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Frank Cheng, CEO of Foonie Magus — Interview Series

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Frank Cheng, CEO of Foonie Magus

To celebrate Foonie Magus’ recent transition from Polygon to Ronin, we thought we’d catch up with CEO Frank Cheng, if only to touch base on its blockchain-based game, Apeiron, and its future in the world of Web3.

Before we delve into the world of Web3 and Apeiron’s presence in the blockchain ecosystem, tell us a bit about Foonie Magus. When was the studio established, and what led you to pursue a stake in the blockchain infrastructure?

Frank: Foonie Magus was established in 2021, coinciding with the start of pre-production for Apeiron. After five years of concept and prototyping, we gathered a core team of veteran developers who have collectively published over 140+ titles across console, web, and mobile platforms. Their expertise is invaluable, but what truly unites us is our shared vision to create something new.

I, on the other hand, am the outlier in terms of game development experience. As an avid gamer with no prior industry background, my journey into game development began from a place of wanting to create the perfect game that I, as a hardcore gamer, wouldn't find fault with. It took me eight years to fully appreciate the challenges and dedication that go into game development.

As for pursuing blockchain, it was perfect timing, because as we entered pre-production for Apeiron, we encountered Axie Infinity and witnessed the birth of blockchain games. We were fascinated by its rise, its tokenized incentives, and the concept of entrepreneurial digital ownership. We recognized blockchain gaming as an avenue to level the playing field for indie developers against the big boys. We deep-dived into Axie for half a year, and we emerged with an even more ambitious Apeiron!

And Apeiron — how did that come to be? Tell us a bit about it. What sort of game is it, and what are some of the rewards that potential newcomers can expect to find?

Frank: Apeiron is a blend of god game, roguelite, casual competitive MOBA, and breeding elements—all on the blockchain. While this may seem complex it is quite accessible for new players and we encourage everyone to experience the game firsthand. Apeiron is available for free on the Epic Games Store, with a mobile version on Android (iOS pending approval). Playing the game not only allows you to understand its intricacies but also provides rewards. We have two token launches approaching, and playing the game is the best way to participate.

For those who prefer a less competitive experience, a PvE dungeon will be available soon. The path you choose to follow on your journey in Apeiron is entirely up to you. 

There are clearly a lot of gameplay elements sewn into the patchwork with Apeiron. Tell us, why Gods? Is this a game you’ve wanted to create for some time?

Frank: The gaming industry is fiercely competitive, with approximately 5,000 games currently in the web3 space. Each month sees the release of another 5,000 games, making differentiation a necessity for us. We recognized that competing in traditional genres dominated by AAA titles was not feasible.

I began my quest to rediscover the essence of my earlier gaming days. One genre that resonated with me deeply was the god game genre, epitomized by titles like Black and White, Populous, and Spore, which I spent countless hours playing. This nostalgia sparked the initial idea for our game.

For us, accessibility and monetization are crucial. Therefore, we chose to develop for mobile platforms and incorporate game systems that enhance excitement and social interaction. Thus, the card-based action RTS battle system of Apeiron was born. To ensure longevity and sustainability, we knew Apeiron needed to transcend from a game to a franchise. However, the traditional mobile free-to-play model was inadequate for our grand vision. The typical game dev-publisher model would also fall short of funding such an ambitious project. We were missing a crucial piece of the puzzle until we discovered Axie.

Apeiron NFT - God Game Battle Teaser

Apeiron has quite the collection of NFTs in its portfolio — planets, stars, and relics, to list just a few. For those who are relatively new to blockchain technology, how would you describe these assets? Can anyone jump in and build their own library with no prior experience in the field?

Frank: Apeiron is free to play, allowing anyone to dive into the game without any prior experience. Currently, all players can earn in-game currency. However, in the future, only NFT asset holders will be able to earn $APRS and $ANIMA while playing.

Players typically start by acquiring Apostle NFTs (also known as relics), which are pets that can accompany them in battle. These relics are more accessible in terms of price and can be minted from the game itself. By owning Apostle NFTs, players can already start earning $ANIMA as they play.

As players become more invested, they can purchase or rent Planets to enhance their gameplay and competitiveness. Owning more Planets enables players to engage in breeding, a core utility of the game's token and a key success factor inspired by Axie Infinity. By understanding breeding mechanics and investing tokens and time, players can establish their own entrepreneurial ventures within Apeiron.

Lastly, Stars represent the land in Apeiron. Players can earn passive income by renting out orbital tracks for Planet NFTs to orbit. Stars also offer opportunities for players who prefer a strategic, behind-the-scenes role, especially in future guild gameplay mechanisms.

You have your sights set on transforming Apeiron into a mainstream franchise. Tell us, how do you plan to make this vision a reality? Can we expect to see some big changes over the course of the next several months?

Frank: Our strategy for transforming Apeiron into a mainstream franchise revolves around strong and unique narrative development with mass appeal. We believe that a compelling backstory is crucial for any successful IP, so we are focusing on presenting our stories uniquely and engagingly. Drawing inspiration from folktales, creation myths, and various cultural narratives, we aim to give them a satirical twist, infusing our narrative with humor and wit. Additionally, we are exploring deeper storylines that touch on themes of morality and duality, adding complexity to the overall narrative.

While many games explore mythologies like Roman and Norse, we are taking a different approach by delving into folktales from Korea, Slavic countries, and Southeast Asia, which are less explored in the gaming industry. 

Launching next year, our upcoming pilot series, developed in collaboration with a leading entertainment partner in Taiwan, will be a significant step in this direction. This series will serve as a platform to introduce Apeiron to a wider audience and pave the way for its transformation into a mainstream franchise.

You guys also made a decision to migrate from Polygon to Ronin a few months back. What inspired this decision? Have you noticed any major changes since making the transition?

Frank: In our search for a blockchain that prioritizes gaming and dedicated support to select projects, Ronin rose to the top. Sky Mavis has demonstrated a deep understanding of the requirements of on-chain game developers, and this shared emphasis on development positioned us as a powerful, synergistic team right from the start.

Since the migration, Apeiron's user base has shown strong growth, going from 8k DAU to 28.22k, over 250% growth. As we look ahead to the future of the Ronin chain, we firmly believe that Apeiron is the next big thing. Our game offers a challenging experience, even for seasoned gamers. This challenge is indicative of the depth of gameplay we offer, evident in our dungeon, PvP, and upcoming story release. Not to mention, our breeding system has been incredibly popular and is a source of pride for us. Pixels, which is another successful gaming building on Ronin,  is the definitive web3 hypercasual social-fi game, while Apeiron is the web2 mainstream harbinger that aims to evolve upon the Axie token-breeding and scholarship gaming model.

Apeiron NFT - TGE Trailer

So, what’s next for Foonie Magus, if you don’t mind me asking? Are there any important dates that we should be penciling in for the forthcoming year?

Frank: The next big milestones for us include the launch of our token and Season 3 mobile beta. We are currently finalizing our community round for OG asset holders and Ronin stakers, with many airdrop opportunities available for participants in our ecosystem. Our first community round sold out in 20 seconds. In the second community round, the allocated tokens sold out in under 4 minutes, raising a total of 18 million APRS, worth $1.98 million. We eagerly anticipate receiving feedback from players to help us improve Apeiron further.

In the coming year, we have planned numerous tournaments, balancing efforts, and testing phases for both our game and ecosystem. These initiatives aim to refine Apeiron until its full official launch in the latter half of 2024. Additionally, we are excited to explore animations and merchandise to establish Apeiron as a proper franchise.

It's a long road ahead, but it's gonna be starting here, with our token and S3 launch! 

Any final words for our readers?

Frank: It's important to note that Apeiron is not one of those projects promising quick 20x or 30x returns. Our focus is on creating a fun and unique game that stays true to our ideals as gamers turned developers. Despite pivoting to web3 just three years ago, we genuinely believe in and aim to demonstrate the potential of blockchain games beyond mere speculation.

Additionally, another major initiative Apeiron is working on is building an esports ecosystem. We have a tournament in April that will bring web3 esports to both west and east markets with many popular web2 and web3 peronalities going head-to-head.  Be sure to follow us on X to see the latest updates. 

Thank you to Gaming.net and Jord for your time.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!

For all the latest updates on Apeiron, you can check out the official social handle here. Alternatively, you can visit the Foonie Magus account for additional details here.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.