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QuestoWorld is a kind of metaverse in the real world that where players complete quests by walking outdoors. And it will soon reward players with non-fungible tokens for walking outdoors and buying virtual real estate.
The company bills its Pokémon Go-style game as a kind of a gaming NFT metaverse (the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One). built on top of the real world and the Ethereum blockchain network.
Unlike other NFT gaming projects, this game gets people to go outside and walk around to find things. It’s similar to geocaching or Pokémon Go. But it differs in that it uses what’s already in the city: statues, buildings, small elements, said CEO Alex Govoreanu, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“It’s an economy we are building,” he said. “I get that people are more convinced that metaverses are virtual only. But for us, a metaverse can also be something built on top of the real world. What for us matters is it’s a community of people digitally connected.”
More than 200,000 players have already been testing the role-playing game (RPG), and they have walked more than 500,000 kilometers while solving challenges in over 140 cities.
The players can play user-generated content (UGC), or games created by locals (writers, tour guides, copywriters, etc) to enable fans to appreciate a place in the real world.
Welcome to QuestoWorld
You play these games in real life (IRL), and you can discover new places and their backstories. It’s a different way of viewing the metaverse, as most seers think of it as a 3D virtual world that you visit through computers or futuristic virtual reality headsets. In those worlds, real-world interaction is minimal.
But this version of the metaverse is more like Pokémon Go, where you can see things in the real world that you can identify through online data. Govoreanu has a different view of the future where the company will build an entertainment layer on top of the real world. This enhances the real world, rather than ignoring or replacing it.
The Realms are linked to spaces in the real world where games can be built. Game creators and players will collaborate on real-world game projects — thus creating a network of games; a metaverse powered by storytelling.
The company started working on the tech more than five years ago as a way to imagine a layer on top of the real world. Govoreanu started thinking about it as he was exploring Rome. He felt that travel was broken because he was just following in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of people who had done the same thing.
“It felt impersonal. And what we thought, in the beginning, was that with any sort of travel, it should be equally as valuable for locals as it is for the travelers,” he said.
QuestoWorld was built as a “painkiller” for travelers who were weary of mimicking others. Govoreanu wanted to learn cool local stories about the places he visited. Or he wanted to solve challenges and be motivated to walk around.
Every game has 10 to15 chapters that include directions, challenges, and stories. Every chapter is a combination of text, images, videos, and audio.
“Soon, we’ll add also other features, such as a compass, and by the end of the year, we plan also to add AR scenes to enhance the storytelling,” Govoreanu said.
The Bucharest, Romania-based team has 25 full-time employees and it raised $2.2 million so far. There are employees in seven countries.
Today, there are more than 300 games available in 140 cities around the world.
“Every single one of them is unique,” said Govoreanu. “And in every one, you play the role of a different character. So for instance, one of our most successful ones is in Rome. You play the role of Robert Langdon, the main character from the Angels and Demons movie and book.”
Your job in that mission is to save the papacy. You have to overcome challenges like finding a hidden code or an inscription on a building. (The game isn’t based on a license from the author/publisher, so it doesn’t get into a lot of details). And QuestoWorld tells you about Rome and the places you visit during the journey.
The most successful game is set in Paris, in a romantic neighborhood up on a hill. You play a role of a lover and you find out by the end of the game if the couple is still together. You will learn about a lot of romance stories connected to the city.
“The main vision was always to open the platform at scale,” Govoreanu said. “Because what we want to do is transform the entire world into a playground.”
Players use the Questo Creators Room on the company’s web site to start creating their own games. The user-created games are reviewed, and the team offers feedback. Then it will be set loose in QuestoWorld. Players in the community are helping to review the best games in the app.
The average user is around 35 years old. About half are locals and half are travelers. In Vienna, travelers go to the city for art or culture, and so the average age is older, around 40. In Berlin, the average age is 30. Familes or groups of friends will play.
Many people are also interested in seeing places where movies were filmed, like the Game of Thrones settings in Croatia. QuestoWorld is teaming up with HBO Max on a project for a game in Bucharest.
Sometimes the games draw crowds for special events. During COVID, the company stopped doing these events. But it has begun picking them up again. In places like San Francisco, Govoreanu hopes to see games about haunted houses or characters. One of his favorite creators is a 65-year-old woman in Glasgow who created a game about the haunted places in that city. Her games have great reviews, and that’s how players find the content.
“These kinds of people have really given me a lot of energy because I never imagined working with them,” he said.
As for the NFTs, the company will sprinkle 100,000 digital objects around the world, and each one will be an NFT. Players will be able to own pieces of land that are connected to specific places like Montmartre in Paris. Players can just play, create games, or own Realms. Whatever revenue the games generate, QuestoWorld plans to share a big chunk with the creators (currently 75%).
“Your incentive will be to get players to create and build on top of your land,” he said. “It’s like getting passive income.”
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