Arron Goolsbey Talks Future of Gaming with AI and Blockchain at Mythical Games

17 May 2024

In this installment of "Behind the Startup," Ishan Pandey sits down with Arron Goolsbey, the President and COO of Mythical Games, to explore his remarkable journey through the gaming industry. From his early days at Wizards of the Coast, where he played a pivotal role in the rise of Magic: The Gathering, to leading groundbreaking projects at Activision Blizzard, Arron has been at the forefront of gaming innovation.

Now, at Mythical Games, he is spearheading the integration of AI and blockchain technology to create revolutionary player-owned economies. Join us as we delve into Arron's insights on the future of gaming, the transformative potential of Web3, and the exciting projects on the horizon for Mythical Games.

Ishan Pandey: Hi Arron, welcome to "Behind the Startup" at Hackernoon. It's fantastic to have you with us today to delve into the exciting intersection of AI and Web3. To start off, could you share some insights into your professional background and what led you to your current role at Mythical Games?

Arron Goolsbey: I’ve spent more than 25 years in the games industry.  I joined a little-known startup called Wizards of the Coast in the late 90’s right after they invented the world’s first trading card game (Magic: the Gathering). I left Wizards as the VP of Technology, having helped develop and launch the current global digital CCG ‘Magic Arena.’  From there, I joined Activision/Blizzard as Head of, which was a dream come true since I had been such a huge fan of StarCraft, Hearthstone, and the platform itself.  While leading, we ushered in a new era by publishing the Call of Duty series, starting with BlackOps IV and continuing through Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone (the first f2p Call of Duty title).

After that, I followed one of my mentors to Meta to work in Reality Labs on gaming across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Quest VR.  I traveled around the world and met with hundreds of game developers to bring together the pursuit of the metaverse and the next computing platform.  That’s when John Linden called and asked me to join Mythical in pursuit of his captivating vision of the future of gaming and interactive entertainment experiences.

As the President and COO at Mythical, it's my responsibility to bring John’s powerful vision to life inside our games like NFL Rivals and Blankos, as well as the three main pillars of our business; Advanced Marketplace and Economies, Cloud Distribution, and Instant Play, and Decentralized Social through ‘Open Gardens’ across games.

Ishan Pandey: Can you give us an overview of Mythical Games and the core vision driving your projects in the Web3 space?

Arron Goolsbey: Mythical is a games technology company building the next generation of games powered by blockchain technology and player-owned economies.

We're all about building great games that people want to play and develop robust player-driven economies that all can enjoy being a part of, and creating a web3 gaming ecosystem by leveraging blockchain technology and playable NFTs for tools that enable players, creators, artists, brands and game developers to become stakeholders and owners in new “play and own” game economies.

Ishan Pandey: Mythical Games has been a pioneer in integrating blockchain technology with gaming. How does this approach differentiate your company from others in the gaming industry?

Arron Goolsbey: We're empowering our players to fully own - and verifiably trade - their game items with each other and build their collections how they want. No one else on the market is doing it like this, especially not with top-tier partner IP like the NFL.

Ishan Pandey: Looking ahead, what major developments can we expect from Mythical Games over the next few years? Are there new projects or partnerships on the horizon?

Arron Goolsbey: As far as our games go, our team is hard at work building new games and improving our existing titles, bringing all kinds of new features and utilities that enhance the experience and ecosystem for players. As far as projects and partnerships on the horizon, I can’t say too much right now, but I can say, like always, we’ve got a lot waiting in the wings and you won’t want to miss out on any of it. Now’s definitely the time to jump into the Mythical ecosystem.

Ishan Pandey: With AI becoming increasingly significant in technology, how is Mythical Games leveraging AI to enhance your blockchain-based gaming platforms?

Arron Goolsbey:  We are working on some pretty novel uses of AI applied to games, which I cannot really talk about much yet.  However, I can highlight that we see huge potential in the application of AI not just to the game experience itself, but also to the pre-production and live ops development cycles in the form of tools.  In fact, Mythical has several critical patents on AI-generated capabilities spanning several different types of game-changing applications.  I cannot wait to share what we have cooking, hopefully in the near future.

Ishan Pandey: There's a lot of buzz around VR and AR in gaming. Why has Mythical Games chosen to focus more on AI and Web3 technologies rather than VR?

Arron Goolsbey: Having worked in Reality Labs at Meta, perhaps the world’s most invested company in VR and AR, I strongly believe that there is already a significant push across several industries to bring about an evolution in the form of the next computing platform.  I have seen a lot of interesting immersive game experiences built for VR and AR.  Some have been great, but most are still not ready for mainstream.

One of the challenges with VR and AR even for gaming use cases is that the hardware is just not there yet.  VR headsets have come a long way in the last couple of years, but they are still largely just mobile phone hardware overclocked with 2-3 video processors. Several hardware limitations limit the size of the multiplayer experiences to less than a dozen concurrent users.  Hardware sales still number in the 10’s of millions per year even for the cheapest and most successful, which is a factor of 10 lower than what is necessary to attract major development.

All of that said, gaming is still a hero use case for VR/AR and the hardware WILL get there someday, but hardware and actual games are only two parts of the success equation. Mythical’s premise is to position ourselves as the provider of key building blocks of that immersive experience to help game developers who are investing in building those VR/AR games unlock business models with our technology that help bring those games to market faster and with higher chances of commercial success.

Mythical’s platform is built to be used on all platforms and hardware, from mobile, to PC, to VR/AR.  Our ‘Open Garden’ approach is meant to grow the size of the pie for the entire industry as we head towards what we internally call the “HTTP of the Metaverse, powered by Web3 technologies.”

Ishan Pandey: What are some of the biggest challenges Mythical Games faces in implementing AI within the Web3 framework? Conversely, what unique opportunities does this integration offer?

Arron Goolsbey: AI has been in the gaming industry for decades.  One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that AI is used as a tool to assist the human process of designing, building, and operating games, not as a tool that bypasses the human enrichment. Much like previous digital tool evolutions, leveraging technology to improve the speed, quality, and cost efficiency of gaming content and experiences must be the primary development goal for AI.  This is a tricky balance and the answers are not always immediately clear as to where to draw the line.  But as I said before, Mythical has been thinking about this for several years, so we have a lot of contextual experience and we are onto something big.

Don’t forget to like and share the story!

Vested Interest Disclosure: This author is an independent contributor publishing via our business blogging program. HackerNoon has reviewed the report for quality, but the claims herein belong to the author. #DYOR.