Fableborne has been a long time coming for Pixion Games founder Kam Punia.
The studio was founded back in 2017 and has launched a few games – and killed several more – in that time, including Brawl Stars-style multiplayer game Bash Arena: Battle Royale, which is in the process of being removed from app stores.
The company’s big bet is on Fableborne, an asynchronous builder-battler with an investor-friendly mix of ideas: quickfire competitive play (or ‘lunchtime esports’ as Pixion calls it) plus blockchain-based NFT heroes you can earn by playing or buy upfront.
Pixion has raised over $4m to date, attracting angels like Alan Fung and Nir Efrat plus institutional investors like Eldridge, Shima Capital and VGC Partners.
It has also attracted plenty of talent. On top of founder and former Konami TCG lead Kam Punia, there’s former King, Product Madness and Niantic technical director Kazimierz Luska, ex-Pixonic head of operations Tamara Slavskaya and Zeptolab’s veteran technical director Sëmen Samusev. Elsewhere in the team there are ex-Blizzard, Riot, Sony, Ubisoft and NCsoft folks.
The Pixion pitch that attracted that investment is centred upon “midcore+” games. Pixion boss Punia defines these as accessible, competitive multiplayer games that give players real rewards. Fableborne is aimed squarely at that group of players – ones who don’t have time for full-fat esports.
“Many multiplayer games have become too difficult to master without a significant time investment,” Punia tells us. “Amongst the current midcore playerbase there is additionally an underserved audience of lapsed or time-poor competitive gamers who still love competitive gaming, but can’t commit the time and dedication needed to truly compete.”
Many have tried and failed to make esports on mobile happen over the years – but Punia believes Fableborne’s asynchronous competition through its Pixion League system gives it a better chance of breaking through.
“Realtime PVP just isn’t accessible because the games generally rely on dexterity,” he says. “I couldn’t leave playing an FPS competitively for two weeks while I’m on holiday and then come back to it at the same level.”
“All of this made it clear Fableborne had to be asynchronous,” Punia continues. “You get to play and compete when it suits you and genuinely have a shot at the top rewards, because you don’t have twitch-based controls that need to be mastered.”
And then there’s the blockchain bit, which ticks off the ‘player value’ part of what Pixion wants to do. Fableborne’s hero characters can be turned into NFTs for players who want to feel that ownership, and they can also win NFTs within Pixion League or earn them by playing and trading. But it’s all optional, says Punia, and only there for the players who want it.
“We do not believe that restricting players by forcing them to purchase NFTs is the right way of approaching this,” says Punia. “Owning NFTs is not required to enjoy the full game experience, but they offer an extra layer of depth, customisation and collectability.”
The team had been “building and killing for a few years,” says Punia, before starting the game that became Fableborne in 2020. Having poured all it has learned along the way into the game, we’ll find out whether Pixion Games can deliver its buzzwordy mix of blockchain and esports if it hits its proposed launch window later this year.