Investing in Yield Guild Games

Last year, when COVID swept into the Philippines, nearly 7.3 million people in the country lost their jobs and their livelihoods as the country went into lockdown. A rural province of Nueva Ecija, near Cabanatuan City, was particularly hard hit when the local economy came to a grinding halt. In response to the suffering, Gabby Dizon, a local gaming entrepreneur, began lending out his characters in a game called Axie Infinity to different people in his community. These characters, called “Axies,” were used to earn tokens in the game that could be exchanged for local currency. 

This new model, termed “play-to-earn,” marks a meaningful evolution in gaming economies. Soon, many players in the Philippines were earning more than they had at their previous jobs. Gaming was literally lifting an entire community out of poverty. Seeing the potential, Gabby, Beryl Li, and their third cofounder Owl of Moistness (who prefers to remain anonymous) created Yield Guild Games (YGG) as a way to involve more people in play-to-earn games. 

Here’s how it works: YGG players, called scholars, are lent in-game items that they use to earn tokens within a game. Scholars can cash out their tokens for local currencies, or eventually purchase the in-game items they were originally lent. This approach to decentralized gaming by YGG has ignited a paradigm shift that is upending conventional ideas related to work, play, and who has access to economic opportunities. Watch this documentary, PLAY-TO-EARN | NFT Gaming in the Philippines, to understand just how profoundly play-to-earn is impacting this part of the world:

What first stood out to us about the YGG team was their passion for creating the biggest virtual economy in the world in order to improve the lives of more people in more places. In order to scale its scholarship program, YGG introduced community managers — local leaders that help onboard new scholars and serve as their guide into crypto. Community managers receive a portion of scholars’ earnings for their services, and help scale YGG with a human touch. Their commitment to this community is at the heart of YGG’s phenomenal growth. For most scholars, crypto presents unparalleled economic opportunities and YGG will be the scholars’ trusted partner. 

We’re thrilled to join this community as a partner and are excited to help establish NFT-based play-to-earn games as the next major innovation in gaming. That’s why today we are announcing a $4.6 million financing round in YGG, an investment that was finalized prior to the YGG token sale on July 27. 

Right now there is a largely untapped economic opportunity in emerging markets to provide jobs by building a virtual economy in the digital world. The way we define a “job” is quickly evolving because of crypto and gaming, and we think we’re just starting to glimpse what’s possible in this realm. With 4,700+ scholars, and over $8.6 million earned, YGG is now paying out over $1 million weekly and already proving to be an unstoppable force for good. We couldn’t be more excited to work with Gabby, Beryl, Owl, and the rest of the team to bring YGG to an even wider community of scholars around the world.

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this post was first published on Andreessen Horowitz

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