Building the Future: An Interview with Ben Fairbank, CEO of RFOX
Launching quality games, supporting talented artists and creating the next VR metaverse, Ben’s team are aiming to build the future of Web3.
The latter’s 2nd Edition pack sale was my very first experience of an NFT drop, and my introduction to a company that now spans a successful NFT collection, a popular mobile game, and an upcoming VR metaverse. That company is RFOX.
As their latest collaboration with the Cryptopop Art Guild comes to a close, and with the inaugural trailer for KOGs: QUEST! now live, I caught up with CEO Ben Fairbank to discuss this next entry into the KOGs universe, his cross-chain ethos, and how they’re looking to build the future of the metaverse.
John: Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?
Ben: Sure! I was a career C-level turn-around consultant, CX expert and expat, working in more than 12 countries. I discovered crypto as a way to send money back home more efficiently and at a lower cost.
Later, I started a YouTube channel to help educate my friends and family, and started working on ideas for a blockchain-based company in 2018. NFTs came into the picture much later, but had always been in the back of my mind as a solution for ownership transfers between countries, for anything from real estate to cars and much more.
I’ve always believed that NFTs could solve a lot of issues, not just be a collectable, but that it would take time. We saw the immediate application for them in games back in 2019 and began exploring ways to introduce them.
For many of those reading, KOGs will have been their first introduction to RFOX. Could you tell us a bit about KOGs, and how the idea came together? What has the journey been like so far?
KOGs (or Keys to Other Games) are playing pieces that can be used across several upcoming games. The idea was to tackle the two main problems in the gaming space; online fraud when transferring or selling in-game items, and the lack of real ownership of items by players.
The journey has been interesting. Launching in late 2020 makes us one of the older collections around, but we’re only now starting to see the grand plan come together, with the upcoming release of both KOGs: SLAM! and KOGs: QUEST.
Now, it’s time to start delivering some real value to our KOGs holders.
KOGs: SLAM! entered Open Beta this time last year, and a trailer for KOGs: QUEST! landed in September. When can we expect KOGs: QUEST! to release, and are there any additional games in the pipelines – not just for KOGs, but for the wider RFOX ecosystem?
KOGs: SLAM! is being re-released in RFOX VALT, which will be exciting!
QUEST! is going through auditing and has been in testing for some months now with around 250 people taking part, so we’re getting close to an initial release.
The first non-KOGS game in the VALT is RaSNIA FEAR, a jump-scare VR experience that’s currently available to VALT MVP members with a Meta Quest 2.
Recently, you partnered with the Cryptopop Art Guild (CPAG) to produce a number of special-edition KOGs Booster Packs. Could you tell us about CPAG, how this partnership came about, and what’s included in these packs?
The Cryptopop Art Guild, founded by Yield Guild’s Country Manager for the Philippines, Luis Buenaventura, is a guild that aims to support underprivileged, talented Filipino artists. We were thrilled to partner with them to showcase their artists to a wider audience.
We’ve created a limited collection where their artists can see their art integrated into video games. Inside the packs are pieces of art in a variety of rarities – some may be valuable standalone pieces, or part of a wider collectable set.
Our primary sale for these KOGs x CPAG packs has drawn to a close, but you can still acquire them via the secondary market on AtomicHub.
We’ve seen two sets of KOGs x CPAG Booster Packs released so far. Are there plans to further this partnership? What can we expect in future?
We always look to establish a product market fit and are certainly open to doing more with CPAG if it makes sense. You can expect to see the CPAG KOGs integrated into the RFOX VALT metaverse and into our other games too.
Your metaverse project, RFOX VALT, has been in development for several years. What are your goals for RFOX VALT, and how will it stand out from other metaverse projects across Web3?
It’s been a labour of love for us for some time, and we’ve been talking about the concept for years. Seeing the first signs of life, through the footage we’ve released so far after all this time, is richly rewarding.
We want to be a platform that provides creators with multiple mediums within which to develop products and launch businesses, and a place that users can explore, experience and actively participate in guiding its development. We’re focus on digital inclusion, and providing a pathway for those in rural areas and/or without banks to be a part of this tech movement.
Our key points of difference are that we’ve gone chain-agnostic, in VR, and with a focus on retail and entertainment – a very different direction to the gaming or social media worlds that many others are describing. We very much want to push the boundaries and shake up multiple industries.
Your roadmap is quite light on information for 2023. What can we expect from RFOX over the next 12 months, and when do you anticipate RFOX VALT will launch to the public?
We’re currently finalising plans, budgets and key strategic goals for 2023. We have a lot of information we’ve yet to make public regarding what’s next, but we’ll wait a little longer before sharing more.
When you’re working with new tech, or rely heavily on third-party relationships, its best to wait until everything is in your hands. The Web3 industry tends to either not deliver, or take a lot longer than planned – we’ve been guilty of the latter ourselves.
If you’re not learning and improving all the time in this space, you’ll not last long.
KOGs is a WAX-based project, whilst the recent RFOX VALT CitiXens were minted on Ethereum. Could you discuss your strategy behind your multi-chain approach?
We’ve always had a multi-chain approach – this may change if technology becomes an issue for our growth and adoption, but we’ll remain focused on multiple chains until then.
We’re currently getting ready to deploy and integrate 3 more chains, but more on those in future.
Is there anything you’d like to add, anything you’d like to say to the reader, or anywhere you’d like to direct them to discover more?
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out RaSNIA Fear on the RFOX VALT metaverse. This is the first game hosted on our metaverse – we’re especially proud of this development because we were able to help them launch their game within just three months, way ahead of their one-year timeline, and we look forward to onboarding more games and apps to our metaverse.
Web3 and metaverses are still extremely early, and we’d love to get feedback from early creators and users on what they’d like to see more of.
It’s time for our quick-fire questions!
What fuels you?
People who can’t see the vision and doubt the possibilities. Also, wanting to see things improve for my kids. I want to build things we can all use and that we are all proud of.
One unusual fact about you?
I have a weird thing with heights, like balconies or look-outs, as they make me want to jump. I play visions in my head of jumping, so I avoid high, open spaces at all costs.
If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
What other people think of you is none of your business. Be you, do what you think you can do, and don’t be bound by what others think you can’t do.
You can invite three people, real or fictional, to dinner. Who do you choose and why?
George Orwell – best author ever in my opinion, pure genius; Neil Armstrong – you can run ‘a simulation’ but you can’t hide ‘a simulation’; and Nikola Tesla – just because he was brilliant, and he completes this room.
What is your purpose in life?
To provide for my loved ones and to make things a little easier for those who have it tough.
Amongst all the brilliant people we’ve interviewed so far, Ben’s story is different. He didn’t dive into crypto to jump on a trend or to launch an NFT project – he did so out of necessity, in his quest to find the best way of sending money home to his family.
This real-world perspective is felt throughout what Ben does with RFOX today. Through KOGs, RFOX VALT, their collaborations with CPAG and more, Ben’s drive comes from the desire to solve real issues, help those in need, and to be the positive change he wants to see in the world.
His vision for Web3 is of a place that provides enjoyment, satisfaction and convenience for all. Rather than just making RFOX a success, Ben wants to bring his fellow creators, collectors and the community at large along with him – and that’s certainly something we can get behind.