Branch Raised $12.5M to Support Play-to Earn Project

Gaming startup Branch has raised a $12.5 million seed round to build a play-to-earn game that keeps the crypto out of sight, the company announced Wednesday.

Round participants include Mechanism Play and TCG Crypto, Dragonfly Capital. Polychain, Coinbase Ventures. Three Arrows Capital CEO Ryan Wyatt.

Branch co-founder Dayton Mills calls the game “Animal Crossing meets Minecraft with a bit of Runescape,” taking popular mechanics from various titles in the nascent non-fungible token (NFT) gaming sector and combining them into one browser-based, free-to-play experience.

“I can’t think of anything similar in the play-to-earn space because most play-to-earn games require you to buy an NFT upfront to play them,” Mills told CoinDesk in an interview. “But in our world, it’s very much designed so that you may not ever even know what an NFT is.”

Each island can be owned by users as NFTs. They each have a unique combination of virtual resources. The resources can be crafted into usable items or structures within the world of the game, with the “earn” component of its play-to-earn label coming from users paying each other to harvest the materials for them, or reselling said items as NFTs on secondary marketplaces.

Mills believes that the game will appeal to multiple demographics, including U.S.-based players who want to invest in virtual property, Axie Infinity-type gamers looking to make an income, and casual gamers simply playing for fun.

The Seattle-based startup’s approach of keeping the crypto out of sight could also be a strategic one, possibly avoiding the backlash that has become inseparable from NFT-based games and their accompanying narratives.

Branch states that the full release is planned for sometime in the summer. The final product should be built week-by-week, with close participation from the community.

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