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The Tiny Digital Factory announced that it is developing Infinite Drive as the “first true metaverse for driving”. The mobile game will use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3 technology.
Based in Montreal, Canada and Lyon, France, the games studio has 35 employees and long-standing relationships with car manufacturers. It said the free-to-play game will already have licensed more than 100 cars by the end of the year.
Infinite Drive is expected to launch globally on mobile in Q1. But the company will sell NFTs of its cars in the summer.
Infinite Drive tests players’ driving skills and combines accessible and authentic gameplay with graphically beautiful recreations of officially licensed cars, the company said.
The Tiny Digital Factory has long-standing relationships with world-class car manufacturers such as McLaren, Porsche, Mercedes AMG and Ford, while the Infinite Drive showroom already includes high-performance cars from Renault, Alpine, Ruf and W Motors.
Designed by racing fans for racing fans, Infinite Drive’s simulation-based gameplay will bring the thrill of being in the driver’s seat to the mobile metaverse, the company said. Players can feel, hear and experience the unique characteristics of each car on the track and compete against each other online.
With the power of web3 technology, highly skilled drivers will be able to “race to make money”. You can participate in official races and competitions and even share the prizes just like a real racing team.
Additionally, the integration of Web3 technology allows players to build, trade and own their own dream car collection while battling for pole position on the race track. Beginning this summer, Infinite Drive will offer an initial collection of 5,000 licensed NFT cars from premium real-world brands, providing immediate access to the game’s closed alpha phase.
However, players are not required to own a car to enjoy Infinite Drive and hone their racing skills, and the full game will be free to play on iOS and Android.
“With its game-first engine architecture and unique digital car ownership, Infinite Drive is the culmination of twenty years of driving simulation games,” said Stephane Baudet, CEO of The Tiny Digital Factory, in a statement. “For decades, racing fans have lovingly stared at dream cars in virtual garages. So we used Web3 technology to allow players to actually own and earn from their vehicles, alongside an amazing on-track gaming experience. Offering the accessibility of mobile gaming combined with play and earning, Infinite Drive provides the tools to reward passionate players who are already organizing racing events and helps us create the very best driving experience.”
The company’s developers have worked on such titles as Jurassic World: The Game, Gangstar, Hitman Sniper, Fallout Shelter, and Rollercoaster Tycoon Touch.
The Tiny Digital Factory team’s experience includes chart-topping GT Manager and F1 Mobile Racing. It also partnered with Animoca Brands to create F1 Delta Time, a groundbreaking Web3 driving game, as well as the acclaimed game REVV Racing. Animoca Brands lost its license to the F1 brand and announced in March that it would discontinue F1 Delta Time.
Infinite Drive has so far been fully funded by The Tiny Digital Factory, Baudet said in an email to GamesBeat.
The first collection of NFT cars will be released to the community in early July 2022, while The Tiny Digital Factory’s upcoming Series A funding round will support the public release of Infinite Drive.
The company has worked with more than 20 automakers on previous games over the past three years.
“We have already licensed around 30 car models from six car manufacturers for Infinite Drive. More top car brands will be announced in the coming weeks and we expect more than 100 car models to be registered by the end of 2022,” said Baudet.
In addition to the cars, the company has official racetracks and is in talks with several racing franchises around the world and in countries such as the US, UK, Japan and Australia.
“Rather than just licensing championships, however, we want to equip these partners with tools to build and manage their own digital events for their communities,” said Baudet.
I asked what Baudet thought about the resistance of gamers and some game developers to NFT games.
He said: “Ten years ago we saw the same kind of resistance when mobile gaming embraced the free-to-play model. With our partner Animoca Brands we have been dealing with blockchain gaming since 2020. Initially, we too were skeptical about the sustainability of these game economies, but little by little we learned about decentralized mechanisms like co-ownership and the benefits it offers to players. With blockchain games, invested players can really benefit from their time or financial investment. Governance mechanisms also allow the player community to be heard and have a positive impact on the game development roadmap.”
The game’s closed alpha will be available in early July 2022. Everyone who owns one of the first series cars gets instant access to the game. The game’s public release is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
“Infinite Drive has a game-first engine architecture at its beating heart combined with the accessibility of mobile free-to-play, play-and-earn and unique digital car ownership,” said Baudet. “Web3 also provides tools to reward invested players who organize community racing events and help us provide the best driving experience.”
Baudet said about the business model: “In my opinion, web3 offers a more balanced business model between players, investors and developers. If the game is a success, these 3 parties should benefit equally. The play-and-earn races and rental income make it more profitable for dedicated users. As players earn, the game goes viral and less marketing investment is required to attract new users.”
A racing metaverse?
I also asked how it was a racing metaverse as opposed to a pure racing game.
“Infinite Drive is more of a digital space for car enthusiasts than just a game. The focus is on the garages with users’ NFT car collections from which they can share their favorite cars with the community,” said Baudet. “It also offers the first marketplace specifically targeted and tailored for new and used car NFTs. Today, car enthusiasts spend hours browsing sites like Autotrader to discover hidden gems or rare car models. I love when the Infinite Drive community is having fun and spending time browsing our marketplace content. Finally, Infinite Drive provides functionality for users to build communities (clubs) around interests such as car brands or to gather to show and test their respective cars.”
Baudet also spoke about the inspiration for the game.
“Almost 18 years ago I ran my first games studio, Eden Games. Back then, MMO games were popular and I wanted to build a supercar themed MMO,” said Baudet. “Fortunately, Atari, our parent company, had a brand, Test Drive, that kick-started the entire supercar fantasy in video games in the 1980s. Together with a very talented team we took over this dormant brand and developed Test Drive Unlimited, the first Massive Multiplayer Online Racing Game (MMORG). Even if Test Drive Unlimited introduced several innovations to the racing genre, at the time the technology was too limited to fully realize our vision and we were just too small a studio to build everything. The concept of Infinite Drive is similar to Test Drive Unlimited, but this time I want it to be an open platform so we can achieve it together with partners and the player community.”
Before joining Tiny Digital Factory, key team members worked on numerous hit console and mobile games such as Jurassic Park World, Fallout Shelter, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Hitman Sniper. Since then, the company as a company has developed or co-developed numerous games in the racing genre, including F1 Mobile Racing (EA), GT Manager (self-published), F1 Delta Time, and Revv Racing (both Animoca brands).
Baudet founded the studio in Montreal in 2015 and opened a second studio in Lyon in 2017 with the addition of his collaborators Pierre Carde (Managing Director) and Olivier Raffard (Licensing and Business Manager).
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