The term NFT (non-fungible token) is popping up more frequently with the growth of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and crypto art. As one of the newest means of doing business and wealth transfer, NFTs are finding their way into various walks of life, now including high-end fashion.
Balenciaga took a huge leap into the world of fashion gamification this past November when it introduced fans to its FW 2021 line with the game Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. Burberry is pushing the concept further by using NFTs for its new game Blankos Block Party.
We met with André Johnson, VP of Business Development for Mythical Games, which is the company behind Blankos, to get a better understanding of the game, and what the future holds for his organization’s push into NFT games.
CASSIUS: For our readers, can you please give us a quick rundown on the history of Mythical Games and what your role entails as VP of Business Development?
André Johnson: Mythical Games was founded in 2018 and is led by gaming industry veterans who helped develop major franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Marvel Strike Force, and Skylanders, as well as a marketplace team of experts from Stubhub, Charles Schwab and QuantCo. We are a next-generation videogame technology company creating a universal gaming ecosystem by leveraging blockchain and NFTs. Our company is full of collectors, so we wanted to create tools that enable players, artists, brands, and developers to become stakeholders in player-owned economies.
In my role as VP of Business Development, I oversee the company growth strategy to identify, develop and sign new collaboration partners – like Burberry – for our first game, Blankos Block Party, and our proprietary Mythical NFT engine.
CASSIUS: What separates NFTs from something like Tamagotchis, Fortnite, or Pokemon Go, and how are you pushing gamification forward, beyond how the regular consumer has experienced it in the past?
André Johnson: Blankos are digital vinyl toys that come to life which players can collect and level up. What really sets them apart is that players actually own them, and they have utility. In most games, you don’t own the items you earn or buy – they’re locked into the publisher’s economy, and you can’t take them out of that economy without the risk of losing your account or getting scammed. So if you no longer want an item or you stop playing a certain game, that value of time and money you’ve put in is inaccessible to you.
With the Mythical platform and Blankos Block Party, digital assets are playable NFTs, which provide collectors real ownership. They can not only buy and sell their digital collectibles safely in a peer-to-peer marketplace but also take an active role in increasing the rarity and scarcity of their Blankos and accessories through gameplay.
CASSIUS: Burberry is one of the oldest and most revered luxury brands around, so acquiring that deal is quite the “feather in the cap.” What was so unique about this arrangement, versus all the other respected fashion houses, that made it the right partnership to make?
André Johnson: Blankos Block Party is at the intersection of things that push culture forward by merging games, art, music, and fashion in a new way that allows collectors to engage with and own a piece of the brands they love.
With Burberry being one of the fashion houses at the forefront of digital innovation, they were the perfect partner for our first fashion collaboration. Our philosophy is that player ownership is the future of games, and Burberry is a timeless brand, so promoting their summer monogram collection through a rare, playable NFT drop in Blankos Block Party was such a great fit for both companies.
CASSIUS: I believe Blankos Block Party was actually in the works since 2018 but made its official drop in December of last year. It would appear your team has been ahead of the curve when it comes to NFTs and gamification, then. What led to the delay?
André Johnson: When we first came up with the concept for Blankos, it started off as a tech demo for our Mythical platform, but as we showed it to investors and players, we found there was really positive feedback on the characters and art style. So we took it into further development to make it a more robust game.
We originally planned to launch fully in 2020, but as the year progressed, we realized we needed more time to grow our team and turn Blankos into something truly special. We were able to bring community members into the game starting in November last year to help us test and iterate on the concepts and gameplay.
We’re now in an Early Access phase where we’re still polishing the game, but anyone can sign up to play for free and earn NFTs through our daily, weekly, and monthly challenges. Players can also participate in drops and other events and provide feedback on the final stages of development.
CASSIUS: Tell me a bit about Blankos Block Party. What’s the objective of the game, and how do players win? And also, what’s the deal with Sharky B? He must be pretty popular since he sold out minutes after release. What makes him such a special character?
André Johnson: The main objective of Blankos Block Party is to have fun. While there are minigames for players to compete in (including some created by Mythical and our talented game designers), the game isn’t really about winning or losing. The world is like a giant block party, and players can create their own minigames, collect vibes, or just be social and show off their favorite Blankos.
Sharky B is a very special Blankos character in that it was the first collab for Mythical with a major fashion brand, and the first NFT drop from Burberry. It was also an extremely limited edition, with only 750 available. Within seconds Sharky B sold out in our primary market, and we saw people making 2x-3x or more selling to other collectors on the secondary market, which is a great example of the Mythical platform benefit to players. There’s a high demand for this character due to its rarity and the great design featuring the iconic Burberry monogram.
CASSIUS: Without giving away too much of your “secret sauce,” what gives Mythical Games the edge over its competitors playing in the blossoming “fashion house x NFT” space?
André Johnson: Mythical stands out from the competition by adding utility to our NFTs. Mythical’s NFTs are not something you passively collect; they’re the playable characters and accessories you use in the game, which opens up the door to giving players an active way to increase the value of their collection. Instead of being limited to holding an NFT in a digital wallet or displaying it in a virtual world, in Blankos Block Party, activities in-game have the potential to make your Blankos more rare and therefore worth more on the secondary market.
CASSIUS: So what other projects are in store for Mythical Games, and how are you looking to grow the company in the next few years?
André Johnson: In the near future, we are continuing to grow Blankos Block Party by adding new game content and bringing in more exciting collaborations, like our upcoming projects with award-winning vinyl toy designer Quiccs and fashion brand The Marathon Clothing. We also have plans in the works to expand Blankos to new platforms and hope to make an announcement around that soon.
Our Marketplace will be launching into beta very soon as well, expanding payout options and opening up buying and selling for players worldwide, as well as adding in new tools and functionality and taking the next step toward decentralization. Longer-term, we’re also bringing new games onto our platform; developers will leverage our Mythical engine and Marketplace to bring playable NFTs into their games and create their own player-owned economies.
We’ve more than tripled our team size over the last year and a half, and we’re still hiring for roles on our game, marketing, and Marketplace teams; anyone interested in being a part of the future of games technology can apply on our website.