Investors are cashing in as horse racing is given a modern facelift by virtual racing platform Zed Run.
Founded in Australia, on Zed Run people can buy a racehorse using a cryptocurrency called Ethereum, and then proceed to enter races and develop their stables much like they would in real life.
Players can potentially make (or lose) money from winning races or selling the racehorses to other players.
How to get started on Zed Run
Syntribos* has a background in finance, but he grew up with horses on his family property, and dabbled in racehorse ownership and betting as an adult.
He started his journey on Zed Run in April this year after hearing about the platform from a friend, and contacting one of the platform’s founders for further information.
He now manages about 200 virtual racehorses under Syntribos Stables in his spare time, and said he was able to apply a lot of his knowledge of real-life horseracing to the virtual world.
“A lot of the fundamentals around Zed Run as a game are very much the same as that of real horseracing,” Synrtibos said.
While his knowledge of racehorse form analysis and breeding came in handy, Syntribos said people coming into Zed Run with experience in areas like gaming and cryptocurrency could benefit as well.
“There’s plenty of people out there that have never watched a horse race before, but they’re sitting on their computers watching digital horses run for hours on end,” he said.
This includes people who object the participation of horses in real-life racing, a moral issue that virtual racing erases.
Zed Run racehorses are non-fungible tokens (NFTs), but like their real-life counterparts, they all have different abilities and pedigrees which affect their value and performance.
Syntribos said Zed Run “captures the imagination of people” because even if they spend a low amount on a cheaper racehorse, there is still a chance that it could become successful.
However, Syntribos acknowledged that getting started on the platform would be a “learning curve” for a lot of people.
“It takes quite a time to just get your head around.
“My father has raised horses all his life, and it still took me speaking to him for 30 minutes about what [Zed Run] actually is for him to comprehend it.”
Virtual career prospects
Syntribos has no plans to quit his full-time job for his Zed Run hobby just yet, but he knows of many people who are on Zed Run after quitting their jobs, or losing their jobs due to COVID-19.
“For many people, what has started as a hobby may have turned into something a lot more serious purely because they’ve had the time to spend on it,” he said.
“Many people have been forced to stay home, and you can only watch so much Netflix before you get bored.”
Thousands of races run 24-hours a day on Zed Run, so players can work racing around their schedules.
Zed Run horses do experience fatigue, but for players who have invested in multiple horses, they can almost enter as many races as they want.
Popular career options on Zed Run include racing, breeding, content creating – or a mix of all three.
For people who come onto the platform with a serious strategy, and are willing to put the time in, the potential profits can be huge.
Syntribos knows of a stable which earned 20 Ethereum, which amounts to over $80,000, in six months.
Like many new internet offerings, some of the people that got in first made an easier profit.
“People that got in extremely early were buying some of the better horses … for $1,000, and some of those same horses now are selling for upwards of $100,000,” Syntribos said.
But in most cases, players get out what they put in to the platform.
Syntribos emphasised that immediate returns on investments on Zed Run are not a sure thing.
“[Similar to] real-life horseracing, those that are … creating a plan that is feasible and profitable are creating really good businesses behind this,” he said.
“But those that are doing it just more as a pastime without any structure might find it a little bit harder to use [Zed Run as] a possible source of income.”
Syntribos has received enquiries from people in the real-life horse racing industry about how they can get into Zed Run.
“I think eventually the crypto space as a whole will become more prevalent of people creating more full-time jobs, whether it be in Zed Run or anything else,” he said.
“If you really compare it to the space that we’re seeing now in eSports, I think [NFT and crypto-based platforms are] only going to get larger.”
The future is virtual
While Zed Run isn’t mainstream yet, Syntribos emphasised it’s still early days, and the platform is part of an “all-encompassing” movement into virtual reality.
He said people are creating “fully digital worlds” on platforms such as Decentraland and The Sandbox.
“You might have your own race track there, or your own stables and your own bar, where you can invite people to come and have a look at your horses — all within a digital world.”
Syntribos recently attended an online event held by Zed Run which he said was comparable to playing Sims, where he had an avatar and walked around.
“Anyone that attended this particular event at Zed received a token and a Zed t-shirt, which you can then wear on your avatar,” he said.
Syntribos said he could easily see a day where people could attend events like concerts and buy merchandise in the same way.
“Although it sounds quite far-fetched today, I’m sure the internet sounded quite far-fetched for a lot of people back in 2000.”