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The Hottest Presale

Michael Sanders, Co-Founder of Horizon Blockchain Games, on Web3 gaming, Blockchain, and Ayahuasca | Ep. 231

In an exclusive interview with cryptonews.com, Michael Sanders, Co-Founder & Storyteller of Horizon Blockchain Games, talks about the benefits of blockchain technology for gaming, the potential for web3 to shape the future of the gaming industry, and the challenges and opportunities of developing web3 games.

About Michael Sanders

Michael Sanders, Co-Founder & Storyteller of Horizon Blockchain Games. Micheal connects the dots, makes the esoteric comprehensible, and tells the Horizon story through narrative, lore, brand, and marketing. Michael first fell in love with blockchain technologies in 2010 before becoming more actively involved in the industry in 2013 as an investor in cryptocurrencies and related startups. He previously co-founded a clean energy startup, acted as VP of ClearMedia advertising agency, co-founded a transformational dance and sound therapy experience, and authored the best-selling Ayahuasca: An Executive’s Enlightenment. Michael lives a life of love, openness, and play, and he’s committed to infusing web3 and the new dimension with these same values.

Michael Sanders gave a wide-ranging exclusive interview which you can see below, and we are happy for you to use it for publication provided there is a credit to www.cryptonews.com. 

Highlights Of The Interview

  • Benefits of blockchain technology for gaming
  • The potential for web3 to shape the future of the gaming industry
  • The challenges and opportunities of developing web3 games
  • Embracing the shift in web3 gaming: from play-to-earn to play-and-earn
  • Gaming and web3 outlook, what’s available on the market?

 

 

 

Full Transcript Of The Interview

Matt Zahab 
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Cryptonews Podcast. We are buzzing, as always. And we have another Toronto lad on the show today. And this one is going to be a little different than the most because there is one topic that we will get into that I am incredibly curious about, and this gentleman is a true pro in that topic and we will get into that. But time for the intro. Pumped to have Michael Sanders on the show today. Co-Founder and storyteller of Horizon Blockchain Games, Michael connects the dots, makes the esoteric comprehensible and tells the Horizon story through narrative Lore, brand and marketing. Michael first fell in love with blockchain tech in 2010 wowza. Before becoming more actively involved in the industry in 2013 as an investor in crypto and related startups. He previously Co-Founded a clean energy startup, acted as VP of ClearMedia Advertising Agency, Co-Founded a transformational dance and sound therapy experience and authored the best selling Ayahuasca: An Executives Enlightenment. Cannot wait to get into that. Michael lives a life of love, openness and play and he’s committed to infusing Web3 and the new dimension with the same values. Super pumped to have you on the show, Michael welcome to the show my friend. 

Michael Sanders 
Thanks so much for having me Matt. Excited to be here. 

Matt Zahab 
So many interesting topics. There’s one that pops out and this is something that I would like to explore. At one point in my life I’ve done my research, I do not know if I’m ready yet. I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for this and that is Ayahuasca. While doing research for the show, obviously I now know that you are a best selling author. Congrats. The book looks incredible. I’m going to order that bad boy and that will be on the beautiful bookshelf behind me and I will probably destroy that book in T-⁠24 hours. That is going to be a treat of a read out on the balcony with some sun. But we got to get into it. I’d love if you could tell me, and I’ll just interject when I see fit, if you don’t mind. But I’d love if you could rip through the whole story from the moment you were like, hey, I want to try this. All the way to finding the shaman, to booking the flight, to the journey down, to the actual experience, to the crazy trip, and perhaps conclude with some of the learnings that you had from this once in a lifetime, enlightening experience. 

Michael Sanders 
So it’s a really big topic, but to kind of start at the beginning. It was 2012 and I was going through a period of extreme darkness and depression and suicidal contemplation. I was working as the co founder of a startup. I was also a VP of an advertising agency. I was training athletically about 14 times per week, never resting, never relaxing, never meditating. I was just like, go all the time. And I thought if ever I was tired, the reason I was tired was because I wasn’t working hard enough that I hadn’t expanded my work capacity to be able to handle the volume of things I wanted to achieve. Bit of backwards thinking, but I found myself in a really dark hole, really unable to even stay awake for more than like 10 hours. I just have to fall asleep and I’d feel super exhausted and sad. And I resolved that, yeah, life wasn’t going to be worth living unless I could figure out how to start feeling like myself again. And at that time, I consulted with a natural health practitioner whose name is Lovedeep, and I give tremendous kudos to how he helped me. And he really got me to focus on play and meditation. Rather than being so goal oriented all the time, he wanted me to focus on activities that I just enjoyed doing to fill me with a fun vibration and enjoyment. And so I started adopting this mindset of play, doing something that I really enjoy every single day and then I ended up going to Burning Man for the first time in 2013, which was that’s a whole other podcast in itself. But then on the flight home, one of my best friends, Sid asked me, what are you doing for New Year’s this year? And I didn’t know yet. And he suggested that we go down to the Amazon rainforest and have ceremonies with the plant medicine called Ayahuasca. And I had heard of Ayahuasca about a year and a half prior and I knew that at some point in my life I would experience the medicine but I just didn’t know when. So one of our mutual friends had been organizing tours in South America, in Peru and taking people to work with traditional shamans along the Amazon basin to have ceremonies with this fairly ancient plant medicine. At least they say it’s been used for millennia to treat anything ranging from like depression to cancer to various diseases to facilitate spiritual awakenings, all sorts of things. So yeah, I went down to Peru on December 26, 2013 and trekked through the Amazon jungle for a week and then we arrived to the ceremonial grounds of New Way Reo and we worked with shamans that they’ve devoted their entire lives to working with this medicine. And I had been preparing for about four months, just like following a particular diet that, for example, it involves no spices or even salt, which did not seem healthy to me because I think you need salt for hydration. But I was willing to respect the customs and the traditions because I figured they had reasons even if I didn’t understand them and I just wanted to go into it wholeheartedly. It was New Year’s Eve of 2013 when we had our first Ayahuasca ceremony. And you drink the medicine. It’s like a sludge green. It’s kind of like a green smoothie without any fruit in it. So it’s just like very bitter. It doesn’t taste that good and I had a couple of intentions. One was to gain some clarity on my life’s path. And two was to heal some physical ailments that I had attributed to past athletic injuries. And so I drank the medicine, and I sat down cross legged in this maloca, which is a wooden structure with screens for windows and a 40 foot tall dome ceiling. And, yeah, like in the Amazon jungle, I drink the medicine, and I’m sitting there, and I’m meditating, reflecting chronologically upon my year of 2013 because it had been the most teaching year of my life. And then about 40 minutes into that meditation, I feel this fire rise up my arm, expand across my torso. And instinctively and intuitively, I kind of telepathically broadcast. Mother Ayahuasca, can you please give me a few more minutes? I’m just reflecting on my year, and I think it’s important that I work all the way through that. And then I feel this voice, this presence respond by saying, yes, my child, take your time and let me know when you’re ready. And then the fire receded out of my body. I looked to the left and the right, and I’m like, Holy shit. I’m talking like a plant right now. And if someone had told me this in advance, I would have been skeptical, like, open minded to it, but I would have been skeptical hearing this. And then I finished my reflection. And then instinctively, I sort of broadcast through my thoughts like, Mother Ayahuasca, I’m ready to welcome you into my mind, into my body, into my soul. These are my intentions. I’m open to anything you want to teach me, and hopefully you’ll even learn something from me. Welcome, and then the fire expands across my body, through in my legs. My heart fills my consciousness. And then these purple and green beams of the light just emerge in the maloca, and they look like the northern lights, like Aurora Borealis. And I’m staring at them, and what is going on? Did the northern lights descend down to the Peruvian jungle floor. And so I looked over here to kind of test their objectivity. I closed my eyes for a while and didn’t engage with them. And then when I looked back, they had progressed in their movement towards me, and they felt like this objective entity, like, independent of whether I was looking at them or not. And then they wrapped themselves around me, these purple and green beams of light. And then I felt the spirit of Aurora Borealis, and it wrapped around me, and it turned me over into the fetal position, and I just laid there. And I felt at the time, I was 26 years old. I felt like 26 years of trauma just being healed and a maternal presence unlike I had ever knowingly experienced. And then the shamans start singing, and they sing these songs called Ikaros, which kind of sounded like sowa, and as the shamans were singing, these colorful shapes were emanating from their mouths and expanding to fill my perceptual field. So Ermohan, as one of the shamans, his shapes were, like, yellow and blue. And then Ricardo was the main shaman his shapes were, like, red and green, as he had seen me expand to fill my awareness. And then, Urcilia, she started singing the full spectrum of colors explodes from her mouth, more colors than there are in the rainbow, like, more colors than I’ve ever seen before. And all of their songs combined in the auditory space and all of their shapes combined in the visual space to create this visual and auditory symphony and this massive cloud like entity that was super colorful. And I’m lying there on the floor, and then I feel the purple and green beam, the Aurora Borealis, like, elevate me and push me up into this new dimension. And the Ayahuasca says to me, like, Michael, this is a realm that you are from. You existing, you’re going to you just haven’t been consciously aware of it for a number of years. I was like somewhat nervous, but, like, really open to it. And she said, go and explore. And then I seal the purple and green beams of light sever behind me like an umbilical cord, and I go and shortly thereafter, these and this might sound strange to some listeners, but these three humanoid beings that were, like, kind of 2ft tall, three female energys they were they were dark bodies, and they had vibrant outlines, like a vibrant yellow, a vibrant pink and a vibrant orange. And they were communicating with me. And it was like, beyond telepathy. Like there was nothing to kind of lose in translation. And again, I was trying to test their objectivity so I would look away. And when I would look back, they would still be there. And then they would float around. They’d be like, hey, aren’t you interested in what we’d like to connect with you on? And I’m like, yeah, I guess I’m interested in what these other dimensional beings want to share with me. And I ended up like then I encountered other beings that ended up being the mitochondria inside of my body. I met my gut flora and my gut flora floated up like the little bacteria in my intestines. And they were sharing with me. They’re like Michael, your body is a vessel for trillions of different beings. Like all of us microorganisms. And you want to make your vessel as welcoming as possible to the right kinds of beings because they influence your thoughts, your moods, your behavior. And now a lot of people have this understanding that your gut biome influences your psychology. Right? But I was actually directly experientially communicating with them. They were sharing with me. They’re like to make it even more welcoming, play more, enjoy yourself. Because that cultivates the most positive vibration for the right kind of spirit beings to enter you. And then they gave me these very concrete pieces of advice. They’re like, stop eating dark chocolate and stop eating pork. And I was like, I thought those things were healthy. And they’re like, they can be, but they’re not for you at this time. And then they showed me memories spanning from when I was, like, four years old. Every time I ate bacon, they would show me the experience afterwards. I was witnessing myself, like, out of body, and I would see that I was tired. It was like a low grade inflammation. I’d have lethargy for, like, three days afterwards, and with dark chocolate, it wouldn’t allow me to sleep properly at night. So it actually showed me lying in my bed and wrestling around every time I had dark chocolate. And I wasn’t aware, like, consciously aware of these things. And so I ended up encountering all of these different beings. Matt there was, like, an infinite number of them. It was like I was exploring a starry night sky, and there are stars beyond the stars and then stars beyond those stars, but they were all these different beings, infinite in color, in kind, in degree, in volume. And each one of them represented some aspect of love. And collectively, they communicated love as a whole and reminded me, allowed me to remember that the fabric of our universe is love, that it’s the creative force behind all things. It’s responsible for you, me, the Big Bang and all its predecessors. Every work of art, every painting, every song. It’s the child who cries, the bird that flies in the grass that grows through the pavement. It’s you, it’s me. It’s boundless. It’s infinite everywhere. And, yeah, man, that was the first hour of my first Ayahuasca ceremony. 

Matt Zahab 
This is one hour? 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah. And then I ended up having three ceremonies over the course of four nights. Each one lasts, like, six to 8 hours. So, yeah, it fundamentally shifted my perspective on reality and showed me something so far beyond my wildest imagination that now informed my entire way of being. And, yeah, that’s why I wrote the book about it. It’s, like, the full details. And there was also conversations with this plant medicine about cryptocurrency. At the time, Ethereum didn’t exist, but we were exploring this concept of Bitcoin. And then she said she’s like, there’s something else coming that you’re going to encounter pretty soon. And it was very vague. I didn’t know what it meant. But then two weeks upon returning to Toronto, I met Vitalik Buterin, the inventor of Ethereum, a year before Ethereum’s launch. 

Matt Zahab 
That is okay, one. Thank you for sharing. That was incredible. I have goosebumps. It’s goosebump city population me right now. I have so many questions. And again, this is a Cryptopod. We will get into the crypto, but this is phenomenal content. So we’re going to buzz on this topic for a little bit more. Let’s start back from I have sort of five points that I’d like to discuss. We’ll start back with the diet. While prepping for this, you mentioned that you took out salt and a lot of spices. What about other diet or fitness related things? From the research I’ve done, obviously it calls for many long walks, potentially a three to five gram mushroom trip, three to six months in advance, not smoking anything, not consuming any narcotics. Obviously we don’t need to name them, but you get it. Anything else diet related or prep related that you would recommend to somebody who wants to embark on this journey? 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, so for the diet, I followed a strict one for the three weeks leading up to it and kind of like a looser one for the four months leading up to it. So I only didn’t have salt for the three weeks leading up to it. But, yeah, like you’re saying no substances, like, no drugs, no alcohol, no booze. I’ll also refrain from sexual energy for, like, three weeks leading up to it in any capacity, whether it’s individual or with a partner. And yeah, really cultivate a positive mindset and the intentions, the things that you want to explore and work on with the medicine have a particular reason that you want to do it. And it can be general or vague, and it can be really about anything. But yeah, and I think long walks are wonderful. I found myself cling on so many long walks upon return, I naturally walk a bit, but I didn’t mindfully think of that, but I think that’s really sensible. 

Matt Zahab 
And then you also mentioned that you got to sort of go through 26 years of trauma. That’s one of the things that interests me a lot about this experience. I’d love to and again shout out my parents to amazing parents. I’ve been very fortunate to have an incredible childhood, and truthfully, not a lot of trauma, which I’m very grateful for, but of course, there’s still traumatic events. Everyone has a couple, you know, deep scars that they can’t really heal. But with that being said, like, did you go through in, like, chronological order? Was it like, from perhaps the first traumatic experience when you were a young boy all the way up to maybe some of the health scares that you had and then battling with depression and suicide close to this experience? Like, walk me through the whole sort of going through the 26 years of trauma and how that came and went throughout the trip. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, so to be honest, it was when the northern light, like, Aurora Borealis was, like, wrapping me, and it was only about a ten minute window where I just felt everything heal. I didn’t go through them all chronologically at that moment. It was like and I wasn’t different for every person who tries it. Right. But for me, I felt as though the medicine was really trying to just get me in a wonderful state and then allow me to have this truly joyous and exploratory journey, at least for the first ceremony. In my second one, I did go through a lot more difficulties. I did have the experience of, like, I mentioned how I was trying to heal some physical ailments that I attributed to a past athletic injury. But through the experience, it was revealed to me that it wasn’t like a sports injury that caused the pain in my back. It was me harboring grief from the death of my best friend when we were 23 years old and he fell from the balcony. And that allowed me to actually process it and actually get to be with him. His name is Dave and I got to be with him in these other realms and kind of have closure on the experience and actually grief you and then the pain dissipated and I haven’t had it since. 

Matt Zahab 
That’s crazy. What about the remembering of all this stuff? Are you taking notes after? Are you just someone with a good memory? And again, sorry for all these questions on this. I’m just beyond intrigued. But I feel like if I went into an outer worldly state where I was literally again, having this crazy communication pathway with a plant and this outer universe, again, I’ve never done it, but I don’t know how I’d remember that. How do you remember all this stuff? How do most people remember the crazy depths that they go to? 

Michael Sanders 
I imagine it’s different for every person. But for example, my title at Horizon being Chief Storyteller, I’ve always had a really strong memory and when I get into a storytelling flow, it’s like I’m just reliving the experience. It’s like I can access it. And that is one of my gifts. And I have shortcomings in other areas, but that’s one of the things that I’ve been blessed with is to have that really strong memory and then just be able to articulate it. 

Matt Zahab 
But you didn’t write anything down. 

Michael Sanders 
So I did after as soon as the ceremony ended. Well, actually, I took a nap for maybe like 3 hours and I woke up before sunrise and I just started writing and it was 8 hours consecutive without even going to the bathroom. To your point, Matt, I don’t know if I can articulate this in words because it’s so far beyond my previous frame of reality, but instead of it being difficult, it felt like some celestial waterfall was flowing from the skies into my mind, through my heart, out my arm, through the pen and just waterfalling words onto the page. And I wrote 50 pages in a journal. And then, I kid you not, man, I put the final period down, I closed the book. And then they shut off the electrical on the grounds for the day, which meant the building I was in, like, I couldn’t have written anymore. But I had actually I said to myself, like, wow, like, I got it. Like, I wrote that first ceremony, and then the same things happened after the second and third, where, yeah, I just I wrote it all in a notebook. And it’s interesting because during my first ceremony, the Ayahuasca, she and I were engaging in this, like, telepathic dialogue, and I was kind of wondering about my life’s path. And she said to me, she’s like, the only dream you’ve had persisting from your since your youth, or at least the main dream was you’ve always wanted to write a book that you thought was awesome. And I was like, yeah, that’s true. And she’s like, I’m giving you a lot to write about in this cosmic wink. And then I wrote the books. By the time I returned to Toronto, I had already written the entire book while I was in the jungle and then on the plane back, and then it was just about editing and all the publication process. 

Matt Zahab 
Wow. I could talk to you about this for 9 hours. We’re going to have to meet in person and have a chat about this last question. Then we’ll get into crypto stuff here. And I have to ask and my apologies for the listeners if you’re not a fan of what I’m about to ask, but I also heard that there is a multitude of puking and nasty experiences that coincide with the Ayahuasca trip. I’d love if you could walk me through that experience. Did you puke? Did you have the nastiness, the crazy stomach cramps, the spookies? I guess just touch on some of the negative aspects, if you will. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, they’re difficult. I wouldn’t describe them as negative because they’re certainly helping you in the long run. I actually did catch some kind of stomach bug even before the Ayahuasca ceremonies, like when I was in the jungle and in hindsight, feel as though the medicine was, like, working with me in advance to do that. And then the first ceremony, I didn’t have too much purging, but the second one, I felt very ill. I felt like I had the flu diarrhea. I felt the urge to vomit a lot. I didn’t. It just ended up going out the other end. But I also had the sweats and I was shaking and twitching and felt very ill. And I also knew going in advance, because you prepare for it, that you are releasing traumas and negative energy and you’re processing it. And some people that I was with, man, they were vomiting profusely and they said they would see the sludge and by the way, you fast, like at least 10 hours, sometimes 24 hours or more going into it. So there’s not really any food in your stomach. But people were vomiting, like black sludge and then saying like, I was vomiting my fear, like I was getting rid of fear. So, yeah, there’s certainly a purging component for most people, but not everyone. 

Matt Zahab 
Last question. If someone like me wants to embark on this journey, and they are ready to go through the wringer and they want to mentally, physically, spiritually prepare themselves for this crazy journey, is there sort of a quantifiable metric in which one should be at before getting on this? Is there a specific state of mind? I know when we’re talking about a lot of qualitative things, it’s very subjective, they’re very hard to measure. Obviously, you should be in a decent state of happiness, you should be present as heck. Can you touch on that subject at all?

Michael Sanders
Yeah, I think it really depends in that I’ve often heard that if you feel its call, it’s the right time. Like if you feel this urge, if you feel its presence. And that can look different for a lot of people because there are people who are in very difficult times. There’s people who have gone to treat paralysis and have become unparalyzed, like fibromyalgia, all sorts of things like depression, like serious depression where they’re in it at the moment. I was already kind of on the upward trajectory by the time I had gone. But yeah, people go in the depths of it or to deal with addiction in the middle of it. Right? So I would say to have let’s say a less painful experience, more enjoyable one. It certainly is beneficial if you’re, like, meditating and you’re taking care of yourself and you’re exercising and you’re eating well and you’re sleeping well and you’re getting sunshine. I do believe you’ll have less purging and it’ll be less of a battle, whereas I’ve heard of addicts going down and they’re purging the entire time for seven days and they sometimes don’t even have an experience that they deem at all pleasurable, but it is helpful for them. It’s like they’re cleaning themselves. So it depends. I think for someone like you, you sound like you’re already preparing for it and to me, it suggests that you’re ready and just continue on that top. 

Matt Zahab 
Love that, Michael, you fired me up. This is quite the start, the show, I mean, I wish we could talk about this the whole time, but let’s get into some crypto stuff and thank you for being so open and vulnerable and honest. It truly does mean the world to me and I’m positive our listeners will absolutely love that bit as well. I’ll tell you for free that I’ll be listening to that at least once or twice more. Anyways, onto crypto this is the Cryptonews Pod. You fell in love with crypto super early on in 2010 and previously co founded a clean energy startup. You were the VP of Clear Media advertising agency and co founded a transformational dance and sound therapy experience. Heck, you also wrote a book. You’ve done a whole lot of everything. I’m always incredibly curious and intrigued in regards to my guests who have past experience and have crushed it and have been successful in other realms and then jump over to Web3 and crypto. Why did you choose to make the jump? 

Michael Sanders 
Well, I first heard of Bitcoin in 2010 and honestly, right away I thought that’s the future, this decentralized money, it just made so much sense to me. It just seemed like a better system and like dove right in. Admittedly, it took me a while to acquire it because I couldn’t wrap my head around, like, exchanging money for a 42 or a 56 digit alphanumeric sequence. So I was going to write on a piece of paper and store in my backyard. It took me a while, but I have been in it ever since. I was researching most days, but he yeah, it was really when I returned from Peru in January 2014, and then I went to this place in Toronto that was called Bitcoin Decentral and Vitalik Buterin at the age of 18 was explaining the concept of Ethereum to everyone and, like, smart contracts and decentralized governance and 95% of what he was saying glue over my head. But I was covered in goosebumps listening to him speak. And I was, and still am, convinced that he’s from the future and he’s here to teach us about technology, economics and love. And it was at that time that I fell in love with this notion of Web3. Not that it was being called that back then, but we were discussing this next generation of the Internet, like these new applications where creators and users share in the volume of the ecosystems they participate in. It just seemed much more symbiotic. And there was only, like, 20 of us in the room at the time, but everyone was very excited about it. And that’s when I fell in love. And then I spent the next few years really thinking about how can we actually usher in these technologies so that people use them? Because they’re pretty esoteric. Like, most people don’t understand them even today. A lot of people don’t, but it’s like, how do we make them understandable? How do we get people to experience this? And I didn’t have too many good ideas, but then I met Peter Kieltyka, who is one of my co founders and our CEO. And to my knowledge, he’s the first person to ever conceptualize blockchain games. And as soon as he told me, I’m like, oh, holy shit, this is it. This is how we can welcome the world to Web3 and do it in a really fun and loving way. 

Matt Zahab 
What year was this? 

Michael Sanders 
It was 2017. Yeah, so rather than needing to explicitly educate people, it’s like, just give them a fun experience that’s enjoyable. And then through that, even if they don’t have any interest in it, through that they’ll discover the value of digital ownership and the ability to transact and interact in these different ways so that was 2017. And then we founded Horizon in December 2017. There were five of us, started around a kitchen table and five and a half years later, it’s been an absolutely incredible journey and our mission is to make Web3 easy, fun and accessible for users and builders. 

Matt Zahab 
That’s exactly what we need to grow the space. It’s funny, you telling the story about getting into Bitcoin in 2010 and talking about the string of letters and numbers. It’s like, how the heck are you going to onboard someone? How are we going to onboard our parents to that? Heck how are we going to onboard our friends who are even tech savvy to that? They’re going to be like, what is this shit? This is banana lands. It makes no sense. Still the number one thing that Crypto needs to do. But Michael, we need to take a quick break and give a huge shout out to our sponsor of the show. And when we get back, we’re going to riff a little more on Web3 gaming and Horizon. Before then, huge shout out to PrimeXBT, longtime friends of cryptonews.com incredible team, and they treat their customers incredible as well. They offer a robust trading system for both beginners and professional traders. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a vet, you can easily design and customize your layouts and widgets to best fit your trading style well. PrimeXBT is also running an exclusive promotion for listeners of the Cryptonews Podcast. After making your first deposit, 50%, that is 50% of that first deposit will be credited to your account as a bonus that can be used as additional collateral to open positions. The promo code is CRYPTONEWS50. That’s CRYPTONEWS50 to receive 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. And now back to the show with Michael. Let’s buzz on the benefits of blockchain tech for gaming. And I’ll just sort of all start on this riff, but whenever my friends or family or network or whoever is asking me about Web3 and Play to Earn, which is now so much play and earn, and we’ll get to that shortly as well. But one of the biggest benefits is just asset ownership and actually having something to show for. Whereas if Michael and I are playing Fortnite or Call of Duty or NHL or FIFA or whatever the case may be, we spend $70 on the game. We give this game hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours of our time. And at the end of the day, we have a couple of mems with our friends. We got to shoot the shit online, which is great. Of course, we get to become closer with some close buddies, but that’s really all we have, and life’s too short to not have a little bit of kickback. And this is one of the big things with blockchain gaming. It allows you to actually own some in game digital assets. Again, obviously, you and the team at Horizon are pros at this, but I’d love if you could sort of give me a little rift on the benefits of blockchain technology for gaming. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, I think you nailed some of the key points there. When we think about Web3 gaming, we think it revolves foundationally around the game items themselves and to this notion of ownership. Right? And if you think of the reasons why people buy game items in traditional games, like whether it’s skins or weapons or cards or cars or seeds or costumes, whatever, they’re buying, because either one, it gives them utility in the game. They get to do things with it, or it gives them status, they get to show it off. Or three, because they just enjoy collecting. They’re a collector. But when you add Web3 into the mix, people are still going to buy for those same three reasons. But you add at least five more that we’ve identified. One is this notion of value because there can be an underlying value to it since it’s secured in a decentralized network, which means you’re also able to resell it or trade it. And then another really cool opportunity is around cross gain or cross brand interoperability. So imagine NBA 2K24, and imagine there were Web3 items in the game, right? And you could buy like, Adidas shoes for your players. If those Adidas shoes were digital collectibles or NFTs Adidas could just look on the blockchain and see all the users that own these digital shoes, these Adidas digital shoes, and then they could just AirDrop gifts to all of those people, which could be in the form of another digital collectible. Or it could be like a voucher for physical merchandise. It could be an invitation to some party, like all of these cool permissionless ways of collaborating. And then you have this notion of persistence. So if you own a Web3 game item, you’re always going to even if the game disappears or like the game makers disappears, you still own that item. It’s yours. And in fact, other members of the community could actually build a different experience around those game items. So, like, we made a game called SkyWeaver. It’s a trading card game. Someone else could theoretically build a different version of SkyWeaver with different rules, but use all the same cards. And so, yeah, it allows more community involvement and then this notion of collection history and profile. So you play in one game, but you can bring that same identity and your collectibles and show that off in different virtual worlds. You’re going to some metaverse experience. It’s like a social event. And you can show everyone like, oh, these are all the digital items I own in these worlds. Or maybe you’re going to another game. And that game actually rewards you for owning something in the game you’re coming from, right? So it’s like you get to have this expression that transcends our current abilities to do so. And so I think those are some of like the really big benefits around blockchain for games. And another really cool one is like the enablement of user generated content, in a way. So let’s say it’s like Fortnite. And Fortnite was like, you know what, we’re going to open it up to our community so that they can create new skins and we’re going to have a contest. And the top five skins, we’re going to put them in Fortnite. And then every time they sell, we’re actually going to give a royalty to the original creator. And Fortnite could have an in game marketplace and then they could decide how they want to split those royalties, right? Like, Fortnite might take some and the player, the creator might get some or maybe just give it all to the creator, right? To incentivize this UGC, user generated content. These are just like early concepts, right? And I think it’s a whole new world. So I think the innovation is just going to continue to expand. 

Matt Zahab 
Excited for the next couple of years. I mean, a lot of us, myself included, I thought it would have already popped off by now, but again, we were living in a bit of a dream world and a fantasy world in regards to how quick blockchain took off once COVID happened. Just because, again, the financial incentives out trumped or just trumped rather every other incentive, right? So it’s like if you would have asked me when’s Web3 gaming going to go mainstream, I would have said heck, I probably would have said end of last year, to be honest. But again, heck, you built many games. It takes a long time to build games. And yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of. I’ve helped a couple of teams, not so much build, but helping out wherever I’m needed. But the challenges and opportunities of developing Web3 games is absolutely insane. The ceiling is so incredibly high, but I don’t think the average Joe or Josephine knows how difficult it is to start a game. And then on top of that, there’s so much luck that goes into, does this game pop or not? It’s crazy. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, I think it takes like if you look at AAA games, right, they take four or five years, sometimes more. 

Matt Zahab 
100 person teams building those too. It’s crazy. 

Michael Sanders 
Totally, man. With billions of dollars back by billion dollar game studios. And it’s not to say that every game needs to be AAA game, right? There can be very simple games that pop off and yeah, maybe they take a year to build, or maybe it’s one person, it takes them a month to build, but it just for some reason catches fire. But most games take a while to build. And now I think if you look at the first generation of Web3 games, they were very first generation and there’s a good reason for it. And it’s because they were all worried about the blockchain technology and solving all of these infrastructure pain points. They had to figure out all of these friction points that got in the way of them focusing on the user experience from a purely gaming perspective. Whereas now with Sequence, our developer platform, it’s this all in one developer platform and smart wallet that makes building Web3 games and applications and experiences easy. So now game builders, they don’t have to worry about any of this stuff, they just use Sequence, focus all of their energy and time on making a great game. And then this enables folks who are from the EA’s and the Blizzards and the Epic Games, many of whom are leaving, starting their own studios or what have you, or projects within those larger organizations, and now they can take all of their knowledge of building community, building awesome games, and then implement some aspect of Web3. And maybe they just start small with it, right? And they might not necessarily market it as like, oh, this is a Web3 game. Come play for the NFTs. It’s like, no, this is an amazing game built by incredible game makers. And then as players, you’re going to be like, oh, whoa, I actually get to own these items. I get to trade them. And it’ll just be through having this incredible experience that then unlocks this new understanding of like, oh yeah, it does make sense to own my digital items. And that’ll just propel the cycle even forward. 

Matt Zahab 
So true. You nailed that on the head two years ago. It was all about play to earn the purpose of the game was to make a little cake on the side. Now it’s all about play, have a shitload of fun, and potentially earn. Right? What’s the essence of a game? It’s to have fun. When you think of games, you think of fun. Those two words are almost synonymous. And then it’s like, okay, well, if you’re playing a game, the primary motive shouldn’t be to make some cake, it should be to have fun. However, if you can earn a bit of couple dinero here and there, everyone’s happy. You know what I mean? When it’s dubs in the chat, winds across the board. 

Michael Sanders 
Totally, man. I give tremendous kudos to Peter, who is our CEO, Peter Kieltyka, and then Philippe Castonguay as well, our Director of Product, because we published an essay in early 2018 talking about one of the pillars of blockchain gaming being play to earn. But right afterwards we were like, let’s not use that term to market it because we don’t want that to be the reason that we’re promoting people to come to the game. And while we pulled back from even using our own term, and other people may have arrived at it simultaneously, I’m not necessarily saying we invented it, but other people did start marketing it very hard, and we were very deliberate about saying, no, let’s not use that term because it sets the wrong expectation. Because also for economy to work, not everyone can be extracting value from it, right? Then it collapses. And if you set this expectation like, oh, I’m going there to make money, and then if the player doesn’t, they’re just disappointed. So it doesn’t actually create a good community. So we’re like, no, let’s focus on making a really great game first. And then there’s all these cool trading and ownership properties. 

Matt Zahab 
What’s next for Web3 gaming? Give me your sort of six to twelve month outlook. You can maybe dive into a five year outlook, but how do you think Web3 gaming as a whole looks like in the future? 

Michael Sanders 
So think like five to ten years from now that 80% or more of new video games will leverage Web3 in some way or another. And in the next six to twelve months, I think we’re going to see the release of some really amazing games, like 6 to 24 months. I know of so many studios that are like veterans from these Web2 companies. Just as an example, one of our partners, Phoenix Games, they’re leveraging Sequence. And they’re all folks from EA and Blizzard and Glue making great games. Yeah, big dogs. And they’re using Sequence for all the games they’re making. And I’m actually not sure their first game might not come out for like two years or three years. I don’t know. Maybe it’s eight months away. I’m not sure. But anyway, those types of experiences are going to start coming online, right? And we have many other partners as well. Like there’s a really cool game, Hunters on Chain. We have Tower Conquest metaverse edition. Built by a game studio in India called Super Gaming. And they’re actually like they might even be the biggest gaming studio in India. And they had this game Tower Conquest, which is like a traditional game, like non Web3. And then they made a new version of it and implemented this Web3 component of it where you can win these collectibles and trade them. And they didn’t even build a marketplace initially. And there was so much organic activity happening in their community just who figured out how to trade it. And they weren’t even promoting it that way. And then this whole budding tournament ecosystem popped up and people really enjoyed it. But they just focused. They had a great game and then they layered in the Web3 component, right? We see a lot of like Sunflower Lands, a really cool game that’s also leveraging Sequence. And then there’s great other games coming out. Like there’s one called Wild Card. It’s like a collectible card based MOBA. There’s Shrapnel, which is this really cool sheeter, Planet Mojo, which is this auto chess game. There’s another group called Jungle which is making really cool, like hides fidelity, like excellent games. And most of them are not really promoting it as like Web3 being the make or break attribute of it. It’s a great game and they’re focused on that. So I just think we’re going to see more and more content, awesome content coming out because it’s enabled by the infrastructure pain points having been solved now. 

Matt Zahab 
Web2 games built on Web3 tech is how I like to sort of put it. It’s like as a user. While you’re going through the UI and UX, you’d never think, oh, this is a Web3 game. It’s just the Web3 text on the back end. Company X Horizon, for example, automatically creates a wallet for you. It’s incredibly easy to use. A four year old could walk through the interface. That’s what we need. What’s next for Horizon? What do you guys have on the Outlook rest of 2023? What are you guys popping off and what do you is shipping over the next couple of months and years? 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, actually, I just want to make one more point on the last topic in that I also think a lot of the games we see come online will have minimal Web3 integrations. Like, they’ll start small, they’ll start with like a collectible. And then I think over time we’ll start seeing the discovery of how you put more and more on chain, but I think it’s good to start small and then you can layer in more rather than trying to boil the ocean and figure everything out at once. That said, I still do think there will be some teams that are like, we’re going hardcore all on chain and they’ll also discover something cool, but I think most games will probably take a more minimal approach and then yeah. As for Horizon, what we have upcoming so SkyWeaver, our trading card game, it was named 2022s Best Blockchain Game, which was like a really wonderful accolade to receive. And we hope we can make it like the greatest trading card game ever because that’s a lot of our community who are like professional hearthstone, Magic the Gathering Pokemon players are telling us you have the right ingredients, but there’s a lot to live up to. Like, we’re nowhere near claiming that title just yet, but we believe there’s the potential for that. And then on the sequence side, which is, as I mentioned, it’s our developer platform, the tools to make building Web3 games and experience seamless and easy. We’re focused on onboarding more partners right now, so we have about 65 or so projects that have either integrated sequence or are in the process of doing so, and then hundreds more that we’re discussing with and are kind of figuring out their plans. And this ranges from small Web3 startups making games to. Some of the biggest gaming and tech companies in the world that are either they’re building games or they’re building token gated experiences or they’re building loyalty programs or they’re building collectibles experiences or something that none of us have even thought of yet, maybe around fashion or whatever. And just today, we announced something with Paris Basketball, which is the pro basketball leagues over in Europe. And today they’re using sequence so that all of their fans, when they show up at the game, they just like, scan. I think they’re scanning a QR code on, like, a big screen, and then they’re claiming an NFT for having a collectible for having showed up at the game, which then grants them access to future rewards, which might be, like, meet and greets with players or, like, discounts on future tickets or invitations to events. And so I think we’ll start to see more and more sports fan engagement opportunities. There’s a few other really cool major sports groups that we’re talking with, like music. There’s a lot happening. Our core focus, I would say it is around games. Like, 75% of the projects we work with are games, and then virtually all of the projects we work with are consumer oriented applications such as the ones I mentioned. 

Matt Zahab 
Love that. And you guys are moving and grooving. I love to see that. I know we’re getting a little tight for time, so we do have to wrap up soon, but I’d love to unless you have anything crypto related that you’d like to discuss. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah, I mean, if anyone wants to is building reach out to us, like sequence.xyz You can find all the tools. You can join our Discord, you can chat with us. We’re just really looking to enable amazing content into Web3. And then if you want to look into the company as a whole horizon.io you can also find a link there to play SkyWeaver It’s a great trading card. And if TCG and strategy is your thing, I would encourage you to check that out as well. 

Matt Zahab 
Well, as always, we will include everything in the show notes but one last segment on the show Michael hot take factory. Where our guest, and I’m super pumped for this one because I bet you have dozens of hot takes in that noggin of yours. But we have a segment called The Hot Take Factory where we jump in the factory, put our shit kicking, knee high boots on, we get a little down and dirty, and let a couple of hot takes fly, preferably non crypto or blockchain related. Health, wealth, happiness. You want to get super spicy, politics, nutrition, AI, whatever, but give me a couple of Michael Hot takes before we let you go. 

Michael Sanders 
I mean, I don’t know how hot of a take it is. I feel like everyone knows it deep down, but I just think living with love and expressing gratitude for this beautiful experience we call life is a wonderful way to live and just elevate your experience and those around you. And I think there’s an expression I like that people will over time, they’ll forget what you do and what you accomplish, but they’ll always remember the way you make them feel. 

Matt Zahab 
That’s Maya Angelou. 

Michael Sanders 
Yeah. If you can positively impact the people around you, you’re positively impacting everything. So I think that’s really special. And then I guess another one that’s I don’t know how other people have shared similar sentiments, but I often wonder if we’re not already in a blockchain based virtual reality. That’s called life on earth. Couple there. 

Matt Zahab 
I love that. The love one’s so true. It’s like I always tell my boys every time, whenever we get off the phone, I always throw in a lovey. Or like when I’m seeing them in person, give them a hug. I’m a big believer that happiness is a choice, and at least for the most part. And again, it’s so cheesy with the whole good vibes thing. But when you give good vibes and when your energy is radiance and the best way possible and you’re just projecting good energy out into the world, good energy is going to come back and slap you in the face in the best way. And it’s like, if you can show a little more love, why wouldn’t. You know, it’s like all it is, is a choice. It’s just like I’ve never met Michael before, but I love this guy like he’s a, you know, like that’s that’s all it is. It’s it’s nice and easy, but that’s a good one. I’m gonna I’ll definitely be writing that down and I’ll be practicing that a little more than I already do. 

Michael Sanders 
Likewise, man. I really appreciate it. And I love you too, Matt. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah, great chat. Michael truly incredible. Can’t wait to have you on for round two. And I’d love to meet up with you in person, and we’ll definitely have a nice little riff, but until next time, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. You and the team open invite for round two. This was truly an incredible episode. Had so much fun. And we’ll most definitely be going on a nice Toronto Harbor front walk with this on the AirPod. So appreciate it, man, and can’t wait for the next one. 

Michael Sanders 
Thank you so much. 

Matt Zahab 
Folks what an episode with Michael Sanders, Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller of Horizon blockchain games. This was quite the episode. Learned a ton. Have just an absurd amount of notes typing away while he was talking. Can’t wait to share these with you. As always, I will include everything in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening. As always if you enjoyed this one, I hope you did, please do subscribe. It would mean the world to my team and I. Speaking to the team. Love you guys so much. Thank you for everything. Could not be here without you. Justas my amazing sound editor appreciate you. You are the GOAT love you, man. And to the listener is love you guys. Keep on growing those bags and keep on staying healthy, wealthy and happy. Bye for now and we’ll talk soon.