The Avatar Layer for the ‘Open Metaverse’

Project Description

Crucible’s technology is enabling end-users (gamers) to manage their digital identities and assets across different gaming ecosystems through a single, universal interface.

Over the next few years, siloed gaming universes are expected to converge to form what is being termed the ‘open metaverse’. Crucible’s long-term ambition is to provide a foundational piece of technical infrastructure critical to facilitating its emergence.

Background context

Even prior to COVID, the gaming industry has been undergoing explosive growth in recent years. Last year, over $150B was spent on video games making it the largest entertainment category on the planet. What’s more, it is still growing faster than almost any other sector. Aided by the lockdown tailwinds, global video game spend has exceeded $10B every month since March.

With the emergence of the dominant free-to-play model, the primary monetisation mechanism for game developers has become the sale of virtual goods (such as cosmetic skins in Fortnite).

However, each of these gaming worlds and economies exists within siloed databases that entirely eliminate the possibility for true ownership, interoperability, and more. This creates an array of problems for all parties involved.

Timeline

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  • Gamers
    • Privacy concern: Required to expose sensitive personal data to multiple third-parties that are at risk of cyberattacks due to single points of failure.
    • UX constraint: Need to go through time-consuming identity/KYC verification processes repetitively and manage various user accounts.
  • Video game developers (e.g. Epic Games, Activision, etc.)
    • Operating costs: Requirement to finance the infrastructure necessary for identity verification, KYC, and chargeback fraud mitigation.
    • Scalability constraints: Time-consuming and constraining onboarding procedures impact the scalability of the gaming ecosystem.
    • Sales funnel leakage: Convoluted onboarding steps result in a high drop off rate.
    • Gamer churn: Cyber hacks or malicious activity has shown to impede gamer retention and permanently erode trust.
  • Third-party brands
    • Gate-keepers: Brands need to engage with game developers and establish official partnerships in order to explore opportunities and/or engage with gamers.

The Crucible Solution

Similar to aggregation tools seen in DeFi (e.g. Zerion), Crucible is offering gamers a way to consolidate all their digital assets (including in-game assets) under a single user interface. The stack will be embedded within the major game engines enabling native access.

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The technology integrates with self-sovereign (blockchain-based) identity solutions that aim to securely manage user identity verification in a privacy-preserving manner. This will mean gaming development companies will no longer be burdened with the task of verifying user identity or storing sensitive user data in centralised repositories.

The grand vision at Crucible is to allow gamers to verify their existence to video game operators without revealing sensitive information about their personal identity (termed proof-of-humanity). Under these new circumstances, gamers will, therefore, be free to publicly identify themselves as their chosen avatar.

Untethering the gamer’s identity from a particular game, Crucible will also enable third-party brands to engage directly with the avatars without seeking approval from middlemen. By doing so, Crucible aims to unlock new markets and revenue opportunities. The Crucible team calls this ‘Direct-to-Avatar’, turning the player into the platform.

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Product Benefits

  • Gamers
    • Portable Identity: Identity verification is required only once, which in turn streamlines UX (ID verifier registered on the Sovrin blockchain, more details below).
    • Privacy: Enabling zero-knowledge proof of identity.
  • Gaming developers
    • Operational efficiency (cost savings): No longer required to manage identity verification, management, and AML monitoring internally.
    • User expansion (revenue optimisation): Reduced friction streamlines gamer onboarding and minimises the drop off rate.
    • Gamer retention (revenue optimisation): significantly reducing the risk of cyberattacks, resulting in a higher likelihood of gamer-loyalty.
  • Third-Party Brands
    • New markets/revenue opportunitiesthird party brands will be able to engage with the gaming community freely, assess commercial opportunities and execute on them with far less friction and expenses.

How does it work?

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Gaming Development Companies

Most games today are developed on one of two possible gaming engines: Unreal Engine or Unity. Crucible is developing an API and SDK compatible with both engines. The SDK and API aim to streamline integration and ultimately allow Crucible to collect real-time data from the gaming publisher’s repositories when end-users make a request. Crucible does not custody any data or digital assets on behalf of the gamer. It serves only as a game-agnostic access point.

Self-sovereign Identity

Crucible is not building its own blockchain purpose-built for identity. Instead, it aims to be compatible with emerging standards. For now, Crucible believes the Sovrin blockchain offers the most compelling solution tackling this use case. Identity credentials are issued and verified via ‘Evernym Verity’, a layer 2 protocol on the Sovrin blockchain.

In order to stay compliant with the law, the zero-knowledge verifiers associated with each gamer can always be traced back to their real-world identity if necessary. However, this type of action will be restricted to certain authorities under extreme circumstances.


Key Highlights

  • Unreal Engine & Epic Games — The Crucible team has met with the senior executives at Epic Games to share the product vision and plans. Epic has expressed interest and enthusiasm for what Crucible is aiming to achieve. In turn, Epic has outlined specific objectives for Crucible to meet before officially offering a $150K grant to cover the costs of integration.
  • Abertay School of Design and Informatics — Abertay is the leading gaming development and design school globally. Crucible has partnered with InGAME at Abertay’s School of Design and Informatics teaching and research facility, which features an Emergent Technology Centre at its core with 5G testbed, R&D lab, cybersecurity and playtesting with Abertay game developers and designers.
  • Blueprints for the Open Metaverse — Crucible leads ‘Blueprints for the Open Metaverse’, a UK-based cross-industry consortium serving to forge the Open Metaverse based on open standards. The Blueprints consortium aims to play an important role in how Crucible plans to execute on its roadmap with all the right partners and open standards. It is expected that participation in the consortium will increase the likelihood of Crucible receiving a grant from the UK-government e.g. 5G Create.
  • Luxury multi-national fashion brand (under NDA) — Crucible is in discussions with the luxury clothing brand to explore the ‘direct-to-avatar’ model. The company has expressed interest in designing digital attire for the gaming community.

Stage of Maturity

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Ecosystem Development Roadmap

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Business Model Validation

A variety of revenue streams and price points have been hypothesised following close engagements with target user groups as well as thorough market research and price comparison of substitute offerings.

Two models are being explored; however, neither has been validated in the form of explicit commitment from target customers:

  • B2B (game developers): Monthly subscription.
  • B2B (game developers): Fee per instance.

Product Development

  • Functional prototype.
  • Successfully integrated with Evernym Verity and Sovrin.
  • Expected to finalise completion of the SDK and API by September 2020 and commence alpha testing shortly after.

Founding Team

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Current Presence

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