Azarus, a “Smart Challenge” platform that offers gamers the ability to compete for digital assets in both casual and competitive gaming challenges, announced it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Galaxy Digital via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund, Kleiner Perkins, and SVK Crypto, among others.
Launched in late 2018, Azarus’ “Smart Challenge” platform motivates players by using in-game API data and information pulled from Twitch extensions to measure victory conditions in online games, paying out rewards to the victors and their fans alike.
The “Smart Challenge” platform empowers users to create their own rules and challenges, the terms of which are notarized on the EOSIO blockchain in order to maximize transparency and fairness.
Viewers and players earn AZA credits by watching Azarus-enabled amateur and professional esports streams and answering historical or predictive questions based on the broadcasts. AZAs can be redeemed at the Azarus Marketplace in exchange for rare in-game items, digital assets, and more.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Bing Gordon, Partner at Kleiner Perkins” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”17″]“Driving retention and engagement have become critical factors of success in online games. The Azarus challenge/reward platform gives players an added element of skin in the game, which we believe will help publishers experience higher levels of retention and engagement. This, combined with their innovative blockchain integration, makes Azarus one of the best ideas we have seen in the space.”[/perfectpullquote]
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Sam Englebardt, Co-founder & Partner of Galaxy Digital and the firm’s Co-Head of Principal Investments” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”17″]“Azarus’ implementation of blockchain tech and the EOSIO protocol is precisely what we look to invest in from the Galaxy EOS VC Fund: a scalable and consumer-friendly gaming platform that demonstrates the promise of blockchain technology. We have tremendous confidence in the team’s vision and ability to execute.”[/perfectpullquote]
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Hugh Cochrane, co-founder of SVK Crypto” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”17″]“Gaming is one of the verticals that we have identified as proof points for the efficacy of blockchain technology. As one of our initial investments, we were drawn to Azarus’ platform approach and the potential for Azarus to leverage blockchain to disrupt the entire gaming ecosystem.”[/perfectpullquote]
The close of seed funding follows a series of successful pilot tests in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneurs Lab, an international program dedicated to supporting start-ups with businesses in gaming and entertainment. As part of the program, Azarus collaborated with Ubisoft teams to conduct several successful tests with the publisher’s flagship eSports game – Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six™ Siege. Results indicated that in limited rounds with select Creators, Azarus-enabled streams saw a comparable increase in viewership and engagement metrics, as well as an increase in the frequency of gameplay by players.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Jean Guerin, Director of Community Engagement, Ubisoft EMEA” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”17″]“We are excited to see what opportunities blockchain can bring to players and us, world creators. This is the reason why we got interested in the technology in the first place and our collaboration with Azarus shows we are headed in the right direction to offer new engaging interactions and entertainment experiences.”[/perfectpullquote]
Azarus was founded by game industry veterans Alex Casassovici, Erik Whiteford, and Andrew Lacy. With more than a decade of business experience in mobile services, cloud services, and VR devices, the team also brings to the table experience working with enduring game brands like Madden Football, NBA 2K, James Bond, Harry Potter, and World of Tanks.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Alex Casassovici, Co-founder & CEO of Azarus.io” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”17″]“We aim to vastly improve the connection between players, creators, and publishers through the deployment of what we call Smart Challenges. By letting anyone set their own rules, stakes, and rewards, against their friends or audience, on the games they already play, we’ll unlock a new dimension to amplify the industry as a whole.”[/perfectpullquote]