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Scottish Games Studio Bags $1.7m to Pioneer Crypto-Powered MMOs

Ross Kelly

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Project Gateway
A new Scottish video game studio has launched with the hope of bringing the gaming and cryptocurrency communities together in one open-world universe.  

Carbon Based Lifeforms, led by Scottish author, futurist and tech evangelist Theo Priestley, has secured $1.7 million in pre-seed funding to begin work on its ambitious first title, dubbed ‘Project Gateway’. 

Project Gateway is a space-themed massively multiplayer online (MMO) game which Priestley says will combine elements from traditional MMOs with original IP and storytelling. 

Against an expansive and vibrant galactic backdrop, players will be able to gather resources and trade, craft unique in-game items and forge new friendships, alliance and factions. 

The game will feature a deep backstory and extensive lore, according to the studio. Several character races will be available to players, with each boasting their own unique cultural traits and civilisation.  

The immersive title draws inspiration from other popular MMO titles over the years, such as EvE Online and World of Warcraft, but plans to go one step further and reward players for their time, effort and engagement in-game. 

To do this, Gateway will feature a player-driven, NFT asset-based economy underpinned by Bitcoin. Led by two economists at the studio, the game’s market economy means players can derive real-world value from their unique creations, Priestley says.  

“The in-game economy we’re designing is a fully open economy that is largely player-driven and player owned. In a way, it mirrors real world markets,” he explains.  

The benefit of this is that players can craft new in-game assets and give them real-world value as an NFT, then sell them to other players to use in-game using Bitcoin. 

Priestley adds: “For example, a player may trade base resources and materials in the game, or mine and gather them from asteroids, then by using the crafting system create an entirely new asset (like a ship module, weapon, shielding etc) which they can either use themselves, sell directly to another player, or create a type of blueprint for mass production by a player corporation.” 


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The concept for Project Gateway is the culmination of several years’ worth of work dating back to 2017, Priestley says. At the time, the concept of a play-to-earn MMO did not fully exist, and early development began amidst a backdrop of ICOs (initial coin offerings) to fund new games. 

This popular type of crowdfunding involved the cryptocurrency community by launching new currency tokens that were tied to a game’s economy. During this early stage, Priestley reveals the studio avoided jumping on the ICO bandwagon, and the project was shelved in early 2019.  

“It was something that we resisted moving forward, because we could already see where the trend was going to lead. And we were right. Many of those projects failed, or simply vanished with the money,” Priestley explains. 

“Our game design and IP centred around a real working, player-driven economy that was underpinned by blockchain. At the time, NFTs were not even considered as part of the video game industry, and as a result traditional investors couldn’t see why this was needed at all.” 

Fast forward to 2021, and the landscape looks very different. Over the last 18-months, global interest in NFTs has skyrocketed and the maturation of the cryptocurrency landscape means the Gateway concept is an exciting proposition for investors. 

Crucially, the recent investment led by Shima Capital and Cluster VC underlines the potential of the project and the future of play-to-earn gaming, Priestley believes.  

“The fund is an affirmation that a vision I had four years ago was ahead of time, and the market is now ready. With large AAA studios now announcing their intention to explore this new genre, I’m confident that our team can stand alongside and lead the industry and gamer communities towards this new future,” he says. 

The funding will be used to hire and resource the studio, build the gamer community and work with co-development partners to build early slices of gameplay, Priestley adds. This will enable the studio to secure a larger funding round to support full development.

We’ll be revealing the game itself in January along with a wallet and NFT marketplace via our partner, Zebedee, that will give gamers early access to in-game assets and starter packs.” 

Long-term, the hope for Project Gateway is to create a universe that will “sit within the much larger Metaverse,” Priestley says.  

“We believe that every online game will eventually become a piece of the whole and start to adopt the various components that are required as standard.”


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Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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