“We knew we weren’t going to make like the most epic iPhone games, just given our resources,” said Saaf. This was back in 2008. The company hadn’t raised substantial money, and the financial crisis had put a damper on fundraising. “We put out a bunch of what would be considered hyper-casual kid style games. They were all pretty throwaway games. But, at the time, there was not a lot to do on your iPhone.”
Saaf says the company put out 14 of the first 100 free iPhone games. The company soon pivoted, becoming AdColony, a major ad network. The company sold in 2014 to Opera Media Works for $350 million.
Saaf and his co-founders started looking at virtual reality as the next big vertical for gaming. By then, the iPhone industry had blossomed into a $50 billion industry. “We decided to start Lucid Sight as a VR gaming company and put out a ton of VR games,” he said. “But VR was kind of not really taking off. We had a great team, I loved our devs, and we were always mildly interested in crypto.”
But the company never really saw it as pertaining to more than money and finance. “And then, when the ICO mania started taking off in 2017, a friend who was early into Bitcoin was describing ICOs and how some are shady and they’re just selling nothing. But, it was based on this fundamental magic of the blockchain where you could create digital scarcity.”
As the virtual reality industry stalled, Lucid Sight determined it would need to expand its horizons. “So, we start really getting intrigued about this concept of digital scarcity,” he said. “I was never really too big into the finance or the money aspect of crypto. Bitcoin as money makes a lot of sense to me. But, I was never really that interested in decentralized financing or the other use cases.This concept of adding digital scarcity to gaming was very intriguing to us.”
Lucid Sight started thinking about building MLB Crypto Baseball, now MLB Champions, towards the end of 2017, and built it the following year. “We see this as something that is a little different from like Bitcoin or decentralized finance in the sense that baseball is a mass-market product.”
As digital natives get older, they’re not going to stop playing games like Fortnite, said Saaf. “We have this memory, we played video games as a kid and then we stopped playing video games. Then we started up as an adult with like Candy Crush. But these kids who are 11 years old and played Fortnite are going to be gaming their entire life.”
Gen Z is growing up with an iPhone. “They’ll always have an iPhone or an Android,” said Saaf. “I’m friends with people whose nine-year-olds have iPhones. If the kid grows up in a digital world, their interest might diminish in physical collectibles. But, we thought maybe that part of the monkey brain that likes collecting is still there.
You see a lot of collectibles in video games, for example. Skins in Fortnite that people collect and gaming platforms on Steam have collectible cards and digital cards that you could collect for your achievements. They’re kind of there, but they’re not so rare.
Lucid Sight came to an agreement in 2017 for MLB Crypto Baseball with MLB and the MLB Players Association before the viral blockchain-based game Crypto Kitties had been released. Saaf says both organizations understand that bitcoin and blockchain could translate to digital collectibles.
“We’ve talked to a lot of different groups and we got really lucky that we found a group that just happened to be the quintessential collectibles brand,” he said. “[Their interest] was probably the most positively surprising thing. They don’t need to take any chances. Baseball, football and basketball are going to be just fine in a hundred years from now.”
2019 was Lucid Sight’s first full year memorializing events on the Ethereum blockchain while developing further their software and building out a community around buying and selling the digital collectibles on a marketplace.
Lucid Sights’ goal was to eventually make a game where you didn’t have to use Ethereum and MetaMask to play. Instead, you can just download the iOS app and play for free, perhaps with low-value rewards to demonstrate the concept of digital powered ownership.
“The process to play the game, the process to get into it, isn’t this big hoop of crypto-this-and-crypto-that,” said Saaf. “In 2018, the first version of our game, you had to use Ethereum, you had to use MetaMask. That’s the way we built it. And it was a very crypto heavy game.”
He says the key differentiator for games using blockchain is a unique rewards loop where you get digital collectibles that have a real-world value. “That’s the evolution,” he said. “It becomes like the crypto-blockchain part is a little bit like a killer feature of a traditional video game.”
Lucid Sight considers itself on the vanguard of getting digital scarcity across to the digital gaming public.
“We don’t hit the general public over the head with a crypto explanation of scarcity off the bat,” he said. “If you’re a baseball fan and you love blockchain, you already know about what we have here. What Bitcoin invented is digital scarcity. The majority of people have never really thought about digital scarcity. We are trying to reach the people who maybe never even owned a Bitcoin, could care less about it and Ethereum, and never really put any thought cycles into what digital scarcity means.”