Greg Canessa, Creator & GM of Xbox Live Arcade and former Google and Activision Blizzard executive, joins as President & COO
Hi everyone, I am beyond thrilled to announce that I have recently been appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer of Horizon Blockchain Games, the creators of the industry-leading Sequence web3 game development platform and the award-winning blockchain trading card game Skyweaver. It’s a tremendous honor and privilege and I am excited to finally share the news.
In many ways, the decision to join the team at Horizon was an easy one for me. Over the course of my career in the games industry, I’ve been inspired by new technologies, innovations, and platforms that disrupt the market, evolve our thinking, and drive the creation of new and cool experiences for gamers, while also lowering access barriers and creating new business opportunities for developers. Multiplayer gaming, digital distribution, social gaming, matchmaking, cloud gaming and free-to-play are all examples of this. I’ve had the privilege of working on all of these innovations with some amazing and talented teams across the industry in my time at Xbox, Blizzard, Activision, Sony/GSN, Google, and others, and have witnessed firsthand how platforms can enable and facilitate the creation of ecosystems and flywheels that power new experiences for the player while also creating new financial opportunities for developers, publishers, and content creators.
Looking at the industry today, innovations in web3, generative AI, cloud gaming, and AR/XR represent opportunities to create new and compelling play experiences, while accelerating the pace of game development and improving development economics. What’s more, some of these technologies have the potential to address problems our industry faces from both a gamer and developer perspective: issues of control over asset ownership, democratizing distribution, game shut down, gamers lacking a voice, data ownership, and privacy.
Blockchain and web3 technologies are hugely exciting to me in general, and in terms of what they represent to our industry. Players owning game assets, federated distribution of game titles, cross-game utility, multiplayer games persisting for as long as the communities want them to, and other use cases yet to be identified, all have the potential to reshape our business, create innovative play experiences, deliver unprecedented game economies and communities, and reach new players and markets. All that said, the technology is still in its infancy and, as it pertains to games, is still finding product-market fit. The industry still lacks a “killer app”. Early attempts at web3 gaming were of mixed quality, and the heavy emphasis on financial speculation (both inside and outside of games) has damaged player perception and trust.
As we have seen many times in our business, persistence is key. Risk-taking and experimentation are required for us to achieve a sustainable state. Then, the industry settles in, adopts the technology, and scales. Web3 is no different in this regard, and we’re still very early. I’m encouraged by some of the recent market trends and web3 investment in Asia, which remind me of the early days of free-to-play, when companies like Nexon were experimenting with games like Kart Rider years before our adoption in the West.
In my view, our most talented game designers and developers have not yet scratched the surface of what these technologies represent in facilitating interesting new entertainment experiences for the gamer. Some of the more obvious applications—like digital trading card games with NFTs—have been tried with varying degrees of success, but the industry still has a long way to go. Web3’s evolution in gaming shares many similarities with other disruptive technology curves we’ve seen—free-to-play, cloud gaming and VR come to mind—where there is a bum-rush in, obvious low-hanging-fruit application of the tech, weak adoption or failure due to a lack of clear gamer value proposition, followed by an exodus of disillusioned developers, and then a gradual thaw and re-engagement at a more organic and sustainable rate.
We’re only beginning to see the more interesting applications of blockchain and web3 technology into games in a player-forward and fun-first way, targeted at the traditional gamer and at a consistent quality bar. I also think web3 is constrained due to a couple of other factors: 1) the back-end technology involved is cumbersome and hard to understand, and 2) some players’ perception is negative, due to a combination of poor-quality games and degenerative community behavior.
This is where the power of the platform kicks in. Time and time again, I have seen what a platform can do by simplifying the developer experience, enabling services that gamers care about, and empowering designers to focus their efforts on experimentation, taking risks and creating innovative play experiences that delight gamers. The platform can also enable developers and publishers to monetize and understand gamer behavior through data, feeding the flywheel that powers our industry. So, the platform addresses #1 above. #2 above is another challenge, but I believe that, if we succeed in delivering innovative play experiences for the gamer, empower them with ownership in a meaningful way, and democratize access to play (all helped by the platform), player perception will improve over time.
In short, Sequence represents the platform solution for web3, web 2.5 and blockchain-enabled gaming. It is a complete end-to-end platform and technology stack, purpose-built for gaming, that removes all the complexity around blockchain—things like wallets, tokens, trading, nodes, gas, minting, contracts—and lets game developers be game developers and focus on building those innovative play experiences that will transform our industry. Our award-winning TCG Skyweaver, alongside a growing ecosystem of partner games, are built on the Sequence platform, and the quality and depth of these games are testament to the potential experiences we can enable. But I’m not just excited about powering the latest web3 games. I also see the potential of Sequence to expand the market by facilitating the introduction of blockchain features into traditional web2 games on mobile, PC and console.
The team at Horizon has worked for 6 years to develop this innovative and award-winning game platform, and has earned the trust and backing of some of gaming’s most prestigious companies and investors, including Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Bitkraft, and Xsolla, alongside Brevan Howard, Coinbase, Polygon, and many others. I am honored to help lead the team and the effort to enable web3 gaming, empower developers, and evolve our industry by unlocking awesome experiences and the player ecosystems of the future.
President and COO, Horizon Blockchain Games