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Baobab Studios is taking its animated storytelling to a new platform today by unveiling Momoguro, a digital collectible game based on Web3 technology.
The company is working on the title with Web3 technology company ImmutableX, which is scaling blockchain games for mainstream consumers.
The project was created by designers Nico Casavecchia and Martin Allais. Momoguro is part of Baobab’s ongoing mission to inspire the world to dream, bring out a sense of wonder and make people matter through storytelling, said Maureen Fan, CEO of Baobab Studios, in an interview with GamesBeat. (We plan to get fans talking at our GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 3 online event on February 1-2.)
“Web3 is really exciting for us because it’s another medium for us and really aligned with our mission statement, which is to inspire the world to dream, bring out your sense of wonder and make you matter. “, said Fan. “And that last sentence, which makes you count, is what I think sets us apart from other animation studios because we want you, the audience, to be part of the experience, whether it’s a character or if it just means you are the community. You can actually influence what happens and how we build that story. So it was only natural for us to be part of it, because it really helps with this mission and allows the community to be on the ground floor.
As with all Baobab franchises, Momoguro is an entirely new universe. Its story and characters transcend any medium and will span from digital collectibles to Metaverse, TV/film, books and more, Fan said.
In the game, players will collect creatures with unique powers in the fantasy world of Momoguro. In this story-driven world, players fuse their collectibles with creatures, called Momos, to gain their abilities and become ultra-powerful Momobeasts. Baobab showed a bit of the game during the Art Basel event in Miami.
“Personally, I’m excited about the endless combinations I can create. Because you have these Momos that have different abilities. And so you discover them in the world. And you can decide which Momos you want to use,” Fan said. “This fantasy world is just super fun. And I just want to be in it all the time.
You can also go on quests to unlock clues, uncover long-forgotten secrets, and unite with Momos to defend the world against the selfish forces that seek to divide it.
“In an increasingly divided world, we believe in Momoguro’s message of supporting the community,” Fan said. “Digital collectibles allow a community to enter ground level into the creation of a new universe. By allowing players to become part of the game’s story, Momoguro encourages us to believe that we are stronger together.
This decision is a pivot for Baobab, which has started making interactive films for virtual reality. Baobab executives include Fan, who previously worked at Zynga; Eric Darnell, creator of films like Antz and the Madagascar series; and narrative tech veteran Larry Cutler, formerly of Pixar.
But it’s all part of the grand plan, Fan said. That’s because the company has always wanted its intellectual properties to reach a wide variety of platforms, and not just cutting-edge ones like virtual reality.
“We always thought that VR was an entry point into us,” Fan said. “I’ve always wanted to create an animation studio that creates characters and stories that go beyond just one-on-one support. But VR was super awesome. Because no one had an edge. Reality virtual was a technological breakthrough, so I thought of as a way to create great stories and characters and then put those great stories and characters into many different media.
Momoguro’s world and Baobab’s digital collectible game will launch in early 2023, followed by others
digital collectibles, integration with metaverse platforms and expansion of the Momoguro franchise
through media and entertainment.
“We are thrilled to partner with Baobab Studios to enhance their gaming experience and unlock a creative new world of gaming for the community,” said Tim Steudler, Head of Game Business Development at
ImmutableX, in a declaration. “Digital collectibles are the future of entertainment, and the Baobab team has a long history of creating compelling, award-winning stories and characters in worlds where you can be part of the story.”
Part of the reason Baobab is doing the partnership is because it’s not a Web3 company, Fan said. Community manager Alex Tinsman said the company had researched Web3 and its own target audience. And he’s found that his appeal is in lore-driven communities, Web3 gamers, and enthusiasts. He found interesting crosses in this respect. enthusiasts in particular have understood what it means to have a digital identity and digital assets, and to truly own your gaming assets.
Baobab Studios has released eight projects to date; Invasion!, Asteroids!, Jack, Crow: The Legend, Bonfire, Baba Yag, Paper Birds, and Namoo. All received both critical acclaim and commercial success, the company said. The works have been viewed millions of times.
The studio’s intellectual property is currently being adapted into books (MacMillan, Penguin Random House), film
(Roth/Kirsch, Disney), original series with premium streamers and games.
“We always put our IP in different media because we believe great stories and characters transcend any individual media,” Fan said.
Baobab’s latest release, Oscar-nominated Namoo, was acquired by Warner 150 earlier this year and is now streaming exclusively on HBO Max.
“We have a kickass game team, which I don’t think we’ve shared with the whole world,” Fan said.
Over the past year, the company has hired a number of game developers who have worked in the past at Zynga, Wizards of the Coast, Disney, Electronic Arts and more.
As for the metaverse, Fan said it depends on how you define it. It doesn’t have to be virtual reality, although it could be part of it.
“The way I define the metaverse is as a digital destination where people hang out and have fun in a virtual world. That’s how I define it. And so yes, you want both interactivity where you have things to do. And you connect with other humans, whether it’s your friends or strangers. But you want to do that in a world with great stories and characters. So that’s what we see ourselves do, bring the great storytelling structure of movies and TV and a lot of traditional stuff with the interactivity of games and have them all in one medium.
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