When Animal Crossing meets Minecraft & NFTs: This publisher raises $12.5 million for its “Play-to-Earn” games project.

Gaming startup Branch has raised $12.5 million to build a game that earns money while keeping crypto out of sight, the company announced Wednesday.

Participants in this round include Mechanism Play, TCG Crypto, Dragonfly Capital, Polychain, Coinbase Ventures, Three Arrows Capital, and Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt, among others.

Dayton Mills, co-founder of Branch, calls the game “a meeting of Animal Crossing and Minecraft, with a bit of Runescape.” It takes popular mechanics from various titles in the nascent Non-Fungible Token (NFT) gaming industry and combines them into a free-to-browser experience.

“I can’t think of anything similar in the play-to-earn space because most play-to-earn games require you to purchase an NFT upfront to play them,” Mills told CoinDesk in an interview. “But in our world, it’s very well designed so you may never know what an NFT is.”

The game itself will be based around islands that users can own as NFTs, each with a different set of virtual resources. These resources can be crafted into items or structures that can be used in the game world. The “earning” component of the “play to earn” tag comes from users paying themselves to harvest the materials for them or reselling those items as than NFT on secondary markets.

Mills believes the game will appeal to many demographics of the global play-to-earn player base, ranging from US-based users looking to invest in virtual real estate to Axie Infinity-type gamers looking to grind an income, to casual gamers who just play for fun.

The Seattle startup’s approach of keeping cryptocurrency out of sight could also be strategic and help avoid the backlash that has become inseparable from NFT-based games and the narratives that come with them.

Branch says his game is slated for full release this summer, with the final product ideally being built week by week with the close involvement of his community.

Leave a Comment