What’s the answer to make decentralized finance more fun and immersive than its current incarnation of websites and bulletin boards? Apparently it’s community environments reminiscent of video games played on 1990s-era consoles.
That at least is the bet DeFi portal Yearn Finance is making with its latest grant to Atlantis World. The company makes two-dimensional, lightweight digital worlds it believes can make DeFi investing feel more like a game.
In a tweet thread about the new partnership, the official Yearn account wrote that it would be “a 2D pixelverse that doesn’t require expensive tech but will still melt faces.”
The metaverse is one of the big concepts in crypto right now. And it’s the idea that technology will give people behind computer screens new ways to interact beyond the Telegram chats and Discord bulletin boards that dominate the space today.
Yearn’s grant is not just an investment in a new user interface. It’s an investment in a user experience that will directly connect Yearn through a virtual world to all kinds of DeFi applications.
“We are building a buzzy entrepreneurial city where ETH is money and culture is king,” Atlantis World’s co-founder CJ Hetherington told The Defiant in a phone interview.
Yearn has proved itself a leader in DeFi, so this move will likely spur other organizations to follow.
“I’m personally a big fan of the Yearn ecosystem and if we judge them on their past merits they are likely to succeed here as well,” Aleksander Leonard Larsen, Axie Infinity’s chief operating officer, told The Defiant over Discord. “I’m less focused on graphics and more focused on everything that will surround this world. I expect to see NFT lending natively in this world very fast for example.”
While many people think of immersive worlds they must access through VR headsets when they think of the metaverse, really the concept encompasses any shared virtual space. So Axie Infinity, a blockchain-based play-to-earn game, is a subset of the metaverse and if you look at revenue, the current leader of the concept in crypto currently.
Facu A, one of Yearn’s admins, told The Defiant that Yearn got involved simply because they wanted to bring more people into DeFi. “We did it because it’s a great project, done by great builders,” he told The Defiant, over Discord.
Atlantis World believes DeFi needs metaverses, but also that the current iterations are too demanding to help bring new users in. And through the grant, Yearn agrees.
The size of its grant was not disclosed, and details are sparse at this point. But some insight can be gleaned looking at Atlantis World’s presentation last month from EthGlobal’s virtual worlds hackathon, HackFS 2021.
CJ Hetherington, the founder of Atlantis World, shows a demo of the concept in his presentation. It has graphics reminiscent of classic 90s open world video games, like the original Legend of Zelda, where there’s some attempt to create the illusion of 3D but in fact the avatar is moving around a flat space.
The platform was architected this way so as not to shut out users that don’t have the high end equipment needed for a full 3D metaverse experience. Plus, a lighter 2D metaverse will also be attractive to users who have normal computers for normal computer work, rather than high end gaming laptops.
Atlantis World is also building in a feature so that DeFi metaverse’s can be token gated, meaning these spaces can only be accessed by users who have the required DeFi assets.
Atlantis World is predicated on the idea that DeFi would be more inviting by using already established technologies. “Because we’re not implementing DeFi protocols in a fun and gamified way inside of virtual worlds, we really believe that we’re missing out on a key onboarding opportunity for the space as a whole,” Hetherington said in the video.
With Atlantis World, Hetherington said, look forward to a space that helps people access yield farming and high-interest rate savings. And for those who don’t understand DeFi yet, Hetherington promises immersive tutorials, perhaps even with incentives as well.
DeFi Blue Chips
“It is about trying to assist people in feeling more comfortable investing in DeFi applications,” Hetherington said.
People have been playing pixel games since Bill Clinton was president, after all. And COVID has made everyone comfortable with group calls over the internet. Atlantis World plans to put these two very familiar experiences together in a space people intuitively understand, while giving them a way to grow wealth.
Yearn isn’t the only DeFi protocol backing Atlantis World. Hetherington told The Defiant. His company already has support from Polygon and Audius as well, with more on the way.
“There’s going to be a lot of inflow with new partners being onboarded,” Hetherington said. “We’re exploring collaborations with a lot of DeFi blue chips.”
In true DeFi fashion, what Atlantis World builds for Yearn will not be solely for Yearn. It will be connected to many of these DeFi blue chips.
Which is just what Yearn wants as well. “We believe access is essential to the growth of DeFi, and Atlantis World’s vision to reach more people and help them learn and connect is all about expanding access,” wrote Vany, one of Yearn’s admins, when announcing the partnership on Discord.