October 1, 2022
Issue No. 22
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- Blockchain & Defi: Chainlink Launches Programs to Reduce Costs
- NFTs: NFT Sharing on Instagram and Facebook; Disney’s Plans for NFT and Crypto Adoption
- Web3 & Metaverse: Walmart Dives Into Metaverse; UAE Opens up HQ in Metaverse
- Gaming: Illuvium Releases Illuvidex 2.0 and PB2; Double Jump Tokyo Building Blockchain Games
- Legal Landscape: French CBDC Projects Aim to Manage DeFi Liquidity
Blockchain & DeFi Developments
Chainlink Launches Programs to Reduce Costs Ahead of Staking of Its Token
Chainlink, a provider of price feeds and other data to blockchains, is reducing the network’s barriers to entry for early-stage projects and reducing costs for existing participants ahead of the introduction of staking of its native token at the end of this year, the company said at this week’s SmartCon developer event held in New York.
The smart contract oracle network that powers much of decentralized finance (DeFi) is offering a “Build” program where up-and-coming teams donate 3% to 5% of their native tokens to the network in return for access to Chainlink data. And for those already initiated, the “Scale” program aims to reduce on-chain transaction costs associated with smart contract oracles to near zero.
Circle Expands USDC to Five New Chains, Unveils Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol
Circle Internet Financial, the issuer of the second largest stablecoin “USD coin (USDC)”, will expand USDC to five new blockchains in an attempt to strengthen its market position and bolster access across multiple chains. Circle also unveiled a tool called Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol to enhance USDC transactions between different blockchains.
The firm disclosed the plan Wednesday at its Converge22 conference in San Francisco. According to a statement, USDC will begin to circulate on the Arbitrum One, NEAR, Optimism, and Polkadot chains by the end of this year, with plans to enter the Cosmos ecosystem sometime in early 2023.
Christie’s Moves On-chain with NFT Auction Platform on Ethereum
After a series of successful high-priced nonfungible token (NFT) sales, Christie’s has launched its own dedicated NFT “on-chain auction platform,” allowing auctions to be carried out fully on-chain on the Ethereum network.
The 256-year-old British auction giant, which is also the second-largest auction house in the world by fine-art auction revenue, said its Christie’s 3.0 allows for NFT auctions to be conducted entirely on the ETH network “from start to finish:”
“All transactions, including post-sale, will be automatically recorded on the blockchain.”
In its past NFT auctions, the payments from the winning bidder were not always conducted on a blockchain, but the creation of Christie’s marketplace allows transactions to occur in a fashion much like the popular marketplace OpenSea, allowing for payments to be made in Ether (ETH).
Christie’s said the new marketplace was developed in partnership with NFT smart contract development startup Manifold, metaverse development firm Spatial, and blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.
Meta Opens NFT Sharing on Instagram and Facebook to All US Users
Non-fungible tokens (NFT) have finally arrived on Instagram after parent company Meta announced Thursday the long-awaited arrival of its digital collectible feature to its millions of users in the U.S.
NFT functionality on Instagram has been in testing since May, but on Thursday it became available to every user in the U.S.
Users can connect wallets from Coinbase, Dapper Labs, MetaMask, Rainbow, and Trust to Instagram. Instagram users can also crosspost their NFTs to their Facebook accounts, according to a blog post.
“Today we’re announcing everyone on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. can now connect their wallets and share their digital collectibles,”
Meta said in the post.
“Additionally, everyone in the 100 countries where digital collectibles are available on Instagram can now access the feature.”
Disney’s Latest Job Posting Hints at Big Plans for NFT and Crypto Adoption
The Walt Disney Company posted a job listing on Friday for a principal counsel specializing in non-fungible tokens (NFT) and decentralized finance (DeFi), hinting at its broader Web3 expansion across the Disney ecosystem.
The full-time position, which operates within the legal department of the Walt Disney Company, calls for an experienced corporate attorney to "work on transactions involving emerging technologies, including NFTs, blockchain, metaverse, and decentralized finance." The position would provide guidance on "global NFT products" across the company's business branches, including Disney Media and Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, and ensure compliance with the U.S. and international laws and regulations. Specifically, the position would "evaluate securities law issues in connection with the promotion and sale of NFTs."
The listing also mentions vetting NFT projects, blockchain networks, third-party marketplaces, and cloud providers, as well as providing legal guidance on digital currency and blockchain technology. The hire would collaborate with other legal and business teams, including product, engineering, tech, and IP, and would "partner with business teams as they plan new global emerging technology projects, typically on an accelerated and aggressive timeline."
Walmart Dives Into Metaverse With Launches in Roblox
Retail giant Walmart (WMT) is allowing consumers to experience the metaverse through the launch of two new experiences in the gaming platform Roblox. The move comes after Walmart filed seven trademarks at the end of December that signaled its plans to make and sell virtual goods in the metaverse.
Walmart has created two experiences, one called Walmart Land and the other Walmart’s Universe of Play, according to a statement Monday. Walmart Land will include a virtual merchandise store, while Universe of Play contains various toy worlds and games.
UAE Ministry of Economy Opens up New HQ in the Metaverse
The UAE Ministry of Economy continues its push into the Metaverse with the announcement of a “third address” located in a virtual world.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Economy has announced a new headquarters located where anyone in the world can visit — the Metaverse.
According to Gulf News, the announcement was made on Sept. 28 by UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri during the Dubai Metaverse Assembly, with the minister stating, “this is not a proof of concept, this is our third address” before giving a live tour of the virtual headquarters.
The headquarters will feature a multiple-story building, each serving a different purpose. Visitors will be able to take a ticket, which will prompt a “customer happiness center employee” to join the Metaverse and interact with the visitor.
The new headquarters will complement the ministry’s two existing offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, allowing the ministry to make digital services a bigger part of its operations following directives to do so from UAE leadership.
Visitors to the virtual headquarters will be able to sign legally binding documents, which eliminates the need for signatories to visit one of their physical locations in order to provide their signatures.
The headquarters also contains an auditorium that can facilitate virtual conferences and other events and meeting rooms that allow users to share a screen.
The announcement follows Dubai’s government's Metaverse strategy revealed on July 18, which aims to create virtual 40,000 jobs by 2030 and support the government’s vision of increasing the number of blockchain companies to five times the current number.
Spain’s Largest Telecom Brand Dives Deep into Web3
Telefónica, the multinational telecom company based in Madrid, Spain, has enabled payments with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), USD Coin (USDC), and many others on its online tech marketplace called Tu. The firm integrated a crypto payment feature provided by the Spanish crypto exchange Bit2Me to receive crypto in exchange for their tech products. The exchange teased the integration during its Telefónica Metaverse Day event.
Apart from integrating crypto in its online store, the telecom firm has also recently announced its collaboration with the software company Qualcomm Technologies to advance its extended reality (XR) ecosystem and bring the Metaverse to life.
According to Daniel Hernández, an executive at Telefónica, their firm collaborated with Qualcomm to prepare for the future and build its infrastructure. This is to stay on top of developments so that they are able to provide innovative services to their customers.
Apart from its efforts in integrating crypto and building the Metaverse, the company has also dabbled in nonfungible tokens (NFTs). The firm has built and released its own NFT marketplace integrated with the crypto wallet MetaMask.
Games & Blockchain Gaming
Illuvium Shares August Dev Blog, Releases Illuvidex 2.0 and Private Beta 2
Our friends over at Illuvium have been working non-stop to release many of their long-awaited features and game modes.
Their Co-Founder, Aaron Warwick, recently shared the August 2022 Dev blog, which contains information on the latest development news.
August 2022 Dev Blog Highlights
- Illuvium Arena (Auto-battler) → Server connection and visual assets integration are being polished for Private Beta 2 (PB2).
- Illuvium Overworld (Open-world) → They’ve been working on locomotion tweaks, illuvial capturing gameplay flow (near completion), forging, plant interaction physics, among other things. Warwick also mentions that two of the Overworld environments are ready to be seen in all their glory.
- Illuvium Zero (Mobile Companion-app) → Region art is being added, overhauled UIs continue to be polished, and now they will focus on core experience rather than a tutorial system in order to get raw feedback from testers.
- Illuvitars (Illuvium Avatar NFTs) → They’ve moved to an IMX-centric approach and are working with IMX to create an Illuvitar system similar to that of Gods Unchained and their card pack sales. Reveal animation has been completed, and they are working through the final details of the benefits of Illuvitars such as PB access, exclusive merchandise, and IRL events.
- Launch Cinematic → Not much was shared, but the cinematic assets are either completed or in progress.
IlluviDEX 2.0 Patch Notes
IlluviDEX, the official Illuvium asset marketplace, has upgraded to version 2.0. You can learn more about their updates in their Medium article, or by watching the video below 👇
Private Beta 2
The anticipated Survival Arena Private Beta 2 arrived on September 28, 2022.
This iteration of their PB includes added features such as additional Illuvials, checkpoints, and augments that can be equipped on Illuvials, amongst other things.
Learn more about the changes from PB1 on their Medium Article.
Double Jump Tokyo to Build Blockchain-Based Games Using Sega's IP
Japanese gaming giant Sega has signed a deal with Double Jump Tokyo to provide IP rights for a blockchain-based video game series named Sangokushi Taisen.
The game will feature trading card mechanics and will utilize the Japanese blockchain project Oasys, according to a blog post by Double Jump Tokyo.
"With a unique architecture optimized for blockchain games, Oasys aims to solve obstacles for gamers, offering fast transactions and zero gas fees and providing users with a more comfortable gameplay experience,”
said Hironobu Ueno, CEO, and founder of Double Jump Tokyo.
Polygon and EPIC LEAGUE Reaffirm Their Strong Partnership With the Launch of Dark Throne
Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform onboarding millions to Web3, and EPIC LEAGUE, a Web3 games development studio, launches DARK THORNE, the first game series of EPIC LEAGUE.
This partnership combines EPIC LEAGUE's industry-leading blockchain game development services with Polygon's next-generation technology. Together, they celebrate the release of EPIC LEAGUE's debut game, DARK THRONE, and shared it with attendees of Web3 CONNECT, a Token 2049 side event, as part of the official joint promotional campaign that followed last month's announcement of the strategic partnership.
In conjunction with the strategic partnership announced last month, there has been another announcement that Polygon Ventures has also made a strategic investment in the company. EPIC LEAGUE recently secured its strategic and private round at a $60M and $100M fully diluted valuation, respectively, and has added Polygon Ventures to its roster of prominent investors, which includes Griffin Gaming Partners, Netmarble Company, Neowiz, WEMADE, YGG SEA, GBIC, and others.
The first game to be launched on Polygon is the AAA action role-playing game DARK THRONE, a hack-and-slash action RPG that allows players to explore dungeons and battle a variety of monsters. DARK THRONE boasts the striking and dramatic visuals of Art Director Jeehyung Lee (ArtStation-Jeehyung Lee), a cover artist for both Marvel and DC Comics. The team invested a great deal of time developing the UX, enabling players to enjoy dynamic gameplay (Preview Movie) with simple controls. The game also supports multi-platform, so users can play across PC and mobile devices using a single account.
DARK THRONE, launching on 28th September, completed a successful beta test in June 2022, demonstrating a notable 67.8% retention rate among its players on the seventh day of the beta test.
X2Y2 Releases P2P Lending & Borrowing
X2Y2 Quote Retweeted a user’s post on Twitter, affirming the new features released.
According to their official docs, X2Y2 now allows users to borrow ETH with NFTs, and Lend ETH to earn Interest. The lengthy documents describe the new features to users and provide guidance so they can get started with P2P Lending and Borrowing.
Borrowing ETH with NFTs as Collateral:
Lending ETH to Earn Interest:
Steve Cohen-Backed Firm Invests $10M in Web3 Game Marketplace AQUA
AQUA, a Web3 community platform for gamers, has launched its flagship marketplace for trading in-game assets. The startup also announced a $10 million investment from DIGITAL, an investment firm backed by Steve Cohen. The hedge fund billionaire owns the New York Mets baseball team, oversees Point72 Asset Management, and has invested in crypto since 2018.
Web3 game assets are typically non-fungible tokens (NFT) that allow players to take items like weapons and armor into the ecosystems of other games. The AQUA marketplace provides a community-driven place for players to buy and sell those assets.
The blockchain-agnostic AQUA marketplace will highlight featured games and already has partnerships with three titles, including God’s Unchained and Guild of Guardians. New titles will be added every month.
“You can definitely go to OpenSea or a general purpose marketplace and purchase gaming assets,” AQUA CEO Sean Ryan said during an interview with CoinDesk. “But we want gamers who are interested in, ‘How do I play this game? What do I do with these assets? How do I find other people to play with?’”
AQUA was founded by gaming industry veterans Ryan, who formerly headed games partnerships at Facebook, and John Cahil. The duo previously co-founded Meez, an early take on the metaverse that launched in 2008.
“Gaming is going to be the primary venue for the next 300 million people to get into Web3,” said Ryan. “Gaming is the biggest, fastest-growing media on the planet and has some pretty technically adept folks who can put up with some of the friction that we see right now if they're really excited about the game.”
National Policies & Legal Updates
French Central Bank CBDC Projects Aim to Manage DeFi Liquidity, Settle Tokenized Assets
The Banque de France Tuesday announced new projects to achieve the benefits of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) used at a wholesale level by banks and financial markets.
“A wholesale CBDC could significantly contribute to improving cross-border and cross-currency payments,” Villeroy de Galhau, a governor at the Bank of France, the country's central bank, said in an appearance at the bank's digital currency conference. CBDCs at the wholesale level attract less attention than their headline-grabbing retail equivalent.
One venture will look to improve CBDCs' liquidity management in decentralized finance (DeFi) – such as via automated market makers – which would play a role equivalent to that of investment banks that seek to sustain trading in a particular security, de Galhau said.
Another project will focus on issuing and distributing tokenized bonds on a blockchain, he said, building on previous findings about CBDCs being used to settle Web3 securities, such as the French central bank’s Project Jura.
Further details will be detailed in the coming weeks, he promised.
Uzbekistan Introduces Monthly Fees for Crypto Companies Effective Immediately
The new regulations also require crypto custody platforms, mining pools, and individual miners to pay monthly fees to the government.
Uzbekistan now requires licensed cryptocurrency companies in the country to pay monthly fees that will mostly go towards the state budget, an official document published Wednesday shows.
The new rules set out by the National Agency of Perspective Projects, the Ministry of Finance and the State Tax Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan are already in force. How much a firm will have to pay each month depends on the type of service it provides as well as a base figure set for crypto companies at the time the monthly payment is to be made, the document says.
The central Asian country is cracking down on the local crypto industry. A crypto regulation framework published in April mandated crypto exchanges, custodians, and mining pools operating in the country to register with regulators. In August, the country moved to block crypto exchanges like Binance, Huobi, FTX, and Bybit, saying local regulations did not allow citizens to trade crypto on foreign platforms.
According to the new rules, 80% of the monthly fees paid by crypto users and companies will go to the country's budget, while the rest will go to the treasury of the National Agency of Perspective Projects of the Republic of Uzbekistan (NAPM).
Companies that fail to pay the new fee will face penalties including the suspension of their licenses, Forklog said.
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