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Pocketful of Quarters becomes a Unity partner for blockchain gaming

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Pocketful of Quarters (POQ) has become a Unity partner to enable devs to implement blockchain tech for games.

The company received certification as a Unity Verified Solution Partner. That means all game developers on Unity will now have access to POQ’s software developer kit (SDK), enabling them to easily integrate blockchain technology onto their titles.

This means that developers can adopt POQ’s token and use it across a wide variety of games. Rather than taking assets across games, with POQ’s Quarter token you can take the virtual currency across a bunch of games.

That an interesting model for a company that was started in 2018 by a then 12-year-old kid. Yep, George Weiksner and his father Michael cofounded the company, and Michael Weiksner is CEO.

“With over three billion video game players and the metaverse representing an $8 trillion opportunity, investors, players and developers deserve a say in the future of gaming,” said Michael Weiksner, in a statement. “As the biggest blockchain project in the world, POQ is ushering in a new age of interoperability within games, empowering players and developers to create the future of gameplay and the metaverse that we want.”

POQ offers Quarters, the company’s game-agnostic, digital utility token designed for the sole purpose of gameplay that empowers players with the freedom and agility to move from one game to another, said Tim Tello, chief operating officer of POQ, in an interview with GamesBeat. He thinks of the token as similar to the physical tokens you used to get at mall arcades to play the machines. It was a way to keep kids in the arcade as long as they had tokens to play, rather than quarters.

“We had an idea of changing token fragmentation. There are too many games out there, but none of them share tokens,” Tello said.

POQ has a no-action letter from the SEC.

POQ can say this is compliant with regulations because the company received a “no-action letter” in 2019 from the Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning the regulatory agency had no plans to sue the company for the way it structured its video game currency. IMVU also received such a letter. This means POQ may legally sell its Quarters tokens to consumers without registering them as securities (which are heavily regulated and can only be targeted at educated investors).

Yet POQ can say that Quarters is a compliant and interoperable video game currency for the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One

Ultimately, POQ wants the token to move seamlessly along with assets between games. It wants players to use them across hundreds of gaming titles and genres.

Getting traction

POQ’s leadership team.

The company’s investors and advisers include Tim Draper (Draper Associates), Michelle Phan (cofounder of Ipsy) and Chris Cross (formerly of Blizzard Entertainment). The company got off the ground in 2016 and incorporated in 2018. POQ has raised money, and it has about four years of runway, but it won’t say how much. It has just under 40 employees and it generated $1 million in revenue last year.

“We’re at the point now, where we’re doing really well. And we’ve got all the all the backing and all the tools that we need, and we’re able to help these game developers really make make different things happen,” Tello said.

Tello said there are games with two million users that are using the token, thanks to help from Phan, one of the advisers. And Tello said the company has a patent on the “zero-click” transfer technology, which moves the token from one game to another.

“Now that we have the Unity partnership, we have an engineer-less solution that can add blockchain into your game,” said Tello. “We partner with a number of compatible chains and we help you get a grant from a blockchain. It is literally just a plug-and-play for built on Unity. There is one-click authorization.”

How it works

POQ aims to create a lot of alliances.

POQ doesn’t use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in games. It’s just a blockchain-based token, and the token prices are the same. By contrast, Ready Games has created NFT-based tokens that can be used across a variety of games.

“We want to cultivate the onboarding of blockchain into video games,” he said. “If you were to implement blockchain, I can tell you exactly when a token was minted, where it was used, where it was deployed, where it was transacted.”

But the company doesn’t have to worry about privacy law compliance because it isn’t collecting any personal information — just the purchase and sales history.

The cross-platform currency, which has no financial value, offers greater flexibility to developers over how they build, distribute, monetize and cross-market games, ultimately empowering them to create rich, new multiplayer experiences without losing creative and economic control to publishers, Tello said.

Developers can easily “drop in” POQ’s SDK to have access to Quarters within their games, while remaining in full control of how they want to deploy Quarters. This includes complementing their existing currency or replacing their existing currency. Developers who want Quarters to exist alongside their native currency have many options available to them for design and integration. As a result, developers gain the flexibility to integrate Quarters to fit their games, business model and player needs. 

Why stores allow it

A 12-year-old started POQ.

Because POQ doesn’t go as far as others do when it comes to alternative cryptocurrency payments, its Quarters can be used in games that launch on the Apple, Google, and Epic stores. This works for the stores because Quarters prices are always the same. They aren’t sold at discounts, nor do they vary in price across different platforms.

“Our token is much different than most,” Tello said. “It has no par value outside of its economy. It’s not a speculative token.”

That means that Quarters is not a cryptocurrency, even though it uses blockchain technology. Quarters is more like a utility token. POQ has created its own token but it has also created a white label solution for game companies to use as their own. Any games that use the token are interoperable.

Ultimately, POQ believes it has set up a system where both developers and players benefit.

Tello said this system removes the tariff that exists between games. If you move from one game to another, you have to leave your virtual currency behind. Tello said that is a “100% tariff.” If you have virtual currency inside one version of Call of Duty, you can’t use it next year for the next Call of Duty, he said.

“We’ve very much different than everyone else because we want to give the power back to the players,” Tello said.

With POQ, the companies using the Quarters token can establish marketing alliances that can generate customers for each other. So far, there are 60 video game companies signed up to participate. Tello expects them to launch within the next year. One of the rule is that POQ does not allow its customers to put cryptocurrency into their games in addition to Quarters.

“We remember the days when one token could play all the machines in the arcade,” he said. “Connecting games with the same token is the challenge. What you can do now is use the blockchain to connect your game to 100 different games. As you use the tokens, they go away. But when you pop into another game, they’re instantly there. And that’s important to the use case.”

Roblox is a similar example, as it has many games inside its virtual world platform. Those games use the same Robux currency, which only works inside the world and cannot be sold outside the platform.

“But the gaming industry can’t be confined to one app and to one engine,” Tello said. “You need to be able to have Unity and more. You need to be able to build on any platform. And so we’ve introduced the model utilizing blockchain as a service to be able to do that. We can connect games together and audit their transaction history.”

Players don’t know they’re using blockchain. Tello said he is distrustful of the cryptocurrency and NFT-based scammers who are trying to trick people out of their money.

“I want games to be fun. I love video games, as I’ve been building them for a long time. I want games to be better,” Tello said.

Tello said he believes the company got the no-action letter because it approached the SEC to understand compliance, and it also said there would be no par value for the token. You can buy it in the game, but you can’t take it outside of the game into the real world and convert the token into cash. You can take the token to another game, but not to the real world. this kind of structure avoids problems like money laundering, he said.

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