Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with Pavel Bains, the CEO and cofounder of Bluzelle. Bluzelle, which was established in 2017, initially began as a decentralized storage network but has now evolved into a comprehensive GameFi layer within the Cosmos ecosystem. During our conversation, Pavel and I delved into the various benefits that Bluzelle offers as a development platform, as well as its noteworthy accomplishments and future endeavors in the world of crypto gaming. Don’t miss this piece!
U.Today: Pavel, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
Pavel Bains: My name is Pavel, and I am the cofounder and CEO of Bluzelle, which is a GameFi system on Cosmos. My background is in video games. I used to work for Disney and then Disney Interactive, running their studios. I also worked with Electronic Arts, Activision, Nintendo and every kind of game company. I did everything from studio management to business development to M&A and licensing. I was really trained in gaming and entertainment. In 2016, I took a break for a few years, discovered crypto and then in 2016 pretty much went full-time into this.
U.Today: Can you provide us with more information about Bluzelle and its goals?
Pavel Bains: We started Bluzelle in 2017. With my CTO and cofounder, we started with decentralized storage, so we launched a decentralized storage network, raised our money and that's what we've been building out. Over the past couple years, as our storage unit was being done, we realized how to get products on there. How do you store things? Fees were going up.
Gaming was getting big. Given that me and my cofounder both came from the gaming space, we thought, why don't we transition Bluzelle to be not just storage but an entire GameFi layer? Bluzelle is a Cosmos-based chain, so we are doing it all in the Cosmos ecosystem.
We had the storage layer. Then we thought NFTs need to be stored in a decentralized area, so that's a use case, to store NFTs on our network. Games are a way to run transactions. A chain is very fast, with 10,000 transactions per second. We can build games that have NFTs, and all of that would work on top of Bluzelle. So, we have the storage, the NFT marketplace that's in development right now and a gaming layer all on Bluzelle focused on the Cosmos ecosystem.
U.Today: Can you give us some details about the Bluzelle token and where it is listed now?
Pavel Bains: The Bluzelle token is the main token, and we launched it just over five years ago. It is used for validators on the network, as they're the ones processing all the transactions, mainly around storage. If something is stored in one of our nodes, you know that it was done properly, and you know BLZ is what they used to pay, and that's what the validator earned from it. BLZ will also be the gas used for minting in the marketplace. Games that run on BLZ will also use BLZ for their transactions. It has always been listed on the big exchanges, like Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, Huobi and KuCoin.
U.Today: That's great. What trends and developments do you foresee in the gaming space in the next few years?
Pavel Bains: I think it's going to be really exciting. I think what's going to happen is that crypto gaming will become its own category. Just like you have mobile gaming and free-to-play social games, crypto gaming will be on its own. I think as it goes into blockchains, you need it to be fast. Ethereum is just too expensive and too slow for gaming transactions to happen. People get frustrated. They're going to want to play games that are fast. Bluzelle is a super-fast Layer 1 that can handle that. But not all games are meant to be the same.
Sports simulations are not going to work so well for us. I think role-playing games, action-adventure and card strategy games are really well equipped for the crypto type of gamer.
U.Today: Is Bluzelle similar to Immutable X? If not, please explain the difference.
Pavel Bains: I guess it can be, in that Immutable X is a kind of a platform for games to build on and develop, but it's really focused on the Ethereum ecosystem and being a faster chain there. What we're focusing on is the Cosmos-based ecosystem because we believe Cosmos is a really good ecosystem for these types of products because of its interoperability; you can work with other chains. For example, if we want to do really exciting things around DeFi with gaming—GameFi—we can connect to projects like Osmosis, which is a Uniswap version of the Cosmos ecosystem, really seamlessly. You can do lots of things there. You can lend assets, lend NFTs as they come out. There are really creative things you can do in the Cosmos ecosystem because of interoperability without us having to build everything ourselves. I think Bluzelle and Immutable X are similar in intent, but I think we can grow faster in an exciting way.
U.Today: In your opinion, what are the reasons for game developers to choose Bluzelle as their game development platform?
Pavel Bains: I would say you're getting the three main things you want in a gaming development platform. Storage is very important. You want to make sure if you're building a game that the assets that are created and your users are buying as NFTs are stored in a super-secure place, and a decentralized network is the best place to do that. The second is if they want to offer an NFT marketplace and ease of use. If you're on Ethereum, instead of doing the NFTs on OpenSea, you can do it right in our own marketplace. It's synergistic, already integrated into the storage and the games. Like I said, you're getting the instant DeFi elements that are integrated right in, such as Osmosis. You're getting all the things you want to build a game all in one place.
U.Today: How do you think GameFi will impact the traditional gaming industry? Do you think traditional Web2 gamers or streamers would want to switch to the Web3 gaming scene?
Pavel Bains: I don't think I would call it switching. I think they will adopt it because it's a new genre. If I was a console gamer, I didn't switch to becoming a mobile gamer. If there was a good game on mobile, I'd play mobile. Some people like to stick to PC games, so I don't think they'll switch.
Gamers want something that's exciting and new so that they can try and be early adopters.
Streamers are more based on the audience they can build and then monetize. If one area is saturated, they go into crypto gaming and see there's nobody else there and it's growing, and they could easily become prominent and well-known instead of fighting everybody else there. Streamers I can see switching, gamers I can see adopting.
U.Today: Interesting. Can you give us more details about your NFT marketplace?
Pavel Bains: We call it Capella, which is a star. Just like Bluzelle, everything we try to do is astronomy-based. Capella is really built for game developers. The space has non-fungible tokens, but gamers sometimes want semi-fungible tokens. Say they create a thousand assets of a sword. They don't need each one to be unique; they just need that same one around the same class, and there's no point in recreating it as a unique item each time. It's just wasteful and shouldn't really require that much energy. So, we've introduced a solution to that, which is really exciting. Our first game that is going to be coming out will use our market, our storage and everything else with it.
U.Today: What are your plans or goals for the near future? Maybe for this year and next year?
Pavel Bains: For this year, we're really getting the whole ecosystem working. We've got our game that's being built, called GAMMA 4. We just announced that the private beta is open. We've been recruiting players from the Bluzelle community to be selected as the first group to play the game. When they play, they'll earn special NFTs. You'll have 16 levels. If you load up and you pass the process, you'll get your NFT, and if you finish the first eight levels, you'll get another special NFT. When you finish the second eight levels, you'll get the third NFT. It shows that you completed the whole game.
That way, we can get feedback from our users about what's wrong and how it plays. Then we can go fix certain things and add new levels.
It will use Capella, and our storage unit, and we want to release that over the next month and start getting the game going. By the end of the year, we will take it from private to open and everybody will be using the whole product.
U.Today: Oh, great! What aspect of Bluzelle are you most proud of?
Pavel Bains: As a company, we've been in this for 5+ years, still around, while a lot of companies have left or gone away. We're still in it. I'm proud of the way that we've been able to adapt and implement new things such as going from storage to, well, the storage needs a use case. Let's do something that we understand and implement that. I think I'm most proud that we've been able to adapt and, by doing so, kept our community excited. They understand the product, and they give us a lot of feedback. Those would be the main things—our ability to adapt and our community that has stuck with us.
U.Today: I also have some cross-cutting questions I ask everyone during my interview series. I hope you don't mind answering them. Do you have a crypto portfolio?
Pavel Bains: Yes, I do.
U.Today: Can you name at least three positions?
Pavel Bains: Bitcoin and ETH. I mean, those are the things you have to hold. I'll probably never sell them. I never say never, but I completely hodl both. The third one would be the DeFi products that I like right now, like FRAX, Frax Finance. I like the supply that they've built and how they implement some of their ideas into their products. I like the team behind it. Those are three of my positions.
U.Today: Do you have NFTs?
Pavel Bains: I never really got into them. I collected some that look nice. My wife has some art-based ones. But this space moves so fast and it's hard to follow when you're running a company and you have so much to do. It's hard to keep track of everything. Personally, I bought some stuff for fun, but I'm not really big into NFTs. Not that I don't believe in them, it's just I don't have the time, because I fundamentally fully believe that NFTs are an awesome product. Personally, I just haven't had time to get into them.
U.Today: Which projects in the crypto field are your personal favorites?
Pavel Bains: For me, obviously Frax. The finance ones are really interesting to me, what they have built and how they work. I like the solution-based stuff, like things around Layer 2s, like Arbitrum. I still geek out over the basic stuff of just doing transactions with wallets. I think it will be interesting to see the real private type of networks that use crypto and blockchain that are going like, "Hey, we don't have to have all this exposed, increase the privacy and anonymity," because I think that's going to be needed. I'm more into themes as opposed to certain projects and beliefs in them.
A person might say to me, "Well, I don't get NFTs, why are they worth so much?" Well, do you understand why a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting is worth a hundred million dollars? No. That doesn't mean it's not worth a hundred million dollars.
I just like crypto overall and explain to people that just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's not valid or not true. Most of the stuff in the world we don't know, but it's known by somebody and they place value in it. It is hard for me to say any specific projects other than the themes that I just talked about.
U.Today: I only have one last question. What advice would you give to people interested in starting their own business in the blockchain field?
Pavel Bains: I think they should first see if they have the mental capacity to operate one of these things in crypto. If you're trying to be an entrepreneur and build your own project and company on it, creating a start-up is just hard. Any tech start-up is hard, but running a crypto start-up is probably 10 times harder.
Especially if you're going to launch a token around it, you've got thousands and thousands of people out there who you need to manage as a community and take care of. It's not like if you run a public company, where you would have shareholders, and they would all talk to investor relations. In our space, they're hitting you up on Discord and Telegram. So, I think a person should first determine if they have the mental capacity to do it.
Second is to figure out which area they want to play in. Do you want to be a VC, a builder, or do you want to be on the community side? Do you want to work in journalism, like U.Today? Figure out what's best for you with your skillset. I would recommend that everybody go and work somewhere in the space first. If you want to be a builder or something, go on the inside, work with a project for one to two years just to get that firsthand experience. All of us did it on the first go-round and we had to learn by trial by fire, and it's painful. I think you should first go work for someone and just see if you have the mental capacity to actually be in crypto.