Just in the past few years blockchain technology has opened the light for many industries and because of this there has been a constant development of various implementations. The video gaming industry has been one of the fastest to adapt the technology and the unique application that it has brought on is the delivery of one-of-a-kind digital items or NFT’s (non-fungible tokens). We caught up with David Pekar and Danny Lee, two of the cofounders of Rare Bits, who are on the forefront of this gaming evolution with their special crypto assets marketplace.
Q) Thank you for doing this interview with us! So how did you and your team get together since seeing you all come from such diverse and prolific backgrounds?
Our team of founders (Dave, Amitt, Danny and Payom) have known each other for a while and have done multiple early-stage startups together in the past.
We first started working together at FarmVille when our respective startups were acquired into Zynga (Amitt from MyMiniLife, and Dave and Danny from Animal Apps). Amitt was part of the team that built and launched FarmVille, and Dave/Danny joined shortly afterwards to grow the game to a peak DAU of 32M. Post-Zynga, Amitt/Dave started another company together, Red Hot Labs, which was later acquired by Google. Payom, while he never worked at Zynga, was someone we knew very well within our network back then. He was at NumberFire, a sports analytics company, which was eventually acquired by FanDuel.
The 4 of us got together last year to start Rare Bits.
Q) What is it you think that has made crypto assets so attractive and that there are people actually willing to purchase these digital items for large sums of currency?
Crypto gaming really got its jumpstart late last year due to a combination of factors – 1) games like CryptoKitties brought non-fungible tokens into the spotlight; 2) early crypto enthusiasts were looking for new applications to engage in. This led to a spark of activity in the development of games, often a beachhead vertical for new platforms, and users found both enjoyment in the utility and price speculation aspects of owning NFT’s.
Longer-term, we all know the underlying premise of NFT’s is that they are truly rare and unique, and trading/transferring tokens is frictionless. Any game or application that builds around these core values and creates an engaging experience for users will definitely get the lion’s share of activity on the platform and also drive additional new users into this gaming ecosystem.
Q) We know that your marketplace is still in the Beta development stage but are you already able to sense certain market trends?
Absolutely, we’ve observed and learned a lot the past couple months that Rare Bits has been live. We also have talked to many developers and users in our space to gauge where the crypto gaming space is headed next. As a marketplace, we fortunately to get a broad perspective.
Ultimately, we feel the most important thing right now is for teams to build games/applications that are either really fun or really useful. You can’t cut any corners here if you want to pull in new users and have an experience that is long-lasting. We’ve definitely seen games/apps are most successful when – they embrace the need for deeper game play, design around uniqueness/rarity of items, and have P2P exchange as a core mechanic.
Q) I guess in part with the last question, we noticed only game DApps are in your market so far what other industries do you think will be needing your platform in the future?
Given we’re a two-sided marketplace product, we’re constantly thinking about how to get more inventory on our platform and how to attract more users. In such a new category/space like NFT’s, we think solving the supply side with great content is the most critical component looking ahead.
Along those lines, we’re excited to announce that we soft launched our newest product, Fan Bits (https://fanbits.com/) just last week. Fan Bits is the first platform which allows creators, artists, and musicians to publish their own sets of crypto collectibles but in their own image, artwork, and brand. Fans can purchase these digital items and own a little something in support of the creator.
We are super excited about this product and its goal of driving more mainstream exposure and adoption of NFT’s.
Q) Currently are there more DApp devs using Rare Bits or individual crypto collectors? Will this change do you think? And how?
Right now, we continue to see steady growth of activity with both audience groups. A lot of dApp developers are users themselves, because they enjoy playing the game and for the research aspects as well. On the crypto collector side, there’s definitely a pretty sizable group who really are power users and early adopters of existing and new games, respectively.
Now as far as driving growth in both communities, we need more high-quality games and content to hit the market in the coming months. We know many developers are working hard, including us, to bring this to life and we’re excited about the current momentum out there.
Q) Because the crypto gaming industry is still very new it is also fragile as we have seen with the downfall of Crypto Celebrities and Crypto allstars. Has this affected Rare Bits in anyway and is this something you can avoid down the road?
Those games were great proof points for NFT’s and what a new style of game could be, but they lacked longevity b/c the primary value to participate was novelty and price speculation, rather than utility or entertainment. We don’t see it as a bad thing that they came and went though, they’ve set the stage for the next wave of games to come along. It’s just the part of normal evolution/lifecycle on a new platform, not that different from when mobile gaming space.
One side note on Crypto All Stars, when they got shut down, we saw an unexpected spike in auction activity for those items on Rare Bits. That was fascinating to us for two reasons – 1) it really shows the power of NFT’s being owned by users, and that they can be traded anywhere even if the first-party application goes away; 2) it really validated our thesis around building a marketplace product, because while games might come and go, the user need to have liquidity and trade with others is persistent.
Q) Will you be continuously updating and offering more tools for the users to use in the marketplace?
Of course. We haven’t added many few features lately, as we’ve been pouring of efforts into launching Fan Bits and also growing our team, but you can expect a lot of new things in the coming months. We will certainly be adding more high-quality games to our marketplace, adding various new auction mechanics, and making wallet pages more visually rich to emphasize the emotional benefits of owning digital items.
Q) Do you use a special algorithm to calculate the estimated values for the crypto assets? Has there been some surprising values of certain assets?
That’s right! We use a continuously running regression system to come up with a value estimate per asset. There’s a lot of potential improvements we can make to the estimates and this is a feature we’re very excited to continue to invest in. We think having a metric like this is not only useful for buyers and sellers in our marketplace, but also for new folks to the ecosystem to get a perspective on all the growing activity of the space.
Q) You have some competitors out there already doing similar things so what does Rare Bits offer better than its competitors?
Yes, it’s true there are a few companies that got their start on a similar thesis – providing a marketplace for users to buy & sell gaming assets. But where we’re headed going forward is becoming a technology platform that enables the tokenization of new assets, in addition to facilitating the P2P exchange of items like we do now. As you can tell, the one central theme for us is about getting really great, compelling content onto the blockchain.
Q) Please tell the blockchain gamers about your newly launched product “FanBits” and the purpose for it?
We’re excited to have soft launched Fan Bits last week. We’re big believers that crypto collectibles will be the next big thing. We want to work with all types of content creators to bring their work onto the blockchain (reach out to us here, if interested) and we’ve already built a great technology platform to enable this.
Q) Is this just the stepping stone that we are seeing with Rare Bits and will there be a lot more things that we should look forward to in the future?
Yes, we’re proud of our work in launching Rare Bits and Fan Bits. We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us, but our early traction has been rewarding.
Also, we wanted to announce that we completed a Series A investment round of $6M and are now working with a great set of strategic partners – including Emmett Shear and Justin Kan (co-founders of Twitch), former Dropbox execs Ruchi Sanghvi and Aditya Agrawal, Green Oaks Capital MD Neil Mehta and Channel Factory CEO Tony Chen. We’re super excited about where our combined efforts will take us next.
A huge thank you to Mr. David Pekar and Mr. Danny Lee, and the Rare Bits team for taking the time for this interview! And if you want to visit a market in which a kitty that you can’t even touch, feed and is in the cloud can be valued at over $100,000. Go check out Rare Bits at https://rarebits.io/ and Fan Bits at https://fanbits.com/.
Also follow them on their:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rarebits_io
Telegram – https://t.me/rarebitschat
Discord – https://discordapp.com/invite/Xk2WZfM
Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/RareBits/