Zed Run – an online game based on digital horse ownership, racing, trading, and breeding – is the latest surprisingly lucrative crypto trend to emerge off the back of NFT (Non-Fungible Token) hype. And it’s from an Australian studio, Virtually Human, who launched Zed in early 2019.
Two years later and humble beginnings – selling 4,450 digital horses for $30 each – has turned into a wildly profitable Second Life-style rally. As of right now, Zed Run has reported up to 11,000 horses sold, with another 8,000 bred across 3,600 digital stables. Rare horses like the golden polygon textured ‘Floyd Mayweather Jr’ are now selling for US$15,000 (AU$19,335). One horse has even sold for US$125,000 (AU$161,125).
Zed Run works on NFT technology, relying on the ridiculously high-paying concept to establish proof of ownership and allow for secondary transactions on online art and collectible peer-to-peer marketplaces like OpenSea.
Sportico has aptly described Zed Run as “Tamagotchi meets Churchill Downs,” comparing sports’ newest blockchain trend to a handheld digital pet.
In Zed Run, these digital horses – which often look like nothing more than raw, unfinished assets from an old Nintendo RPG – are differentiated by various factors, the best of which are from established breed types and bloodlines which trace back to original prototypes which Zed Run’s owners created – “Genesis” racers.
Racing odds aren’t actually revealed in the game, so users are often left to figure out their own way based on race history and race length. Although Virtually Human cofounder Chris Ebeling has said that other factors like digital weather conditions and track location could also impact results.
Several races are run every single hour, usually across six different classes based on horses’ records and experience.
“The idea of ownership changes the dynamic,” explained Zed Run board member Rahul Sood, who is currently waiting on approval from regulators before he allows speculators to also join in and bet on the races.
Owners simply pay entry fees to be a part of any race, with prize pools often ranging between just a few dollars, to several hundred. The races themselves are fairly standard in the world of online gambling, with these digital NFT horses navigating the track.
While this may sound like standard virtual horse racing, the addition of ownership, through NFT technology, changes the dynamic completely. Zed Run is currently looking into expanding on ways people can make an actual living on the platform by owning horses, managing stables for others, reporting on developments, and even hosting their own digital events on the platform. Blockchain will likely be the driver of all these changes.
Zed Run is also messing with augmented reality to allow owners to view their horses as if the animals were in the room with them. Ebeling, who obviously reads a lot of sci-fi novels, describes this as “teleporting them from a parallel timeline.”
“In my world, Zed is real… it exists on a parallel timeline to ours; its 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.”
Perhaps most notable is the fact that Atari (yes, the legacy gaming company) has now come on board to help Zed Run build a series of in-game activations, like themed horses and tracks.
Although of course all of this ambition relies on NFT being more than just a very, very lucrative virtual trend. If it is, then it could be wise to jump on Zed Run before it really takes off.