Play-to-earn gold rush as Crypto Gaming Guild and Zebedee raise millions from VCs

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Crypto Gaming United, a startup aiming to build a global community of nonfungible token (NFT)-focused play-to-earn gamers, hraised $5 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round.

A Sept. 8 announcement notes the round was led by famed Australian venture capitalist Mark Carnegie and Chrono.tech CEO Sergei Sergienko — with the pair having co-founded the crypto-focused asset manager MHC Digital Finance.

Australian investment managers Shaw and Partners and Blockchain Assets also participated in the round.

Crypto Gaming United was established in August of this year and has already attracted more than 1,500 members and has a waiting list of almost 40,000. The guild helps members play the popular NFT-based game Axie Infinity by offering scholarships where sponsors provide expensive in-game assets to players who can use them to generate revenue.

Despite its seed round being led by Australian investors, the guild predominantly comprises Filipino players, with users also hailing from Indonesia, South Africa, and India. With most guild members hailing from low-income economies, many players may not have the means to acquire the expensive digital assets needed to play Axie Infinity amid a surging crypto bull market.

Crypto Gaming United is not the only company offering Axie Infinity scholarships, with sponsorship programs typically taking a share of the profits earned by players.

Sergienko stated: “The opportunity for wealth creation in the NFT space is no longer limited to those with the means, such as sports celebrities. At Crypto Gaming United, we are overcoming the cost barrier required for admission to play, thereby allowing players to generate income through their gaming exploits.”

The gaming guild ambitiously hopes to amass a user base of more than 100,000 within the next 18 months.

Carnegie is not alone in believing the innovative play-to-earn titles built on NFTs will see the crypto sector capture an increasing share of the $200 billion annual online gaming industry.

On Sept. 7, Zebedee, raised $11.5 million in Series A funding to expand its gaming initiatives including enabling game developers to pay out rewards to players in the form of crypto assets.

Launched in 2019, Zebedee provides the platform and tools to enable Bitcoin to be used as in game rewards and micro-transactions via Lightning Network infrastructure. Simon Cowell, co-founder and CEO, was previously head of corporate development at Bitstamp, the world’s longest-standing Bitcoin exchange.

Zebedee’s round was led by Lakestar, and also featured participation from Initial Capital, New Form Capital, and numerous gaming angels.

Related article: Philippine regulator tells Axie Infinity players they must pay tax on income from game

Crypto-native gaming has already seen explosive growth this year, with Axie Infinity’s user base growing from 30,000 in April to more than one million last month.

Yield Guild Games, a Philippine play-to-earn gaming collective offering Axie sponsorships, also raised $12.5 million via an initial DEX offering (IDO) in just minutes during July.