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POW! Interactive focuses on community over bottom line

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Gaming, like most industries, has its share of industry-specific terms. While most of them are neutral or positive, there are a number that have stigma attached. Terms like “loot box,” “play to win,” and “cash grab” are all too common when discussing games and their publishers.

When Paul Wharshavsky and Luohan Wei kept hearing these terms, they decided to do something about it. In a recent release, the partners laid out their mission for their new company:

At POW! Interactive, we acquire, fund and operate creatively-driven companies with a vision to build an entertainment group run on long-term community building rather than short-term bottom line return.

Paul Wharshavsky and Luohan Wei

Their first acquisition, Jasco Games, makes a card game from the popular My Hero Academia IP. My Hero Academia is currently one of the most popular anime IPs worldwide. Using the Jasco UniVersus framework for future expansion, the company hopes to add other IPs for some cross-universe action.

Recently, we sat down with the folks in charge of POW! Interactive to talk about the new company, My Hero Academia, and card collecting. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: For a lot of people, gaming is a lifelong hobby and passion. How did you folks get into games?

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POW: We’ve been part of this community for as long as we can remember. Paul grew up playing video games, collecting Warhammer figurines, and buying Pokémon cards. Previously, Paul was an Associate at SpringOwl Asset Management LLC, investment management firm whose notable investments in the entertainment space include: Yahoo!, Viacom, The Stars Group, digital, and Playtech.

Luohan also grew up a lifelong geek and was a Top 25 Hearthstone player in the U.S. Previously, Luohan was a Principal and Co-Founder of Juno Capital Partners, a boutique M&A investment bank for the gaming industry, Juno has been involved in several transactions including the merger of Gearbox to Embracer Group. Prior to Juno, he worked at Activision Blizzard’s Media team, working on games such as Candy Crush and Call of Duty.

GamesBeat: Was there a certain moment that lead to the founding of POW! or was it just the right time?

POW: We founded POW! Interactive with the intention of investing, acquiring and operating companies in the world of entertainment. We are the geekiest people on Wall Street and are Wall Street to the geeks; we speak both languages and can connect the dots between the two.

After building out the model for POW! Interactive and researching 50+ companies, we found Jasco Games and their ultra-loyal fanbase to be a hidden gem, and it was a no-brainer to work with them after learning that they were releasing a collectible card with one of the largest IPs, My Hero Academia.

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GamesBeat: What future do you envision for My Hero Academia?

POW: We believe that My Hero Academia is one of the strongest anime IPs globally, and we’re proud to be the licensee of the IP. Just a few days ago, it was ranked the most popular manga for 2021. We have various set releases in the pipeline, along with a board game to be released for mass retail.

We’re extremely excited for the development of our organized play events. Our first event a few weeks ago sold out 256 spots within minutes, and later this year we are hosting a grand tournament featuring a $250k cash prize.

We’ve only released one set for the card game so far exploring a lot of the characters from the first season of the anime, there is a lot more to do in the My Hero Universe across its many seasons and movies.

The My Hero CCG is part of the UniVersus game system which has been home to several IPs in its fifteen year history including MegaMan, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Cowboy Bebop, Yu Yu Hakusho and more. As of today, we have yet to announce any new IPs.

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GamesBeat: Does the UniVersus framework account for card collectability?

POW: Right now, there are different rarities for each card, including extra rare, and the most collectable card, an extra secret rare card, which features Japanese Kanji on the card. Cards have been collectible items since we were in school trading Pokemon cards, and we’re excited to be bringing that same experience to the My Hero Academia audience, we have a lot more in store over the next few sets.

GamesBeat: Do you have any plans for card NFTs for ownership/trade?

POW: There are no public announcements regarding NFTs, but we are certainly well aware of the market.

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn More

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