LAOS Foundation interview: Bridgeless minting and interoperability

Freeverse has participated in several of our events over the years, so we’re very familiar with the blockchain infrastructure company founded by Alun Evans, Toni Mateos, Alessandro Siniscalchi, and Fernando Estalella. At the end of last year, Freeverse announced the creation of LAOS, a new universal Layer-1 blockchain designed with speed and interoperability in mind.

Last month, in San Francisco, Freeverse and the not-for-profit LAOS Foundation it helped establish were at GDC to demonstrate the possibilities of bridgeless minting.

One of the core principles of LAOS is how fast and cheap it is to mint Ethereum, and indeed, during our conversation in the GDC hall, Alun Evans (CEO and Co-founder) played a game with us to see how quickly we could mint assets simply by clicking a button. Our jetlagged trigger finger managed 22 in five seconds – the record at the show was around 30 – which would typically cost around £10 at the prices that day but actually cost us barely a penny on LAOS.

Before we dive into the magic there, we asked Evans to explain where LAOS came from. Freeverse started off as a games company building its own games. So, how have things evolved since we last met at GDC?

The Xerial booth at GDC 2024, photo supplied by Alun Evans. Xerial already has LAOS integrated and is preparing to launch 15 games.

“We always believed in this vision that the gamers would be able to trade their assets amongst themselves (for something that wasn’t in-game currency),” begins Evans. “So we started building our own games. And the technology we built to do that turns out to be blockchain technology. We built a whole layer and platform to make it work.”

Then, about a year ago, the company made a breakthrough based on cost and interoperability. “We realised that we want to be a lot more interoperable with the rest of the web3 space,” continues Evans. “So we decided to build our own Layer-1 network, our own blockchain – or, technically, it’s a parachain on Polkadot. The vision we had was this: rather than just being one more L1, and trying to convince people to come and use us, we wanted to make a L1 that was fully compatible with everything else – everything everywhere all at once, if you like.”

Founding the Foundation

“The LAOS Foundation is an independent foundation based in Switzerland. Freeverse has been instrumental in setting up the whole of the LAOS Foundation and the whole of the technology behind it,” says Evans, but adds, “The two things are separate. Freeverse is a commercial company based in Spain, and LAOS is a non-profit foundation based in Switzerland. That foundation was set up in Switzerland because Switzerland has very clear, legal guidelines for setting up foundations that emit tokens.”

The LAOS network and the LAOS utility token are emitted by the Foundation. Just a couple of days before we met in San Francisco, LAOS received the news from FINMA, the regulator in Switzerland, that the LAOS token would definitely be a utility token (“not a security, not a payment token”).

Freeverse raised its Series A round in 2022, raising €10 million led by Earlybird and Target Global and backed by Adara Ventures and 4Founders Capital in Spain. “They are 100% behind this idea of transitioning our technology and our new vision,” says Evans.

Evans adds that on the ongoing relationship between Freeverse and the LAOS Foundation, “[They] are connected at the moment. Perhaps in the future, they’ll be disconnected – who knows? Because the LAOS Foundation is independent. Eventually, the Foundation will be fully decentralised. There is an element of centralisation [at the start] just for the rapidness of decision-making. But the public goal is that the LAOS Foundation will become 100% decentralised. It’s a decision that will taken by the token holders and so on. And if the foundation decides not to work with Freeverse in the future, it’s free to do so.”

Compatible, fast and cheap

What is the magic of the LAOS proposition? “The USP of LAOS is what we call bridgeless minting,” explains Evans. “All it does is mint assets. There are no smart contracts. There’s no trading, there’s no DeFi, there’s none of the other stuff that you associate with blockchain. All it does is mint assets. It does it very quickly, very efficiently, and very cheaply.”

The crucial thing is that LAOS connects to other chains so that your minted assets appear there, but your ownership of those assets is not on those chains.

“For example, you can mint 100,000 or a million assets all in Ethereum without paying any ETH,” Evans enthuses. “You can mint 100,000 or a million assets on Polygon without paying any MATIC. In fact, you can do it right now on any Ethereum chain, and those assets appear on those chains; once they’re in that chain, they’re traded in the token of that chain. So if a game comes and says, ‘Well, we got a grant from Polygon, so we have to be on Polygon’ – super. You want to save money by minting assets on LAOS? It’ll cost you effectively nothing. It’s like 0.0007 cents to mint an asset on LAOS.”

If you ran a game with 100,000 users and wanted to mint all of them a free NFT asset, you would severely congest Polygon. “Effectively, you wouldn’t do it,” continues Evans. “And it would still cost you several thousand, even with MATIC being much better value than ETH. So the message to gamers is: we’re opening up this whole new user case where you can actually mint at a massive scale. You’re not allowing the blockchain to restrict what you do in terms of minting. And yet those assets are owned, and traded, and lent, and so on, in mature e-systems where the games already are.”

Alternates is a AAA first-person shooter built on Polygon and Telos, developed by Brain-Labs Studio for Xerial, which integrates LOAS.

Xerial already has LAOS integrated. “I’m delighted by the reception so far,” says Evans. “They’re launching 15 games in the next couple of months.”

One of the Xerial games already integrating LAOS is called ALTERNATES. It features an evolving asset system primarily focused on character avatars. The game assigns various levels in an evolution format and allows the NFT associated with the avatar to change attributes and images accordingly.

The LAOS team has already been speaking with other platforms: “[We’ve had] conversations with really great companies – people like Sequence, ChainSafe and ReadyGG. It’s interesting because they already have the games. They’re selling great products. We want to have a win/win/win for everyone. A win for them because they offer a better product of their games. A win for the games studios because they save loads of money. And a win for us because our token and chain are being used.”

Opening up and scaling up

“At Freeverse, we created a specialised Layer-2, and we had a platform which was doing what Sequence and ChainSafe were doing. We realised we wanted to make something that was as interoperable as possible,” says Evans, by way of explanation about what motivated the LAOS development plan. “We wanted to move away from being quite closed. Freeverse had customers [like] Cupra using our L2. They’re going to be transitioning over to our L1 now. And we have other games built in that L2. But we wanted to make something that was much more interoperable. And I think that web3 should be more about interoperability. We are still in a very nascent stage for web3 generally. Working together and being as interoperable and friendly as possible is beneficial.”

“Everyone in the blockchain world talks about scale,” he continues, pointing out again how easy it is to congest or even crash Polygon if you tried to mint NFTs for hundreds of thousands of gamers. “We’ve always had that focus on scale, going back to [Freeverse’s] very first game, Goal Revolution. It was a football manager game in which, when you signed up, you were given 20 players for your football team. And, unbeknownst to you, those 20 players were actually NFTs. They were tokenised on the blockchain. You didn’t know that. You didn’t care. You just saw 20 players. You only found out about it when you realised you could trade them. And the technology we developed to commit to that was the basis of what became our L2, which we then developed into a platform. And now we’re extending it, taking it further, and making it more interoperable with our L1, which is LAOS Network.”

ALTERNATES is scheduled to launch in the third quarter of 2024.

LAOS is a parachain on Polkadot. Evans explains the reasons for that in terms of what’s involved in launching a dedicated L1 chain. “Option one,” he says, “is roll your own. And that’s a little bit too daunting! It’s possible, but importantly, you’re responsible for security. Security is a critical issue in all decentralised systems. We wanted to go with a solution that has battle-tested security. That left us with Polkadot as a very clear option because you can roll your own chain in Polkadot, and all the parachains inherit the security of Polkadot.”

The second consideration was cross-chain messaging. “How do you get different ecosystems and chains to speak to each other? Polkadot has been very good at leading the way,” says Evans. “Because Polkadot is a relay chain you can think of it as a circle with lots of different parachains bolted on inside of it. And thanks to this cross-chain messaging system, all those parachains can speak to each other. With XCM v3, Polkadot is open to the idea of allowing other consensus systems, like Ethereum, Polygon or Arbitrum, to speak to Polkadot and vice-versa, in a bridgeless way.”

This is called Universal Locations and functions a bit like a web URL. A URL is a pointer to a server on the internet. Universal Locations are pointers around these different consensus systems. LAOS harnesses that, enabling it to mint an asset on LAOS but to have its ownership be on a completely different chain.

A blockchain gaming future

Blockchain games had a higher profile at GDC this year than in previous years. Many of the games on display throughout the Moscone Convention Centre were great experiences that just happen to use web3 technology.

Alun Evans concurs with on this observation: “Instead of talking about ‘web3 games’ or ‘blockchain games’, we should be talking about web3 or blockchain in games. Robby Yung from Animoca made this analogy. He said 15 years ago, there were online games, and there were games. Now, there are no more ‘online games’ because every game has an online component. His vision, which I subscribe to, is the same with the use of the blockchain. There are some games, for example, where it makes no sense to have an online component. You have a story-driven thing, and there’s absolutely no point in that game being online. Likewise, with blockchain, there are some games that it will never be suitable for. There’s no point; forget about it. But there are some games where there’s a point. In that case, it’s there if the gamer wants it. It’s not a ‘web3 game’. It’s just a web3 component within the game, should the player engage with it. And I think we’re beginning to see increasingly now that, as game developers and game designers begin to understand the powers, limitations, and benefits of the technology, they start to build it into the game design in a way that makes sense.”

Barcelona-based Freeverse and its LAOS Network were part of GDC’s Games From Spain booth. Inset: Alun Evans.

Find out more about the LAOS Foundation on its official website. You can watch a video recording of Alun Evans speaking on behalf of Freeverse at our event, PGC Helsinki 2022, on YouTube. More interviews and reports from this year’s GDC are available on our other site,

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