Meet the man trying to turn around the world’s most infamous NFT project

A “comically bad” Kiwi-born NFT scheme has been taken over by an overseas studio who says they are going to try to turn the project around.

Pixelmon was a metaverse game concept created by Hamilton man Martin van Blerk.

He sold NFT art for it, raising more than $100 million in cryptocurrency with people buying NFT characters, but a “comically bad” art reveal saw some investors lose thousands of dollars – and earned van Blerk the hatred of the internet.

In an exclusive interview with 1NEWS several months later, van Blerk admitted he was out of his depth, but said he was committed to turning the project around.

“I’ve taken steps not only to realise that, okay, maybe I was out of my depth, but to say, ‘OK, how can I do the best going forward and what steps can I take to bring in people that have experience’.”

That involved getting external help.

Now, it’s been revealed that LiquidX, a new studio that invests in NFT projects, has acquired 60 per cent of Pixelmon, and its cofounder, Giulio Xiloyannis, would be its new chief executive.

Xiloyannis, former chief operating officer of Zalora – one of Malaysia’s biggest fashion e-retailers spoke to 1News.

He told reporter Logan Church that he recognised those involved with Pixelmon from the start did not have the expertise to make their vision a reality.

“There’s often this big divide between the vision … and the delivery of that vision,” he said.

He said throughout its existence Pixelmon’s online community was incredibly engaged, even after the disappointing art reveal.

“The asset lies in how much people want this.”

Pixelmon new concept art.

From a personal perspective, Xiloyannis has put his reputation on the line not only publicly backing but getting directly involved with this project.

But for a co-founder of a new NFT-studio, he saw an opportunity.

“What best track record than the turnaround of one of the projects that lucky or unlucky got the most negative news exposure in the space.”

And to do that Xiloyannis has been building a team – quickly.

“There’s currently a team of around 45 full-timers working on the Pixelmon project. Out of that, around 35 have come on board in the last three months. Out of that 80% come from the traditional video game space,” he said.

That included game designers, developers, writers, and producers among others.

“That’s the core skills we need to put together.”

An external communications company was also now handling public relations for the project, including writing press releases.

And since the art reveal, Xiloyannis said the team had been busy redesigning art, releasing a new demo, as well as new digital assets.

“We actually redid and republished the entire collection art.”

And he said that had been well received.

“If you just track the noise now about the project – they’re happy.”

His goal now was to work on developing the project over the coming years. Like a lot of modern titles, they plan to keep updating the game after it’s eventually released.

“This project can’t miss on promises ever again.”

As for Martin van Blerk, Xiloyannis said he remained a shareholder and a founder.


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