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Ethlas CEO Wui Ngiap Foo believes that GameFi has a lot to learn from Web 2.0 and other industries before it can achieve a user base comparable to that of traditional gaming.

While GameFi, which allows gamers to earn cryptocurrency rewards while playing video games, has gained popularity, the gaming community has yet to fully embrace the concept, says Ethlas CEO Wui Ngiap Foo. Wui, a former technology head at Southeast Asian super app Grab, believes that games should primarily be fun, and that the focus on earning has attracted speculators rather than gamers. He also cites the business model as an obstacle, with many Web 3.0 games requiring players to purchase non-fungible tokens before they can play and earn, a model that has drawn criticism.

Wui suggests that game developers need to integrate crypto and the broader economy into the games themselves, rather than adding financial elements after the fact, to attract more gamers. The future of gaming could be bright, he believes, if blockchain meets games meets finance, creating a new digital economy. Watch the full interview with Wui to learn more about Ethlas’s experiences in the GameFi space and its outlook.


The fun factor: “If there’s no money to be earned, people will not play the current breed of games on GameFi …  They have not cracked fun. And in my mind, fun is four things. Fun is achieving. You are able to achieve complex puzzles, get badges. It is socializing. People have fun engaging and building communities. It’s killing … PvP (player versus player), feeling that you’re better than somebody else, and that I think a lot of the Web 3.0 games do (that) quite well. And the last bit is exploring … Games have to be primarily fun. Then you earn when you flip that, then what you’re attracting is you are attracting speculators. And they are not gamers by nature.”

Betting on browsers: “Our main population on Ethlas is Brazil, followed by India, followed by the Philippines. And they all share these sort of mass-market, emerging economy and huge potential kind of demographics. And so the first thing we did for Ethlas is we say we’re not going to launch an app, which would shock many people. We are 100% browser based, true technology, and just familiarity with the chromium stack. We say if you’re going to get a billion people, they don’t want to download something. They kind of want to be able to play, they want to immerse. And maybe eventually they want an app, but not in their first entry point.”

The best things in life are free: “The second thing we did was we said, every good thing that has happened to humanity has to have some free element. If you want mass market, you have to render a service or value-add, but not charge for it. And so we set ourselves up to be free to play. And this was back in December, where every game was going, ‘I’ll sell you an NFT before you can enter my ecosystem.’”

Innovation everywhere: “I actually think that Web 3.0, for the first time, is not Valley-centric. There were many waves of technology disruption where it was always like, ‘Come to where the action is.’ But if you look at Web 3.0, where is the action? It’s in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s in Dubai. It’s in Singapore. And some of it is in India and China. And I think that the decentralization nature of Web 3.0 actually really spills over into the real world. People are just going, ‘We can build companies anywhere.’ And they do.”

Asian equation: “There’s far more talent in the region than there was when I started Grab seven years ago. There are far more startups that are starting — and more importantly, people are recognizing that. In the past, if you had a very brilliant Singaporean data scientist, or a very brilliant Vietnamese engineer, they would just go to the Valley. But now they’re going, ‘Hey, you know what? I like my region. My family’s here, and maybe I want to do a startup here or join a startup here.’ And I think all of that coalesces into this perfect moment of going, ‘This is going to be like the Silicon Valley of the 80s, but for Southeast Asia and Asia.”

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