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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Gusto Collective completes funding round, plans expansion and web3 service growth

Hong Kong — Gusto Collective, an Asian BrandTech holding company, has raised US$11m in its Seed Plus funding round led by Animoca Brands and Gaw Capital. The oversubscribed round also received participation from BlackPine, YCI Limited, and several other existing shareholders. With the completion of this round, the company has raised US$23m in cumulative external funding since launching in 2020.

The funding will support Gusto Collective’s growth in areas namely geographic expansion into other parts of Asia; Web3 services and products, and recurring-revenue product development.

The company was founded in 2020 by chairman and CEO Aaron Lau, with the ambition of combining best-in-class storytelling and immersive technology. Gusto Collective has around 200 full-time ‘Gustodians’ and the group consists of four specialisms in Web3 marketing services, an augmented reality experience platform, a metahuman platform and luxury marketing services.

On the company’s growth, Lau said, “Gusto Collective was founded with the simple idea of helping brands connect with their franchise in the fast-growing world of Asia, whether in the physical world of bricks and mortar, or the emerging world of the metaverse. Since 2020, the company has been focused on creating content and experiences using the latest AR, VR and XR technologies.”

Lau added, “With the new funding, we intend to move more aggressively into Web3 tech services and expand geographically to bring our BrandTech capabilities to other fast-growth geographies within Asia.”

Meanwhile, Yat Siu, executive chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, commented: “Major brands continue to increase their Web3 involvement and capabilities in order to engage with customers in the open metaverse. Gusto Collective has already proven to be adept at partnering with customers for Web3 and augmented reality services. With Aaron leading a growing and world-class team, Gusto Collective has the opportunity to establish strong recurring-revenue products and client services.”

Simultaneously, Kenny Gaw, managing partner and co-founder of Gaw Capital Partners, shared, “Having witnessed Gusto Collective’s marketing and branding prowess first-hand, we are excited to support the company to bring their marketing and creative expertise into the dynamic and fast-growing Web3 universe.”

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Platforms Featured APAC

Star Atlas unveils partnership with The Sandbox

Hong Kong – Star Atlas, a next-gen metaverse with triple-a game design and Unreal Engine 5 graphics built on the Solana blockchain, and The Sandbox, a leading decentralized gaming metaverse and subsidiary of Animoca Brands, today announced a partnership that aims to revolutionize gaming interoperability between the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. The relationship between the two metaverse environments launches with the Star Atlas VoxEdit contest which opens for submissions from 2 May until 15 May. 

The Star Atlas VoxEdit Contest gives players the opportunity to act as an envoy from The Sandbox with the task of visiting one of the three main galactic factions in the Star Atlas metaverse – the ONI, Ustur, and MUD. Envoys are then tasked with creating a report on what they find by designing a portrait of one of the faction’s inhabitants using The Sandbox’s free VoxEdit software. 

Winners will be voted on by the teams of both The Sandbox and Star Atlas with the results being announced on June 11. The top four winners will split 50,000 in SAND, The Sandbox’s in-game currency, and a fleet of coveted Star Atlas spaceship NFTs. 

The VoxEdit Contest is also joined by BLOND:ISH, the renowned producer, DJ, and sustainability activist, who has an existing presence in both metaverse ecosystems. Envoys exploring the Star Atlas metaverse are invited to get inspired by the cosmic sounds and create a headpiece for an intergalactic Star Atlas faction member by designing it with VoxEdit. The entry that can best immerse and entertain a space traveller will be selected by BLOND:ISH and receive lustrous Star Atlas spaceships when the Contest concludes on June 11. 

“We’re excited to announce the first of many cross-platform integrations, connecting the ecosystems of Star Atlas and The Sandbox,” said Michael Wagner, co-founder and CEO of ATMTA, Inc., the principal development studio of Star Atlas. 

“We share ambitious goals with respect to our developments within the broader metaverse, and we see this relationship as a pivotal moment to demonstrate the potential of interoperability of both game environments and blockchain protocols. The bridges we build today will serve as infrastructure of the future in seamless exploration of the infinite experiences digital world builders will create in the years to follow,” added Wagner. 

Star Atlas is a next-gen metaverse that looks to take the best of blockchain technology and real-time graphics technology to build an innovative gaming experience. Since last year, the company has brought many unique NFT products to market, including playable spaceships, that have allowed Star Atlas to generate nearly $200 million in revenue to date. 

As the metaverse’s leading decentralized gaming virtual world, The Sandbox fully embraces the idea of the metaverse as a continuous shared digital space where worlds and brands collide to make magic and create real utility and economies. StarAtlas joins over 200 existing partnerships including Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Gucci, Warner Music Group, Ledger, HSBC, and Ubisoft, among others. 

“We are proud to be partnering with Star Atlas and are excited to develop new projects with the franchise,” said Sebastien Borget, COO of The Sandbox. 

“This contest is the beginning of a new bridge linking metaverses to each other, with the goal to bring more content and cross-platform integration to both of our audiences. We can’t wait to see the amazing assets that our communities will create!” added Borget. 

Meanwhile, BLOND:ISH commented, “The coming together of metaverse ecosystems opens up a new world of possibilities for artistic expression. This innovative and collaborative Star Atlas and The Sandbox partnership is exactly what web3 is about and has the potential to create fully sustainable NFT future experiences while rallying the worldwide community around a message of creativity, curiosity and boldness to dream of what we might become. I am thrilled to activate my entire community and see what fantastic creations this contest will bring. LFG!” 

BLOND:ISH is a Canadian producer, and DJ solo act, and has collaborated with Star Atlas on augmented reality NFT experiences as well as with The Sandbox on bringing her brand to the metaverse. Her music collaboration acts include Depeche Mode, Pete Tong, and playing at festivals such as Coachella, Burning Man, and Ultra Music Festival.

Star Atlas shared that for 2022, it will be launching several major feature releases including a web-based mini-game and a full production release known as the Volant Studio Showroom, which will present cinematic quality video game visuals using Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite technology. 

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Marketing Featured East Asia

Animoca Brands, Planet Hollywood to launch new JV MetaHollywood

Hong Kong – Game software and venture capital company Animoca Brands and consumer brand developer Planet Hollywood Group have launched a new joint venture called the ‘MetaHollywood’.

MetaHollywood seeks to transform the awe-inspiring Hollywood experience into a Web3 metaverse that benefits and reaches more supporters, studios, and creators globally within a virtual environment for the creation, ownership, interaction, distribution, and sharing of digital collectibles, movies, clips, and other assets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), including NFTs based on some of Planet Hollywood’s most iconic physical assets including photography, movie posters, and memorabilia.

Moreover, the joint venture will be providing a community for collectors to own uniquely famous pieces of film history in the form of NFTs as well as to share, interact with, and experience the digital assets in a purpose-built metaverse fueled by the utility of its native token. This will include the tokenisation of over 60,000 of Planet Hollywood’s iconic motion picture memorabilia encompassing all popular film genres, providing the community with exclusive benefits and offerings. These collectible props have been used by movie stars from every era including Arnold Schwarznegger, Tobey Maguire, and Michael J. Fox, as well as Jim Carrey, amongst many others, representing classic, pop culture, and modern Hollywood.

Robert Earl, Planet Hollywood’s founder, commented that he is thrilled to partner with Animoca Brands as they launch Planet Hollywood into the metaverse.

“Through MetaHollywood, we will offer utility and functionality that is unrivalled in this burgeoning sector, and I cannot wait to see what our users create using the power of their imagination,” said Earl.

Meanwhile, Yat Siu, Animoca Brands’ co-founder and executive chairman, shared that they are very excited to partner with Robert Earl and Planet Hollywood to bring this iconic brand into the rapidly growing world of Web3. 

“The MetaHollywood joint venture will create tremendous opportunities by leveraging Planet Hollywood’s vast network of celebrities and IPs and combining them with our industry expertise and our broad portfolio of products and companies,” said Siu.

Just recently, Animoca Brands has acquired Darewise Entertainment, a game developer founded by veterans of the AAA games industry that is currently developing a high-quality blockchain MMO game ‘Life Beyond’. Through the buyout, Animoca Brands will be assisting Darewise Entertainment to fast-track development and publishing in the Web3 space.

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Marketing Featured East Asia

HK-based Animoca Brands acquires indie game company Darewise

Hong Kong — The game software and venture capital company, Animoca Brands has acquired Darewise Entertainment, a game developer founded by veterans of the AAA games industry that is currently developing a high-quality blockchain MMO game ‘Life Beyond’. Through the buyout, Animoca Brands will be assisting Darewise Entertainment to fast-track development and publishing in the Web3 space.

Darewise Entertainment is a European game studio made up of accomplished game developers with deep experience in various highly successful AAA games, namely Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Fable series, amongst others. The co-founders of Darewise, ex-Ubisoft game director Benjamin Charbit and ex-Ubisoft and ex-Crytek tech lead Samuel Kahn, will continue to operate the company after the acquisition.

The collaboration will facilitate planned growth, accelerate game development, and combine expert AAA video game development with blockchain integration, NFTs, and play-and-earn capabilities.

Darewise Entertainment’s first game, Life Beyond, is currently in development. It is a fast-paced and ever-evolving modern persistent massively multiplayer online game Powered by Web3 and blockchain technologies, ‘Life Beyond’ seeks to pioneer the emerging genre of the play-and-earn MMO. Its guiding principles are the true ownership of digital assets, a player-driven social in-game economy, and decentralised governance.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, commented, “Bringing on board Darewise Entertainment is incredibly exciting. Its game Life Beyond is an MMORPG of great beauty and scale that will be a strong addition to the open metaverse. Benjamin and Samuel have built a world-class team that is creating a play-and-earn game universe that is intricate, sophisticated, and deeply engaging.”

Meanwhile, Charbit said that they are incredibly proud to join Animoca Brands and add their AAA games experience to the company that has been so instrumental in the development of Web3 gaming.

“Over time it became obvious that we’re a Web3 company at our core and that blockchain offers the means to achieve our vision. It took visionary entrepreneurs like Yat to leap ahead and build such an impressive ecosystem, paving the way for everyone else. As we watched Animoca Brands set out the blueprint of the open metaverse with projects like The Sandbox, REVV, and Phantom Galaxies, we knew that we would benefit enormously from its Web3 expertise and network. We are thrilled to be a part of this endeavour,” Charbit said.

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Marketing Featured East Asia

HK-based Animoca Brands acquires gaming studio Eden Games

Hong Kong — Game software and venture capital company Animoca Brands have announced its buyout of 100 per cent of the issued capital of Eden Games S.A.S. from Engine Gaming & Media. Eden Games is a highly respected and successful racing game studio with prized IPs such as Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, F1 Mobile Racing, and the Gear.Club franchise, among others.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, commented, “With its quarter of a century of expertise in building high-quality motorsport video games, Eden Games will enhance and accelerate the development of the REVV Motorsport ecosystem and add powerful value to the REVV community and the racing metaverse.”

David Nadal, co-founder and head of studio of Eden Games, said, “We are excited to start the next chapter of Eden Games by joining Animoca Brands. We look forward to producing new experiences that challenge the status quo within the motorsport genre and venture into new frontiers such as Web3 alongside a leader in the space.”

Eden Games was founded in 1998 and is based in Lyon, France. The company has strong experience in developing award-winning racing games across the mobile, console and PC platforms and over 13 million game boxes sold and over 60 million app downloads worldwide.

The game development studio also has long term partnerships with more than 30 established brands in the automotive industry, including BMW, Bugatti, Porsche, Lotus, Pagani, and many others.

Animoca Brands will leverage the expertise and capabilities of Eden Games to work on existing and new titles in the REVV Motorsport ecosystem and to bring to market a series of new blockchain-based racing games.

The new games will provide additional utility to the NFT Race Passes and the other assets obtained by swapping assets from Animoca Brands’ F1 Delta Time, which ceased operations in March 2022.

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Platforms Featured East Asia

Animoca Brands, Cube Entertainment officially establishes joint venture ‘AniCube’

Hong Kong – Hong Kong-based game software and venture capital company Animoca Brands and South Korean entertainment company Cube Entertainment have announced the official establishment of their latest venture called AniCube Entertainment, which aims to build a music metaverse, and issue non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and ecosystem tokens based on the intellectual property rights of Cube Ent’s globally popular K-pop music artists and actors.

The partnership was first announced in November 2021, and also entails AniCube bringing Cube Ent’s artists to The Sandbox, a decentralised gaming virtual world and a subsidiary of Animoca Brands.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said, “As a fan of K-pop and Korean culture, I am thrilled to contribute to AniCube, a JV that will guide K-pop music creators and fans in the open music metaverse and help them to enjoy true digital property rights and the other benefits of blockchain and NFTs.”

Meanwhile, Woohyung Ahn, CEO of Cube Entertainment, commented, “With the support of Animoca Brands, the music metaverse created by AniCube will be global and open, and will play a leading role in the global music industry to protect the rights of IP holders and content creators related to music sources. We look forward to the ways in which Cube Ent’s highly talented artists will help to build the open metaverse.”