The crypto world has attracted a number of video game industry legends, including famed developers like Will Wright and Peter Molyneux that are now developing NFT-based games, and now there’s another big name on that list: Trip Hawkins, the original founder and CEO of video game giant Electronic Arts (EA).
Hawkins was announced today as a co-founder and chief strategy officer of Games for a Living, a startup that is developing games based around NFTs and blockchain-based tokens.
Games for a Living was co-founded by Manel Sort, formerly the first vice president at Candy Crush Saga developer King. The two game industry veterans previously worked together at Hawkins’ former mobile gaming startup Digital Chocolate.
“I’m confident that blockchain, combined with our vision, can create a new gaming paradigm for the benefit of all,” Hawkins said in a press announcement. “We plan to do it in a way that helps enhance game performance and value for players, while keeping things fun.”
Games for a Living’s first release, Elemental Raiders, is available now on Steam in a traditional free-to-play version without tokenized elements, although the publisher has previously launched promotional Ethereum NFTs tied to the game and will release an NFT “battle pass” in March along with its own GFAL token.
An official Elemental Raiders tournament will be held in early March with NFT and token rewards—but not in the Steam version of the game. It has also teased a second game called Diamond Dreams, which will be an NFT-fueled matching puzzle game.
A Games for a Living representative told Decrypt that its GFAL token will be minted on BNB Chain, along with most in-game NFTs. However, some NFTs will be minted on Ethereum (such as the aforementioned battle pass) but will later “convert” into an NFT on BNB Chain through the company’s user portal.
The publisher’s whitepaper explains that it will eventually use its own private blockchain for games rather than an open, permissionless network like Ethereum or Solana. Games for a Living says that it will establish a foundation to oversee the blockchain network and set the rules for other developers, who can deploy their own NFT-driven games on the network.
However, private (or permissioned) blockchains are seen by many crypto builders as antithetical to the Web3 ethos, as they are not open and permissionless networks that anyone can freely build on. In some cases, networks created by a centralized company can be progressively decentralized over time and turned over to the community, but the publisher’s whitepaper doesn’t explicitly state those intentions.
The representative said that “at some stage in the future,” the company will “bridge everything to their chain.”
Hawkins was an early employee at Apple before leaving in 1982 to found Electronic Arts, which has become one of the largest video game publishers in the world. EA’s hit franchises include the FIFA and Madden NFL sports brands, along with series like Battlefield, The Sims, Need for Speed, and Mass Effect.
In 1991, he left his leadership post at EA to found 3DO, a startup that released its own video game console that wasn’t a commercial success. He then founded the now-shuttered Digital Chocolate in 2003 and remained its CEO until 2012, and then has advised or served on the board of gaming, technology, and esports startups in the years since.
Editor’s note: This article was updated after publication with additional details on which blockchain networks Games for a Living will use for its games and assets.