Animoca Brands: Future of GMG and Building the Open Metaverse

The president of Animoca Brands, Evan Auyang, told us about the future of Grease Monkey Games, possible changes in the studio's working culture, and Animoca Brands' vision of the metaverse.

Torque Drift

In February, Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based game software and venture capital company, announced it has acquired motorsport game maker Grease Monkey Games. The studio will add considerable game development capabilities to Animoca Brands, which previously made more than 150 investments supporting a number of blockchain-based game studios. The company focuses on developing the digital property rights ecosystem, including play-to-earn games, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain marketplaces, infrastructure, and more. 

We spoke to the president of Animoca Brands, Evan Auyang, to ask him about the future of Grease Monkey Games, possible changes in the studio's working culture, and Animoca Brands' vision of the metaverse.

Animoca Brands Please, introduce yourself and your team. When did you enter the industry? What projects did you previously work on? Which games are you most proud of?

Evan Auyang: I joined Animoca Brands in April last year, first as an advisor, and later came on full-time as President in October. Our team is mainly veterans of technologies, gaming, and the blockchain industry. Some of us, including myself, also have deep experience as corporate leaders. The team is complementary to each other and this is how we think about building the team going forward.

The Sandbox and Phantom Galaxies are some of our most high-profile games. Besides, the racing games of the Revv Motorsport ecosystem are also developing well. Our subsidiaries GAMEE and Quidd both achieved a lot of traction last year. The game to immediately look forward to is Phantom Galaxies which is already launched in Alpha. I have finished Episode 1 twice already using different mechs, and now I am in the middle of Episode 2. It’s an awesome AAA game!

Torque Burnout

Acquisition of Grease Monkey Games Could you tell us how and when did you decide to acquire Grease Monkey Games? Why do you think it’s going to be a good alliance? How long did it take to execute the acquisition deal agreement?

Evan Auyang: We began discussions with Grease Monkey Games (GMG) in Q3 2021 and completed the deal in Q4. We love the drift racing titles that Arran Potter and the team have made, and they would like to pursue opportunities leveraging blockchain, which makes them a great fit for us. We are absolutely thrilled to have GMG join the growing REVV Motorsport ecosystem. How will the studio operate now? Will it be less independent than it had been before? If yes, in what way? What opportunities did the acquisition bring to the companies?

Evan Auyang: Arran and Grease Monkey Games team will still operate rather independently, as Animoca Brands tries to complement rather than exercise outright control. Generally, the studios that we acquire have the requisite management and technical skills to take themselves forward. Animoca Brands focuses on working with the team on the blockchain aspects of development (for instance tokenomics, marketing/community building, interoperability, finding synergies across portfolios, etc.) as well as general communications. Grease Monkey currently specializes in racing games. Will the studio keep working in this direction or will it develop some other games when the acquisition deal is executed?

Evan Auyang: GMG will continue to focus on racing games as it is now a part of our REVV Motorsport ecosystem.

Working Culture What do you think will happen to the working culture in Grease Monkey? Are there going to be any changes?

Evan Auyang: We do not anticipate major changes in GMG's working culture, except, of course, that the team will be embracing everything Web3! The operating philosophy is a bit different – listening to the community, facilitating a game economy, etc.

The Metaverse Let’s talk about the metaverse. We’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. However, nobody can provide a clear answer on what the metaverse is. As far as we know, your plans include building the open metaverse. Could you share your vision on it?

Evan Auyang: As our chairman and co-founder has had an opportunity to explain in the past, we do not see the metaverse as being about virtual reality, augmented reality, or plain old 2D screens. Those are simply interfaces.

The metaverse that Animoca Brands and its subsidiaries and partners are envisioning and building is an open, decentralized network of systems and environments connected by the all-important concepts of ownership, interoperability, and community governance. 

The open metaverse will serve the interests of the majority and will be governed by a majority of users. 

This is completely different from closed metaverses with centralized control being promoted by many games and social media companies. Closed systems are not the future of interoperable metaverses under Web3. The metaverse will be underpinned by true digital asset ownership and driven by blockchain. Closed metaverses are not very different from gaming worlds that have already existed for decades.

Roadmap What's your current roadmap? What did you plan for 2022? What will we hear again from you?

Evan Auyang: We will continue to focus on investing in the Web3 ecosystem as well as operating our portfolio companies and expanding our teams. We are increasingly entering different industry verticals and moving beyond our core capabilities in game development, so this is an exciting time of growth and expansion.

Evan Auyang, Group President at Animoca Brands

Interview conducted by Ana Kessler

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