Many builders have emerged in the crypto space since its inception. As it expands, so does the innovation around it. Today we meet Ari Meilich, co-founder of Decentraland, who talks about his beginnings in crypto, as well as the interesting projects he continues to build.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in crypto?
Ari Meilich: I started learning about crypto around 2013, but didn’t use it until 2015, when crypto-based e-commerce had its moment. Then in 2016, I met a group of friends who were blockchain engineers and started learning more and more. Because of the VR hobby, I joined this group of friends to build Decentraland, the first decentralized “metaverse”.
QUESTION: You are a co-founder of Decentraland, one of the most popular metaverses in the crypto space. How did this happen?
Ari Meilich: Decentraland was the weekend project of a group of friends. It was a hobby for about two years until we turned it into a business. At the time, VR headsets were gaining adoption and the emergence of a user-owned virtual world seemed inevitable.
QUESTION: Your latest company is called Big Time, which spawned Open Loot, which is basically a launch pad for blockchain games. Can you tell us how it started?
Ari Meilich: When we started Big Time Studios in early 2020, we recognized the friction between gamers and web3 games and set out to fix it. We started by recruiting a team of gaming veterans and built a custom-built platform for our first game, Big Time. We knew that players should be able to participate in the game economy without jumping through so many hoops (managing wallets, self-custodial, signing transactions, etc.). The goal of building a platform was always on the horizon; however, we needed a game alongside as a showcase to inspire both players and developers. After using Open Loot technology to generate over $100 million in sales to 100,000 unique buyers, we are confident that Open Loot is ready to be launched as a product for external studios.
QUESTION: Is there any overlap between Open Loot and Decentraland?
Ari Meilich: No. Decentraland and Open Loot are built very differently. Decentraland is based on a distributed network of nodes to serve the content of the virtual world, while communications between users occur on a p2p basis. The DCL market exists purely as a chain. In open loot and partner games, we are supporting, we rely on a more traditional game server infrastructure to achieve higher performance for large-scale games; similarly, the open loot market is aimed at end users who may never have heard of crypto, allowing for credit card payments and bank deposits.
That said, we may announce a collaboration in the near future. Stay tuned.
Related Reading: Ethereum TVL Drops Over $1B After Merger
QUESTION: Being the founder of Open Loot, what would you say is the biggest challenge in blockchain gaming?
Ari Meilich: One of the biggest challenges for blockchain gaming is bringing traditional web2 demographics into the idea of player-owned economies. Unfortunately, many players have been exposed to scams and low-quality titles early on, leaving a bad taste in their mouths. Many blockchain games are just financial apps with graphics layered on top, providing a boring experience for most players.
The challenge is to create something that seamlessly integrates web3 aspects while maintaining an exciting gaming experience.
QUESTION: Is there a latest company you are working on?
Ari Meilich: Open Loot recently signed three game partners: Hit Factor (HF), Motor Meta (M2) and Gacha Monsters.
HF is a game developer founded by industry veterans and they are working on a game called War Park, a tank based fighting game. It features realistic and tactical vehicle combat that requires skill, teamwork and quick thinking to be victorious.
The second partner, M2, is a gaming platform for vehicle-based games. They are working on a game called Blitz-GT. It’s a fast-paced arcade racer with two teams of four going against each other. The game is like an electrified “Mario Kart meets Overwatch” battle.
Our third partner is Gacha Monsters by GC Turbo. GC Turbo is a veteran SF and Beijing studio. They have recently developed Pokemon Medallion as well as titles for Facebook, Line and GREE.
QUESTION: Where do you see the metaverse and blockchain gaming in the next five years?
Ari Meilich: In the next five years, I believe that the complicated aspects of blockchain will move to the backend, and players will be able to experience web3 games as if they were traditional games. But of course, this will require more quality game developers to join the space and fun games to be released to allow players to overcome their prejudices.