Avalon seeks partners to build Web3 gaming’s interoperable future

Colin Campbell, Tuesday, April 11th, 2023 11:49 am

Fresh from raising $13 million in funding, Avalan Corp is beginning to outline its vision for Web3 game development, most particularly the company’s belief in creating development tools that aid world and asset creation, as well as interoperability between games.

CEO and founder Sean Pinnock acknowledges that the company’s core offering is a game engine, albeit one made from the ground-up to help resolve Web3 game development’s most pressing challenges.

“We’re trying to make it really easy for anyone to be able to build content that’s a lot more user friendly and accessible than the applications that exist today,” says Pinnock. “We want to make it easier to build triple-A content that people can expand upon.”

Avalon’s pitch is that the world is full of talented modders who are working on triple-A games that yield enormous benefits and engagements to the game’s intellectual property holders. These companies do rarely pay the actual modders for their excellent work, and yet the IP-holders yield enormous benefits in terms of reputation and engagement.

Avalon wants to create an engine that can deliver both triple-A visual and gameplay expectations, as well as ownership to the modders, and opportunities to further monetize through in-game asset sales and other marketing initiatives.

In the meantime, Avalon is not currently planning to release its own content, preferring to focus on its engine work. “It will be a while before we release our own content,” says Pinnock. “We’re focused on giving people the best tools to make their own games, in ways that we haven’t seen before.”

Crowded worlds

One of the most valid criticisms of metaverse games, as they stand, is either they are ghost towns, or they become crowded, usually because of a short burst of unplanned publicity. This can ruin a game’s long-term success, as its publisher seeks to ramp up population capabilities long after the initial novelty has waned.

“Getting thousands of people and instances together in-service requires an extreme amount of engineering,” says Pinnock. “For us, that’s all going to work out of the box. You’ll be able to build really dense wars, like Coruscant [urban planet in Star Wars universe]. How do you build a world like that without a team of masterclass technical artists, optimizing your world? Well, we’re building that technology for you. You don’t have to understand any of those things. You can just build.”

Avalon is a great believer in conjoining forces and technologies to resolve Web3’s obstacles. Much of Avalan’s work is based on Unreal 5’s GPU-driven rendering pipeline, Nanite. “We’ve run some tests with Nanite and we’ve got literally trillions of polygons inside our scenes,” says Pinnock. “We’re able to create these kits based on technology like Nanite, so our users can build these incredibly dense, highly visceral worlds and not have to understand anything about traditional game developer hacks like material instancing, and static meshes and draw-call packaging.”

Avalon’s chief product officer Jeffrey Butler’s resume includes a long period at Sony Interactive Entertainment. “A metaverse is going to appear,” he says. “It’s going to be by virtue of technology creating partners that get together. Creating technology takes hundreds and thousands of people. But we’re at that point, that singularity, where there are enough brilliant people out there working in Web3, trying to create incredible technology, and it only makes sense when those people find ways to come together and cooperate.”


Avalon’s work will depend heavily on metaverse gaming’s article of faith – that large social-play-entertainment digital spaces will attract visitors, players, creators, and a creator-economy robust enough to sustain the rest.

Lacking a single force able to coral the many competing entities right now, Pinnock is positive that mutual interest will bring companies together, most especially to resolve Web3 gaming’s most outlandish promise, and its thorniest problem – interoperability.

“Interoperability is incredibly hard, but we know it can work,” says Pinnock. “We can build systems that balance interoperability within our own ecosystems, moving items around a product like Roblox for example. But the really big challenge is moving those items into other ecosystems.”

When he worked at Sony Online Entertainment, Butler was instrumental in the work behind MMO EverQuest. He believes that interoperability depends on a common set of standards that mitigates against game-or-narrative based anomalies like “light sabers dropping into Lord of the Rings,” and that a popular game engine can help set those standards.

“We need to be creating filters to allow people to move items between intellectual properties or creating a baseline ruleset that encompasses, effectively, all types of item,” he says. “Think about a Marvel Universe, for instance. IUt would be fairly easy for a game designer to create a formula to allow Naruto and people from the Marvel Universe to interact. Martial arts, magical powers, can be encompassed within a ruleset. And so that’s just one of the many things that we’ll be working on in terms of interoperability – the ability to create a common rule set that allows people to create things from every intellectual property that they might love.”

Generative AI

Any company that wishes to try its hand in the highly competitive game engine business needs to hold a clear view of the kinds of games developers are going to be making in the next decade. Avalon is betting on large, social spaces, aka the metaverse.

“The game that I’d like to see lead the charge is the next generation of Final Fantasy 14 or World of Warcraft,- a massively multiplayer game with more powerful advanced AI,” says Butler. “A game that pushes the envelope with generative AI, where we’re seeing massive advances. A game that creates greater social connections than anything we’ve never been able to see before, with a new phase of content that involves users, authors, crowd sourced authorship and creation.”

He adds: The most important thing that needs to happen with massively multiplayer games and games in general, is to break the content lock that currently exists where it takes years to create new update content to continue to update again. It’s way past time for user generated content to make the entrance into these mainstream games, powered by generative AI.”

Avalon’s goal is to provide a key element that gets us from the present situation – a tangled mess of technological, market, and competitive challenges – to one more where a plausible resolution might be on the table.

“The metaverse is going to be a confluence of a partnership of those people working together,” says Pinnock. “Not just Web3, but lots of lots of technology verticals. We’re just putting one element of that into the mix.”

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist.

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