Canadian startup Oly Sport wants to build a metaverse around horse racing, allowing users to not only own and trade NFT thoroughbreds, but also the virtual stables that house them and the digital farms that feed them. Oly Sport recently announced a $2 million fundraising round that values the company at $20 million, with support from blockchain-focused funds like X21, Everse Capital and Genblock Capital. BSCStation led the round.
ZED Run, which popularized NFT horse racing earlier this year, has already found a crowded field bunching up. ZED Run maker Virtually Human Studio recently partnered with Australia’s Melbourne Cup as the platform extends its reach in the horse racing realm.
Oly Sport is putting its focus somewhere slightly different—targeting crypto investors specifically and looking to develop the concept of virtual land ownership. Explaining his vision, Oly Sport co-founder Jimmy Chan said that land in Oly Sport’s world could potentially produce special food for the horses.
“In order to have your NFT horse perform well, you have to spend time with it, you have to feed it,” Chan said. “You have to take care of it like a normal horse.” In part because the NFT horses will benefit from resources in their races for prizes, Chan believes the virtual land set up to support them will provide its own value. Players could also one day set up businesses to host virtual races. “If you hold a parcel of NFT land in our game, it’s not only a collectible that’s worth something by that, but you can make residual income through owning that,” he said.
To make Oly Sport’s land more enticing, the company will tie certain parcels to real world real estate, starting with land outside of Toronto, where the company is based. Chan said Oly Sport plans to acquire real world space across six continents. Its game is set to launch in December.
The concept of NFT land isn’t new, even if it’s still being proven out. Individual plots in play-to-earn game Axie Infinity have sold for more than $1 million, while the Decentraland platform has seen over $81 million in transactions, with the number of plots capped at 90,000. ZED Run has held events in a portion of Decantraland’s world dedicated to sports.
Chan said that horse racing makes for a good entry metaverse offering because of its worldwide popularity, especially in Southeast Asia, where cryptocurrency knowledge is particularly strong. Unlike ZED Run, Oly Sport will run on its own token, $OLY, rather than existing cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.