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How Digital Horse Racing Became an NFT Favorite

Chris Laurent, co-founder of Zed Run, tells how their virtual horse-racing game has swept the crypto world.

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It all started with a poster in Chinese restaurant in Australia.

Chris Laurent, co-founder of Virtually Human Studio in Sydney and inventor of the NFT horse-racing game Zed Run, was picking up his dinner one night in late 2017 when he noticed an advertisement on the wall for a local stud farm. It provided a stallion for breeding for a cost of $15,000 Australian dollars.

Laurent, a horse-racing fan who was working as a consultant for an Australian bookmaker at the time, examined the poster more closely and found a caption beneath it that said that this specific horse might reproduce up to 200 times each year.

Laurent had dismissed CryptoKitties, a Pokémon-style digital trading game based on the Ethereum blockchain, as “kind of silly” at the time, but seeing this poster made him realize that a version of CryptoKitties’ breeding system could be used to democratize racehorse ownership and share more of the money made with the average punter.

A few months later, Zed Run was born.

Zed Run co-creator Chris Laurent. Image: Virtually Human

The non-fungible token, a provably unique crypto asset that may be connected to digital content, lies at the heart of Zed Run. Images, video, music, or, in the instance of Zed Run, a digital horse can all be used as material.

Laurent and co-founder Rob Salha couldn’t think anyone would pay money for their non-fungible gee-gees at first, especially since the game’s racing and breeding components had yet to be released. Within a few weeks, horses purchased from Zed for $80 were selling for as much as $10,000 on secondary markets. That’s when the two recognized they’d hit upon something.

“The greatest method to bring in new consumers when it comes to blockchain adoption is to give them something they’re comfortable with,” Laurent says. “You don’t have to explain why Zed is doing well: you buy a horse, pay to join a race, and take home a share of the pot if you’re successful—simply that’s it.”

Zed Run races take place on a neon-tinged, futuristic course. Image: Virtually Human

Zed Run events take place on a floating track that slices across a Tron-style retro-futurist landscape, unlike the actual thing. Each race is decided purely by the inherent abilities of the dozen contending horses, with the outcome determined by an algorithm that considers thousands of conceivable outcomes.

Those abilities are based on the horse’s DNA, which is determined by three factors: the horse’s bloodline (Nakamoto, Szabo, Finney, or Buterin, each with its own set of characteristics), genotype (a number that indicates how far removed it is from its ancestors, with 1 being the minimum and 268 being the maximum), and breed (Genesis, Legendary, Exclusive, Elite, Cross, or Pacer).

Digital Thoroughbreds

Only 38,000 Genesis horses—the game’s quickest and purest digital nags—will ever be available, but breeding two of them together gives you one of the others. For example, given their combined genomes, the progeny of two Genesis Nakamotos will be Legendary, while a Genesis Nakamoto and Legendary Szabo coupling will produce an Exclusive Szabo, and so on.

The purer your horse, the better your chances of owning a winner, but entering the appropriate races is the key to Zed Run success. Each horse is given a rating based on its performance after their first benchmark event, which decides which class it belongs to. You can enter races above but not below your horse’s class, with points earned or deducted based on performance in subsequent races. The higher your horse’s victory rate, the higher its secondary market value will be, and the more you may charge other owners to breed with it.

And that’s where Zed Run stands apart from most other NFTs: it genuinely provides investors something to do with their money. Owners of NFT art can hold on to their investment and hope for a price increase over time, but they can’t compete with a JPEG. “We’re one of the first NFTs to provide a positive user experience,” Laurent claims. “Not only can you use your NFT as a store of value, but you can also play with it and earn a profit without losing ownership of it.”

Races in the Zed Run are notoriously tight, with apparently ‘lesser’ horses regularly defeating those with purer bloodlines. Watching one presently has limited appeal for those without a stake in the game—but betting is only one of many things in the Zed pipeline. “We’ve spoken to the bulk of large wagering operators throughout the world,” Laurent says, “and we’ll collaborate with them in the future once we have the framework and regulations in place to be able to do that.” “We don’t want to hurry into it.”

Skins In The Game

Skins are a more recent addition to the Zed Run stable. Horses are presently available in a variety of colors, including black, pink, and green, but Zed will soon begin auctioning skins in conjunction with “some of the best companies in the world,” according to Laurent. These will be delivered via collectible NFT cartridges in line with the ’80s style, with the first ones coming as part of a cooperation with Atari.

These skins will initially be purely decorative, but you’ll eventually be able to limit races to only those who own a specific type of skin, as part of a larger effort to give the Zed community more control over how everything works, beginning with a ‘party mode’ that allows users to create private events that only their friends can attend. Laurent explains, “We want the timetable to be more organic and user-driven.” “That, we believe, is the first step towards handing the torch to our community.”

Staying On Track

Zed will also add track conditions, weather, gate preference, weariness, tiers within classes, and possibly avatars in the coming years, though Laurent thinks the latter would likely necessitate a new game mode. “We had jockeys in our first mock-ups, and then we put the game together, and the horses looked fantastic by themselves,” he explains, before detailing how owners will be able to hire specific jockeys to help their horses win. “Another reason we left it out was because cross-pollinating two NFTs that are based on performance is difficult,” he continues. “It may come in the future, I’m not too sure just yet, but it certainly sounds like a really interesting area to explore.”

Laurent has a lot of additional ideas that he wants to try out, including fences and jumping, racetrack ownership, and even 1,000-horse races, but it’s a long-term goal. Laurent has even greater ideas for the future than Zed, who recently purchased a plot of land in the crypto-based virtual world Decentraland, where users will be able to socialize with other owners, find new horses, and watch races. “We’ve been talking about AR and VR since the beginning,” he explains. “You could put on a headset and watch some horses galloping across the Las Vegas strip, or you could take out your phone and simulate them galloping through the real world in front of you.”

While limited public acceptance of that technology means that those kinds of executions remain niche, Laurent is confident that we’ll get there eventually, which is why a Zed Run horse has a jaw, teeth, and tongue, as well as blinking and moving its lips and nostrils. He describes his idea of a Zed Run horse being passed down through families like an antique watch or cherished ring, eventually emerging in a Ready Player One-style metaverse. “Thinking about that is mind-boggling, and a lot of people won’t get it, but things will proceed in that direction.”

Meanwhile, Laurent wants to reassure anyone who thinks they’ve already missed the Zed train that it’s still early days. Only around half of the 38,000 Genesis horses have been released so far, and there’s a reason why the game is still in beta.

“There are a lot of factors in the coding that haven’t been activated yet,” he explains. “One of the most crucial aspects of the ecosystem is guaranteeing that every racehorse has a home, and that if you enter the game in five years, you will still have a shot. If you’re here right now, you’re not too late, in our opinion.”

NFT

Could this trademark application indicate that PayPal is developing an NFT market? 

A trademark application for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology has been submitted by PayPal. Some claim that the file has something to do with Web3 and the metaverse, although it may be tied to an NFT marketplace.

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A recent trademark application by PayPal has been found, and it suggests the development of a service pertaining to several facets of blockchain technology. The file, which was made on October 18, makes a notable allusion to the potential introduction of a non-fungible token (NFT) market.

For its logo, PayPal submitted two trademark applications. The first one concerns “downloadable software” for cryptocurrency trading and storage. The second discusses cryptocurrency-related payment processing services.

Although users may currently buy cryptocurrencies on PayPal’s platform, this filing suggests that there may be more to come. The concept of assets is substantially broader in the filing’s terminology. Mike Kondoudis, a trademark lawyer licensed by the USPTO, claimed on Twitter that this filing relates to NFTs and the metaverse.

Although there is no proof to support this, it would not be shocking if it were true. The finance business would be adding its name to a lengthy list of businesses that are starting to make inroads into the Web3 and metaverse spaces.

PayPal is investing more in cryptocurrency.
Over the past two years, PayPal has intensified its focus on cryptocurrencies. First, the company made a huge announcement for the industry by saying that consumers would be able to purchase cryptocurrency on its platform.

However, it didn’t start enabling users to move those funds into wallets outside of the network until recently. It indicated that it would roll out additional crypto-related features in the latter part of last year. One of those additions might be an NFT marketplace.

It teamed up with Coinbase’s TRUST network more recently. This was viewed by many as an endorsement of the sector. The TRUST network upholds consumer security and privacy while adhering to the banking industry’s Travel Rule.

Increased Criticism of Payment Giant
Additionally, PayPal has been in the spotlight for all the incorrect reasons. The business has recently come under fire for a contentious policy that penalized users for disseminating false information. Later, it claimed that false information was released with the amended policy. Crypto aficionados, however, were eager to point to this as evidence of the value of decentralization.

PayPal established a blockchain and cryptocurrency advisory committee earlier this year. According to the company’s management, working with governments is essential to overcoming obstacles and seizing possibilities.

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NFT

Seba Bank, a cryptocurrency company, aims to store valuable NFTs

Seba Bank, a cryptocurrency company, has launched its first NFT service, a blue-chip NFT-specific institutional-grade, certified, and independently audited hot and cold storage custody product.

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The launch comes in response to requests from customers to keep their NFTs with the bank alongside other crypto assets, such as the already-approved Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cryptopunk, and Clone X NFTs. The bank stated that new collections would be added based on customer demand.

With its newest offering, Seba Bank seeks to entice investors who view NFTs as an asset class and crypto natives. Not your keys, not your bitcoin is a well-known phrase in the crypto sphere, and adherents of this maxim could object to having their Apes or Punks stored with a third-party custodian.

Urs Bernegger, co-head of markets and investment solutions at Seba Bank, however, highlights a growing group of NFT holders who are more at ease handing up their NFTs and private keys to a company.

They don’t want the key because they aren’t even aware of how to handle and store it. He claimed that they’re more concerned with damaging the key than giving it to a bank.

It’s a significant issue. Between 2.3 million and 3.7 million bitcoins, according to Chainalysis, are trapped in inaccessible wallets. Numerous accounts of people have lost millions owing to losing private keys, including Russian officials, students, and engineers. Families have also been prevented from accessing substantial quantities of money following sudden deaths in which wallet owners had not disclosed their private keys.

Bernegger asserts institutional custody can be advantageous for native crypto users as well. There has been an increase in businesses providing services that employ NFTs as collateral for conventional banking services like loans.

Seba Bank is thinking about implementing these features in the future. Based in the crypto-friendly Swiss town of Zug, the four-year-old bank already backs several investing, credit, lending, and staking options for cryptocurrencies and might extend them to NFTs.

“Instead of traveling to the market, for instance, we could create a club for collectors and assist them in finding other collectors. There are a few things we have in mind, but we laid the groundwork by storing NFTs securely at first, “explained he.

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The NFT album maker for Kings of Leon now includes a metaverse music venue

YellowHeart, a Web3 ticketing startup, is opening a metaverse music venue in an effort to transform how performers, teams, and event organizers distribute tickets and interact with fans.

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The facility, constructed on Spatial, will feature Grammy-nominated blues musician G.Love as its opening act later this year. Fans can communicate with one another, participate in meet-and-greets before and after performances, and use several screens to view what is happening in various areas of the stadium simultaneously.

They will soon be able to order meals and drinks before the event, which will also be available as digital things.

The idea of an online concert has so far primarily been popularized by big gaming companies. The most well-liked virtual competitions have occurred on sites like Fortnite and Roblox. Ariana Grande’s Fortnite concert in August 2021 received 78 million viewers. Next month, Decentraland will host its second Metaverse Music Festival. Over 100 musicians are on the lineup, including well-known performers like Ozzy Osbourne and Soulja Boy.

In addition to throwing an event, YellowHeart, which assisted Kings of Leon in releasing an NFT version of their most recent album, stated that it hoped to accomplish more. It was established in 2017 with the lofty goal of revolutionizing the music ticketing sector as a whole, which has historically been dominated by powerful reselling organizations and exclusive ticketing relationships. These alliances frequently impose limitations on what purchasers can and cannot do with their tickets. Trying to resell a ticket for a concert you can’t go to might be a headache.

YellowHeart believes these issues can be resolved by returning control to artists and fans via web3 technology. Additionally, it may provide advantages that cannot be programmed into conventional tickets.

“These range from complete albums to personalized vinyl records, exclusive merchandise, and immersive visual art. Web3 tickets also allow performers to update fans on new tour dates, music releases, giveaway possibilities, and much more, according to the business.

It has already collaborated with well-known figures, including Julian Lennon, Maroon 5, and MGM Resorts. Contrary to the non-NFT versions offered on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms, those obtained through YellowHeart entailed particular customer benefits.

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