Sniper Spotlight with Giulio Xiloyannis, CEO of Pixelmon

Credit: Pixelmon

Pixelmon, once the piñata of Web3 for its less-than-stellar NFT drop, has undergone a remarkable turnaround in the past two years. With the launch of two hypercasual games and a major gaming title on the horizon, the company is starting to deliver on the promises it made to holders of its non-fungible tokens.

The big impetus for this turnaround came in 2022 when LiquidX, headed by Giulio Xiloyannis, bought Pixelmon and started to make the changes necessary to turn it from a symbol of the NFT craze to a sustainable company.

We caught up with Xiloyannis for an interview, chatting up Pixelmon’s games, the focus on transparency, and, of course, Kevin. Enjoy.

Could you introduce yourself and the role you play at Pixelmon?

I am Giulio Xiloyannis, co-founder of LiquidX, co-founder of MON Protocol, and CEO of Pixelmon. I’ve been involved in the development of Pixelmon since LiquidX took over in 2022. 

My role is to ensure we are continually making demonstrable progress and transparently sharing updates with our community. Many of them know me from the conversations we’ve had in the Ask-the-CEO Discord channel, where I spend a lot of my time each day answering their questions.

It has always been important for me to be accessible to the community and communicate progress regularly and openly. While the path to delivering a successful global monster-collecting IP may not always have been straightforward, it is my role to ensure we are on track and accountable to our community. 

Pixelmon has undergone a lot of changes in the past two years. What is Pixelmon today and, in broad strokes, what does it aim to bring to Web3?

Pixelmon is a Web3-native IP targeting 18- to 35-year-olds who love monster-collecting loops but feel they have outgrown some of the more traditional titles in this genre. Pixelmon is the Web3 evolution of that style of game for an older audience. 

The first core game based on the Pixelmon IP is the dungeon crawler Warriors of Nova Thera. We also have an open-world game in development, called Hunting Grounds.

What is the MON Protocol and what impact will it have in Web3 gaming?

MON Protocol aims to be the leading publisher of blockchain-native IPs and games. We started with the Pixelmon IP, and over the past two years, we’ve built a large community of over 1.5 million Web3-savvy gamers and fans. MON Protocol enables blockchain-native projects to reach a wider base of fans and gamers while building stronger IPs by rewarding loyal communities. These communities are included in the IP’s long-term success through fractionalized ownership.

Aside from the Pixelmon-developed games, there are over 60 partners committed to MON Protocol. These include Web3 games, game studios, ecosystems and trading platforms. We are also the publisher of choice for Solana, Immutable, Seedify and Aptos.

Your issuing of MON tokens, in part, went to holders of Pixelmon NFTs. Could you elaborate on the importance of rewarding Pixelmon NFT holders, especially after the initial NFT drop?

I think this is a really important matter and there are two key drivers for our actions here. 

Firstly, to explain the importance of this community, I need to take you back to early 2022 when we acquired the infamous NFT collection Pixelmon just after its mint. At the moment of the purchase, when the media and some pundits were very disparaging to the project, what we saw was a community that stuck around.

There were a solid 30,000 Discord members who were still open to the future of Pixelmon. Even if the price had dropped by 90%, people were still in Discord asking if we were still making the game. That was hugely powerful. These people just lost 2.7 ETH on an NFT within two weeks of mint, but their question was, “Are you still making the game?” 

That group is still part of our Discord and they deserve to be rewarded from the work we have done with MON Protocol. They’re all slotted and segmented across channels, from lore development feedback to art development feedback, and tester groups. They’re all part of what we have designed to be a highly collaborative community development.

Secondly, as Pixelmon is going to be the first of many IPs launched on the MON Protocol publishing platform, it is really important to ensure that they are incentive aligned. The MON Protocol questing community is a mix of our die hard loyal fans and what I call commercial questers, meaning that the latter are very entrepreneurial and interested in the reward-earning opportunities.

It is this mix of both that allows MON Protocol to be fully weaponized as a publishing platform but the key is to ensure that our loyal fans are rewarded for their contributions.

Nova Thera: The Reckoning. Could you dive into detail about this project and why Pixelmon decided to get into anime?

We have always seen Pixelmon as a natural fit for becoming a transmedia IP encompassing games, merchandise, anime, comic books, and more. It is a way for us to demonstrate the creative potential of the Pixelmon IP and show our dedication to quality, no matter the medium.

Our lore writer and art director are integral to the anime project, which is in production with two partners, Creation Station and Amnesia. 

Creation Station was behind the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series on Netflix as writers and producers. Amnesia is a Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles-based 3D development and animation studio that works for Disney, Cartoon Network, and more. 

Talk about the hypercasual games you’ve released — Kevin the Adventurer and PixelPals. What inspired the creation of these titles?

These games are an opportunity for our development team to explore and experiment with different concepts in Web3-native game design, while gaining feedback from our community. We always want our community to be directly involved in the process. By building in public in this way, we’ll be able to release our core games knowing that we’ve already pressure-tested our loops and ideas with our community, so we can be sure that we’re launching products that they really want. 

When we were creating Kevin the Adventurer and PixelPals, we thought about enjoyable game loops and what might appeal to community members that love hypercasual games. Kevin is one of the most iconic characters from Pixelmon, and it was fitting to have him be the hero in our first release. These games are also a way for us to show the potential of how the Pixelmon IP can be applied in different ways. 

What’s next for Pixelmon gaming?

Our next goal is to launch Warriors of Nova Thera, a dungeon crawler with rogue-like elements. We’ve recently finished alpha testing on Steam and we have a dedicated tester group that assists us in constantly iterating and updating the build based on lessons learned. The release is slated for Q3 2024. Our goal is to release it with a PvE horde combat mode and PVP. Currently, the community has been organizing PvP tournaments on Discord.

We’re also continuing work on Hunting Grounds, a mobile-first open-world RPG with survival aspects. Players will start in a city-like social hub and can venture to two areas: PvP arenas and open-world hunting grounds.

Between Warriors of Nova Thera, Hunting Grounds, and a few others, we have a strong pipeline of mid-core games under development now, with the aim of taking them to market through 2024 and 2025.

Could you dive into the importance of how Web3 tech could revolutionize gaming as we know it and possibly take crypto mainstream?

Web3 gives us the chance to rethink the gaming ecosystem from the ground up. Do we want to use existing systems, or build our own systems using Web3 principles? As an example, MON Protocol is acting as a publisher for the Pixelmon IP, and a publisher for third-party games, while rewarding the community for their role in the ecosystem rather than making the user the product, which has generally been the Web2 paradigm for publishing.

If you consider the Web2 world, whilst we don’t have access to the exact algorithms of Google search, the AppStore, or any of the cost-per-click, cost-per-impression algorithms behind X, TikTok, or Meta, we do know that ultimately those algorithms are geared to maximize profit by charging an advertiser the most money possible for a consumer that wouldn’t organically be attracted to the brand. That is not the case in Web3.

When we view our community as part owners of the platform rather than the product, we think less about ways to bring more questers to the platform just so we can monetize them. Instead we focus on ways to mobilize our loyal community to support and be rewarded by games and projects with which they have an actual affinity. Inevitably, this positive interaction and reward loop brings more questers to the platform naturally which is a mutually beneficial situation for everyone.

These are the types of solutions that are developed when Web3-native thinkers try solving problems from the ground up. MON Protocol solves one of the publishing challenges in Web3, but we will no doubt see all of the old systems being reimagined in the years to come.

Kevin. The meme, the legend. Why has he endured so much after two years?

Kevin is Web3’s greatest comeback story. He rose from the ashes after being criticized by everyone when the original art was first revealed. He represents resiliency, where we’ve been, and how our passion for transforming Pixelmon has led us to where we are today. I think a lot of people in crypto, Web3 gaming and the NFT community can at least appreciate what Kevin represents. That’s why we kept him as a symbol and continued to nurture him.

Kevin is starting to become much more active in the Web3 space and has had requests coming in from a host of Web3 games looking to license the IP. To date, Kevin has appeared in ZTX, Kuroro Beasts and Kiraverse, with various new gaming partnerships launching in the coming months. 

What is a day in the life working at Pixelmon?

Every day is different. Over the last two years, the only constant is that I’m in Discord, engaging with the community, every single day. Other than that, there are so many things happening. I’m talking to our 50 MON Protocol partners, along with many more potential future partners. 

Sometimes I’m invited to interview with a journalist, like I am with Rarity Sniper today, or I’ll speak on a podcast, like I did just recently on the Doubl3tap Podcast with co-hosts Joseph Lloyd, Head of Gaming Research at Delphi Digital, and Alex Wetterman, Head of Gaming at Shima Capital. I see these as opportunities to share what we’re working toward at Pixelmon and MON Protocol while getting feedback and learning from the wider industry.

There are times when I am working with the development team for Warriors of Nova Thera or I’m talking to the animation team at Creation. It’s very dynamic, very fun, and I’m glad to be working in this revolutionary space.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The MON token was recently launched and is now live for trading on Bybit, Backpack Exchange, BingX, Bitget,, HTX, and MEXC. 

Currently, MON Protocol has 60 partnerships and is the publisher of choice for Solana, Aptos, Seedify, and Immutable. That means that many games and projects from these chains will be coming into MON Protocol’s ecosystem as partners in the coming months.

We are also looking at a truly innovative staking program to reward our supporters, where stakers of the MON token will be eligible to get rewards from MON partners. We’re still working through the details, but those who are a part of our Discord may be able to gain early access to some of these projects. 

We’ll also unveil more details about Warriors of Nova Thera in the coming weeks.

Where can our readers find you?

I’m on the Pixelmon Discord every day, and I’m the most reactive there. Anyone interested in joining the community can find me there. They can also follow me on X, @GiulioXdotEth, and follow Pixelmon and MON Protocol for the latest updates.

If you liked this interview, check out our other Sniper Spotlights: