NFT Gaming, Crypto's Role in AGI, and Web3 Future: A Deep-Dive with Chris Trew of Stratis

24 Apr 2024

This article features an interview with Chris Trew, CEO of Stratis, discussing the convergence of web2, web3, AI, and blockchain technology. Key topics include the evolution of blockchain in gaming, the role of AI in NFTs and crypto in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and the future of decentralized applications, emphasizing how these advances are making blockchain more user-friendly and popular beyond traditional web3 and crypto-native audiences.

As we hurtle through 2024, the boundary between the digital and physical worlds is increasingly blurring, marking a pivotal era in technology. The digital landscape is undergoing a transformative shift, driven by breakthrough trends and the seamless merging of traditional web experiences with the decentralized ethos of web3. These advancements are not just technical feats but cultural shifts that propel blockchain technology into the mainstream, challenging our notions of ownership, privacy, and connectivity.

They create entirely new paradigms across multiple industries. Gaming is a good example. Gamers no longer just play in digital worlds—they own parts of them through NFTs and engage on levels previously confined to the imagination. This is more than evolution; it's a revolution that is making blockchain technology indispensable and accessible, opening the doors for a wider audience to reap its benefits and fundamentally altering how we interact with digital content.

To gain deeper insights into these transformative shifts, I spoke with Chris Trew, the CEO of Stratis—a company at the forefront of blockchain innovation. In our discussion, Chris shares his expertise on steering through these changes and his vision for making blockchain technology universally accessible, offering a unique perspective on the future trajectory of this industry.

Join us as we delve into the role of emerging technologies in broadening the applications of web3, making it more user-friendly and accessible for everyone. Enjoy the reading!

In 2022-23, there was a surge in blockchain platforms aiming to cater specifically to the gaming industry. Some frontrunners were Solana, Polygon, Avalanche, and Sui, all promoting features tailored for gamers. From your perspective, which gaming-friendly chains have successfully survived, and why?

Despite Ethereum's reign as the preferred blockchain for many Web3 gaming companies, alternative chains are emerging with offerings that broaden the horizon of the gaming community. Sui stands out among these contenders. What sets Sui apart is its ability to update on-chain assets in real-time, capturing player achievements and item upgrades directly on the blockchain, significantly elevating the gaming experience. Sui's "object-based" model caters to intricate gaming needs, especially those rich in in-game objects and developed using powerhouse engines like Unreal Engine 5 or Unity. This approach allows for the fluid evolution of in-game NFT assets, deepening player engagement and enriching the gaming landscape.

How do you see AI being implemented in NFT gaming? Which projects are you looking forward to in terms of AI?

AI and NFTs are significantly influencing the gaming industry by introducing new levels of interaction and ownership. AI is primarily used to generate adaptive narratives, creating stories that change according to player actions, while NFTs introduce a new layer of ownership and community incentives. Together, they are providing more autonomy and engagement to players. The focus is on projects that leverage AI to enhance game mechanics and narratives alongside those utilizing NFTs to secure player investments and rewards, signaling a shift towards games offering deeper personalization and player investment.

Why should gamers purchase NFTs within the game? Why are they better than regular assets?

NFTs are shaking things up by offering something traditional game assets can't. NFTs are more than just digital items; they're a new way for gamers to own, collect, and engage with their digital worlds. They bring a piece of the real-world thrill of collecting and trading into the digital space, making gaming more exciting and interconnected.

  • Ownership: When you snag an NFT in a game, it's yours in a way that goes beyond the game itself. You can sell, trade, or keep it in your digital collection, just like a physical collectible.
  • Rare Finds: NFTs can be limited edition, meaning not everyone can have the same outfit, weapon, or pet. This rarity can make them more valuable over time, just like a rare comic book or a vintage action figure.
  • Play Across Platforms: Imagine if your favorite in-game sword or character could come with you to other games. That's the kind of future NFTs hint at, breaking down walls between digital worlds.
  • Creativity and Community: NFTs open new ways for players and creators to make their mark on the game world, from designing unique items to personalizing their gameplay experience.

How do you view the relationship between gamers and cryptocurrency adoption?

It's fascinating to note that many gamers have already embraced crypto, perhaps without fully realizing it. The gaming community has been tightly connected with digital money forever.

Long before cryptocurrency became a buzzword, gamers were navigating the use of digital currencies and assets within their virtual worlds.

Despite a wave of skepticism and resistance from the gaming community in recent years, the acceptance of cryptocurrency is on the rise.

With this backdrop, we're excited to introduce Project Atlantis, our Web3 AAA game, into this evolving landscape.

Could you provide more details about the game you are building and its competition within this market?

Project Atlantis is not just a game; it's a new frontier where gaming meets real-world value. The in-game currency isn't merely for show—it can be earned, traded, and even converted into real money, attributing tangible worth to the time players invest in the game.

But Project Atlantis goes beyond just integrating cryptocurrency. By incorporating Stratis Blockchain Technologies, we ensure that transactions are seamless and secure. What's more, we're harnessing the power of AI to revolutionize how players interact with the game. Imagine having deep, meaningful conversations with Non-Player Characters or encountering cities that feel alive and dynamic.

The Actual Game Screenshot

Using large language models (LLMs) will enable the real-time creation of unique in-game assets—think terrains, characters, and items you won't find anywhere else. We're pushing the envelope further with generative models that adapt the game's music to fit the mood of the environment you're exploring, making each player's journey through Project Atlantis uniquely their own.

In essence, when blockchain and AI are applied thoughtfully, gaming transcends its traditional boundaries. It opens up novel and innovative avenues for players to own unique items and engage with token economics extending far beyond the game itself.

The competition is quite intense, and it will only increase.

Some experts claim that artificial general intelligence (AGI) cannot function without crypto and that crypto will experience a surge in value due to its role in AGI. What's your opinion about this?

The thought that AGI needs cryptocurrency to take off is interesting. AGI could use blockchain's secure and open ways of handling transactions, which might pump up the value and use of cryptocurrencies. But saying that AGI can't get anywhere without crypto might stretch it a bit. After all, the world of AI is all about breaking new ground and could very well find ways around today's tech limits, blockchain included. While it's cool to think about how AGI and crypto could help each other out, it's probably not a case of one needing the other to succeed. Both are on a growth path, with or without being directly linked.

What are the most significant events for the Web3 industry in 2024, and how does Stratis position itself within this industry?

Looking ahead to 2024, we will see current trends - like the tokenization of real-world assets, expansion of L2s, and the convergence of web2 and web3 experiences continue to gain momentum and shape the web3 experience. Importantly, these trends serve to make web3 more popular beyond the typical web3 and crypto-native audience, which is a defining factor in the longevity and success of crypto and blockchain projects more broadly. From our perspective, we position ourselves to support our developers and cultivate innovation by doing so. As such, we both look to broader patterns like the expansion of Ethereum and L2s within our community and respond to their demands. By taking a macro (industry-focused) and micro (community-focused) approach, we can make decisions that support growth and innovation within our community.

A few years after the crypto boom, I also think we will see many stablecoin projects emerge and go to market as regulation processes are completed. We are included in this, as we've recently had confirmation that we've received Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) registration from the Bank of Spain. We see this as an exciting convergence of web 2 and 3, offering us the unique opportunity to support Spain's tourism and entertainment sectors with crypto-acceptance services, making Spanish nightclubs and leisure venues even more appealing to crypto-native customers.

You've just announced the launch of a dApp Incentive Programme with a $1,000,000 fund. How does it aim to support developers and teams in creating transformative decentralized applications?

To best understand how the dApp program supports developers and teams, it should be situated within the broader context of Stratis and its recent move to an Ethereum-based blockchain. In moving to Ethereum, Stratis made a clear statement supporting developers by prioritizing accessibility and interoperability with the broader web3 ecosystem. The dApp Incentive Program is designed to incentivize and help developers, teams, and community members to create decentralized applications. Therefore, the program supports developers by providing them access to the Stratis ecosystem and community and, of course -

a very attractive financial incentive of USD 1m, which will be awarded to the winning projects.

We hope to see a real breadth of creativity and innovation in the applications. Of course, because of our history, we would love to see more games emerge and ancillaries that can be used in conjunction with the existing games and their universes. But we're also open to seeing what's new and what people are interested in because this will contribute to how the blockchain space continues to evolve and ultimately grow.

What are your predictions for the recent bull market? Will we see the emergence of new layer1 and layer2 chains, more sophisticated projects, increased attention to cybersecurity, and other developments?

We are observing the launch of new blockchains, sustainability, and lower gas fees. We've witnessed the rise of a new generation of founders in the Web3 space — many of whom have transitioned from Web 2, traditional finance, and sophisticated Tier 1 tech giants. They are no longer solely focused on companies like Meta, Apple, and Google. Instead, they aspire to build pioneering blockchain and AI companies for the coming decade. Let's not overlook the advancements in robotics, decentralized biotech, and cybersecurity, which have already leaped to a whole new level with the aid of AI.

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