In a white paper, Midnight announced that it plans to aggregate a bunch of games inside its Evergreen massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Evergreen is a game as well as a first publishing platform that operates as a deconstructed, composable MMORPG, delivering an immersive experience to players across games of all types and genres. Midnight, meanwhile, is a double-A premium Web3 game publisher hoping to fill the gap in Web3 game funding.
Evergreen will fuse enduring player progression with evolving gameplay, the white paper said. The result is an arcade of linked games with the reach, engagement, and monetization of a traditional MMO but without the risk of a single theme or game narrative. Players can use keys to move between worlds.
The vision was forged from the idea that players’ stories matter. Their stories are as unique as the different games, achievements, and items they collect along the way. By building the MMO Evergreen as a combination of games players love, Midnight aims to create economies and secondary markets that players own, and a sustainable strategic advantage for our platform by building the official unofficial multiversal bridge to the metaverse.
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“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I’m excited to explain what we’re doing. Timing has a lot to do with it,” said Steve Wade, CEO of Midnight, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Wade is encouraged that Disney is investing $1.5 billion into Epic Games to make a connected Disney universe. And he thinks the Bitcoin price recovery will help the overall Web3 games market come back. And that should help Midnight as it raises more money to focus on double-A games, which Wade feels is a neglected but big part ($35 billion) of the $195 billion game industry.
The deconstructed MMO
Wade sees Evergreen as a paradigm shift in the MMO genre, offering a solution that bridges the best of both worlds—premium double-A games and MMOs, fused together through a mobile companion app.
The challenge of discoverability is met head-on through the deconstructed MMO model. Evergreen’s structure facilitates discoverability by providing players with a multitude of premium double-A games, each accessible through a unified companion app, Evergreen, helping discoverability across EPIC/Steam/Xbox/PS/Switch platforms.
Additionally, Midnight’s tools will enable easier interoperability between studios and across different genres, fostering collaboration and coherence while establishing a united Web3 ecosystem.
By combining the benefits of premium double-A games with the appeal of MMOs, Wade believes Evergreen opens up new possibilities for the industry. It encourages innovation, promotes collaboration, and provides players with an unprecedented level of choice and engagement. With Evergreen, the company believe it is poised to offer a truly unique experience to players worldwide.
Addressing these challenges presents an opportunity for developers to create a mobile companion app that truly resonates with gamers. Evergreen is going to hit beta in March and launch as a product in October.
Wade is going to need a lot of money. He wants to acquire companies and commission more games that will fit within the Evergreen MMO ecosystem.
The fundraising is interesting in part because the now defunct Fenix Games announced its $150 million funding round for Web3 publishing a day apart from Midnight’s much smaller round last year. But then Fenix Games got sued and eventually the founders left the project.
Wade hopes to pick things up to fill the gap that Fenix Games left.
“The good thing is that there is a market and we are looking at doing publishing and investing in game companies differently,” Wade said.
Wade believes that we’re seeing a kind of quickening now, where gaming companies are killing off each other and we’re seeing a massive consolidation.
“If 2023 is going to be known as the year of the layoffs, I think 2024 is gonna be the year of consolidations and shutdowns,” said Wade. “As far as our capital goes, we don’t really want to raise a VC fund. We want to raise an M&A fund. Because I think there are good teams that need the backing.”
The company acquired one company, Square Two, Silicon Valley. As for raising right now, Wade believes the enthusiasm for tokens is coming back and the token sale should help draw investor attention.
“We’re in a really hot space,” he said. “We’re in a good spot. I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture. Others are struggling. I’m happy to help people if we can and if they have a good project.”
Wade founded Midnight in late 2021 and it has dozens of people working on titles. Midnight raised $7.5 million from Shima Capital in November 2023 and the company has big ambitions. Wade believes he will raise more money in the future. But he noted that, rather than make a $60 million game, he has always thought it would be better to make 20 games for $60 million.
Wade is an gaming investment banker who has built and sold three game companies. The company has around 55 people across four studios.
During his career, Wade has launched 45 online games, four gaming payment solutions, and eight game portals. As a banker, he has counseled companies through more than $1 billion in venture capital, private equity, debt and M&A financings; and he has negotiated more than 50 IP/tech licenses and commercial contracts.
Most recently he was managing director at Atlas Technology Group heading the firm’s video game M&A team; and got his start in the late 1990s as a pro gamer competing in Ultima Online. Wade got involved in investment banking in deals involving Trio Worlds and later Gazillion.
The company will like list a Web3 token first to establish its Web3 presence and community. Then it will raise funding and start with its M&A deals. The hope is to launch games that help attract a Web2 audience and eventually make the leap to Web3 games with player ownership. He wants the assets that players acquire to be meaningful, and he wants there to be meaning in the journey that players make to get those assets. The company will have a companion app and possibly get it out on the market in March.
Given where the source of most of the money is coming from now, there’s a good chance that Wade could move from Las Vegas to the Middle East, in part to get government incentives. He expects his firm will have a presence there. Right now, the firm has four studios in the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, Thailand and Indonesia. More studios will come on board elsewhere. He expects to ramp up this year, particularly with a larger finance team.
“The things that you’ve done matter. You’ve lived in this extraordinary world and the digital world. We’re going to be the bridge to help you carry it with you. And I like our tagline — the unofficial official motto — of a multiversal bridge to the metaverse.”
A former investment banker, Wade said, “We’re building ourselves to be a predator. We are built to be an acquisition machine. We plant to launch a game a month, and these are double A games. They’re not free to play. They cost money.”
The budgets for the games are anywhere from $500,000 to $5 million.
“It always comes back to the game. We want to make sure our double A products are fun,” Wade said. “I’m here for the games. I love making people smile.”
“I think everything is coming down to more realistic prices,” Wade said. “I think if I wanted to compare it to a year, maybe 2018 or 2019 prices were fairly realistic. They hadn’t really quite built up to where they were in 2020 or 2021. It’s kind of ridiculous for some of those valuations.”
Advice for startups
As far as advice goes, Wade believes that game companies have to figure out how to start and then get to revenues within the first year. He noted that it’s really hard to start a new company. But he noted that layoffs mean that there are teams of people who already work well as a team. Those people could be bankrolled to hit the ground running with a track record.
Wade is curious about the opportunity for games for the Apple Vision Pro. But he notes that triple-A scares him now, and he said it is not surprising to see so many being laid off now.
“I think double A is just going to be hot for the next year or year and a half,” he said.
Those double-A games could be part of the Evergreen MMO. There could be a variety of game activities and gameplay types across the portfolio of games within the MMO, from fashion games to casino nights or basketball games.
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