Web3 gaming company Proof of Play raises $33 million from a16z’s Chris Dixon and Greenoaks

Proof of Play got a stamp of approval and $33 million from a16z’s Chris Dixon and venture capital firm Greenoaks, the company announced Thursday.

The Web3 gaming firm was founded by veterans of traditional video game companies like Epic Games, Zynga, and Activision, and is looking to expand rapidly with games backed by blockchain technology.

The craze of “play-to-earn” games has fizzled since its peak in 2021, but Proof of Play CEO Amitt Mahajan said the company is guided by a different mission.

“I tell my team it’s not enough just to build cool technology, we actually need to build games that are fun,” Mahajan told Fortune

The funding will be used to hire more software engineers, he said, but also to develop new games to find its first hit.

Although the funding environment for crypto and blockchain-related startups is on the decline, Mahajan, who helped create and lead development of Zynga’s most popular title, Farmville, said Proof of Play was able to buck the trend because of the wealth of experience of its team.

In creating his own company, Mahajan said he wanted to make sure Proof of Play’s users avoided the fate of Farmville’s users, who lost everything when Zynga shut down the game at the end of 2020.

“All that player investment and creativity, and that universe building that the community of players built, just disappeared because the game creator decided that the game had to be shut down for whatever reason,” he said.

With the blockchain, games can now outlive their creators—or at least that’s the goal, Mahajan said. With all gaming assets and code on a blockchain, a game could technically exist as long as someone is willing to fund the “nodes” that power the chain used by that game.

The company’s first title, Pirate Nation, also launched Thursday in “free-to-play” mode, where users don’t need to buy anything to start playing, but there is still a waitlist, Mahajan said.

Pirate Nation is the first step, the CEO said, in creating a new class of “decentralized” games that could essentially last forever.

“Ultimately,” he said, “this is a return to the original intention of the internet.”