In our previous Game Radar piece, we looked at three upcoming games (Genopets, Cross the Ages, and Aurory) under the lenses of Team, Tokenomics, Game Design, Fun, and Sustainability. We scored each of the games on each topic and gave an overall rating as well. We’re now going to look at three more games through those same lenses.
Guild of Guardians, from Immutable and Stepico, is a party-based dungeon crawler. It has a strong team and generally plays things safe from a design perspective. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, especially with increased skepticism about web3. Disclaimer: Naavik does consult with Immutable on Guild of Guardians.
Blowfish Studios’ Phantom Galaxies is the aesthetic opposite of Guild of Guardians’ cartoony fantasy dungeon romp. Instead, it sports sleek, gorgeously-rendered mechs zipping and transforming through space, with lasers and missiles dancing around the screen. It risks being more bark than bite though with a lack of details available about the project, or even the team working on it.
Illuvium needs little introduction, with two of its founders becoming billionaires in Dec 2021 (and unfortunately losing that status shortly thereafter). The ambitious project already has three distinct games within it and plans to add six more. The game has had a lot of ups and downs, and we discovered some unexpected facts as we dug in. We were most surprised though when we decided to take a real, hard look at its plans for sustainability — and we were pleasantly surprised.
Like last time, these games are generally in early stages and so we’re occasionally having to infer from what information is available. We’ll again give the disclaimer that we may well change our minds about these games as they get closer to launch and we see more of what there is in store for the players.
A note on calibration: each element will be scored on a scale of 1.0 (terrible) - 5.0 (amazing). A 3.0 is a neutral, but not negative, evaluation. For readers of the previous edition of Game Radar, we’re moving from the emoji-based system to numbers for clarity.
Games are rated across five categories: Team, Tokenomics, Game Design, Fun, and Sustainability, on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0, with 3.0 as neutral but not bad.
Guild of Guardians
- Overall: 4.0 - Strong team with a safe design and no significant warning flags.
- Team: 4.0 - Immutable + Stepico results in a team experienced with all aspects of game and blockchain design.
- Tokenomics: 3.0 - Tokens and NFTs have not held value, but some interesting ideas are being implemented.
- Game Design: 3.5 - The game design is relatively safe as a party-based dungeon-crawler, but that might be a good thing.
- Fun: 4.0 - The execution looks good, and early builds have gotten high reviews from players.
- Sustainability: 3.5 - They’re paying attention to it (and partnered with Naavik to help), but few details have been released.
- Overall: 3.0 - Information is light, and economy/sustainability is a big concern, but that could turn around quickly.
- Team: 3.0 - Unclear who from Blowfish Studios is actually working on it, but Animoca Brands’ acquisition of it should provide lots of resources.
- Tokenomics: 3.0 - Vague details, but ASTRAFER token has held well, and token distribution through Planet NFT emissions is interesting.
- Game Design: 4.0 - High-octane space mech battles spread across a variety of content, including high-risk, high-reward territory control zones.
- Fun: 4.0 - Execution looks great, plus anime and comics will flesh out the universe. It’s a niche genre though, which is risky.
- Sustainability: 2.0 - No mention of sustainability from the team, no deflation, and Treasury plan seems risky.
- Overall: 3.5 - With both good and bad at the moment, and huge expectations, a lot of eyes are on Illuvium. Its biggest challenge is likely to be getting players to voluntarily, and heavily, spend net-negative in the game.
- Team: 3.5 - Large, experienced team (150), but only 2 people working on game design, neither with experience.
- Tokenomics: 3.0 - ILV token has been decimated from December’s high, some elements are confusing or contrived, and there has been some sloppiness.
- Game Design: 3.0 - The different parts should fit together just fine, and the core Arena gameplay has depth and complexity.
- Fun: 4.0 (Arena) / 1.5 (Overworld, Illuvium: Zero) - The Arena looks great, with good execution and potential for high-level gameplay, but the other two “games” look like boring grinds.
- Sustainability: 4.0 - Illuvium has designed a clever system that should be capable of consistently redistributing revenue to stakers without ponzi elements, with the very big caveat that players do need to still be willing to spend money in the game.
- Governance (not scored) - An interesting case study of quadratic voting and representative democracy perhaps giving too much power to its council.
Guild of Guardians
Disclaimer: Immutable is a partner of Naavik, and we’re helping them build out Guild of Guardians. While that has not affected the objectivity of the analysis below, we’ve tried to use our existing relationship to fill in various contextual gaps and provide more insight to Naavik Pro subscribers.
Guild of Guardians is a mobile multiplayer action RPG that is a cooperation between Stepico Games as the developer and Immutable as the publisher. The project has raised over $20M through NFT sales ($18.8M, all in 2021) plus $GOG token pre-sales.
Gameplay is a team-based action RPG, with players controlling four heroes as they move through dungeons, dealing damage and finding loot. It shares some similarities with mobile F2P title Nonstop Knight 2, and also channels some old school Dungeon Siege party-based gameplay.
Stepico recently announced that it is pushing the launch to 2023, citing challenges with web3 development and a desire to improve the quality of the initial release. While there was no mention of the current bear market also contributing to this decision, we think it’s a smart move to wait out the storm.
As a joint project, the Guild of Guardians development team consists of members from both Immutable and Ukraine-based Stepico. As a side note, Stepico is based in the city of L’viv, very far from the front of the war. While they are obviously affected, they appear to be doing okay, as detailed in their blog post from May.
When the project started in 2020, Immutable was still fairly small, so it makes sense that they would have partnered up with an experienced game development studio. While working with external teams certainly has its own associated challenges, Immutable clearly wanted to get the game moving fast and there’s not really any better way to do that.
Immutable itself is contributing about 25 people to the project, with Stepico adding all the additional development capacity required. Immutable brings a lot of experience on both the blockchain and game design sides, while Stepico brings engineering, development, and art to the table. It’s good to see that the leads on the team largely come from game development backgrounds, including some free-to-play, and the economy designer has a PhD in finance.
Score: 4.0. The team appears to be well-staffed with expertise on all aspects of game development, design, and production. Both companies are significantly larger than the dedicated staff, meaning that scaling up the team, if needed, will be possible as well.
On the tokenomics side, Guild of Guardians has a wide range of NFTs. These include heroes, pets, items, and a couple of specialty tokens: energy boosters and guild tokens. Oh, and there will be land eventually, too.
The primary NFTs that players will be collecting are the heroes, which come in a variety of rarities, classes, elements, and factions. Hero NFTs can be merged together to produce higher-rarity heroes at a 5:1 ratio (e.g., 5 rares = 1 epic), though details are sparse. If nothing else, this should help provide a sink for lower-quality heroes, though a 5:1 ratio leads to an extremely rapid growth and may work against common heroes having much utility. It will be interesting to see how the team balances against the same.
Land NFTs are a huge unknown, just receiving a casual mention for now. Given how fickle and divisive land can be, the team will need to be vigilant about its implementation and extensive in their thinking around the design of the same.
With the word present in the name of the game, we should probably talk about “guilds.” In order to create a guild a player needs to have a Guild Token NFT (it’s possible non-NFT guilds will exist too, but they won’t be able to craft for profit). These tokens come in four tiers, in ascending rarity: Adventurers, Warriors, Legends, and Mythic. The higher rarity ones allow for larger guilds and also confer a larger profit share to the owner of the Guild Token.
NFT items/gear for the game can only be minted by these guilds. Guild members will collect materials from dungeons, which they can then contribute to the Guild to craft items and receive payouts for the crafted items as they are automatically sold. The guild token owner gets a percentage of all of these item sales. This is an interesting cooperative economy in which players work together but get also rewarded based on their individual contributions.
Guilds will likely have to make choices about what to craft based on the market, which may result in a fluid and free market. These decisions are even more meaningful because there are a fixed number of guild tokens, meaning that there is a cap only on how many guilds can be minting resources. The current floor price for an Adventurers Guild Token, the lowest rarity level, is about 0.3 ETH (~$400).
There is a single fungible token, Guild of Guardian Gems ($GOG), used for minting NFTs, purchasing in the market, staking, and governance. $GOG has a cap of 1B gems and a pretty typical 5-year distribution schedule, though with what appears to be little outside investment as only 5% is reserved for the private token pre-sale.
The token has clearly fallen hard since releasing in January, but not as apparent in the chart is the heavy drop coinciding with FTX’s collapse. While nearly all tokens took a hit at the time, GOG fell especially hard, losing about 75% of its value in a week. Here’s a look at token price movement from Nov 1st to Nov 28th of GOG compared to Illuvium (ILV), ZED RUN (ZED), Aurory (AURY), and Phantom Galaxies (ASTRAFER).
With the exception of AURY, these other game tokens all retained value about twice as well as GOG. The jump of AURY on November 19th is largely unexplained, but the prevailing theory seems to be that a few large purchases were made in a low-liquidity environment that spiked the price.
The market cap chart closely follows the price chart, meaning that few if any new coins were entering circulation. The sudden jump on Oct 7 is due to an adjustment in how all projects on Immutable X define circulating supply. The new definition includes all unlocked but unused tokens. In the case of Guild of Guardians, this was many times more than the unlocked and used tokens, resulting in a huge spike. In practice, it appears that most of those new tokens (about 220M out of 230M added) were from the “community rewards” pool as defined in their supply schedule, and it didn’t appear to have an impact on the token price.
The game bills itself as “free to play and earn” and emphasizes the value of building a massive audience of free players. We will need to wait and see whether this means free players can also earn, or if this is a combination of distinct “free to play” and “play and earn” audiences. Either way, current prices for heroes are very low, with a floor of around $6, so for now the barrier to entry is minimal, even for a full team of 4 heroes.
Score: 3.0. The tokenomics in general is fairly standard and there are no significant concerns outside of the yet-to-be-documented land implementation. The Guild-based item minting could make for interesting market dynamics, and capping the number of minting Guilds seems wise to keep inflation under some level of control. It’s also good to see that players can participate for free, though their impact on the economy is unclear for now. The performance of the GOG token though isn’t great and suggests lower confidence from players and investors.
Game Design: 3.5
Guild of Guardians is a squad-based dungeon crawler. Players select a squad of four heroes and then set out to conquer randomly-generated dungeons, collecting loot and resources along the way. There are elements of skill (dodging, timing attacks) in addition to the strategy of team selection.
Players have manual control over one hero at a time, with the other heroes following along and automatically attacking enemies. The player can swap primary control on the fly when needed, perhaps to reposition a hero or ensure proper timing of its ultimate ability. All of this should make for an engaging core loop.
Crawling through dungeons gives the player lots of resources, presumably some on-chain if they are using NFT-based heroes. Free-to-play heroes are not NFTs and likely would not include any token earnings. The loot can then be used for a variety of things:
- Any direct equipment found could be equipped (though it sounds unlikely that found equipment will be tradeable)
- Use currency found to summon heroes or go shopping for equipment and items in the game’s marketplace
- Donate materials to the player’s guild to be used for crafting NFTs, which then get sold and kick back GOG to those who donated materials.
Beyond this, the developer appears to have grand plans to incorporate nearly every major feature of a mobile RPG: “guild raids, guild PvP, land gameplay, user-generated dungeons, global eSports tournaments, and social hang-out and trading zones.” While all of this might immediately bring up scope concerns and potential lack of focus, our conversations with the team have confirmed that they’re thinking about building and rolling out each of the features very carefully and not all at once.
In terms of roadmaps, the Guild of Guardians team has kept things fairly close to their chest. This is an intentional move on their part to try to manage expectations and avoid over-promising to fans. Externally their vagueness might be a bit concerning, but our conversations with them have confirmed that they’re not nearly as ambiguous internally.
Score: 3.5. The core of the game is perfectly fine and likely will be fun (as discussed below). There’s not a lot of originality to the design, but given the risk of using blockchain, going with a well-understood model is likely wise. It would be easy to assume that they lack focus and scope control, but talking directly to them has assuaged those concerns.
The team gives a nod to the importance of fun early in the executive summary of its whitepaper, listing “fun mobile RPG gameplay” as the first of its four pillars. There isn’t a lot more attention given to building out a fun experience in the whitepaper, but it’s clear from the builds released that it is intending to make a full-fledged action RPG.
It released a playable closed demo build in July 2022 with about 8K playtesters, which had some pretty good qualitative response. It reports that players averaged an 8/10 rating for their experience with the demo, as well as an 8/10 for likelihood of recommending it to a friend. It’s safe to say that no one would think “Oh, that’s just a blockchain game” when looking at the gameplay videos, and it’s still in an early state to boot.
Score: 4.0. Actions speak louder than words, and being able to get players into a live version of the game and get positive feedback shows that it has a good chance of delivering on fun.
Stepico makes it clear that sustainability is important, listing “a truly authentic and sustainable player-driven economy” as one of its four design principles. While there is not much more in the whitepaper, there are a few articles on Medium discussing the importance and challenges of building an economy in blockchain games. So far these articles have been very high level though, so we can’t say too much about how Stepico will be applying this to Guild of Guardians. Again though, we at Naavik continue to help them with their economic sustainability, which is an actively discussed topic.
Score: 3.5. The developer is clearly thinking about the problem and has identified some general solutions to handle it. We’ll concede that by working with them this is a difficult score to be objective about, but overall we feel that they are taking the right steps to give them a good chance of success here.
Guild of Guardians has a strong team behind it and has already delivered fun gameplay. It’s very good to see it embracing the F2P audience and having experienced F2P developers on staff. The tokenomics generally seem straightforward, and while sustainability is a bit of a question mark, the developers are clearly aware of the challenges there and have put people in place to address them.
Coming from Australia-based developer/publisher Blowfish Studios, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, Phantom Galaxies is, like most of the games in this group, targeting a AAA-quality bar in the NFT space. It raised $19.3M from an investor presale (with 8 investors) of about 8K planets on May 17th, 2022, right on the heels of one of the biggest blockchain game market crashes.
The team has been releasing alpha builds in the form of episodic gameplay, and so far the game looks impressive through episode 4. It certainly feels much more like a modern game rather than the previous generation of blockchain titles, and it isn’t surprising that it will be released on both PC and consoles.
There is surprisingly little information about the team working on the project. Blowfish Studios, which is both a game publisher and a developer, is comprised of around 80 people. It is unclear which of those 80 are actually working on Phantom Galaxies. Blowfish itself was acquired by Animoca Brands in 2021 for $35M AUD (about $23M USD). This acquisition into the Animoca Brands ecosystem will likely enable Blowfish to lean on the expertise of various internal teams in the Animoca Brands portfolio.
Score: 3.0. The lack of information about the team working on it is concerning. That said, the demos clearly have talent behind them and, we’re presuming, a level of diligence that would have been done by Sequoia Capital China, Dapper Labs, Polygon, and the other major investors.
While game development is coming along, the tokenomics is still quite vague. We do know that they have launched initially on Polygon, though they have hinted that additional chains may be used eventually.
On the fungible side, there’s a single capped token called Astrafer ($ASTRAFER) that is used for minting, staking, and governance. Other in-game materials and resources are all tracked as uncapped fungible tokens, with few details currently available.
Interestingly, ASTRAFER has actually held its value much better than nearly any other game token we’ve seen. Part of that is due to launching after the crashes earlier in the year, but even looking at recent performance it has sustained rather well. Indeed, at $1.88 it is down only 23% from launch ($2.44) and 54% from its Aug peak of $4.05. Over that same period of time, starting with ASTRAFER’s launch, GOG dropped by 51% and AURY by 79%.
Looking at the market cap chart below, the large jump of about 13M tokens on Aug 16 appears to have come from setting up liquidity pools from their liquidity address, and then the indexing of those pools by trackers - coinmarketcap.com has that same jump appearing over a week later on Aug 26. Phantom Galaxies does not appear to have unlocked any ASTRAFER since then, so their market cap has precisely tracked their price.
A wide range of NFTs are mentioned in the litepaper (PDF), including Starfighters, avatars, planets, weapons, armor, consumables, and even visual shaders.
The stars of the Phantom Galaxies NFT show are the Starfighters. A Starfighter can be minted by fusing a Base Frame with a set of NFTs (likely ship components such as cargo bay, reactor, etc.) and consuming the required tokens. It sounds as though further fusions can be done to level up the Starfighter over time. Each fusion will increase the Starfighter generation number by 1.
There is a built-in Starfighter rental system called Mercenaries for “players who want to focus on play-and-earn activities.”
The other major NFT type is the Planet, of which there will be 110K in a variety of planet and asteroid sizes. Planets have fixed coordinates in the universe, which may mean that location is important, depending on how fast travel is handled. Each planet has a fixed amount of $ASTRAFER that can be mined from it, and this token-mining capability seems likely to be the primary draw for the investors in the $19M planetary fundraising round.
What’s a little unusual is that the emission rate depends on activity and planetary development. The stated intent behind this mechanic is to fight against bots snapping up all tokens in an initial offering. Instead, everyone will begin to mine $ASTRAFER at the same time (though it’s unclear how planet size will affect emission rates).
Interestingly, it appears that Phantom Galaxies changed its allocation details at some point, removing the minimum token emission data from the table. It’s unclear whether this means that the minimums were changed or if the team just felt that it lessened the perceived value to buyers.
The litepaper also suggests that Planets will provide some sort of social interaction or housing, the size determining how many simultaneous players it can accommodate, with up to “thousands of players spread across the cityscape of a large Planet.” What this means exactly is very unclear, as is the fact that Planets can apparently select their government type.
Score: 3.0. While there isn’t anything immediately concerning, there’s far more ambiguity than we’d like to see for a project that is as far along as Phantom Galaxies. The move to an emission-based distribution of the governance token is interesting and innovative, and hopefully indicative of tokenomics going forward, but for now there is not enough detail for a positive score. Seeing the token hold value well though is encouraging.
Game Design: 4.0
The primary gameplay is a third-person action mech shooter. In classic space mech fashion, players have the ability to go between mech and starship modes on the fly, depending on the situation at hand. The mech form will generally be tankier with heavy firepower and melee capabilities, while the starship favors speed and evasion to zip around combat. Outside of combat, players will be able to pick weapon loadouts and assign skill points to customize their fighting capabilities. It is likely inspired by Strike Suit Zero and its transforming space mech combat. It also brings to mind some other high speed mech games like Zone of the Enders or the more recent indie game War Tech Fighters.
Players will have a variety of things to do in the game, including:
- Missions (the core game story)
- Quests (standalone stories outside of the core Missions)
- Operations (daily/weekly repeatable tasks)
- Raids (massive PvE coop battles)
One particularly unique mechanic is that of Frontier Space and Rebel Sectors. Frontier Space is located outside of the safe zones in the galaxy. In this space, Starfighters that are sufficiently damaged and without insurance (presumably a revenue source for the game) will have their NFTs burned. Of course, the best rewards are available out in those same zones, and that sort of high-stakes permadeath gameplay is likely to be very streamable.
Located in Frontier Space, Rebel Sectors offer a territory control system in which players can work to secure a sector and reap token rewards for the period that the control sustains. This seems likely to lead to some pretty epic battles as top guilds work to optimize their rewards. If implemented well, we can look forward to some Eve: Online levels of political intrigue and backstabbing.
Score: 4.0. The game design here seems solid. As has been the theme overall, the details are still a bit sparse, but it’s good to see familiar design being combined with some fresh mechanics. The high risk/reward elements, while potentially rage-inducing, should help build drama and the virality of the game as well.
Thanks to some truly impressive gameplay demos, Phantom Galaxies doesn’t have to rely on promises that it can deliver a top-notch gameplay experience. Where Guild of Guardians looks right at home on a mobile device, Phantom Galaxies’ space combat sequences would melt a phone and are easily in the PS4/XB1 generation. Admittedly, the walking and talking segments currently resemble the previous console generation, but that’s not really a core concern.
The theme for the game is a risky choice though - sci-fi is notoriously difficult to do paid UA for on mobile, and “space mechs” is likely an even more niche market. While there’s certainly going to be a core of Gundam, Voltron, and Battletech fans, it’s not a broadly-appealing setting.
The developer is also building a multimedia experience with plans for books, comics, and an anime show. If all of this can come together it could make for effective immersion in their universe.
Score: 4.0. This is a AAA project that looks to have the power to attract even non-crypto gamers, and the additional media products may also work well to build the overall enjoyment of the universe. That said, it’s a fairly niche theme which could serve to limit the audience and broad appeal of the game.
There is surprisingly no explicit mention of sustainability in the litepaper, nor in any of their Medium posts. Looking at the designs that have been revealed we can infer a few things though.
Planetary emissions, while a clever mechanism, are coming entirely from a reserved token pool. The Rebel Sector rewards are planned to be funded by the Community Treasury, which will also fund staking rewards for ASTRAFER. That Treasury will get funded by taking a percentage of various in-game transactions (fusion, repairs, insurance, rent). It’s good to see a source, but that seems like a very large draw on the Treasury with what may not be a sufficient source of funds. There will technically be some deflation from Starfighter burning, but it isn’t likely that this will be substantial.
Score: 2.0. With no discussion of this topic in any of the materials that we could find, the lack of a plan here is very concerning. Hopefully, the team will eventually clarify how this will all work and assuage these worries.
Our primary concerns with Phantom Galaxies are around lack of information, especially around sustainability of the economy, but what the team has been sharing has looked really good. With the project’s general quality of production, it would not take much for this to move into a positive review from us.
Illuvium is one of the poster projects in this 2nd generation of blockchain games. Like Phantom Galaxies it has a sci-fi theme and PS4-gen console graphics. The game experience is broken into a few genres - a 3rd person platformer-shooter (the Overworld), an autochess-like (Arena), and a mobile city builder (Illuvium: Zero).
In March 2021, it raised a combined $5M USD through its pre-seed and seed coin sales. Crunchbase also reports a VC round from Tagus Capital for an undisclosed amount. They have grown the company to over 150 people, which is a burn rate that suggests that the Tagus round was significant or they had other cash infusions.
The team turned heads in May 2022 when, right after the crypto crash, they saw $72M spent on their initial land sale of 20,000 plots. This led to a lot of misleading or confused headlines though because it was not a fundraising event. Illuvium itself saw no direct revenue from it and only benefited from it the same way other token-holders did.
More specifically, 90% of that amount (about $65M) was from yield farming rewards that investors had earned. Those yield rewards would remain locked for months, with the one exception that investors could withdraw them at the time to buy land. All of those tokens were burned, which accounted for about 2.4% of the eventual token supply, theoretically raising the token value by a similar amount. Meanwhile, the other 10% ($7M) was paid in ETH, but was then redistributed to their token stakers.
To be sure, it was still a noteworthy sale; a lot of value of tokens was moved around and burned. But it definitely does not mean that the company raised $72M from the event.
With over 150 contributors, the Illuvium team is substantial. The size feels appropriate though given the scope of the project, with them effectively creating 3 separate games connected by a shared world and tokens. They are particularly stacked with artists due to the heavy emphasis on AAA visuals.
Illuvium was co-founded by Warwick brothers Kieran (CEO), Aaron (Chief Game Designer), and Grant (Art Director). Kieran has started up a couple of small companies before, but he really found success when his brother, Kain, game him $100,000 to try investing in crypto, from which Kieran made “a stupid amount of money”. Aaron, in the Chief Game Designer role, has had little time in the industry, including no formal experience, nor training, in game design. Grant has a background in film special effects and ran a successful CGI tutorial website.
As mentioned above, there is a fourth Warwick brother, Kain, who is the founder of crypto tech company Synthetix. Having raised over $14M, Synthetix is one of the leading contenders in the synthetic token market.
While the Illuvium team has plenty of strong engineering and artistic talent, game and economy design is almost non-existent from what we could tell. Aaron is supported by only a single additional game designer, Benjamin Nietzche, about whom we could find absolutely no information. They previously had an experienced economy designer in Khaled Alroumi as their economy and systems designer, but he left for Big Time in Sep 2022.
Score: 3.5. While it’s great to see a team equipped with both business savvy and the production talent to create a AAA-quality game, having what appears to be no game design, free-to-play live-servicing, or economic experience on the team is worrisome.
As high profile as Illuvium is, it is surprisingly light on detailed documentation. The Illuvium Whitepaper is very high level, written nearly entirely in prose with almost no specifics given. We’ve collected together what we could find across the whitepaper, Discord, and their Medium posts.
The primary fungible token for Illuvium is ILV, which is a capped (10M) ERC-20 governance token. Like similar tokens in other projects, the pool of tokens is earmarked for investors, the team, staking rewards, and in-game rewards. Somewhat unusually though, ILV has absolutely no direct use in-game.
Also unusual is that the vesting periods are very short. We typically expect to see a minimum of 2 years, and often 3 - 5 years, vesting period for the team, and often for investors as well.
In this case though, seed and team tokens unlocked on June 30, 2022 and have only a 12 month linear vesting, meaning that as of now the team is already about 40% vested even though the game is still only in private beta and hasn’t begun minting its primary NFTs. To their credit though, they did decide to have upper management extend their unlocking period by 2 years (representing about 14% of the total Team token amount).
There is also some conflicting information and ambiguous wording. For example, The chart shown above, from their whitepaper (and repeated in their Medium posts), actually doesn’t appear to reflect this information, depicting instead earlier and faster unlocking. That same Medium post states that yield farming will take 3 years, yet the graph above shows 7 years (84 months).
ILV has been DEX-traded since April 2021. Its value soared as high as 1847 USD on Nov 30, 2021 - an incredible upside for early investors who purchased coins at 1 to 3 USD. That all came crashing down in December of 2021 though, losing 67% of its value in 2 months to 608 USD. Things got worse from there, and in the 9 months since it has tumbled another 93%, down to about 43 USD.
All told, 2022 has been a disaster for ILV as the token has bled out 97.7% of its value from its peak a year ago. Put another way, if the $1.1B net worth of Kieran Warwick in Dec 2021 had been entirely in ILV, he would now be worth “only” about $25.6M.
Note: this is just a thought experiment, we don’t know the makeup of the $1.1B net worth he was reported to have. It is however plausible since we do know his net worth grew from $463M in Oct 2021 to $1.1B in Dec 2021, a difference that very closely matches the rise in the value of ILV over the same time.
Functionally, ILV is primarily used for staking. Staked tokens can produce rewards in two ways: yield farming and vault revenue distributions (often referred to as “revdis” on their Discord).
Yield farming is, like many projects, simply tokens being paid out of a reserved pool slowly over time. In this case the pool is 4M tokens (or maybe 3M - their whitepaper and their medium post differ on this) paid out over 3 years (or maybe 6 years - the text in their post and the image used differ on this). Conflicting information isn’t terribly confidence-inducing as an investment opportunity.
Regardless, the payouts are determined based on a combination of number of tokens, token weight (based on staking length), and type of token (liquidity tokens are calculated separately from single-staked tokens).
Revdis on the other hand is when Illuvium distributes holding from the Vault to all stakers. It remains to be seen how substantial this ends up being, but it’s starting to sound an awful lot like securities paying a dividend. As a model it could be great for investors, but it also seems likely to attract the attention of regulators if the scale becomes substantial.
The other token worth mentioning is sILV2 (synthetic ILV version 2), no doubt using brother Kain’s Synthetix platform. As a refresher, synthetic tokens are the blockchain equivalent of derivatives. Their value is pegged to some other asset (in this case, sILV2 is pegged to ILV) and they can be traded based on that. The way that users obtain sILV2 is a little unusual though.
Yield farming ILV rewards need to be “vested” by the user (paying gas costs), and from the time of vesting the ILV distributions remain locked for an additional 12 months.
Alternatively, users may claim sILV2. Unlike ILV rewards, sILV2 does not have a 12 month lock period and can be used immediately. Also unlike ILV, sILV2 (as well as ETH) can be used as currency in-game. When sILV2 is spent, the synthetic token is burned and the corresponding ILV never gets minted, reducing the maximum possible supply of ILV.
This is a clever, if a bit heavy-handed, strategy to encourage users to spend their rewards back into the game ecosystem rather than selling it off for profit. The reason is that sILV2 trades well below ILV, typically less than half the value. This makes sense - while sILV2 value is pegged to ILV for use in-game, the market value of sILV2 is purely as a derivative of ILV, but without other benefits of governance and the ability to stake. If interest in the game drops the utility of sILV2 as a currency will disappear, even if ILV somehow manages to stay strong. As such, sILV2 comes bundled with a risk on top of being capped by the price of ILV. It also reduces the ILV cap which theoretically should help prop up the price.
As such, stakers have three options:
- Wait 12 months for their ILV distributions to unlock.
- Claim sILV2 immediately and sell for half the ILV value.
- Claim sILV2 immediately and use in-game for the full ILV value.
Option 2 is pretty unappealing, and obviously the lock reduces the appeal of Option 1. Thus, Option 3 is best for any stakers who are intending to participate in the game economy. Option 3 is also ideal for Illuvium since it recycles staking rewards and allows Illuvium to pay them out with game assets rather than ILV.
This is also where one of the big asterisks on that $72M land sale in May of 2022 comes from. Users had the option of either paying ETH, or claiming their staking rewards, which would otherwise be locked, and using the sILV2 to buy land. Even stakers not intending to participate in the game saw land as a potential good investment and this was an opportunity to cash out their staking rewards early.
In the land sale, about 239,000 sILV2 were spent on land. As a result, all of that was burned, which effectively reduced the cap of ILV by 2.39%, from 10,000,000 to 9,761,000.
Why sILV version 2? In January of 2022, Illuvium discovered a vulnerability in their sILV contract that had allowed an attacker to slowly mint about 8000 free sILV (worth around 8M USD at the time). After a fair amount of damage control and reimbursing losses they updated to sILV2, hopefully without further exploits.
There are six types of utility ERC-20 tokens that we know of so far, three Elements and three Fuels. These can all be collected from land plots, which we’ll discuss below.
Elements, which come in Carbon, Silicon, and Hydrogen varieties, look to be mostly used in the Illuvium: Zero app for developing land. The three fuels, Crypton, Hyperion, and Solon, are more desirable as they are required for building advanced structures in Illuvium: Zero and are required as payment for many essential actions in the main game (travel, shard curing, crafting).
As a technicality, it sounds like these tokens will be stored off-chain when initially mined, and then converted to ERC-20 tokens when sold to the IlluviumDAO. As such, it would not be possible for land owners to sell their fuel directly or on a DEX - it all would have to go through the DAO first.
The non-fungible side of Illuvium is also still a bit fuzzy. There are two primary NFT types: the titular Illuvials and land. Of those two, only land has been minted so far. There are also a variety of other minor NFTs, many of which are cosmetic (skins, skin blueprints, emotes, Illuvitar profile pics) or non-functional commemorative tokens.
The collection element of the game plays out in a Pokémon-like fashion. Players can use a Shard to attempt to capture an illuvial after they defeat it in combat. A successful capture stores the Illuvial in the Shard, effectively consuming it. Shards will come in a variety of strengths that affect their likelihood of capture and will be tokens stored on-chain, presumably as NFTs, or perhaps SFTs.
There are 5 core affinities (water, earth, fire, nature, and air) that can be combined together to form a total of 20 affinity variations. Similarly, 5 core classes (fighter, guardian, rogue, psion, and empath) can be combined into 20 total sub-classes. Illuvials will have an affinity and a class, and also be in one of three “stages”. Somewhat akin to evolving, lower-stage Illuvials can be upgraded to a more powerful stage by fusing 3 identical, max-level Illuvials together.
In-game the Illuvials have basic and critical attacks, as well as an ultimate ability. This mirrors the expectations of an autochess-like game, and will likely function similarly with critical attacks having a cooldown and ultimate abilities tied to a combination of dealing and taking damage.
As the only primary NFT currently minted we do know a little more about land. At this point the primary purpose of land is using the Illuvium: Zero mobile app to harvest resources from and construct buildings on the land.
On the marketplace land is represented as a simple square with the color indicating the tier and pips on the square identifying the various resources and landmarks present.
Land constitutes the more traditional “play-to-earn” element in the game (with the other being collecting Illuvials in the wild). Plots come in five tiers, in addition to a free-to-play Tier 0. The harvesting capabilities of each plot of land are determined by their tier, as detailed below.
Each plot of land has a number of Element and Fuel sites that will produce these resources over time, which will be stored as tokens once harvested. The land tier also has an associated boost level that affects buildings on the land (harvesting, conversion rates, storage capacity, etc.).
Tier 3 and tier 4 lands also have a random landmark on it that provides an extra bonus production and conversion of fuel and elements. Tier 5 lands, of which there are very few (only 2 so far and 7 total eventually), have an Arena landmark that is planned to be used to host esports tournaments and provide what could be lucrative revenue streams for the owner.
Land in Illuvium does have associated locations, with world coordinates locked to each NFT. It’s unknown how important location will be, though if a wallet holds 2x2 or 3x3 adjacent lands it can create a “Mega-City” that has some very powerful bonuses. This alone could drive some competitive land pricing if adjacent to specific owners, but it’s unclear if the overall world areas will matter.
There will be a total of 100,000 land plots eventually, of which 20,000 have been minted so far. Tiers 1 - 4 plots were sold via Dutch Auction (a reverse auction in which the price starts high and then declines until someone purchases), while the two Tier 5 plots were supposed to be sold via a traditional auction. Per an Illuvium Discord mod though, the tech wasn’t ready for the auction and then it just never happened.
The plot tiers were sold for the following average prices (again, paid for primarily with sILV2), calculated from numbers released by Illuvium:
In some slightly good news for Illuvium, its land has held its value much better than the ILV token. Looking at recent sales on the ImmutableX Marketplace, we’re seeing the following very rough average prices, suggesting a value loss of 50% - 70% since the initial auction. It also seems likely that the initial auction amounts were a bit inflated due to the sILV2 usage, so the real value dropped since then is likely a bit lower. For comparison, ILV is down about 84% over that same period, meaning Illuvium land has held value 2x - 3x better than the token.
At this point, the land market is rather slow, averaging around $12k per day over the past two weeks. With the DAO getting 5% of that, the vault is only pulling in about $600 per day. Certainly we would expect to see this pick up when the game launches, but it’s not building up much value in the meantime.
One last important note: there was some confusing, if not misleading, phrasing used by Illuvium when explaining land revenue. In their land sale explanation, they said…
“This Land generates Fuel that can be sold for ETH; Approximately 5% of all in-game Fuel revenues go to Landholders.”
“Landowners earn approximately 5% of the total revenue generated from in-game Fuel purchases in Illuvium.”
as well as this image…
It would be understandable to read this to mean that landowners will get a 5% revenue share of all Fuel sold in-game, and a scan of the Discord channels confirms that this is not an uncommon reading. It is however inaccurate - the apparent intent was to mean that 5% of all fuel in the game will be produced by land, and that they would of course get the revenue for that fuel that they sell. That’s a very different value proposition though (especially if demand far outpaces land supply) and one must wonder if investors were expecting the other reading.
Score: 3.0. ILV has tanked since last year, and a short vesting period raises concerns about the team’s long-term commitment (though again, upper management voluntarily extended their own vesting). Seeing land holding its value suggests that the perceived potential for land-based revenue is exciting enough to still invest in, but we don’t know what sort of volume they can actually produce, and the promises of 5% revenue share were shaky at best. A few interesting novel mechanisms are good to see though.
Game Design: 3.0
Kieran (CEO) has stated that there will eventually be nine games in the Illuvium universe, but only three will be present at Illuvium’s launch. As mentioned before, these are a 3rd person platformer-shooter (the Overworld), an autochess-like (Arena), and a mobile city builder (Illuvium: Zero). What’s interesting though is that, from a mechanics perspective, they’re largely unrelated.
Illuvium: Zero is at its heart Tamagotchi for pet land. It will become the source of resources and fuel that will be needed for the other modes, but that’s the extent of it. The Overworld and Arena gameplay are ostensibly connected since the player navigates the Overworld in order to find Illuvials to battle with. Mechanically though there is no real interplay - the entire Overworld gameplay could be removed and replaced with a clickable two-dimensional map and there will be no difference to the Arena gameplay.
Since they are so different and largely independent, let’s break down what we know for each one separately.
The overworld exploration exists in the form of a 3rd-person platformer/shooter. The gameplay revealed so far has been very limited, with players zipping around the world harvesting resources and occasionally shooting at glowing orbs. Hitting an orb will trigger an encounter with wild Illuvials, which is played out in the Arena mode.
While simplistic so far, one can hope that it will continue to be fleshed out and increase in complexity and things to do. They have not however announced anything to that extent. It is also unclear what, if any, impact NFTs will have on this portion of the gameplay.
This is where the “meat” of the gameplay is and likely will continue to be. While the betas so far are single-player only, PvP is imminent, planned for release this December. Mechanically this part of the game works very similarly to other games in the autochess genre.
The goal of autochess games is to select units that synergize together and place them in preparation for auto-calculated battles. The synergies are very explicit in these games (you can see them listed in the upper left and right corners), so having multiple units of the same type becomes essential. Typically players can also fuse identical units to level them up. A match is played over a series of rounds, with players getting more resources to summon more units with each successive round.
There are four planned Arena gameplay modes. One of them is the main quest in which the player has to try to defeat the wild Illuvials in a match. The others are in the Illuvium Arena:
- Survival: PvE challenge to see how long a player can last against an infinite line of enemies.
- Ascendant: PvP with rules in place to ensure equality among players. Presumably there will be level caps and standardized rarity limits and such to avoid any elements of “pay-to-win”. This is where the competitive esports will likely take place.
- Leviathan: An arena for the top collectors in the land. With no limits on the Illuvials players can use, this will be the place for the big guns to put it all on the line. It looks likely that players will be able to wager on these matches, making this the mode where those hoping to turn a profit will focus. P2W FTW!
All of these will be 1v1, unlike many autochess games that use more of a tournament model. This is wise to start with - tournaments, while fun, require a significant time commitment that likely limits the audience. Plus, tournaments can (and should) be added later as a competitive entry fee system.
For what it’s worth though, autochess is not a genre we would typically recommend trying to enter. Outside of China, where Riot’s Teamfight Tactics is huge, there haven’t been any significant successes in the genre on mobile or PC. And that’s not for lack of top-tier talent trying; in addition to Riot/Tencent, some of the world’s other best developers have made attempts:
- Supercell (Clash Mini) - After a bumpy start and heavy UA in Tier 1 countries, Supercell appears to have substantially pulled back on bringing in new users. Data from data.ai suggests that, outside of Hong Kong, revenue per download has been on a flat to downward trend. While still in active development, it’s definitely not where Supercell wants it yet.
- Ubisoft (Might & Magic: Chess Royale) - The game has not been updated since 2020 and data.ai estimates about 1000 downloads per day now, primarily in Indonesia, Russia, and Vietnam.
- Valve (Dota Underlords) - despite an initial surge, it now sits outside of the top 100 games on Steam and averages about 3000 mobile downloads/day per data.ai.
- Blizzard (Hearthstone: Battlegrounds mode) - created within the Hearthstone app itself, it’s unclear how well it has performed. If nothing else it was never spun out into a dedicated app.
Back in 2020 when Illuvium was getting started, autochess looked like the hot new thing, but unfortunately the genre largely died soon-after when no one could find the right recipe for success. In Illuvium’s favor though, they don’t need to monetize like a free-to-play game so they could still find success here.
Beyond that, autochess is, by design, largely automated. This means that botting is relatively easy in the game, which in turn means that opportunities can be exploited quickly and efficiently. Given the problem bots have caused for some other games it would be good to know what Illuvium’s plans are for dealing with bots.
City Builder (Illuvium: Zero)
Land owners will use the Illuvium:Zero mobile app to develop and harvest their land. The interface will be familiar to anyone who has played a city or empire building game on their phones. Players can build extractors on resource deposits, collect accumulated resources, and there’s even the ability to spend money to speed up build timers.
That seems to be about in terms of gameplay though. A variety of cosmetic options, like laying down roads and planting shrubs, will be available, but they won’t have any impact on the effectiveness of the buildings.
Score: 3.0. The Overworld and Illuvium: Zero gameplay are mostly just pretty interfaces for farming - there’s really not much there and we don’t see any indication that that will change. However, the Arena gameplay looks to be promising. There is plenty of complexity to allow for skill to be important, and having options for both “fair” and “no holds barred” PvP is a great move to try to please the majority of the audience. Autochess botting also represents a risk, but one that likely can be controlled for.
Fun: 4.0 (Arena), 1.5 (Overworld and Illuvium: Zero)
Since the sub-games are so different, let’s look also at the fun factor of each one separately.
This mode is the one that Illuvium typically shows off, and for good reason - the team has made it look quite good. Visually it is far better than the vast majority of blockchain games, though that gap is narrowing (if not already gone with games like Phantom Galaxies). Traversing the landscape looks like a lot of fun with multi-jumps, a jetpack, and slow-motion weapon aiming. The tactility of the game seems on point.
Unfortunately though, that novelty can quickly wear off when there’s no challenge present and little need for skill. Unless they really expand this mode, which doesn’t appear to be the plan, it will come to be seen as a chore, an impediment to efficient grinding and collecting.
If there’s any depth to be found in Illuvium it is going to be in the Arena portion. The UI at this point is looking quite good, with a variety of strong QoL features (card filtering, lots of keyboard shortcuts, etc.). There are also some genuinely interesting complexity and options.
For example, in addition to the typical synergy system in autochess games, there are composite effects that have their own bonus and also synergize with the primary components. There are weapons for your “ranger” player character (who also fights in battle) as well as augments that can be added to Illuvials. There is also a bonding system that combines the ranger with a single Illuvial. It actually may be going too far into the complexities - there are already over 100 Illuvials for players to work with, so features like augments and bonding seem like unneeded complexity. That said, they are clearly looking for feedback on these features so anything that’s not core gameplay could very well change.
The Arena mode has a cinematic camera that can really show off the battles in a way that most games in the genre don’t. This should make for some great replays and may make esports streaming more engaging.
The game looks like it will provide an interesting and fun challenge for players. The big question is whether they can crack the retention nut that the genre has struggled with outside of China, where the popularity of League of Legends undoubtedly helped Teamfight Tactics substantially. The variety of gameplay modes, skill cap, and competitive possibilities give this portion of Illuvium a strong chance of being genuinely fun and a game that would do fine even without crypto.
Gameplay in the city builder looks like it will be quite simplistic. There may be a few opportunities for meaningful decisions around optimization, but generally it’s a pretty interface for checking in and claiming resources. It does have an advantage over the Overworld gameplay in that it is on mobile and the interactions are very quick, which should make claiming resources a lot less tedious over time.
Still, it sits at the edge of what can even be considered a game and is much more reminiscent of the previous generation of blockchain games. If we use the “would people play this without crypto?” test, this one would handily fail.
Score (Overworld and Illuvium: Zero): 1.5. The Overworld gameplay is quickly going to become stale and annoying. Illuvium: Zero is at best harmless, if a bit tedious and lacking intrinsic reward. It’s unlikely anyone would call either mode “fun” after spending a couple of days with them.
Score (Arena): 4.0. The Arena gameplay on the other hand looks very promising. While the genre may be risky, the execution so far is strong and looks likely to continue improving. We would not be surprised to see some esports and a lot of Twitch.tv time for the Arena.
There are three primary currencies in their economy: ILV, ETH, and Fuel*. Let’s take a look at each of those individually first, and then we’ll put them all together. In each of these graphs we use green lines to indicate sources/mints and red lines to indicate sinks/burns.
*There are actually three types of fuel in the game, but for this analysis we will assume they are all part of a unified Fuel resource.
First up is ILV. There are two sources here: the yield farming pool and gameplay rewards. Both of these are finite sources - they’ll run out within a few years most likely. At that point, ILV will get traded around through the Liquidity Pool. The Illuvium Vault spends 100% of its ETH purchasing ILV from the liquidity pool and distributing it to the ILV Stakers. This provides stakers with more ILV while also increasing the price of ILV in the pool. This should be sustainable as long as the vault continues to bring in ETH (see below).
The sinks are found in DEX cash outs and gameplay. The gameplay bit is a little odd, but as mentioned above it’s possible for Stakers to cash out early by converting their ILV rewards to sILV2, which can then be sold (for about 50% of ILV) or spent in-game. All spent sILV2 is then burned, which permanently reduces the max supply of ILV.
Next up is the ETH flow. ETH is entirely sourced by Players who wish to purchase Fuel or other goods. A small percentage of ETH spent on Fuel (about 5%) will go to the Land Owners. All other ETH goes to the Illuvium Vault, which then spends all of it buying ILV, as described above. Stakers are likely to sell ILV to the Liquidity Pool for ETH when the ILV price is favorable. This is sustainable as long as Players wish to continue purchasing things in the game, though the amount of ETH going to Land Owners seems likely to be small.
Finally, we get to Fuel, which is simultaneously the simplest and most complex of the three. Land Holders produce Fuel that they can then sell to the Fuel Balancer Pool. Players buy this Fuel, which is then spent and burned in-game. Easy enough.
The IlluviumDAO also produces Fuel at a 19:1 ratio of Fuel from Land (thus accounting for 95% of Fuel). This is presumably in an effort to ensure that the DAO is bringing in enough ETH to support its compulsive ILV liquidity buying habit, which in turn rewards the ILV Stakers. The dynamic then is that it is a Stakers vs. Land Owners situation - the proceeds from Fuel are split between the two groups, and at least for now that’s set at a 19:1 ratio. This ratio could be changed in the future, though only by the Illuvinati Council, which is elected by the Stakers. As such, it’s unlikely Land Owners are going to be seeing a better payout any time soon.
As a further complication, Fuel is set up as a sort of loose algorithmic stable coin. There is a price target for Fuel and if the Fuel Balancer Pool price ever goes above or below by 25%, the DAO will automatically start adding or removing Fuel from the Pool. One might worry about the Land Owners manipulating the price by withholding Fuel, but with them only providing 5% of Fuel anyway their influence is somewhat limited.
Once it is announced how much Fuel can be harvested from Land, we will be able to precisely calculate the minimum and maximum revenue for Land thanks to the rails on the price. However, let’s take a quick look at what sort of numbers need to be reached to make Land Owners happy.
A total of $72M was invested into Land in the initial sale of 20,000 parcels. In order to break even on that $72M from a 5% cut, Illuvium will need to sell $1.44B. If we allow that land investors would be okay with a 2-year break even, that would be $720M / year. For perspective, that’s about the same revenue as what heavy hitters like Monster Strike, Gardenscapes, and Call of Duty: Mobile each did in 2021. Hitting numbers like that would be shocking at this point, even for a web3 game, now that consumers and investors have seen past the ponzinomics of early projects. As such, Illuvium needs to find other ways of providing reasons to own land, lest it upsets its early adopters and the value drops.
Alrighty, let’s assemble the three currency flows into the overall graph.
So, will this work? It actually really might. There does not appear to be any real exploits, nor is there a need for continuous new users. The separation of ILV from in-game spending should help shield it from game issues swinging the price. Cycling ETH and ILV through the DAO gives a clean, dynamic way of distributing income that should allow for persistent staking rewards. As long as the game is fun and players are willing to spend money on it, there is a source of value, and that value can be paid out to the various stakeholders.
We need to emphasize though that that’s a big, capital I “If.” In order for this to work, they must do all of the following:
- Attract a huge free-to-play audience that is not looking for returns on investment
- This will likely require substantial UA budgets managed by experienced marketers
- Design content and an economy that players choose to spend substantially on
- Run consistent live-service with events, updates, and regular new content that drives engagement and monetization
So, it ultimately boils down to whether or not Illuvium ends up able to compete with other F2P and paid games for players’ time and wallets. When we say the sustainability looks good, we don’t mean that the game is going to succeed. What we mean is that it’s not doomed before it starts unlike a lot of blockchain projects, but if there isn’t much gas put into it not much is going to happen.
It’s also important to note that Illuvium, the company, has no direct revenue source. Instead, it looks like all revenue goes through the DAO, which team members hold significant token balances in. Basically, all its revenue comes from the same place as everyone else: ILV staking and/or land ownership.
Score: 4.0. This is one of the more solid sustainability plans we’ve seen, with the core, huge caveat being that the game is able to generate revenue on its own non-P2E merits.
Bonus Topic - Governance
While it’s not one of our standard lenses for these mini-decons, Illuvium has put a lot of emphasis on its governance, and it’s worth looking at the reality of it.
Governance is often held as one of the primary benefits of blockchain gaming. The players of the game, or more accurately the holders of the expensive tokens that are often unrelated to the game, get to vote and make enforced, binding decisions about certain aspects of the game.
Illuvium differs a bit from many other games in that it is not a democracy (or really, a plutocracy) in which everyone votes on proposals. Instead, it is representative-based - governance token holders will vote for 5 people to be on the “Illuvinati Council”, which holds terms of 3 month “epochs”. The votes for council members use quadratic voting, which as we’ve discussed before is a great way to keep a few top wallets from dominating the votes.
Things get a little messier though when we look at what the council has been up to. While most proposals have been about the game and policies and have had expected and understandable votes, there are a few proposal votes that could be seen as problematic.
- ICCP-1 Adjustment to Council Members Epoch Salary: Council members had previously been compensated 30 ILV per 3-month epoch. At the time this was roughly $1800 worth of ILV and the hope was that those coins would grow in value. Come September 2021 ILV had indeed appreciated substantially and 30 ILV was worth more like $15,000. This proposal was made to even out the distributions to $5000 worth of ILV per epoch. Unsurprisingly the council rejected by a vote of 0 - 3.
- IIP-12 Illuvinati Council Improvements: Listed a number of increased responsibilities for the council including regular meetings, reporting on deliberations, and addition of a dedicated Council activities webpage. Also specified compensation as $5000 worth of ILV per month ($15,000 per epoch). Council approved 4 - 0.
- IIP-14 Illuvinati Council Modifications: A month later, the council voted to meet “on an ad-hoc basis”, to not report deliberations, and to not create an activities website. No change to the compensation was made. Council approved 4 - 0.
- IIP-21 Illuvinati Council/ Governance Modifications: Increased epoch length to 6 months (apparently due to community sentiment that 3 was too short). Changed council payouts to 5000 USDC per month instead of in ILV, which is unsurprising given that ILV was now falling rapidly in value in May 2022. Council approved 3 - 0.
Giving the council control over its pay and its serving term creates a clear conflict of interest. While this may well have been unintentional and not malicious, it highlights how crypto governance can fall victim to the same issues that country governments do. This is in no way intended to be an indictment of Illuvium or the Illuvinati Council members. Instead, it is just a reminder that designers, players, and investors need to be just as cautious and scrutinizing with token-based governance as with any other governance system.
Illuvium is a mixed bag. It has a strong team but with a game design knowledge gap. It has a promising, complex competitive game mode but with two boring collection game modes. It is handling governance voting well but is at risk due to the small council of decision makers. It has a large community and lots of investors but has suffered a catastrophic loss of value from its peak. There are some yellow flags in the tokenomics, but the underlying economy and value flow looks to be sound and sustainable, as long as players are willing to keep spending. Overall, we remain optimistic and excited about the Arena gameplay and the collectible Illuvials, but a lot of the rest of the project is either worrisome or extraneous.
This collection of games has some real potential, but each one has some speed bumps to watch out for.
Guild of Guardians has a strong, experienced team and a fun playable build, but needs to watch for sustainability and figure out how to dig out from the crash of its token.
Phantom Galaxies is delivering the best visuals of all three “AAA blockchain games”, has a good cross-media plan, and the token has held value relatively well. On the other hand, they have some huge question marks around economy and sustainability as well as who is actually on the development team.
Illuvium has great community engagement, significant hype, substantial value changing hands in the land sale, and some good-looking gameplay demos. However, their lack of game design experience is a concern and the devastation of their token value from its peak is a significant hurdle to deal with. Back on the plus side, the core economy looks to be sustainable while also paying out rewards to investors.
We continue to see interesting and exciting projects coming to the fore and expect the industry and developers to continue to learn and iterate as we all understand this market and technology better and better. But if there is one trend that all the above games showcase, it is that they’re all thinking hard about how to move web3 gaming in the right direction so that a new industry vertical can exist at scale.