League of Kingdoms Gameplay cover
Source: League of Kingdoms

Executive Summary

  • League of Kingdoms, developed by Seoul-based NOD Games and published by Singapore-based NPLUS, is a free-to-play 4X Strategy MMO with tokens and NFTs layered onto it.
  • Launched in 2020, the game itself has seen some moderate traction, grossing an estimated $4 million and earning 600,000 downloads. 
  • The game has struggled with a variety of delays, indecision of the developers, and a disgruntled user base, and much of the pet dragon (Drago) NFT gameplay won’t be live until April 2023. 
  • However, it has an innovative structure to its Land NFT gameplay that acts more like a separate layer than tightly integrated into the core game. Somewhat counterintuitively, this is likely an advantage that makes it more app store compliant, allows it to be invisible for Web2 players, and supports a dynamic, entrepreneurial player community.
  • We won’t be able to say too much about the future of the game until the Drago update, but it’s already a worthy study for game developers looking to innovate on web3 game design.

Understanding League of Kingdoms

League of Kingdoms’ Land could become a new template for Web2.5 game design.

That’s a bit surprising since League of Kingdoms is a fairly run-of-the-mill game in many ways. As a mobile game, it is indistinguishable from other titles in the fantasy-themed 4X MMO strategy game genre. As a blockchain game, it has a lot of familiar elements: generative pet-style NFTs (Dragos), a capped governance token (LOKA), an uncapped utility token (DST), and NFT land (Land) that generates token yields over time. (Note: some of the features just listed are not yet live, but should be soon.)

We will touch on all of these points in this deconstruction, but where League of Kingdoms really shines is in the structure and implementation of the Land gameplay.  Land exists as an almost entirely separate layer from the core game, which creates a dynamic that is more app-store friendly, more consistent with blockchain ideals, and more open to player creativity and entrepreneurship.

Logo of NOD Games developer of League of Kingdoms

League of Kingdoms is developed by Seoul-based NOD Games and published by Singapore-based NPLUS. Very little information is available about NPLUS, but we know a bit more about NOD Games. 

The company is led by CEO Chan Lee, who has a background in finance and also co-founded NEXTMATCH, a dating app company acquired for around $7.5 million USD in 2018. He is joined on the executive team by CEO Steve Hwang, who has 20 years of experience building games at Gamevil, EA, NHN, and COM2US; and COO Han Yoo, who has a background in supply chain and product management at LG Electronics. 

They have put together a heavy-hitting team to develop League of Kingdoms. The core leadership team comes from Netmarble, NEXON, KAKAO Games, NC Soft, and more, with the members each having 10 to 20 years of industry experience.

Per the NOD Games website, the team is also developing Crypto Sword and Magic, though it appears to either be on hold or abandoned. There have been neither any tweets nor any Medium posts since mid-2020 regarding that project. 

We’ll kick off this analysis with a look at the game’s performance on mobile and browser, then look at the tokenomics, dig into the gameplay, say a few words on earning potential, and finally look at the implications of its somewhat unique NFT structure.

League of Kingdoms Google Play store page
League of Kingdoms Google Play store page

Game Performance

League of Kingdoms is currently available to play on Android, iOS, and web browsers. The different versions are identical with the exception that the browser version can connect to a wallet and has an NFT tab that is not present in the mobile versions.

Android & iOS

The League of Kingdoms mobile app was released for both platforms in July 2020. Note that the performance of this app is independent of NFTs — the numbers below should be considered against F2P benchmarks, and in that regard do hold their own.

League of Kingdoms top countries by estimated downloads
League of Kingdoms top countries by estimated downloads, unified iOS/Android. Source: data.ai

The game appears to have spent about a year in a soft launch, with some test spending in the Philippines beginning in July 2021, then Brazil in September 2021, and more broadly January 2022. Active user acquisition looks to have largely stopped around April 2022.

League of Kingdoms Estimated Revenue Per Download by Platform
League of Kingdoms Estimated Revenue Per Download by Platform. Source: data.ai

On the revenue side the game has done reasonably well. This was especially true in 2022 when user acquisition was running, peaking at roughly $400k per month on a relatively small userbase of about 600k total downloads. Overall they have a very respectable revenue per download with an estimated $5.50 on Android and $13.30 on iOS.

League of Kingdoms estimated monthly revenue
League of Kingdoms estimated monthly revenue. Source: data.ai


The browser version of the game has a similar geographic distribution, though without the U.S. appearing in the top five. Per similarweb.com, these are the countries visiting leagueofkingdoms.com the most in February 2023:

Countries visiting leagueofkingdoms.com the most in February 2023

Similarweb estimates that there were around 760,000 browser visits in February 2023, while data.ai estimates that there were around 57,000 active users on the Android version in the same month. While certainly not apples-to-apples, it’s likely that browser and mobile are at least in the same order of magnitude of players at this point.


League of Kingdoms is currently split between the Polygon and Ethereum chains, which has been a source of great confusion for players. The information below was current as of writing, but more up to date information can be reviewed in the game’s Discord by using the !market and !contracts commands. For now though…

League of Kingdoms split between the Polygon and Ethereum chains

League of Kingdoms Arena (LOKA, fungible governance)

League of Kingdoms’ primary token is the somewhat confusingly-named League of Kingdoms Arena (LOKA), for which there is a 500 million cap. The game cleverly works the token into its own lore:

  • To align incentives of the stakeholders and to weed out any malevolent actors, Khuppa devised a brilliant solution; He commanded his troops to unearth the legendary world stone from sacred mount Ararat and broke it into 500,000,000 shards. There exists only one world stone that can exhibit the unique characteristics of the holy stone in the entire universe, so these shards are verifiably legitimate and scarce. - League of Kingdoms whitepaper

The token’s primary utility is governance, though other capabilities include yield-staking, game shop purchases, and eventually breeding their Drago NFTs, with “many other perks and benefits to be added in the future,” according to the whitepaper. 

LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance since Jan. 22, 2022
LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance since Jan. 22, 2022. Source: coincodex.com

LOKA’s performance since releasing in January 2022 has been similar to many other blockchain game stories: things were going well until May, and then largely tanked after. 

LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance March 8 - May 12 2022
LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance March 8 - May 12 2022. Source: coincodex.com
LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance post Terra crash, May 2022
LOKA vs. SPS and SAND performance post Terra crash, May 2022. Source: coincodex.com

Nearly every token on the market fell starting the evening of May 10th, 2022 in the wake of Terra’s crash. LOKA’s drop was quite a bit more pronounced, losing a catastrophic 60% of its value in 22 hours on Terra-fall Tuesday. Other coins certainly fell too, but Splintershards (SPS) lost “only” 15% and SAND 25% in the same period. That said, the most severe decline may have been because LOKA had surged in the months leading up to the crash, meaning it had farther to fall to return to its baseline. 

The Land 3.0 update went live in late July 2022. One of the biggest changes was the shift of the Land rewards from the DAI stablecoin to LOKA. We’ll go into more detail about the LOKA reward calculations in the Playing To Earn section below, but in general a daily LOKA reward is split up among Landowners proportionally to the development points each Land has collected.

The above chart for LOKA flow is given in the whitepaper, but the reality, at least at this point, seems to be quite different. For example, Land Rewards are coming from the LOKA minting pool, not from the Council Vault. There are also no Staking Rewards at this time. Also, NOD Games made the fairly controversial decision to use 20% of the Council Vault to fund development.

It’s difficult to say at this time how sustainable LOKA will prove in the long run. As more utility gets implemented, it could gain value, assuming players are having fun and want to spend LOKA to improve their experience. But it’s also unclear how quickly, if at all, LOKA will cycle back to the player base. Additionally, without any plans for a DAO, the governance capabilities of LOKA are likely to remain dormant as well.

Dragon Soul Tokens (DST, on-chain) and Dragon Soul Amber (DSA, off-chain)

Dragon Soul Tokens (DST) will be the utility token of League of Kingdoms once the “Drago Update” releases on March 31st, 2023. It is intended to be lightly inflationary, but with the goal of being relatively stable in pricing. 

DST will be obtained by processing Drago Soul Amber (DSA), which is the off-chain currency players can use their Dragos to collect through mining, battle, and daily quests. DSA can be minted into DST at a 100 to 1 ratio. 

Drago-DST flow
Drago/DST flow. Source: Drago Genesis Medium post

Once in DST form, it will be able to be used for various functions including Drago training, upgrading the Drago Lair (increasing the number of active Dragos a player can have), Drago breeding, and Drago Dungeons.

Land NFT
Land NFT. Source: opensea.io

Land NFTs

The League of Kingdoms maps are a somewhat confusing set of nested grids, which we’ll detail below. The important part though is that the map is split into 65,536 Land deed NFTs. To get more specific…

Primary grid at the left, zone grid at the middle and parcel at the right
Primary grid (left), zone grid (middle), and parcel (right). Source: League of Kingdoms Land map
  • The primary map is on a 2,048x2,048 coordinate grid
  • This grid is split in 64 Zones, each consisting of 256x256 coordinates. 
  • A Land parcel contains an 8x8 set of coordinates, meaning that each zone has 1,024 Land parcels.
  • Within a Land parcel’s 64 coordinate squares, it can house up to 16 player-kingdoms since each kingdom takes up a 2x2 space.

A critical point is that, as NOD Games points out in their blog posts, players aren’t buying specific plots of Land so much as buying rights to particular coordinate ranges in the multiverse. In other words, a Landowner gets rights to that particular area of the map in all parallel universes (i.e. servers) of the game. 

For context, it is standard practice in strategy and MMO games to open up new servers as old ones fill up. New servers offer fresh starts for players joining at about the same time and keep the Land from getting overcrowded. Lords Mobile, for example, has over 1,200 servers, referred to as Kingdoms, in total.

NOD Games’ ability to arbitrarily create more servers could have been a source of Land inflation, but tying ownership to coordinates rather than specific servers helps retain Land scarcity. There will only be 65,536 deeds in existence no matter how many servers are created. This is admittedly a bit unintuitive, but it’s also a rather clever solution. It manages to create both scarcity and infinite expansion. While being able to create more space on demand is not necessary in some applications, for a 4X MMO it would be devastating to the game’s growth to lose the ability to spin up more servers as needed. 

As we’ll explain in more depth in the Gameplay section, Land can be leveled up by accumulating development points from any players mining it. Higher-level Land produces more resources for everyone on it, not just for the NFT holder, and the NFT owner gets a share of all resources mined on their Land. This creates a symbiotic relationship between Land NFT holders and non-crypto players.

Drago NFTs

Dragos Game NFT generated from a set of seven parts
Source: opensea.io
Dragos Game NFT
Source: opensea.io

Whereas the Land NFTs have some originality to their function, Dragos are a more standard type of game NFT. They are generated from a set of seven parts (horn, eye, head, body, wing, leg, and tail), can be Normal or Legendary, can be bred, and are central to the play-to-earn (P2E) gameplay. There are also Drago Egg NFTs, which can be hatched into new Dragos.

Dragos are intended to be the primary P2E mechanic in the game (in addition to the more passive wait-to-earn system underpinning the game’s Land NFTs). Players will be able to send Dragos out to mine for off-chain DSA, which can then be minted into on-chain DST. These mining expeditions are at risk of being attacked though, so players will need to escort their Dragos with sufficient deterrent force. Being attacked doesn’t cause a loss, but it does end the mining and send the Drago back with what it had already collected. There’s also a Drago Action Point system that limits the number of marches a player can send in a day.

Some of the buffs provided by a Drago NFT
Some of the buffs provided by a Drago NFT

Currently, Dragos have very limited in-game utility by providing small buffs to a variety of stats. For example, each attack march can have a single Drago, and that Drago may provide something like a 3% bonus to archery attack. 

One of Dragos’ most important utilities is supposed to be mining DSA/DST. This was pitched as the main P2E element of the game and a primary benefit of getting a Drago during the genesis sale in May 2022. 

A wide variety of other features (Drago training, Chimera burning/fusion, DST minting, Drago rentals, etc.) were teased in the announcement post. But at this point, 10 months later, none of these have yet been implemented. That said, the large Drago update is scheduled to go live on March 31st, 2023, so much of this is likely to change in a few weeks, including the addition of the DSA mining.

One major economic change in that update is that players will need to own a Drago in order to mint resource packs. Selling resource NFTs is one of the primary methods of earning in the game, so gating it behind Drago ownership should serve to reduce the supply of resource NFTs (depending somewhat on how rentals are handled) and increase the value of Dragos.

Note that this is not new information, so theoretically that increased value is already priced into current Dragon NFT prices. Additionally, it will be important to see how breeding affects the ability to package up resource NFTs — if it becomes easier to get Dragos then the value is likely to go down substantially.

League of Kingdoms Gameplay Item Collection
Source: tofunft.com

Resource Packs

Resources, often abbreviated “RSS” in posts and on Discord, are Stone, Wood, Food, and Gold mined from the Land in League of Kingdoms. While initially off-chain, collected resources can be packaged into NFTs to be sold on the market. This minting process can currently be done by anyone with a level 20+ Castle, but that will change at the end of May of this year, at which point a Drago NFT will be required to mint Resource NFTs.

While implemented as a Polygon ERC-721, there are essentially a small number of types (four resources in denominations of 1M, 5M, and 10M) that are otherwise fungible commodities.

Off-chain collected resources packs package into NFTs
Selection of crystal IAPs from the League of Kingdoms IAP store

Crystals (off-chain)

Showing the genre’s free-to-play roots, Crystals are a pretty standard hard currency. They can be purchased with fiat (or crypto on the browser version) or from occasional in-game mines. Crystals exist only in the game’s database without any crypto component. Their utility is also similar to a F2P hard currency: speeding up marches, instant building level-ups, buying resources, getting additional builder slots, etc. 

That said, there is actually some off-label earning potential for Crystals, which we’ll discuss in the P2E section below. But the reality of that option is that it’s not terribly compelling.


League of Kingdoms exists in two nearly separate universes: the 4X-style strategy game and the Land game. A thin but innovative thread connects them and creates a system that in some ways feels more like the experimental zkproof-based game The Dark Forest than the many play/free-to-own/earn variants that we see springing up today. 

Let’s start by looking at the two halves separately and then we’ll dig into the structure and implications of that thread. 

League of Kingdoms March battle gameplay
March-battle gameplay. Source: Fractal YouTube channel

4X March-Battle Strategy Gameplay

As far as anyone playing the mobile version of the game, League of Kingdoms looks like a fairly standard modern F2P “4X march-battle game” (using data.ai’s Game IQ taxonomy). Think Rise of Kingdoms, Evony, Lords Mobile, Star Trek Fleet Command, etc. 

We won’t go into detail of the gameplay here since it’s a genre that is well-studied and deconstructed. At a high level though, the genre tends to be characterized by players having bases placed around a large overworld map. The players engage in three of the four Xs by sending out scouts (eXplore), gathering resources (eXploit), and fighting enemies (eXterminate). The fourth X, eXpand, isn’t necessarily as present, though guild gameplay is often a major component and could be seen as expansion. 

Attacking enemies requires sending out raiding parties of units. These raids often take hours to reach their destination - this is the “march” portion of the sub-genre name - which is a good fit for multiple game sessions.

In this respect League of Kingdoms doesn’t really differentiate itself from the competition. The art is standard fantasy fair, and the gameplay will be very familiar to anyone who has played other games in the genre. It is largely unremarkable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Additionally, parts of the game still feel quite unpolished. For example, the game sends a notification to the player every time a building completes. While this is fine later when buildings can take hours to finish, during the 5-minute tutorial I received a teeth-gritting 12 “building complete” notifications. 

Land Gameplay

Where League of Kingdoms breaks away from the pack is the NFT-based Land Gameplay. Likely due to restrictions from Apple and Google, this part of the game is effectively absent on mobile. But because the game is playable on web browsers as well, though, an NFT tab has mysteriously appeared in the profile screen of that version of the game. 

League of Kingdoms Screenshot from browser version
Screenshot from browser version of League of Kingdoms

Even then, there isn’t a lot that can be done in-game with one’s NFTs, at least at this point. Instead, the Land gameplay takes place almost entirely outside of the game, which is what is so clever about the system.

Each Land NFT collects “development points,” sort of like Land XP, based on activity that happens there. Specifically, the NFT gains points whenever players in that location collect resources or spend crystals (the game’s off-chain hard currency). 

League of Kingdoms Land 3.0 Medium Changes to Land mechanics over time.
Changes to Land mechanics over time. Source: League of Kingdoms Land 3.0 Medium post

For example, let’s say Alice owns the NFT deed for [0,0] - [16,16]. Bob has his kingdom at [2,2] - [3,3] on continent 2. Carly has a kingdom at [4,4] - [5,5] on continent 23. Any resources that Bob and Carly collect, as well as crystals they use, will contribute to Alice’s NFT’s development points. Note that this doesn’t require Bob and Carly to opt into this, or even be aware that any of that is happening. Bob may have no idea what an NFT even is, but if he is in Alice’s coordinate range he’ll be giving her development points.

Additionally, Alice earns 5% of all resources mined from her deed locations. This is not imposed as a tax on the users, but rather as a bonus: if Carly mines 100 gold, Alice gets an additional 5 gold. She can claim these resources as newly-minted NFTs.

Land NFTs have a level ranging from 1 - 8 that is determined by their number of development points. Land levels are distributed along a curve and recalculated regularly, so the requirements for a Land’s level can and will change over time. It’s even possible for a Land to be down-leveled if it doesn’t continue to earn sufficient development points. 

Higher-level Lands provide bonuses for players: larger resource mines will appear on them, making them more appealing for players to farm. This theoretically creates a virtuous cycle that will give some inertia to Lands that started out higher level, helping them maintain their advantage. It’s a competitive cycle though and if a Land drops in level it’s likely to see players abandon and find greener pastures.

This is where the Land gameplay really starts to kick in. The way one “wins” at the Land game is by convincing as many high-level players as possible to farm their Land (across any and all continents). Land owners are able to try any strategy they want to accomplish this. 

Land NFT owner offering kickback to players
Land NFT owner offering kickback to players
Alliance offering mining services to Land NFT owners
Alliance offering mining services to Land NFT owners
Alliance requiring moving to its Lands in order to become a member
Alliance requiring moving to its Lands in order to become a member

In some cases, Landowners will offer to pay players to mine and spend on their Land. In others, alliances will organize services for Landowners, sending their members out to work the Land. Or alliance DAOs may offer lots of in-game benefits, but require members to move to DAO-owned Land. 

These are all completely valid and acceptable ways to play the Land game - it’s much more akin to real-life business and politics than to a game with strict rules. And it is in this way that League of Kingdoms most feels like a “true” blockchain game that exists outside of the designed game world.

Playing to Earn

League of Kingdoms currently has two ways for players to try to turn a profit: creating resource NFTs and collecting LOKA rewards from Land ownership. As mentioned before, DSA/DST farming, as well as Drago breeding, will arrive with the Drago update, but at this point there isn’t enough information to make predictions about the profitability of that route. 

Resource NFTs have been somewhat problematic in the past, in part because gas fees would take up much of the value. Per one user in early February 2023, it cost $0.03 USD worth of gas to mint an NFT that was worth $0.07 USD. Part of the problem was that the largest resource NFTs hold 10 million resources. 

The dev team has addressed this in the upcoming Drago update. With it, players will be able to use their Dragos to mint 10M, 50M, and 100M resource NFTs. These will take 8 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours respectively, and presumably will lock up a Drago for that entire time. Due to being up to 10x the size, the hope is that the gas fees will eat up a smaller percentage of the overall NFT value.

Bounty offer for crystal spending in the League of Kingdoms Discord
Bounty offer for crystal spending in the League of Kingdoms Discord

Another bit of earning potential is through spending crystals on Land. As mentioned above, some Landowners are offering bounties for crystal spending. The bounties are a bit underwhelming though: the above one offers $0.50 for spending 10,000 crystals on their Land. That’s around $80.00 worth of crystals if purchased as IAP. The intent is that it’s “free money” - if you’re going to buy and spend crystals anyway, why not get a slight kickback for doing so on someone’s Land? Then again, the target market of people spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on IAP is not terribly likely to find a 0.6% money back program to be worth the hassle. 

That leaves the Land LOKA rewards which are a bit more complex. Previously, in Land 1.0 and Land 2.0, rewards were given as stablecoins (DAI and BUSD) as 10% of the game’s operating revenue. As of Land 3.0 this changed to LOKA-based rewards. These are coming from the LOKA minting pool in which 5% (25M) of the LOKA is reserved for Landowner rewards. This amount will be issued evenly over the course of 5 years, resulting in a daily issuance of about 13,700 LOKA, or $7800 USD as of writing. 

Of that amount, 20% (about $1550) is reserved for “universal basic rewards”, an even distribution given to all Lands regardless of the Land level. There are currently 7660 released Land NFTs, so each one gets roughly $0.20 USD per day at a minimum. 

The remaining 11,000 LOKA per day is divided up based on Land development points. Another big change with Land 3.0 is that rewards are no longer split among only owned Land. Instead, all unowned Land is also included in the calculation, and any earnings they would have gotten are instead sent to the game’s community treasury. 

Some criticism in Discord for giving LOKA rewards to unowned Land
Some criticism in Discord for giving LOKA rewards to unowned Land
Some criticism in Discord for giving LOKA rewards to unowned Land
Some criticism in Discord for giving LOKA rewards to unowned Land

The decision to include unowned Land in the rewards makes sense from one perspective: it helps avoid dilution of the rewards when more Land is sold later. Of course, early-adopter Landowners didn’t see it quite like that. Instead it was seen as the developers finding additional ways to make a profit, which was exacerbated by the fact that they also announced that 20% of the community treasury would be used by the team to support development costs. 

The LOKA distribution calculation itself is a simple weighted proportion of a Land’s development points versus the total development points of all Lands. Any unowned Lands have the minimum required development points for their level (Land starts at various levels when initially purchased).

A Quick Subjective Note on Sentiment

Every project has haters and they tend to be very visible and vocal. However, of all the Discords this author has reviewed for deconstructions, the League of Kingdoms community is by far the most critical of the project and its developers. In most communities when someone is negative about the game there will be at least a few users who will defend it, and in some cases rather aggressively. The League of Kingdoms Discord on the other hand rarely sees anyone who isn’t on staff saying anything positive.

And to clarify, this isn’t a case of being toxic or aggressive to other players. Instead, it’s a shared frustration with what the community perceives as constant delays, lack of communication, and questionable decisions. This is a red flag for us - while we encourage healthy skepticism, it appears that most of the community has largely lost faith in the developers. We encourage NOD Games and NPLUS to keep transparency high and consider prioritizing common complaints from the players. That’s not to say do whatever the players want, but make it clear that you hear them, what the decision is, and why it is being made.

The Layers of League of Kingdoms Land

While much of League of Kingdoms is very familiar, the separate layer of the Land gameplay is intriguing and worth further examination. 

For one, it seems like a clever way to get around app store limitations. The mobile market is huge, so being locked out of it due to NFT restrictions is a significant disadvantage. League of Kingdoms heavily obfuscates the NFT elements in the mobile version of the game and almost completely divorces a player’s ownership of NFTs from their in-game performance. 

One of the reasons this is so interesting is that there is actually not much reason the game itself even needs to be aware of the NFTs. It’s true that higher-level Land NFTs give better in-game resources, but is that even needed for there to still be compelling Land gameplay? Could this bidirectional relationship be converted to a unidirectional one?

Dark Forest Cover Image

One Direction Through The Dark Forest

You may recall from our The Dark Forest deconstruction that we looked at the extensibility of the project and imagined scenarios in which user-created extensions could be built on top of a blockchain game. While the game wouldn’t need to be aware of these extensions or even give permission for them to exist, the extensions would nonetheless be able to influence the behavior and experience of the game’s players. 

In that article, we imagined a multiple maze game and a fan-made minotaur extension that would chase players around, corner them, and demand that they hand over their treasure. The hypothetical maze game had no intention of having a kleptominotaur, but due to it being public and composable, the community was able to add new elements and evolve the gameplay, to the chagrin of other players.

NOD Games has done something similar to their own game. The League of Kingdoms app is a fairly well-executed, successful, and self-contained mobile game. The Land gameplay then exists as an extension layer on top of that experience. 

The game’s only awareness of the Land NFTs is that it can tell what level Land each part of the map is and then adjusts the Resource mines accordingly. That’s a thin connection though. Without it, landowners could still provide incentives to players to work their Land and generate Land development points. This is what we’re already seeing with the tactics highlighted above of providing kickbacks and requiring relocation to be part of bigger guilds.

Land Could Be Designed To Be Separate… So What?

There are two major implications of this structure.

#1: NFT Games Without NFTs

NOD Games has provided a template for how NFT-based games can be designed in a way that should be fully compliant with even the strictest NFT limitation of stores or platforms. Of course this could ultimately come down to a lawyer duel, and I’m not a lawyer. However, I suspect I could win that legal battle thanks to the second implication. 

It also means that much of the player base can remain in Web2 world and that Web3 onboarding is entirely optional. So optional that it’s likely many League of Kingdoms mobile players aren’t even aware there’s a Web3 component to the game. It’s truly a Web2.5 setup.

#2: NFT Games Without A Game

Assuming the data on resource mining and crystal usage is public (which, if it isn’t, it would be easy to make it so), anyone could have created the one-directional version of the Land gameplay. NOD Games would not have to have anything to do with an NFT-based extension to League of Kingdoms. Or from the other perspective, they could perhaps have instead created a similar Land NFT extension for another game like Lords Mobile, if enough data about the game were public. 

This leads us to Corollary 2.1: Platforms can’t (shouldn’t?) punish a game for a one-directional NFT-based extension of it. As an analogy, anyone can create a gambling platform for NFL games. However, even if real-money gambling were banned on the App Store, Apple wouldn’t kick out NFL content just because someone, somewhere is placing safe bets on the New York Jets losing.

Important note: We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. This is only our opinion, and platform owners can generally make whatever decisions they want. 

Half Life Counterstrike
Source: Cropped from a Computer Gaming World ad

Blockchain’s Role In Extensions

Just as gambling platforms have been around long before NFTs (or even computers), creating a Land-style extension of a game does not require blockchain to be used in either the game or the extension. However, blockchain technology can enhance this capability, 

Blockchain To Enable Extensions

If you want to create the capability for others to extend to your game, using a public ledger can go a long way. The requirement for a good extension is access to verifiable in-game data. The more information that is on a public ledger the more design space that a developer has when creating an extension. This is one of the reasons The Dark Forest was so prime for extensions: the entire game is on the blockchain. They didn’t even have to create any APIs because all of the data is transparent and accessible already. 

While opening up a game to extensions can be a scary release of some control, as we pointed out in the decon of The Dark Forest, some of the biggest games of all time (Team Fortress, Dota, DayZ, PUBG, etc.) were mods of other games. It’s certainly a big decision to make, but if mod-ability and extension is the goal, the blockchain can be an excellent method of attaining it.

To bring this back to League of Kingdoms, let’s say NOD Games created League of Kingdoms as a purely Web2 game in terms of monetization. However, they wanted to support Web3 extensibility, so they also started writing resource and crystal mining results to the blockchain, perhaps as a daily roll-up. 

Another studio, perhaps Blynken Games, had this great idea to allow players to buy Land plots and level them up based on the resource rollups on the blockchain. They could create this Land gameplay and, if it turned out to be really fun, League of Kingdoms could see their own popularity spike as a result. 

This again is all very theoretical, but it’s also in line with the promise and vision of blockchain technology.

Blockchain To Power Extensions

The benefit of blockchain technology in extensions themselves is familiar enough — it can open up ownership, rewards, and governance. By doing this in an extension though, the barrier for entry is lower. A developer wouldn’t need to create a full game but could instead find a game that already has an audience that they think they could create a compelling extension for. 

In the above hypothetical example, Blynken Games did not need to create a full 4X mobile MMO, which takes a huge budget. Instead, they were able to create new gameplay for League of Kingdoms with only some smart contracts and maybe some good marketing. 

So that’s one case for blockchain extensibility: open the game up and wait for a brilliant fan to create the Counter-Strike of NFTs.

Key Takeaways

League of Kingdoms is rather ordinary in many ways. The free-to-play portion of the game is a competent but otherwise unnoteworthy 4X Strategy MMO. There are plans to add pet-style Drago NFTs — with the usual complement of P2E capabilities and breeding mechanics — at the end of March 2023. And it has a standard pair of capped governance and uncapped utility tokens.

Where the game stands out though is the structure of the Land gameplay. For example, there’s no formal rent system and technically there’s an infinite amount of space. Land instead is tied to coordinate ranges on the map of every server and levels up based on mining and player spending on the Land. 

From a design perspective, League of Kingdoms’ Land approach cleverly provides a few key advantages:

  • It is likely compliant with mobile platform restrictions on NFT functionality
  • It can expand to any number of players while still keeping Land capped and scarce
  • Non-NFT players can still benefit from NFT gameplay
  • Much of the Land gameplay takes place outside of the game through social channels, rewarding those with creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit

This model of a layered relationship between NFTs and a game may be a prototype for future crypto game design that takes advantage of blockchain technology outside of simple digital ownership. To wrap up, here are a few suggestions for developers looking to embrace extensibility and composability in their own game design:

  • Your game does not need to use blockchain information to support blockchain extensions; all it needs to do is publish the data to a chain
  • Write as much information as is efficiently reasonable to the blockchain
    • More information and detail gives modders more design space
    • The data doesn’t need to be real-time - try doing occasional (hourly, or even daily to start) summary roll-ups of the information
  • Prioritize data that differentiates players or groups
    • Favor competitive data like wins/losses, resources collected, etc.
    • Consider ways of dividing up users in ways they can control
      • Good (easy to move around in): map coordinates, guild membership, league ranking
      • Bad (hard/impossible to control): country of origin, date of first play
  • Provide clear documentation of how the data is encoded (developers, and analysts like us, will thank you)
    • Even better, provide some dune.com dashboards with example queries

A big thanks to Anthony Pecorella for writing this report! If Naavik can be of help as you build or fund games, please reach out.

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