounted to a whopping US$78.1m and today, eSports has an audience of approximately 300 million, with viewership set to reach 500 million by 2020.
Blockchain technology will make it easier to manage teams and tournaments through the use of smart contracts. I don’t think blockchain will change the core of eSports, but it definitely has the potential to contribute to the development and innovation of this market.
6) Last month there was big news that the popular game Fortnite will be exploring, for the first time ever an open beta cross-platform gaming experience. Would you say this will further help progress the movement towards decentralization and blockchain based gaming?
Enabling players to play against each other from different platforms is not new and has been done in some very interesting ways through the EVE franchise, where PC gamers played a strategy game while console players were playing an FPS game. They both affected each other’s games. What’s new is that Epic managed to bend Sony’s internal policy to allow Xbox live accounts to be played with Playstation Network accounts and PC.
Note that playing multiplayer cross-platform games can both improve and negatively affect the gaming experience. For example, a console player with a controller will have a hard time competing against someone playing with a mouse.
On the other hand, one interesting thing we might see in the future is the potential for game characters or a user’s career to persist on the blockchain and provide a long term personal relationship between individual players and different games and platforms willing to support this particular “open customer fidelity” program.
7) What is it about games like Fortnite and Call of Duty that make it so attractive and what can blockchain technology do to push this excitement even further?
Blockchain technology could make popular games, such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, even more attractive by tokenising in-game items and rewarding achievements, as well as allowing players to trade tokens, which could potentially transform the dynamics of the gaming experience. The market value of these tokens would then be valued based on their uniqueness and digital scarcity, and awarded based on the completion of more difficult missions with greater levels of difficulty.
Both these games offer effective cross-platform gameplay, enabling you to play against different people each time. In this regard, blockchain stands to improve this gameplay and make player interactions more seamless than ever before.
Blockchain technology will also unlock new revenue streams for players, thus increasing their retention to those games.
8) Where do you see the integration of blockchain and gaming going in 5-10 years? How and where will ULTRA fit into all this?
Blockchain technology will impact gaming by making it possible to process payments instantly, which will allow developers to quickly reinvest money into their businesses. Blockchain-powered platforms will also make the trading of virtual items easier which may be extended to third-party platforms, as well as facilitate fraud-proof marketing which provides developers with the ability to spend their marketing resources effectively and track that these resources are legit.
Blockchain will be embedded the same way as other technologies, to ultimately improve the experience of both players and developers without anyone noticing — the same way every other technology runs.
Ultimately, what all of this creates is a dramatically improved experience for players, and increased revenues for game developers and publishers alike.
We’d like to thank Mr.David Hanson very much for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with us for this interview.
To find out more about ULTRA follow these links.
ULTRA Website: https://ultra.io/
ULTRA Telegram: https://t.me/ultra_io
ULTRA Twitter: https://twitter.com/ultra_io
Also we would also like to thank the team from https://wachsman.com/ for providing their support.