AZARUS successfully pilots on Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six™ Siege in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneurship Lab
Azarus, a “Smart Challenge” platform that offers gamers the ability to compete for digital assets in both casual and competitive gaming challenges, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Galaxy Digital via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund, Kleiner Perkins, and SVK Crypto, among others.
Launched in late 2018, Azarus’s “Smart Challenge” platform motivates players by using in-game API data and information pulled from Twitch extensions to measure victory conditions in online games, paying out rewards to the victors and theirs fans alike.
“Driving retention and engagement have become critical factors of success in online games. The Azarus challenge/reward platform gives players an added element of skin in the game, which we believe will help publishers experience higher levels of retention and engagement. This, combined with their innovative blockchain integration, makes Azarus one of the best ideas we have seen in the space,” said Bing Gordon, Partner at Kleiner Perkins.
The “Smart Challenge” platform empowers users to create their own rules and challenges, the terms of which are notarized on the EOSIO blockchain in order to maximize transparency and fairness. Viewers and players earn AZA credits by watching Azarus-enabled amateur and professional esports streams and answering historical or predictive questions based on the broadcasts. AZAs can be redeemed at the Azarus Marketplace in exchange for rare in-game items, digital assets, and more.
Sam Englebardt, Co-founder & Partner of Galaxy Digital and the firm’s Co-Head of Principal Investments stated: “Azarus’ implementation of blockchain tech and the EOSIO protocol is precisely what we look to invest in from the Galaxy EOS VC Fund: a scalable and consumer-friendly gaming platform that demonstrates the promise of blockchain technology. We have tremendous confidence in the team’s vision and ability to execute.”
Hugh Cochrane, co-founder of SVK Crypto, agreed: “Gaming is one of the verticals that we have identified as proof points for the efficacy of blockchain technology. As one of our initial investments, we were drawn to Azarus’ platform approach and the potential for Azarus to leverage blockchain to disrupt the entire gaming ecosystem.”
The close of seed funding follows a series of successful pilot tests in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneurs Lab, an international program dedicated to supporting start-ups with businesses in gaming and entertainment. As part of the program, Azarus collaborated with Ubisoft teams to conduct several successful tests with the publisher’s flagship eSports game – Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six™ Siege. Results indicated that in limited rounds with select Creators, Azarus-enabled streams saw a comparable increase in viewership and engagement metrics, as well as an increase in the frequency of gameplay by players
Jean Guerin, Director of Community Engagement, Ubisoft EMEA, observed: “We are excited to see what opportunities blockchain can bring to players and us, world creators. This is the reason why we got interested in the technology in the first place and our collaboration with Azarus shows we are headed in the right direction to offer new engaging interactions and entertainment experiences.”
Azarus was founded by game industry veterans Alex Casassovici, Erik Whiteford, and Andrew Lacy. With more than a decade of business experience in mobile services, cloud services, and VR devices, the team also brings to the table experience working with enduring game brands like Madden Football, NBA 2K, James Bond, Harry Potter, and World of Tanks.
Alex Casassovici, Co-founder & CEO of Azarus.io, says that his team is on a mission. “We aim to vastly improve the connection between players, creators, and publishers through the deployment of what we call Smart Challenges. By letting anyone set their own rules, stakes, and rewards, against their friends or audience, on the games they already play, we’ll unlock a new dimension to amplify the industry as a whole.”
Azarus is a game bounty platform designed to improve retention and engagement by rewarding players with tangible assets. Using a distributed, blockchain powered, “Smart Challenge” platform, Azarus leverages in-game data to capture attention, change behavior, and amplify connections between players, streamers, and publishers. The platform launched late 2018 through a partnership with Ubisoft on flagship title Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six™ Siege and was an overnight success, profoundly impacting players.
Azarus was created by game industry and entrepreneurial veterans Alex Casassovici, Erik Whiteford, and Andrew Lacy. For more, visit http://azarus.io.
About the Galaxy EOS VC Fund
The Galaxy EOS VC Fund is a partnership between Galaxy Digital, a leading blockchain focused merchant bank, and Block.one, the software development company that launched the EOSIO protocol. The largest of several such funds under Block.one’s EOS VC banner, the Galaxy EOS VC Fund invests in companies that are located in North America and building on the EOSIO protocol. The Fund has a particular focus on videogames and esports, interactive and immersive content (VR/AR) and digital objects, with a mission to build out the EOSIO ecosystem and drive mass adoption of blockchain technology globally. For more information, please visit: www.galaxydigital.io/eos-fund/ and https://vc.eos.io.
About Kleiner Perkins
For five decades, Kleiner Perkins has partnered with some of the most ingenious founders in technology, helping them make history with their bold ideas. Through 19 venture funds and four growth funds, we’ve invested $9 billion in hundreds of companies including pioneers such as Amazon, Genentech, and Google. Today, Kleiner Perkins continues to invest in founders and their bold ideas helping them to make history. For more information, visit www.kleinerperkins.com and follow us on Twitter @kleinerperkins.
About SVK Crypto
SVK Crypto is a venture capital firm based in the City of London focusing solely on blockchain technologies and invests in early-stage projects and blockchain-based companies globally. SVK Crypto manages a recent partnership with Block.one created a venture fund, Cryptogon EOS LP, dedicated to investing in projects that will utilize the EOS.io blockchain protocol. SVK Crypto joins a renowned global Block.one EOS VC venture syndicate deploying in excess of $1 billion USD into the EOS ecosystem. For more information visit: www.svkcrypto.com.
Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s video game series, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2018-19 fiscal year Ubisoft generated Net Bookings of €2,029 million. To learn more, please visit www.ubisoft.com.