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The Tiny Digital Factory announced it is making Infinite Drive as the “first real driving metaverse.” The mobile game will use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3 technology.
The Montreal, Canada, and Lyon, France-based game studio has 35 people and it has longstanding relationships with carmakers. It said the free-to-play game already will have more than 100 cars licensed by the end of the year.
Infinite Drive is expected to debut worldwide on mobile devices in the first quarter. But the company will sell NFTs of its cars during the summer.
Testing players’ driving skills, Infinite Drive will combine accessible and authentic gameplay with graphically beautiful re-creations of officially licensed cars, the company said.
The Tiny Digital Factory has long-standing relationships with world-class carmakers such as McLaren, Porsche, Mercedes AMG, and Ford, while Infinite Drive’s 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 will be able to feel, hear and experience each car’s unique characteristics out on track, competing online with each other.
With the power of web3 technology, highly-skilled drivers will be able to “race to earn.” They can enter official races, competitions and even share in the winnings, just like a real-world racing team.
In addition, the integration of Web3 technology allows players to build, trade and own their own dream car collection as they compete for pole position on the track. Starting in the summer, Infinite Drive will offer an initial collection of 5,000 licensed NFT cars from premium real-world brands, which will provide immediate access to the game’s closed alpha phase.
However, there is no requirement for players 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 zenith of twenty years of making driving simulation games,” said Stephane Baudet, CEO at The Tiny Digital Factory, in a statement. “For decades, racing fans have been staring lovingly at dream cars in virtual garages. So we’ve used Web3 tech to make it possible for gamers to actually own and earn from their vehicles, alongside a stunning player experience out on track. Infinite Drive offers the accessibility of mobile games, combined with play and earn, providing the tools to reward passionate players who are already organizing racing events and helping us create the very best driving experience.”
The company’s developers have worked on titles such as Jurassic World: The Game, Gangstar, Hitman Sniper, Fallout Shelter and Rollercoaster Tycoon Touch.
The Tiny Digital Factory team’s experience includes the chart-topping GT Manager and F1 Mobile Racing. It also worked with Animoca Brands to develop F1 Delta Time, a pioneering Web3 driving game, as well as the renowned REVV Racing game. Animoca Brands lost its license for the F1 brand and announced in March that it was shutting down F1 Delta Time.
Infinite Drive has so far been entirely funded by The Tiny Digital Factory, said Baudet, 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 been working with more than 20 car manufacturers over the last three years on previous games.
“For Infinite Drive, we already have licensed about 30 car models from six car manufacturers. Additional top car brands will be announced in the coming weeks and we expect to have more than 100 car models licensed by the end of 2022,” Baudet said.
On top of cars, the company has official race tracks, and it is in discussion with multiple racing franchises globally and in countries such as the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.
“Rather than just licensing championships, however, our intention is to empower those partners with tools to build and manage their own digital events for their communities,” Baudet said.
I asked what Baudet thought about the resistance to NFT games from gamers and some game developers.
He said, “Ten years ago, we experienced the same type of resistance when mobile gaming embraced the free-to-play model. We have been involved with blockchain gaming since 2020 with our partner Animoca Brands. At first, we too were skeptical about the sustainability of those game economies, but we have progressively learned about decentralized mechanisms such as co-ownership and their benefits for gamers. With blockchain games, invested players can really earn from their time or financial investment. Governance mechanisms also allow the player community to be heard and impact positively the game development roadmap.”
The closed Alpha of the game will be available early July 2022. Anyone who owns one of the first series of cars will get immediate access to the game. The public release of the game is set for Q4 this year.
“Infinite Drive has game-first engine architecture at its beating heart, combined with the accessibility of mobile free-to-play, play-and-earn, and with unique digital car ownership,” Baudet said. “Web3 also offers tools to reward invested players who are going to organize community racing events and help us make the best driving experience.”
As for the business model, Baudet said, “In my opinion, web3 offers a better-balanced business model between players, investors, and creators. When the game is a success, it should benefit those 3 parties more equally. The play-and-earn races and rental earnings make it more profitable for engaged users. When players are earning, the game becomes viral and less marketing investment is needed to acquire new users.”
A racing metaverse?
I also asked how it was a racing metaverse, as opposed to just a racing game.
“Infinite Drive is more of a digital space dedicated to car fans rather than just a game. At its core are the garages holding users’ NFT car collections, from which they can share their favorite cars with the community,” Baudet said. “It also features the first marketplace dedicated and tailored to new and second hand car NFTs. Today, car fans spend hours browsing websites such as Autotrader to discover hidden gems or rare car models. I’ll be happy if Infinite Drive’s community has fun and spends a significant time browsing through our marketplace content. Lastly, Infinite Drive offers features for users to build communities (Clubs) around interests like car brands or gather to show and test drive their respective cars.”
Baudet also talked about the inspiration for the game.
“Almost 18 years ago, I was running my first game studio, Eden Games. Back then, MMO games were popular and I wanted to build a supercar themed MMO,” Baudet said. “Luckily, Atari, our parent company, had a brand, Test Drive, that kickstarted all the supercar fantasy in video games back in the 1980s. Together with a very talented team, we took that inactive brand and built Test Drive Unlimited, the first massive multiplayer online racing game (MMORG). Even if Test Drive Unlimited introduced multiple innovations to the racing genre, the technology was then too limited to completely realize our vision, and we were just too small a studio to build it all. The Infinite Drive concept is similar to that of 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 successful console and mobile games such as Jurassic Park World, Fallout Shelter, Rollercoaster Tycoon, and Hitman Sniper. Since then, as a company, the 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, when his associates Pierre Carde (managing director) and Olivier Raffard (licensing and business manager) joined.