Primer: Gabby Dizon is one of the prominent figures in the blockchain gaming space. In this episode, we trace his history from his involvement in the Axie Infinity community to the founding of Yield Guild Games. Especially touching is his vision for a play-to-earn world where people own their digital assets and master their own financial destiny.
Been around computers all his life. Played a lot of PC games, RPGs, first person shooters
After graduating, he joined the team that went on to release the first game in the Philippines
Founded a studio called Altitude Games in 2014 with 4 other co-founders. Made casual games for Android and iOS phones
In 2017, they heard about Ethereum and smart contracts and wanted to see how blockchain could disrupt the game industry
What attracted him to crypto
The concept of programmable money of Ethereum
With his background of knowing how databases work, he found an immutable ledger interesting
Permanent ownership of game assets as NFTs
Applicability of blockchain to the Gaming world
Has been part of several shifts in technology
Was there when the concept of the Apple app store was launched. At launch, there were stupid apps on it, but knew it was revolutionary
"And we couldn't figure out then but we knew it would really change the game industry."
- Gabby Dizon
Technological Paradigms in Gaming
When he started, PC and console gaming were taken seriously, but not mobile games
Eventually, mobile games and social media started taking off. The rise of the free-to-play games
Industry began to take mobile games seriously and entered the space
Some games have characteristics that are suited for the blockchain (MMOs)
Games currently are in silos (e.g. Clash of Clans and Call of Duty each have their own ecosystems)
"I mean, there's several characteristics that you would want to use blockchain in game. I think for most is that having a sense of kind of a global economy, I think MMOs are the best example for this where you know, games like EVE Online or World of Warcraft, you have different currencies, you may have different resources. And if you want to, for them to have value, I think the best thing is to store them on chain and let players be able to trade them freely. And if you store them on blockchain, players have sovereign ownership over these assets and are able to cash them out. And yeah, that's just a game changer where it's never really been possible in the games before."
- Gabby Dizon
Yield Guild Games (YGG)
How he got started
Shipping a racing game built on Decentraland
Became close to the team and community at Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity invented play-to-earn. Players earn Smooth Love Potions (SLPs) when they play the game and win. They need SLPs to breed their axies. This reduces asset inflation
Rise of Uniswap and people can now swap SLP for Ether and then swap Ether for fiat in their home country
Really relevant to a lot of people in the Philippines. Unemployment rate was almost up to 40% as people got retrenched due to the pandemic. People were desperate and some people were playing Axie Infinity and turning their SLP winnings into Philippines pesos
Had around 800 axies at that time. Sold axies to people who were coming in and wanted to earn. Gave them axies and said that they could repay him once they have earned enough SLPs. They paid him back within a month
"And people in the rural Philippines in the city of Cabanatuan. They found some people there that were playing this game Axie and actually turning their winnings, their SLP winnings, into pesos, Philippine pesos. And that was really amazing. And the best part there was that they were actually earning more money, playing this game earning SLP and cashing out to pesos than they were from the jobs that they were laid off from."
- Gabby Dizon
Assembling the team behind YGG
Did yield farming with co-founders at that time
Started YGG with Beryl Li and Owl of Moistness
Beryl Li: Friend of his. From TradFi to Crypto
Owl of Moistness: Technical Co-Founder. Good friend from the Axie Community
Had to shift his thinking. YGG is a start-up/crypto network, which is very different from a company
Company is more structured; crypto network replaced that structure with incentive systems
Slow to grow the team, need to find people who fit
Platforms that YGG is active in
Main bulk of operations on lending NFT assets so that people can earn money. Predominantly through Axie Infinity
Started investing in assets in other games as well. E-sports team in F1 Delta Time
Two estates in the Sandbox game
Made some early-stage investments into games like Illuvium and Star Atlas
If they identify a good game, they will come in to invest and buy the assets and lend them out to players
People can hop into the discord, see a list of games, choose to participate in the games of their choice, and contribute
For example, they have a 86 plot estate for League of Kingdoms. They created a token to fractionalize ownership of the estate. Instead of buying the plots directly, people can buy the tokens to own a fraction of the assets
Snapshot page set up for governance
Sustainability of the yield
Focus on play-to-earn tokenomics system that is not dependent on handing out governance tokens
Having a tradeable tokenized game resource with its own natural supply and demand (like SLP) is more powerful than incentivizing based on governance tokens alone
What they have done well
Axie Scholarship Program
Instead of the players working for the system, they are actually working for themselves
"So now we have I think, over 2500 Axies, and over 700 people around the world who are earning SLP. And these are, you know, from very diverse places, not just the Philippines, but Indonesia, India, Venezuela as well, where SLP is, I think, more stable than their local currency."
- Gabby Dizon
A YGG Token?
There's a token in the future, but no confirmed date yet
Token is an index of all assets that they have across all games
Currently, each game has its subtokens representing the value of the assets in the game
YGG itself will be the mother DAO - DAO of DAOs of each game
45% of their token supply will be allocated to the community. Community will earn the token through community mining
Community Mining: Token launch —> Players claim Guild Badge NFT —> Play games and complete quests —> Receive YGG token
How does YGG receive the yield from Axie Infinity?
People in Axie Scholarship Program earn 70% of the SLP that they produce
Community Manager in charge of recruitment/training earn 20%
10% goes to guild which pays for gas fees and associated costs
Managing platform risk
Has many different games, so that insulates them from platform risk
Size their bets based on the growth of the game (more traction, more investment there)
5-10 years vision for YGG
Best collection of yield-bearing assets in the metaverse and want those same assets to be used by their player base
"We want our player base to basically own as much of the network as possible. We don't want the token holders mostly to be VCs. We want the wealth to be redistributed to the people who are actually playing these games. And honestly, like we want to improve a lot of lives around the world for people who have not been able to access these opportunities as an investment class before. So we want to be one of the greatest wealth levers that the world has ever seen."
- Gabby Dizon
If you could snap your fingers and instantly enable some cool functionality, what would it be?
Trustless NFT lending
Currently, we are using in-game lending functionality. What he would love to see is trustless lending at the protocol/ERC Standard level
"It might be that you want to borrow some wearable avatars that you would use for a party in Decentraland or in Somnium space and then return it after the party."
- Gabby Dizon
Easier to rent out NFTs once trustless lending can be done at the protocol layer
People want to earn a yield on their digital assets, especially land in those virtual worlds. Land is scarce in good projects and crypto funds and whales may buy these lands and make them out of reach of individuals
A brand could also be building a temporary installation and don't need to buy the underlying land. They will just be renting it for a month or two
On the Metaverse
Main Use case for Virtual Worlds
Last 15 years, we interact using social network websites
As tech and VR improves, we want to view other people inside virtual worlds
"So if I can hang around, if I can have a meeting, or you know, I just created this group called crypto science fiction book club, where we discuss the kind of latest mind blowing sci fi book, I want to be able to sit down on, on a conference room, maybe in Decentraland, or in Somnium Space, and discuss the latest book that we read. I think it would just be mind blowing, especially in the last year, due to COVID. Like, haven't been to many conferences, I've talked to a lot of people like you over, you know, over zoom over Hangouts. But this having a sense of presence is something that people naturally crave. And as we spend more and more of our time online with, you know, with people that we deal with from around the world, I think it's just going to happen more in the context of the virtual spaces rather than kind of websites."
- Gabby Dizon
What will he be doing?
He will be dedicating the next decade of his life to building an open metaverse that is interoperable and has open standards
Blockchain is the fundamental building block of the open metaverse
Effects of the Metaverse on Society
The Metaverse is a parallel economy to the physical one
A lot of jobs are moving online and to the metaverse
"And like part of the thesis with Yield Guild is that a lot of these jobs are just going to move online, they're going to move to the metaverse, and they're even going to move towards different game economies where you don't just need players, you need fashion designers. You need programmers, you need people who can like design, avatar fashion, for example. So there's just going to be a huge influx of new jobs in this new economy."
- Gabby Dizon
Will people stop consuming physical goods?
The shift has already started
People are not buying as many watches and cars ever since they are stuck at home, but are buying CryptoPunks and Mystic Axies
Increased automation and more people will lose their jobs. They will look for stuff to do online that makes them money
Cool things he has done
Has a very rare Axie called Almace. Fractionalized it on a protocol called Niftex. Listed it at 40 ETH as a token (ALMX), and it went up as high as 800 ETH at one point
Teamed up with friends to put up an 88 NFT collection of Hash Masks and fractionalized it on a protocol called Unicly. The token is called uMASK
Started collecting crypto art in 2019
Bought a Josie Bellini NFT and sold it for 10 times the amount a year later
Started collecting in a big way during the pandemic. Helping the careers of the artists by his purchases
Joined the 100x art district which is a group of crypto art collectors that decided to buy a huge estate in Decentraland and basically make a gallery district
Put up the Narra gallery, which is the National theme of the Philippines to show their heritage
Small fund put together with a couple of friends to do investing and experimentation with NFTs
Bought into b20 very early on
Participated in a Justin Blau (aka 3LAU) auction
News/Updates to share
Release of a documentary on NFTs. Recounts the story of the people of Philippines being saved by play-to-earn from playing Axie Infinity in the early days of the pandemic
Almace. It's sharded but still his favourite NFT. It's an Agamogenesis Axie and is more unique than a Mystic Axie. There are only 3 Agamogenesis Axies in the world
Most Controversial Thought
A lot of NFTs in his collection won't have value 10 years from now, which he is okay with
If you could improve one thing in the space
More people to collect with a long-term mindset. A lot are impatient about making money
World of NFTs in 3 years
Mainstream gaming industry taking NFTs seriously
"So at first people are gonna hate it [NFTs], they're gonna laugh at it. And they're gonna realize that they're actually late to the trend. And I expect NFT is to be not just a store of value, but also store of status for a lot of people."
- Gabby Dizon
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