From Decentraland To Openloot: How Ari Meilich Is Leaving His Mark In Crypto

Crypto Update
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A lot of builders have come up in the crypto space since its inception. As it expands, so has the innovation around it. Today, we meet Ari Meilich, co-founder of Decentraland, who tells us about his start in crypto, as well as the interesting projects he continues to build.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit 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 eCommerce had its moment. Then, in 2016, I met a group of friends who were blockchain engineers and started learning increasingly more. Due to a penchant for VR, I joined this group of friends in building Decentraland, the first decentralized “metaverse.”

Ari Meilich: Decentraland was the weekend project of a group of friends. It remained a hobby for about two years until we turned it into a venture. Around then, VR headsets were gaining adoption, and the appearance of a user-owned virtual world seemed inevitable.

QUESTION: Your latest venture is called Big Time, which birthed Open Loot, which is basically a launchpad for blockchain games. Can you tell us how that started?

Ari Meilich: When we started Big Time Studios in early 2020, we recognized the friction between players and web3 games and sought to fix that. We began by recruiting a team of gaming veterans and built a platform tailor-made to our first game, Big Time. We knew players should be able to participate in the game economy without going through so many hoops (wallet management, self-custody, signing transactions, etc.). The goal of building a platform was always on the horizon; however, we needed a game alongside it as a showcase to inspire players and developers alike. After using Open Loot technology to generate over $100m in sales across 100,000 unique purchasers, we’re confident that Open Loot is ready to be launched as its 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 relies on a distributed network of nodes to serve the content of the virtual world, while the communications between users happen in a p2p fashion. The DCL Marketplace exists purely on-chain. At open loot and the partner games, we’re supporting, we rely on a more traditional game server infrastructure to achieve greater performance for mass-scale games; similarly, the open loot marketplace is geared toward end users who may not ever hear about crypto, allowing credit card payments and bank deposits.

Having said that, we may announce a collaboration in the near future. Stay tuned.

Related Reading: Ethereum TVL Drops By More Than $1 Billion After Merge

QUESTION: Being the founder of Open Loot, what would you say the biggest challenge to blockchain gaming is?

Ari Meilich: One of the biggest challenges for blockchain gaming is introducing the traditional web2 demographic to 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 applications with graphics layered on top, presenting a boring experience to most players. 

The challenge is to create something that seamlessly integrates web3 aspects while maintaining an exciting gameplay experience. 

QUESTION: Are there any latest ventures you’re working on?

Ari Meilich: Open Loot has 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’re working on a game called War Park – a tank-based brawler game. It features realistic, tactical vehicle combat that requires skill, teamwork, and quick thinking to be victorious. 

The second partner, M2, is a game platform for vehicle-based games. They’re working on a game called Blitz-GT. It’s a fast-paced arcade racer with two teams of four 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 an SF and Beijing-based veteran studio. They’ve 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 think the complicated aspects of the blockchain will be moved towards 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 devs to join the space and fun games to be launched to allow players to get past their prejudice.

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