Exclusive Interview: Faraway Acquires Yuga Labs’ HV-MTL & Legends of the Mara Brands

On Apr. 17, Yuga Labs announced that Faraway, the gamebuilders who are helping Yuga build Doo-Key Dash Unclogged, are acquiring the Legends Of The Mara and HV-MTL brands.

While Yuga will no longer own the brands, they will be incorporated as “preeminent collections in [Faraway’s] current and future gaming products,” and will remain “closely connected to both Yuga and Otherside,” according to a Yuga blog post.

As part of the deal, whose financial terms remain undisclosed, Yuga’s Chief Gaming Officer Spencer Tucker will join Faraway as their new Chief Product Officer, to “bridge the two parties and accelerate the focus on these brands,” Yuga wrote.

The full list of collections acquired by Faraway are:

  • HV-MTL
  • Sewer Passses
  • Otherside Vessels
  • Otherside Maras
  • Otherside Kodamaras
  • Otherside Ship parts
  • Otherside Catalyst
  • Otherside Partner Loot

For HV-MTL and LotM holders, the move has immediate implications: 4,000 unrevealed HVs will be burned, and Faraway will now manage the upcoming minting of Amps.

The Faraway team is also setting up dedicated channels in their Discord for holders. Holders will be able to accrue points in Faraway’s newly unveiled points system.

While Yuga maintains ownership of Kodas, which will play a pivotal role in the Otherside MMORPG, they will also generate points in Faraway’s new system. “Otherside will serve as a core component of these brands, and we’re committed to working closely with the Faraway team to ensure interoperability,” Yuga wrote.

These announcements come as part of an eventful 2024 for Yuga, including Greg Solano having retaken the CEO role at the company and the acquisition of PROOF.

They also follow yesterday’s announcement from Yuga that Kodamara fusion—the process of upgrading a Mara using catalysts and sediments in order to use them to generate resources on Otherside land—will commence on Thursday, Apr. 18.

Against a backdrop of historic lows for Yuga’s flagship Bored Apes collection, with floor prices at 11.3 ETH at the time of this writing, longtime Yuga advocate Adam Hollander expressed frustration at the Kodamara announcement. “There’s no endgame that Yuga has ever shared. And so no one knows why they’re on the journey. And the journey from a gaming perspective, candidly, has sucked so far,” he wrote on X on Apr. 17.

nft now sat down with Yuga CEO Greg Solano, Faraway cofounder Alex Paley, and new Chief Product Officer Spencer Tucker for an exclusive interview.

nft now: From the point of view of us in the community, the announcement is an interesting new development! Can you talk a bit about how Yuga and Faraway came up with the idea of transferring the brands to Faraway?

Spencer Tucker: To understand the context, it would be good to understand what these collections are. HV-MTL came from the Dookey Dash game, and it was a gaming NFT collection. And then the same thing applies with Legends of the Mara, which was also a game-first Web3 experience. And then the idea was always that they would live alongside Otherside, but ultimately would be their own thing. Think of it as a 2D, cross-platform experience that existed before Otherside, for those collections.

Some additional context on Faraway—I go way back with the Faraway guys; we worked together at Glue, they worked with me at Scopely for a number of years. We’ve got a pre-existing relationship.

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So when I was at Yuga, we were looking for dev partners with experience; they were keen to work on the relaunch of Dookey Dash, but also on Legends of the Mara, the longer game, and other product and gaming initiatives.

[Today’s announced acquisition] was a pretty organic idea to pursue—‘hey, here’s these gaming tokens that need dedicated love and attention, product, energy, and software.’ And here’s a company that’s really well equipped, who also have the web3 experience, and things like user generated content, noncustodial wallets, interoperability, NFT minting, and gasless transactions. all the things that they built for the platform level, we’re also very synergetic with sort of the audience that we would be ultimately picking up and that was kind of the genesis of it.

Greg Solano: One of the parts there to underscore is finding the right web3-native game devs is no small feat. What Alex and [Faraway cofounder] Dennis [Zdonov] have built over at Faraway, the way that they are able to iterate with the community’s feedback, you know, seeing them live in Discord.

Doing this kind of stuff, inevitably, when you’re thinking about sending out any IP, you want to make sure that, frankly, it finds the best home possible, that it can thrive in ways that it might not even be able to at Yuga proper.

As we got to know them through the relationship on Dookey Dash, where we were getting really deep in the weeds—you build with our community, finding bugs and all that kind of stuff that you can only learn once you’re in the trenches with the team. We just felt like there was a lot of synergy here, and [the acquisition] would make sense with Yuga’s mission, which is how can we drive as much delight to the IP that we’ve created.

“When you’re thinking about sending out any IP, you want to make sure that, frankly, it finds the best home possible.”

Greg solano

Live-operating these games is a difficult task, and having that actually live at Faraway, and freeing up Yuga to focus on 3D Otherside and Bored Apes and supporting our Punks team, made the most sense.

We’re very stoked for the future here, and we just feel like we found the right guys to take HV-MTL and Legends of the Mara to the next level. Also, knowing that Spencer’s going to be over there, too, just makes us feel even better about the whole process.

Is there anything that you’re able to share about the financials and structure of the deal?

Solano: I don’t think we can share much here except to say that both sides are very incentivized to see these collections thrive in the future. One of the unique parts here is that LotM is going to be part of the wider Otherside story. This is a huge example of interoperability: we’re going to have Faraway driving utility to our NFT collections, where Kodas are still very much at the heart of what we’re doing with Otherside. It’s two different things, and finding a deal structure that would incentivize both parties for the fact that, frankly, we’re both going to be driving energy to some of the same NFT collections was important.

How is the deal going to affect the story and gameplay? Are we going to see any changes in how HV-MTL and LotM characters manifest in Otherside, and in Faraway’s gaming products?

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Tucker: I’ve been really close to these collections from inception and deeply, deeply involved in launching them. I understand both the lore and the genesis of those collections over time. I think there’s a lot of exciting stories that we want to tell with both of those collections. Part of the exciting thing for me here is having the bandwidth and resources to be able to dedicate to telling those stories.

Yuga has grown so much and it’s taken so many things from zero to one, created a lot of really unique stories and unique ways of telling those stories. But having a dedicated company focus on being able to manifest those stories into an even greater reality with products—that kind of surprise and delight for players and people who are interested in the narrative and the lore—is going to be pretty compelling.

[To Tucker:] What will your role be in bringing this to life?

Tucker: I’m still deeply involved in these things. In fact, if anything, I’ve got more bandwidth now, post this transition, to focus on that stuff. I’m moving over to Faraway as their Chief Product Officer. Obviously, this is a big focus for the company going forward, and those collections are going to get a lot of direct attention.

“The kind of tight connection that we have with Yuga—or even just myself and Greg constantly connecting with each other—that’s not going to cease to exist.”

spencer tucker

I think people have been asking a lot of questions. You know, ‘When are things coming? What about Amps, what about EVO2s, what about EVO3s?’ On LotM, ‘what about Kodamara, what do they do? What is not just the utility but the narrative and the kind of experience that we’re going to have with these things? What mediums do they try to interact with, outside of the existing games that have been experienced?’

I think that’s the body of work that I’m going to be focused on and that Alex and Dennis are also going to be focused on: making these collections really shine and giving them the opportunity to tell stories that are very true to the original intent, but also go in some new directions and embrace their own unique identities; a primary identity within the Faraway ecosystem, but still existing within Otherside.

That concept of interoperability and the kind of tight connection that we have with Yuga—or even just myself and Greg constantly connecting with each other—that’s not going to cease to exist. I think there’s a lot of dual connections there.

That’s going to benefit pretty much everybody across the board in terms of the people who like to experience the lore and the stories.

Is there any idea when the community might see new products and features coming from this deal?

Tucker: Without getting into too many specifics, there are plans to integrate these things into a number of different places. Some on a short horizon, some on midterm horizons, but all of them are pretty compelling opportunities for people to make use of these NFTs and collectibles that they’ve picked up over the last two years.

You can expect to see some aspects of those and in games like Dookey Dash for sure. We already have J3FF as a model in Dookey Dash. There’s already some HVs in there.

We’re working on seeing if we can get some other stuff and load them in there as well. There’s definitely a path forward. The really cool thing is it’s not just one dedicated experience; we’re looking at this more holistically. How do we touch multiple products in multiple different places, and really lean into that interoperability mindset?

In light of a very eventful few months for Yuga, including Greg Solano taking on the CEO role and the acquisition of PROOF, what does this latest deal say about Yuga’s broader strategy?

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Solano: It’s been a month and a couple of weeks since I took over the CEO spot. I’m very excited about some of the strategic moves that we’re making. This is one of them. What I want is to make sure that every single thing that we’re doing is just delighting us—that’s what motivated us in the early days.

As a company grows and expands, sometimes a lot of the work can get back to just, like, managing a company. We just shake things up a little bit, and also rely on incredible partners, where we can, to lighten the load a little bit, to make sure that we can just have fun.

I think that starts with anything as simple as making sure that our ApeFest Lisbon announcement is something that delights us. I love that people enjoyed our cheeky little poster with Curtis packed in a sardine can, and that delighted our Portuguese holders in particular.

I want everything that we’re doing to feel the same way, to strike a chord. What that means for me is really drilling down on the focus on BAYC, Punks, and Otherside. As a part of that, relying on Faraway here to carry the torch on LotM and HV. I’m just so stoked for the future of the collections with them shepherding it. It’s just part of the kind of broader strategic move and things that we’re doing at the user level.

Zooming out a bit, we’re at an interesting point where we are kind of in a bull market but have shaky sentiment around ETH NFTs. There’s a slow grind downward on price, volume, and attention. How are you thinking about these trends, and how are you responding to this drumbeat of concern?

Solano: We’re really excited about what’s going on these days. I regret not reinvesting as much as quickly back into Bitcoin ordinals after TwelveFold.

I give flowers to Magic Eden—that’s a team that is really down for trench warfare, that is the best way I can put it. We love those guys. They dug in and worked on supporting ordinals when nobody else was really doing that at the same scale. It’s paid dividends for them. Now, they’re the biggest multi-chain NFT marketplace. I think there’s chasing narratives, and then there’s also just building and creating.

We’re at our best when we’re delighting our holders, and everything that we’re doing, all the strategic moves that we’re doing right now, are around getting back to that place where we can be doing that consistently. That’s where my focus is.

I want to enjoy everything else that’s going on in the ecosystem, make use of it, and fold it into our plans when it makes sense. But I think it’s a dangerous path sometimes to go chasing your tail and chasing a narrative rather than write in your own ways.

“We’re at our best when we’re delighting our holders.”

greg solano

There was a story that broke [Friday, Apr. 12] from Arkham Intelligence, where they were saying that there are some Yuga royalties going to an account linked to FTX. There’s a whole lot of head-scratching and curiosity about that—are you able to say what’s going on?

Solano: Yeah, we did see that. I haven’t touched deeply with the team on it, but I know they’ll have looked into it and fixed it. It’s a little absurd, I guess, is all I have to say at the moment? I’ll probably say something on Twitter in a bit.

Editor’s note: When we followed up with Yuga PR director Emily Kitts, she pointed to Solano’s tweet on the matter, reading: “gm lot more fucking fixing today”

[To Alex Paley:] We’d love to hear your thoughts on the deal as Faraway cofounder.

Alex Paley: As far as our careers, me, Dennis, and Spencer too, have always worked at studios where we’ve provided utility to existing brands—whether those brands were WWE or The Walking Dead or Marvel.

This is another example where our job is to take amazing brands and make them even more amazing by telling new stories, or continuing to build on the stories that already exist. Our goal is to provide as much utility as possible to these existing brands and existing characters and then tell new stories along the way that continue to, as Greg says, delight the holders. We’re just excited–and obviously excited to work very closely again with Spencer. It’s now three companies in a row, or with breaks in between, but it’s awesome to have him.

I think that was the big worry from our side: how do we bridge that gap in knowledge? There’s only a few people in the world that know about all the things that the holders want. And having Spencer on the team gives us the comfort that we’ll be able to manage all of that, and do it without any without really missing a beat here.

The post Exclusive Interview: Faraway Acquires Yuga Labs’ HV-MTL & Legends of the Mara Brands appeared first on nft now.

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