A lot of blockchain companies are jumping into video games, hoping to get their piece of what many believe to be the crypto space’s next big thing.
Not Refereum, though. The San Francisco-based blockchain rewards and marketing company are gamers first.
“We’re not just a blockchain company that said video games are relevant. We’ve been in the video game space for the last 10 years,” says CEO Dylan Jones. “We are gamers who fell in love with blockchain because of the actual problems it can solve.”
Fans of ICON’s developer-centric philosophy, Refereum has joined the P-Rep campaign in hopes of supporting the network by not only running a node, but also by listening closely to the community.
“Since its very start, Refereum has been about community,” says Jones. “I understand people say that, but ever since day one, we’ve been affiliate marketing people. Our mission as a company is to reward people for their passion. We’re not some B2B community that only cares about community because of tokens.”
He adds, “Because of those roots at the company, because that is how we go at our bottom-up approach, we really do want to hear from the community and open that dialogue.”
Blockchain as a real solution to real problems
The Refereum team comprises members with experience at giants like Google and Facebook, where they worked on some of the market’s most popular game titles. Though Jones is based in San Francisco, the Refereum team is split between Silicon Valley and Australia, enabling 24-hour-a-day operations. It’s an approach that’s perfect for the crypto space. “Check out product in the morning, report bugs at night and be finished by the time we wake up,” says Jones. “It’s just like crypto. Crypto never sleeps, and neither do we.”
Refereum’s mission is to reward gamers for helping game developers market their products. WIth Refereum, gamers can earn cryptocurrency for doing what they love to do – playing games, streaming games, posting about games and referring games to the similarly minded. Jones explains that blockchain solves one of the major problems facing the gaming industry, namely, that gamers no longer look to advertisers or read game reviews in media for information about games. Now they look to regular people, fellow gamers in places such as Youtube or Twitch.
The problem is, these people aren’t being compensated for their efforts.
“When you share a game with your friend, that’s nice of you, and hopefully your friend likes it,” says Jone. “But a developer is very happy you did that and they want to reward you in the same way that they would reward one of those top influencers if they brought in 1,000 fans instead of just one. But the tools to do that are incredibly limited because of payment problems and other issues.”
Refereum has worked with popular game titles such as State of Decay 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends and the Battlefield series. On Wednesday, they announced a partnership with Korea-based PUBG Corporation – makers of the massive popular multiplayer battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – that would for the first time reward gamers for what they do in-game, such as completing quests.
Starting with the basics
Refereum has been involved with ICON for a while now and has been working with ICON groups on Telegram. Jones likes what the network is trying to do, and his team looks forward to diving a little deeper into the platform by becoming a node.
He particularly appreciates how ICON forged ahead with a developer-centric approach. “Taking a developer-first approach is extremely difficult,” he says. “I think in the blockchain industry, people can sometimes forget just how difficult creating companies in this new space can be. To forge paths is difficult in blockchain, let alone one that is so developer-first. That, for me, just swoons my heart. I think it’s fantastic.”
Jones says Refereum is running for P-Rep through the lens of developers. Though the team doesn’t want to lock itself into anything too soon, they are keen to address the needs of the developer community. Jones says, “We’re going into it looking very closely at the developer ecosystem, and we want to hear from the community what the best way to support that is.”
He says that in an emerging industry like blockchain, developers have innumerable needs. Accordingly, there’s a need to prioritize. He suggests we start with the basics, by getting developers actually using blockchain. “There have been a few companies that have actually taken the time to invest resources into usability,” he says. “There’s a lot of education that needs to take place in this space to bring this for more than the small pool of developers that we have now.”
Though true mainstream adoption of blockchain may still be some ways away, Jones says we can do things to encourage hobbyists to use the technology. In particular, we can make it easier to use. He asks, “How do we lower the barriers with usability to go from interested to shipping something?”
Big in Korea
Refereum has taken an especially keen interest in the Korean market, as demonstrated by the recent PUBG deal. When its website began localizating, Korean was the first language selected. It also maintains an active Korean-language Telegram and hosts meetups and other events in Korea.
“We’re not just another Western company,” says Jones. “We’ve really put a lot of resources into throwing meetups in Korea, into engaging that community, into working with advisors on the ground there, into shipping our team members out there for months at a time, just because we were so passionate about tapping into Korea and working with the community there.”
Why Korea? Because Korea is way ahead of the curve, he says. As many as one in four Koreans may hold ERC20s, he says. In Korea, adoption moves fast.
And then there’s the country’s gaming heritage.
“We’re born in games. We’re born steaming,” he says. “Korea invented these things.”
“Why focus on Korea? They get it.”
Jones encourages people to pop into Refereum’s Telegram – especially its Korean Telegram – where his team would love to answer your questions. You can also see what Refereum has been up to, including updates regarding plans for their ICON node.
“We’re here to be a voice of the people,” he says. “We want to be hearing what the community has to say.”