San Francisco-based crypto game developer Argus Labs announced Tuesday that it had completed a $10 million seed funding round. Haun Ventures led the funding round with Robot Ventures, Dispersion Capital, Anagram and Alchemy.
The funding round also saw participation from notable investors such as Gitcoin co-founder Scott Moore, Osmosis co-founder Sunny Aggarwal and Sandbox VR chief product officer Siqi Chen.
In a previous report, the Argus team unveiled their vision to build an Ethereum layer-2 network specifically designed for blockchain games. With the utilization of the Argus World Engine, players can code their own on-chain mods.
Revolutionizing game development with the World Engine and Zero-Knowledge Proofs
The World Engine is a distinctive software development kit (SDK) designed to assist game developers in creating their own layer 2 blockchain network, leveraging Ethereum-based zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology. With the World Engine, developers enjoy complete autonomy over the chains, allowing them to customize the chains and determine the lifespan of the game on the chain.
The Argus developer plans to leverage zero-knowledge proofs to verify ZK-rollup transactions. Zero-knowledge technologies represent a cutting-edge innovation in the crypto space, enabling faster transaction processing. Moreover, ZKPs enhance transaction privacy.
Argus founder Scott Sunarto and his team utilized ZKP technologies in 2020 to develop the crypto game “Dark Forest.” During the launch, Sunarto expressed optimism about the potential for numerous games to be deployed on blockchain networks.
Sunarto commented on the World Engine platform, expressing its immense potential in facilitating user-generated content through blockchain technology. He highlighted how the World Engine empowered developers to create complex games directly on the blockchain, including multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
Sunarto’s vision for crypto integration in gaming
Sunarto is committed to doing research aimed at exploring various avenues for integrating crypto technologies into video games. The uncertainty in the digital space has caused several key market players to retreat from play-to-earn models and other crypto projects.
Sunarto’s recent observation highlights the significant investments made by Web3 game developers in the development of NFTs.
Sunarto expressed concern over how the focus on NFT gaming elements had limited developers from fully utilizing other crypto properties while developing on-chain games. He emphasized that incorporating additional features alongside NFTs would inspire developers to enhance the overall game experience.
The future of blockchain games
Sunarto advocated for blockchain games that empower players to create user-generated content (UGC), highlighting how such games can greatly enhance user experiences. He pointed out that many blockchain games offer players the ability to integrate additional gaming features, further enriching the overall gameplay.
He outlined the key feature of crypto scaling, highlighting the importance of shards and their role in the process. He emphasized how sharding enables developers to seamlessly integrate new servers onto the network, enhancing its efficiency and scalability.
Additionally, he emphasized that the primary objective of incorporating various crypto features into games is to offer developers a customization option. By encouraging players to cultivate their projects within a Web3 ecosystem, customization becomes an essential aspect the developers promote.
Argus and the World Engine’s vision for blockchain games
Sunarto highlighted how players successfully established their own guidance system and decentralized communities in the Dark Forest game. He observed the players’ enthusiasm for developing their smart contracts and collectively storing their resources in a shared pool within the game.
In a separate report, Haun Ventures acknowledged the comprehensive game optimization offered by the blockchain network. However, lead investor at Haun Ventures asserted that the blockchain network is not suitable for “run games.”
Haun Ventures experts highlighted that Solana, Ethereum and Polygon networks currently lack adequate gaming optimization elements. Therefore, Argus aims to address these gaps by leveraging its World Engine platform.
The Haun team committed to assisting Argus in reconfiguring the World Engine into an open-source platform integrated with the Layer-2 blockchain network. Their plan involves implementing sharding on blockchain networks, allowing the World Engine to foster the development of an interconnected “Internet of Games.”
Haun Ventures helps Sovereign Labs with $7.4 million seed funding
Earlier this year, on January 31, Sovereign Labs secured $7.4 million in seed funding. As informed by co-founders Preston Evans and Cem Özer to TechCrunch, the funding was spearheaded by Haun Ventures.
The company is currently developing an ecosystem called “open, interconnected rollup” and has designed an SDK that aims to establish a robust foundation for ZK-rollups that are secure, interoperable, and highly efficient.
“Sovereign’s goal has always been to make scaling [blockchains] simple,” Özer said. “For people who have been in this space for four-plus years, it’s pretty clear that rollups and ZK-rollups are the way to scale blockchains to the masses.”
Evans explained that a rollup serves as a secure extension to an existing blockchain, enhancing its functionality while maintaining utmost security. By leveraging rollups, various use cases such as tokens, NFTs and smart contracts can be supported while significantly reducing operational costs due to transaction outsourcing.
According to Özer, the raised capital will be allocated toward constructing the SDK and recruiting skilled protocol engineers and researchers who possess extensive knowledge of blockchains and their frameworks. The SDK aims to assist Rust developers (and eventually C++ developers) in utilizing ZK technology across any blockchain without necessitating expertise in cryptography, as emphasized by both co-founders.
Prominent ZK-rollup blockchains, such as Polygon, zkSync and StarkWare’s StarkNet platform, are crucial in enhancing scalability and security for developers off-chain. These platforms achieve this by delivering faster speeds and reduced fees before consolidating and submitting the transactions to Ethereum.
Ethereum-focused ZK-rollup initiatives like dYdX, Sorare and Immutable are actively scaling the domain and enhancing user experiences across various sectors, including decentralized exchanges, dApps, and gaming.
“Without scaling, current blockchain systems today are unusable,” Özer said. “The moment an application reaches product-market fit and there’s demand, the fees skyrocket and it becomes unusable […] applications have to figure out how to be scalable.”
Özer highlighted that most ZK-rollup solutions are self-contained products developed by and for their respective teams. Sovereign Labs “isn’t in the business of building rollups ourselves,” he said. He said the company aims to build frameworks for others. “We want to give this technology to everyone so they can leverage it easily and create [their own] ecosystems.”
Evans emphasized that while the team will explore various monetization approaches, they intend to keep their SDK framework open source and freely accessible at all times.
The co-founders anticipate limited accessibility to rollups in the near term, as they maintain that developing frameworks like their SDK is necessary for wider adoption.
“Over time, SDK products will become accessible,” Özer said. “We expect an explosion of ZK-rollups and for most developers to leverage it.”