ICO Analysis: Nitro
Many of our readers may not know the true scale of the gaming industry. With revenues of $91 billion in 2016, games made 9X more than Hollywood and 3X more than the entire movie industry. Yes, its big and growing rapidly especially mobile gaming which saw 31% growth last year.
Despite being one of the fastest growing industries, there is not much room for newcomers due to its oligopolistic nature. The top 10 companies took almost 54% of the total gaming revenues.
Amongst the top 11 recommended games on my Steam account, 10 are franchise reruns like FIFA, CS, GTA and only one game (CUPHEAD) is a completely fresh idea. Due to the lack of funding options, quality indie game developers are not able to compete with industry leaders. Hardcore gamers understand the industry better than anyone else, but have limited opportunities to invest in it as there are very few publicly listed gaming companies. Access to the gaming economy is limited to a select few players. And finally, there is no single mechanism that connects all the elements of the industry on a single marketplace.
“Nitro is designed to democratise the video-game economy by making it easy for anyone to participate in and benefit from the economy of the video-game industry, while bringing together all the stakeholders of the industry onto an integrated platform and community.”
The core value proposition of Nitro is to create a funding platform for promising game studios and titles. Nitro will create a funding pool which will allocate funds to gaming projects based on approval of the token holders. Nitro will first curate promising projects and then put them up for voter approval. This model is similar to what Science is planning to do for blockchain projects or 7ype for movies.
Game Studios will share revenue every 3 months with Nitro, by distributing an equivalent amount in Ether back to Nitro. 30% of net revenue will be shared up to 3x of the funded amount and subsequently 20%, up to a maximum period of 5 years from the date of funding. Of the revenue share received, 60% will be distributed to the token holders from time to time while 40% will be kept to replenish the funding pool.
Nitro’s platform facilitates interaction between different entities of the gaming industry. For eg. publishers,producers can interact and receive real time information and feedback from the gamers themselves. This will help them make better decisions on current and future projects as they get access to a much wider audience. Financiers get to see which projects are trending amongst gamers and so can make financing decisions accordingly.
The ERC-20 NOX token will be distributed after the crowdraise. NOX token holders receive voting rights proportional to the number of tokens that they are holding.
The funding provided by Nitro to the promising game studios and the subsequent returns distributed will NOT be in the form NOX. Going ahead Nitro’s marketplace will also enable in-app purchases and exchange of virtual goods. A USD pegged internal token called NOD obtained by exchanging NOX will be created to facilitate gaming transactions.
50% of the 120 million NOX tokens will be available for the sale. The target for the raise is 75K Ether ($23 million) which might get extended to 85K Ether. 60% of the funds raised, will go as investment in games, i.e the early pool would be worth around $13.8 million if the hardcap is reached. To give you a perspective of things, one of the most expensive games to develop was GTA V which had a development cost of $135 million.
For mobile games, a simple casual game like Candy Crush can be developed for $50,000 while development cost of games with high graphics can easily reach $2 million.
The presale begins on 19th November with 30% discount while the ICO will begin somewhere at the end of November.
Nitro is backed by iCandy Interactive Limited, which is a leading Southeast Asian mobile games studio group listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. iCandy owns multiple game studios in South East Asia, and has 20 million+ downloads for its games. If you intend to explore the games developed by iCandy, some of them are featured under the name Appxplore Sdn Bhd.
Director Kin-Wai Lau is the CEO of Fatfish Internet Group and the Chairman of iCandy Interactive. He is well-recognised as a technology entrepreneur in Southeast Asia that has successfully brought 5 tech companies to IPO. There are 12 members in the core team with 4 advisors.
As I have discussed in my earlier reports, an experienced entrepreneur always brings in a solid team. Being developed by a listed entity like iCandy Interactive, we think the team is more than capable of executing the project.
A lot of emphasis has been laid on the fact that the project has the backing of a listed entity. You can see this everywhere, on the website, the whitepaper and the investment pitch. Although this lends some credibility to the project, this does not make it investment worthy. iCandy was recently listed on the Australian exchanges with just $1.1 million in sales in 2016 (although it is growing rapidly). Some of their games have seen some success with few of them reaching 1 million downloads mark.
The project works upon some of the issues with the gaming industries; it has a good team and strong backing from a listed entity. However, I see plenty of issues with the business model. First thing is that it is not entirely decentralized. Nitro’s team will first filter the projects which are then voted by the tokens holders. Most of the times, the token holders just want to make money, I am not sure how many of them will actively participate in the voting process. The Nitro team will also decide as to when and how the funds will be distributed to the token holders.
As mentioned before, Nitro is being heavily marketed on the back of iCandy Interactive. iCandy itself has yet to prove its business model and was only recently listed. With just one Annual report (AR-2016, $1.1 million consolidated sales) available, it is difficult to judge the credibility of a listed entity.
iCandy has expertise in mobile gaming only. $13.8 million of the funds raised will be pooled for allocation. To develop high quality PC and console games, atleast $10-15 million are required. Which makes us think about the ability of the Nitro to move beyond mobile games.
- Considering the amount of funds being raised and the domain expertise of iCandy, we doubt Nitro’s capability to move beyond mobile gaming.
- The business model is not truly decentralized as we have discussed above.
- A lot of emphasis has been laid on iCandy’s listed status. Being supported by a listed entity sure adds credibility, but it is not enough to prove a business’s worth. iCandy itself is a newly listed entity.
- Many of Nitro’s team members including the directors are working full time on iCandy.
- Gaming is a very competitive industry, and simply providing funds and a marketplace is not enough for a game to succeed.
- Gaming and more particularly mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing industries. Mobile gaming revenues are expected to grow above 30% for the next few years.
- Nitro is the first project to create a decentralized platform which brings all the elements of the mobile industry together.
- Along with the funding part, Nitro is also creating a marketplace facilitating in-app purchases and exchange of goods (although this does not seem to be the focus area). This segment has a lot of potential for growth.
- Having the support of iCandy does lend some credibility to project compared to most of the other ICOs being launched.
We arrive at a score of +3.5 for Nitro. A score of +3.5 seems justified for Nitro taking into consideration all the factors discussed above. The positives mainly come in from the credibility, strong backing, industry structure and the first mover advantage.
The presale begins on 19th November. You can check further details here.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.