As more game studios look to incorporate digital assets and collectibles into their properties, Web3 startup Halliday has raised $6 million in a new seed round led by Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) to change how gamers buy and use digital assets in virtual worlds.
“We started working back in November,” Halliday co-founder Griffin Dunaif told Decrypt in an interview. “So we built our demo, a pitch deck, and we pitched it to Andreessen, and they liked what they saw.”
Joining a16z in the $6 million raise are Hashed, A.Capital, SV Angel, and other angel investors.
Launched in November 2021 by Akshay Malhotra and Griffin Dunaif, Halliday—which shares its name with Ready Player One protagonist James Halliday—gives gamers a “play now, pay later” option. Halliday aims to make in-game purchases and proof of ownership for NFTs more affordable and convenient for gamers who may bristle at the high prices of non-fungible tokens in their games.
NFTs are cryptographically unique tokens that are linked to digital (and sometimes physical) content, providing proof of ownership and in-game purchases.
“We want to make game and metaverse NFTs a lot more accessible to players, and you should not see a very high price tag,” co-founder Malhotra said. “We [allow] players to pay over time and access the NFT, playing while they’re paying.”
Halliday says it is launching its beta with blockchain game “League of Kingdoms” in the next few weeks, with the official roll out later this year.
Malhotra explains that Halliday gives players access to in-game NFT marketplaces. Without leaving the game, players can select the digital collectible they want and buy it outright, or agree to a payment plan with Halliday.
“After that, you just click Checkout, we buy the asset, and give access to [the player],” Malhotra says. “We hold ownership while you’re paying it off. Eventually, in the end, we’ll transfer ownership.”
Buy now, pay later projects are a new aspect of the booming play-to-earn gaming industry. Last month, DeFi lending platform Teller launched its service for NFTs called Ape Now, Pay Later, which runs on Ethereum scaling platform Polygon.
Halliday integrates directly with games and marketplaces as an alternative payment option at checkout. But unlike traditional layaway services, Halliday gives the player access to the NFTs from the moment they are purchased.
“Payments will be accepted in a multitude of [crypto] currencies and traditional payment methods like credit cards, depending on the game, chain, and how those NFT access rights are actually designed,” Dunaif says. “But whatever that system is, the core principle [is] you can immediately start playing while you’re paying.”
Halliday uses a repo structure: if a player defaults on the payments for the NFT, the rights to access the NFT are revoked.
“Our whole system is designed to be extremely player first, and we want to make it as riskless of an experience to join as possible,” Malhotra says.
He said that a player that defaults on their payments might find it more challenging to use Halliday’s services in the future and is less likely to be approved. But he said defaulting would not affect a player’s credit score like defaulting on a bank loan.
“We see ourselves as building economic infrastructure to facilitate the emergence of this digital civilization,” Dunaif said. “Any sophisticated and mature economy needs a service like this to facilitate growth and let people jump into worlds and gain items more quickly.”
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