The Big Interview

Q&A: Edward Moalem, Chief Strategy Officer, Ultra

Blockchain is more than just cryptocurrency, says Moalem, and as its use is explored in areas such as medicine, banking, real estate and games, more mature players are coming to the table

Ultra recently announced the appointment of Edward Moalem as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO).

Moalem previously served on Ultra’s advisory board as its Partnership and Strategy Advisor. Prior to that, he held positions at the likes of NewsCorp, Apple and Google. While working at the latter as Senior Director of Content Acquisition, he initiated and brokered the acquisition of Adscape, an in-game advertising company.

He also initiated and brokered the first DRM deal with Disney for their PC version of Toy Story. Other notable experience includes working with Microsoft to encrypt and distribute Office2000, as well as thrashing out the first networking deal between the GameSpy publisher services group and Nintendo.

Coin Rivet: You are a veteran of mainstream gaming making the switch to blockchain gaming. What was the attraction?

EM: What really draws me to blockchain is that it re-opens the closed environments publishers and platform holders have created, allowing more choice for gamers and developers alike. I’ve made a career of looking for software and tech solutions that will change the playing field and blockchain seems to have arrived at the right moment.

Developers are ready to embrace it, but more importantly, we are seeing studios like Lucid Sight and Axiom Zen (publishers of Crypto Space Commander and CryptoKitties respectively) continuing to push forward in the space.

We know that as we continue to give them easy ways to utilise the tech, and as we help them build bigger communities of players, they will see a great deal of success. I find that really exciting. I love to see people succeed and the whole ecosystem benefits from the products they create along the way. The teams that are currently investing in blockchain research are the teams that will profit most from these solutions coalescing.

Coin Rivet: You’ve said that Ultra is making gaming fun again. Could you elaborate, how did the sector lose its sense of fun?

EM: Over the years, the games industry has grown up, embracing the need to have better structure and accountability than it did in the early days. However, as tends to happen, things became too formal and corporate. Suddenly everything became about metrics and the more developers created games, the harder it became to find fun. Games were, for a time, formulaic. That worked for the short-term, but eventually both players and developers grew weary.

The introduction of new tech solutions in this space has always allowed the creative portion of our community to apply these solutions in ways we could never imagine and when I saw what Ultra is creating, I realised it’s the infusion the industry needs to get back into the creative fun space.

Coin Rivet: Ultra is looking to disrupt the current distribution monopoly that we see in the gaming industry through the use of blockchain technology. How can blockchain help in this regard?

EM: With Ultra’s game and virtual item tokenization technology, game developers are able to leverage the power of whomever is willing to earn money by selling games and virtual items on their behalf without knowing them, without the need of any type of trust, and without any bank account information or transaction fee. Game licenses are generated only when certain conditions set by the developers are met.

In addition to our trustless sale solution, Ultra offers a plethora of marketing features, also leveraging the crowd, who can promote content and earn referral fees based on success. Referral fees are protected by our blockchain’s immutable nature, which means that nobody, not even Ultra, is capable of modifying referral records.

Whether it’s gamers, developers, streamers, the media, or any other subset of actors gravitating around Ultra, everyone gets different incentives to earn revenue for contributing in the ecosystem.

Coin Rivet: What are the features that most excite you about Ultra’s platform?

EM: Personally, I was drawn to the application of new technologies to the games space. One thing that’s been constant over my 28+ years in the industry is the way developers embrace change, navigate new tech, and create opportunities. Innovation is a cornerstone to providing immersive and relatable content and we have never shied away from experimentation.

One of the most exciting features to me is the amount of revenue we can share back with publishers, whether those publishers are massive companies or one-man bands. This alone will fuel fun as it removes some of the pressure people face when making games. Ultra’s feature set as a whole empowers the entire ecosystem to be good citizens and, in turn, allows them to reward other good citizens. Additionally, Ultra OS is built on rock solid, proven technology unlike other solutions that are cobbled together or are vaporware in their entirety.

Coin Rivet: Blockchain has more than its fair share of critics, who label it all hype, no substance. How do you respond to that?

EM: Blockchain has its critics for good reason. In the early days, quite a few people saw it as a money grab rather than the exciting tech it is. Several companies have now been prosecuted for fraud. Others made claims they never had any ability to produce. Initially, introduction to crypto mining required expensive hardware and excessive power both in CPU and household electricity.

The barrier to entry was high. As a result, there has been distrust and scepticism from the mainstream while the community around the financial aspects of blockchain formed their own language shorthand, creating an even bigger divide.

But blockchain is more than just cryptocurrency, and as we unpack all of that and explore its  use in areas such as medicine, banking, real estate, and games, we see more mature players now coming to the table. It used to be that two to three months of studying blockchain from any aspect made you an expert. Now we look for years of experience when we engage anyone, whether it’s programmers or PR and marketing.

We’re entering the ‘enterprise’ days of blockchain, where the tech is used in specific ways for specific outcomes. It’s exciting to realise how many applications there are when applied intentionally and not just thrown around as a large hammer that makes everything else a nail.

For anyone who still believes there’s no substance, I invite you to join our Telegram group or mailing list and keep an eye on us. You’re going to see a lot of things happen with us, and others, over the next six to twelve months.

Coin Rivet: What are some of the potential barriers ahead for Ultra and crypto games in general?

EM: As with any new tech and new offering, it’s always going to be about awareness and adoption. In a world where we’re now surrounded by ads and offerings, making sure we’re targeting the right groups is essential. I’m lucky to work with a team that is highly skilled and incredibly passionate about crypto and games. I feel confident that we’re creating a roadmap to get us the players we need to bring in the developers, and the games we need to bring in the players.

More than that, I’m confident that our entire platform has been mapped out with these long-term goals in mind and we have a robust offering that no one else in this space can compete with. For crypto games as a whole, it’s still the same problem. User acquisition is king and anyone who can figure out how to do it for low — or no — cost is going to be ahead of the game.

Coin Rivet: Where would you like Ultra to be this time next year?

EM: This time next year, I’d love nothing more than to be a known entity and a major player in the games space and I’m certain we will do it. We know that’s going to take some time, but we anticipate being well positioned both as a technical solution and as thought leaders for the proper care of the games ecosystem.

In addition, I know we’ll see a natural consolidation of companies working towards the same goals. With the lack of experience we’re still overcoming in blockchain, it’s inevitable that teams will combine resources or share licences and expertise. We are excited to be at the forefront of that. In addition, continued achievement and success by a few platform creators will result in a culling of the pretender/vapourware tech that has infiltrated this space.

When that happens, consumers will have more confidence and be more willing to take a chance on our platform, which will only fuel additional word-of-mouth user acquisition as they have a great experience and share that with their networks. I fully expect Ultra to be the industry standard and the market leader for blockchain-based games distribution platforms.

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