This month we are thrilled to announce that we have led a fundraising round into an exciting new platform called Ajuna, which is well-positioned to become a major player in the blockchain gaming ecosystem. Ajuna makes it simple for game developers to launch digital gaming assets on-chain. The platform integrates with Unity and Unreal Engine (the two dominant gaming engines used by game developers), and the network is a parachain on Polkadot, interoperating with the Polkadot ecosystem. We foresee hundreds of millions of users being onboarded into crypto through blockchain based games and Ajuna can make that adoption a reality. This month we will outline our investment thesis for Ajuna.
Gaming is an enormous market, with over 3 billion gamers worldwide. There is a variety of software that can be used to create games, with the two leading gaming engines being Unity and Unreal Engine. Neither of these platforms are natively integrated with blockchain platforms. As a result, developers seeking to create blockchain games are faced with a steep learning curve and hours of additional development time. There are also technical limitations to using smart contracts on decentralized networks, which result in poor performance and latency issues. The consequence is that many blockchain games are left with lower quality graphics and slow gameplay compared to their Web 2 counterparts.
This is where Ajuna comes in. The platform integrates with Unreal and Unity, making it simple for existing game developers to incorporate blockchain based digital assets into their games. Game developers can now launch in-game tokens while building in an environment and a programming language that they are familiar with. This keeps costs down for studios and makes it cheap to incorporate blockchain functionality. It also offers independent studios and small teams, who are traditionally reliant on large publishers, the ability to experiment with blockchain gaming.
The Ajuna team is based in Switzerland and boasts significant experience across gaming, crypto and engineering. It includes marketing and growth specialists, 3D/2D animation professionals, software developers, and an art and design lead. The CEO and co-founder, Cédric Decoster, spent over 20 years as a software engineer and solutions architect at a Swiss bank. In 2014 he discovered the crypto space and began programming on Bitcoin before Ethereum and smart contract development materialized.
Cédric and co-founder, Nicholas Douzinas, began working together within the crypto space in 2017, forking the Dash blockchain and changing the consensus mechanism to Neoscript with the goal of running their own sovereign blockchain to be used for gaming. The project failed; they encountered constant security threats to their blockchain (such as 51% attacks) and block time was two minutes, making the user experience for gaming poor. Two and a half years later, Cédric and Nicholas discovered Substrate, an open-source framework with native support for connecting to Polkadot and Kusama (the Polkadot canary network) that allows teams to quickly build highly customized blockchains. Substrate solved many of the problems that Cédric and Nicholas encountered previously, allowing them to not only re-visit their goal of building high quality blockchain games but to focus on developing game solutions so others could do the same.
Ajuna Network is a Polkadot parachain, meaning that it is its own blockchain that operates within the Polkadot ecosystem. Ajuna has a sister network, Bajun, that runs on Kusama (the canary network of Polkadot). Ajuna and Bajun are symbiotic but intended for different purposes:
The long-term goal is for Ajuna and Bajun to become the home for blockchain games and game development. The protocol is designed so that game studios are required to stake AJUN in order to deploy games on Ajuna. In addition, users staking AJUN will get a share of the revenue generated by games deployed on Ajuna. Integrating with Polkadot allows Ajuna to become interoperable with every other parachain, laying the foundation for an “ecosystem of games” where assets can be seamlessly transported from one gaming environment to another. By becoming a parachain, Ajuna can use solutions from other parachains, solving technical challenges like storage, privacy, and trust.
Ajuna aims to offer unmatched user experience on the player side and to negate the need for traditional server infrastructure. It does this by integrating several layers:
The AJUN token is a governance and utility token. On the utility side, AJUN can be used to pay transaction fees for games, token swaps, participation in tournaments and gaming NFTs. On the governance side, token holders may vote on the election of treasury council members, approval of new applications, ecosystem integrations, and upgrades to the Ajuna Network. AJUN can be used by game studios and their fans to lock or “reserve” a slot on the Ajuna blockchain and/or finance their favourite games in return for future rewards. Users can also stake the AJUN token (and other game tokens) to earn rewards.
BAJU is Bajun’s utility token on Kusama, functioning in the same capacity as AJUN. BAJU is used by both gamers and developers to deploy games, pay transaction fees, access services, and vote in governance procedures on Bajun.
While parts of Ajuna’s tokenomics are standard, their token flow and revenue model are unique. Users can utilize game tokens to pay gas fees for the use of the Ajuna Network. If a game gains traction, those fees are returned to the game treasury, rewarding that team and community. AJUN token holders are rewarded for supporting the network in AJUN as well as in the different Game Tokens launched within the network. This results in a more equitable economic model and incentivizes game studios to launch games on Ajuna.
Games on Ajuna
There are several games that have already announced that they will launch on Ajuna:
In addition to Ajuna’s flagship games, the company is developing two NFT projects:
We are excited to be supporting Ajuna as it rolls out infrastructure for game studios. We anticipate that gaming will bring hundreds of millions of new users to the blockchain space and Ajuna is well placed to support this migration. As a parachain within the Polkadot ecosystem, Ajuna has the potential to tap into one of the largest developer ecosystems in crypto and to also reach the attention of the Polkadot community (Polkadot has over 1.3m followers on Twitter alone).
Being early to blockchain gaming, Ajuna has the opportunity to capture partnerships with game studios that are starting to experiment with digital assets. There is room to grow across indie studios, well-established publishing houses, and even hardware device manufacturers (consoles and hand-held) that are looking for an avenue into web 3. The market is untapped and has huge growth potential. We look forward to seeing Ajuna take on this challenge and bring blockchain technology to millions and potentially billions of gamers around the world.