PlayStation Studios veterans Michael Mumbauer and John Garvin have announced the formation of a new game studio called Liithos, which is working on a blockchain-tied game called Ashfall that’s intended to launch on PC, Console, and a decentralized network called the Hedera network (we almost wrote that the Hedera network is a “blockchain network,” but that’s technically not true. It’s a “hashgraph network.”)
If the timing works out (and platform owners like Microsoft and Sony give the thumbs-up), this would make Ashfall the first web3 game on consoles.
Mumbauer is the former head of PlayStation Visual Arts in San Diego, and John Garvin is the former creative director at Bend Studio, where he worked on games like Days Gone and Syphon Filter.
The pitch for Ashfall is an ambitious one. Mumbauer and Garvin are promising to create a game that will start as a “connected single-player adventure that will evolve into a multiplayer PvP & PvE transmedia world.” Players will be able to “choose” to use the Hedera network, where “scavenging, discovery and exclusivity” will be part of a “build, sell and grade” experience.
The words “play to earn” or “play and earn” aren’t listed here, but the intent seems to be that players will be able to acquire in-game items and then sell them for cryptocurrency.
Liithos also promises that Ashfall will be the first triple-A narrative-driven game in “open development.”
Ashfall’s in-game setting is “a world scarred by global warming,” which is somewhat ironic given blockchain technology’s impact on climate change. Mumbauer does note that Liithos’ partner HBAR Foundation, which runs the Hedera network, “understands the potential and need for innovation without any harmful impact to the environment.”
Hebera does promise to be “carbon negative” on its website by use of the Hashgraph consensus which the Foundation says is “energy efficient and performant.” A blog from the Foundation states that the average transaction on Hedera uses 0.00017 kWh of power, while a Bitcoin transaction uses 1,736.85 kWh, and a transaction on Ethereum uses 133.88 kWh.
There is one weird note about this story, which is that this is the second studio co-founded by Mumbauer in the last year. In 2021, we spoke with him about the founding of That’s No Moon, another game studio that included former Sony developers among its ranks.
Mumbauer had previously departed Sony after initially forming a team to work on the recently-revealed remake of The Last of Us. Development of that remake was moved from the Visual Arts Service Group to Naughty Dog.