Azra Games, a new video game development company led by Mark Otero, previously the general manager at gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA), is making waves. They just raised an additional $10 million in seed funding. This brings their total amount raised to $25 million, according to their recent announcement. The funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a venture capital firm that unveiled a $600 million fund for game investments last year. A16z partner Arianna Simpson wrote in a blog post that they believe the unique ownership and economic models of Web3 will revolutionize how people play online games. Other investors included NFX, Coinbase Ventures, Play Ventures, and Franklin Templeton.
Azra Games’ first title, Legions & Legends, is expected to be a genre-defining game from Otero, who also designed the legendary RPG Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. On their website Azra says that they are on a mission to build the 1st “large toy box” RPG experience. Legions & Legends is our most ambitious game yet, inspired by our childhood play with toys of all sizes. We believe the game must be so fun it doesn’t matter what platform the game is on; in other words, the gameplay will lead the way. The game’s art has been described as striking and original. Furthermore it has an innovative battle system, and its Web3 features are a breath of fresh air.
According to Otero, Legions & Legends will not be solely based on NFTs, but will include the tokens as in-game collectibles. The game will initially be released on PC and mobile devices, and the team has already released pre-launch passes as NFTs, which offer holders early access to concept art, beta testing, and other benefits.
Games that incorporate NFTs into gameplay are becoming increasingly common. The financial backing for Azra, led by a gaming industry veteran like Otero, signals that Web3 concepts are being integrated into big-ticket games. Established gaming companies have incorporated or talked about incorporating NFTs into their games for some time now. For example, Ubisoft recently released a popular collection of NFT Rabbids.
Otero has had a long and interesting career as a developer. He grew up playing tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, which influenced his video games of the same genre. He initially developed role-playing video games in the stockroom of Mochii Yogurt, a frozen yogurt café he owned in Sacramento, before launching his own game development company. EA later acquired the firm, which had more than 70 employees.
After his success at EA, Otero took a break from the video game business, but at the end of 2021, he launched Azra, convinced that player-owned assets like NFTs were the next evolution in free-to-play games. He assembled a team from EA and plans to release the first version of Legions & Legends later this year.
In an interview with Fortune, Otero said that Azra sees itself as a potential company that will onboard the next several million users to the Web3 space. Legions & Legends, he added, is an opportunity for the company to create something with a potentially new business model for a new platform.