Today i have the pleasure to discuss with Eric Schiermeyer, co-founder of Zynga (Farmville, Zynga Poker) and MySpace, a well-known social media hub and definitely a place for musicians to share their work and connect with their audience. Back in the days, every teenager had a Myspace account.
Eric and his team are developing something big, a platform of connected games under one umbrella, the Gala Network.
A few days ago, Gala dubbed it’s first free to play game called Town Star, a farm simulator with cartoonish graphics and a free economy on the blockchain where everyone can start with a small farm and grow into a digital business. In the GALA network, earning opportunities arise through the use of Farm Bots and Nodes, I’m sure you all have some questions, so let’s find out more.
Eric, thank you for being with us today, I’ve been a player of Farmville and even a MySpace user back then so allow me to say that i feel like i have a connection with you, through your work. Why don’t you give us some more information about you and what you are up to this period?
You already seem to know a lot about my background. I’ve been doing startups my entire adult life. I tend to focus on an emerging technology or emergent uses of technology. But woven throughout that is a desire to reach as many people as possible. My last big project, Zynga, most likely touched a billion people in some meaningful way. I hope to at least double that with Gala!
I’m sure our readers would like to know more about the GALA Network. What is that you are trying to achieve and how many people are working on it?
This is a big question or at least I have a big answer. I’m trying to fundamentally change the landscape of the gaming industry. When I was a kid the biggest dream we had as gamers was to play with other people. We would spend hours trying to use coax cables to communicate over the printer ports with other computers to play games in LAN parties. That was before we had Cat-5 cables and network cards. Now what I see are people desperately trying to retain some value from the enormous amount of time and money they have spent in games. There is a massive multi-billion dollar secondary market for items and accounts right now. But it’s a pretty seedy world right now. You’re more likely to buy an account from a hacker than you are from a real person. The blockchain solves this very nicely by creating a verifiable transaction that doesn’t require any trust. I think that once players can reliably own their own items that we will see a massive change in the industry. Why would you play a game that didn’t give you ownership of your time and money? But there is another aspect of what we are doing. The big 3 monopolies (FB, Apple, and Google) right now have their collective boots on the throats of independent game developers around the world. They are collecting the lion share of the massive 190 billion in yearly revenue the games industry generates today. What if even a small percentage of that revenue was decentralized? What if a kid in Cambodia instead of being sent to be a sex slave in a brothel because Nike closed their sweatshop and no longer could earn a dollar a day was able to sell items to kids in North America or Europe? What if that kid could earn the same amount he was making at the Nike factory…a dollar a day.
I explored earlier today the Gala website and the interface is looking great for an early platform. When are we going to see the GALA network fully working with multiple games and features?
We are looking at having everything ready in about 3 weeks. The game is in a very nice place and continues to improve. We are putting the finishing touches on our blockchain API and player marketplace.
If I’m not mistaken, Town Star and some other functions are on the Ethereum Blockchain. Are you going to stay on Ethereum or moving to your own Blockchain?
The current plan is to start on Ethereum and then develop our own blockchain.
I couldn’t notice the price of a FarmBot. $100k is a lot of money for the majority of people, why putting a so expensive price tag to a mining bot, and, can players own a portion of an active bot? If having, for example, some parts under their possession.
We need to set a price for the Farmbots. And because they represent such huge value in the game’s ecosystem we felt that a price tag in that range was the right way to go. It also allows us to award a Farmbot to the winner of a game round each week and make it worth something. I expect that once the game takes off the real value of the Farmbot will become clear. And I hope its much higher! There will be only 1000 season 1 Farmbots ever created.
Let’s talk about the Town Star. With your Zynga experience, it feels natural to create a Farm simulator. What is that you are creating and how will this differ from other mainstream farm games?
Michael McCarthy should be answering this question. One of the really neat differentiators in Town Star is the focus on finding a winner. The reset every 6 days is going to be a really cool way to play the game. I’ve played a ton of games and eventually, they all get tiresome and pointless. He’s figured out a way to keep it fresh. And so far it feels great!
Can you give us a hint on upcoming Games? Are you guys bringing developers on board to create games for your platform from scratch? Are we going to see existing games joining GALA?
We are talking to more games that’s for sure! I can’t say right now what they will be but we are looking at CCGs, RPGs, and a few other types. I prefer to have the games start from scratch because adding blockchain after the fact can be a bit messy.
I understand very well that you want to hand the power to the users, but nowadays, with Google Play and iOS Store, games have to give a big percentage of their earnings. Are we going to see Gala games on those platforms?
We aren’t planning on putting our games on those platforms. Precisely because of those incredible fees. I think that if we took all the money being paid to FB, Apple, and Google and decentralized it we would see some truly amazing things happen in the games industry. What I like to imagine is a day in which a child living in a country in which they may be forced into some kind of child labor can play a game on the blockchain and earn enough money selling goods to a kid in N.America or Europe to avoid such a fate.
How do you plan to bring players on board? Is there a marketing team ready to promote GALA and it’s games or you focus on development?
Our hope is to attract as many non-crypto users as possible. That will be hard work but I’m excited by the challenge.
I would like to talk about the Nodes, what are the GALA nodes, how do they work and why someone should own one?
The Gala nodes will be processing all the transactions on our network and will receive rewards. Some of those rewards will be tokens and some will be items from our games. Season 1 Nodes will process all the games on Gala. That means you want to own Season 1 Nodes because Season 2 nodes will only process transactions for games Season 2 and after. Nodes are in a very ideal position in the ecosystem. For example, if a Boxcoin token gets created there will actually be 3 other tokens minted and 1 will be given to the node that processes that transaction.
The way i see this, GALA as a platform offers ways to reward early adopters through the nodes and the Farm Bots. But what about the games? Are they going to be pay to win or play to earn?
There is a lot of chatter in gaming communities about “pay to win”. I have a fairly diverse set of views on the subject. I’m open to a number of different experiences for gamers. I can imagine a pure skill-based game and I can imagine a full pay to win type of game. If you think about real-world equivalents in many ways top sports teams definitely pay to win. So it depends on the game really.
Once again i would like to thank you for being with us today Eric. We wish only the best to GALA.
Eric has answered a lot of questions for us today! I hope this interview answered some of yours.