Zed Run is what happens when the Kentucky Derby and Barbie Horse Adventures have a strangely successful digital child. Selling roughly 4,450 digital horses in its first year, Australia-based studio Virtually Human launched Zed Run in 2019. Since then, the NFT-based game has sold nearly 11,000 horses, along with breeding (yes, you can breed your digital race horses) another 8,000. Some rare horses are selling for more than $15,000, while one recently sold for a whopping $125,000.
In this game, your digital equines have established breeds and traits, as well as bloodlines going all the way back to the "Genesis" racers created by the game. Cofounder Chris Ebeling says they plan on adding more variables to the games such as track locations and weather conditions.
To enter races, owners can pay entry fees for a chance to win prizes ranging from a few dollars to several hundred.
The animated horse racing terminals found in some casinos and bars are "really stupid, to be honest," Zed board member Rahul Sood said. "Zed said there's got to be a better way. The idea of ownership changes the dynamic." Sood added that Zed plans to let viewers bet on the races when they can get approval from regulators. But, Ebeling said, Zed's vision goes far beyond offering gambling opportunities—very far.
"In my world, Zed is real," Ebeling said. "It exists on a parallel timeline to ours; it's quantum physics. It's 2150 on a planet called Novus Earth. On this Earth digital horse racing reigns supreme. It's been put in place to balance out wealth." Zed owners are able to use augmented reality tech to view their horse as if it was in their room, the equivalent of "teleporting them from a parallel timeline," as Ebeling put it.
"We're building an ecosystem that can run itself," Ebeling said.via Sportico
Ebeling is very focused on growth, and is even playing with the idea of ways people could make a living off of their pretend ponies. Even Atari has signed on to help Ebeling achieve his foals- um, goals. Atari is offering to assist in creating in-game activations such as themed tracks and horses.
Ebeling said Zed is listening to its users as it makes decisions about the still-in-beta platform: Should they add jockeys? Should the horses die? On the outside, others are questioning whether the NFT world is here to stay, especially as prices come down from their March highs. For now, Ebeling says Zed isn't looking to put the blood-and-guts horse racing business out to pasture.
"Reality is reality," he said. "It will always have its place."via Sportico