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Justin Kan’s Fractal is unveiling FStudio, a set of tools that make it easier for game studios to build, market and monetize Web3 games without blockchain expertise.
Kan, the cofounder of Twitch who started Fractal in 2021 to build tools for blockchain games, believes that blockchain tech is the best way to get to a player-driven economy.
But he said the problem is the gaming industry has become obsessed with talking about that backend technology – turning off players and distracting Web3 startups from the main mission: creating excellent gameplay experiences. To move forward, we need to refocus the conversation on the players, not the tech, Kan said in an interview with GamesBeat.
“In the last eight months or so, we’ve been working on a bunch of features that help empower the next wave of developers for Web3 gaming,” Kan said. “We call it FStudio. We’re solving the problems that we learned from talking to developers. Many developers have launched their NFT collections but they didn’t deliver their games yet. We help them solve those problems by breaking them down into build, acquire and monetize.”
Kan thinks of this as making Fractal into something like the Steam for blockchain games. That is, in fact, his long-term goal.
“We’re trying to add a lot of community game discovery layers on top, and the whole point is to make Web3 easier,” Kan said.
Right now, Fractal has about 150 blockchain games on its platform.
So Fractal has built tools that abstract away the blockchain jargon and complexity while still tapping its benefits. FStudio is built to accomplish that, and it is the culmination of more than a year of talking to game developers and understanding what’s holding them back.
Based on those discussions, the company built a platform that empowers game developers to build, market, and monetize on the blockchain without any blockchain expertise. That way, the narrative remains strongly centered on creating great gameplay — both for developers and players.
Build, acquire, and monetize
Hiring blockchain engineers can cost millions of dollars a year, and teaching current engineers how to build on the blockchain can also set companies back months. But FStudios lets devs use simple application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) that are familiar (like Unity, Unreal and React) to get on the blockchain quickly.
“When we think about these three categories, the blockchain is often like confusing for game developers,” Kan said. “They’re not really sure where to start.”
It includes what devs need to get off the ground, like authentication, minting and marketplaces. In fact, most developers Fractal works with said they can get authentication set up in less than 30 minutes (the record so far is five minutes).
Developers not even need to choose a blockchain to start building with FSstudio. That only becomes critical when the dev is getting ready to begin monetizing.
Kan said that by removing the complexity of the blockchain, developers can go to market faster, start play testing sooner, and get ahead of the competition. And then devs can reallocate budgets to user acquisition or creating gameplay. They can refocus developer efforts on gameplay mechanics and experiences.
Acquire and engage real gamers
In every conversation Fractal had with game developer partners, they say their most pressing challenge is user acquisition, Kan said. Breaking it down further, there are two main problems to solve: scale and quality.
In terms of scale, the biggest Web3 games today have 100,00K users, while the biggest W3b2 games have more than 100 million. In addition to constraints in performance marketing and attribution, that largely goes back to the first problem from above: the industry became obsessed with talking about the blockchain and turned off millions of users.
That in turn feeds into the quality problem. The hard part is finding users who actually like to game and will stick around, and aren’t just there to flip items, earn a profit, and leave. That’s why at Fractal focused on building channels for devs to easily tap into (scale), and then adding sticky, engaging social experiences on top (quality).
FStudio gives devs access to three main distribution channels:
- Fractal Web – a web-based gaming platform
- Fractal Desktop – a desktop launcher, available on Mac and PC
- Creator program – a way to spread the word about the game
For each of these channels, retention is the number one priority. Kan said you can think of Fractal like a ‘digital arcade’ – where players come for the great games, but stay for the fun experiences. With FSTUDIO, you can host prize pool tournaments; run community events; pass out rewards and prizes; and enable crafting to unlock special rewards.
The bottom line is that, by distributing on Fractal, devs can get access to a pool of high-value gamers, who just want to have fun.
Monetize like any other in-app purchase
Typical game monetization has nearly disappeared from Web3. In the past, developers would monetize their projects before they even launched their game – as a way to fundraise through minting events. But asking players to become investors is not a winning strategy for most.
Instead, the goal as an industry should be to create and sell blockchain items like you would any regular in-app purchase, so developers can more easily harness the power of player-driven economies. That way, it’s easy for devs to handle, and easy for players to understand – no learning curve required.
To create blockchain items, devs can either use Fractal’s simple APIs or its no-code platform. Just tap “create,” name the item, choose a chain, and you’re done. It’s that simple, Kan said.
To sell blockchain items, devs can create a primary store inside their game with Fractal’s API, embed and white label the Fractal trading marketplace inside the game with the API, and enable credit card payments for users. Devs can also mint on-chain or off-chain items based on in-game player actions, so devs can more easily add these items into the core game loop.
The end result is an in-app purchase flow that doesn’t put the burden of understanding blockchain on the player, or you.
“Blockchain technology is important and critical for achieving an overarching mission of player-driven economies, however, we truly believe that there’s no reason developers and players need to get hung up on the technical details of how it works,” Kan said. “Let us handle that so we can all focus on the fun.”
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