Top News

#1: Mobile Games Dipping Toes In Web3

Source: NFT Plazas

As AA and AAA Web3 game development has been off to a slow start, developers of popular mobile games are looking to get a jump start by adding blockchain elements to their projects. Two you may have already seen mentioned are Castle Crush from Wildlife Studios and A3: Still Alive from Netmarble, but there is a gradual wave of developers looking to experiment. As a recent example, Game Storm Studios, a Pakistan-based game developer with games you might never have heard of, announced adding Web3 elements to two of its games that have over 15M downloads combined. The announcement was intriguing not just for demonstrating interest from mobile developers but also highlighting the potential for off-the-shelf Web3 SDKs, in this case Ready Games.

The two biggest hurdles for mobile game developers to experiment with Web3 are lack of knowledge and lack of understanding how to stay within Apple’s and Google’s guidelines. SDKs with simple Unity compatibility like Ready Games and Joyride aim to make the process painless but also prop up their own ecosystems at the same time. This is a space we expect to heat up over time, similar to the heavy competition for mobile game publishing tools during the initial app store gold rush.

There are three main areas that all of these tools will need to address in order to be successful right now: Wallets, Tokens, and NFTs. Each one has its own challenges, both from a technology and UI/UX standpoint, but each is based on standards that can be leveraged for consistent application. Of course, following a boilerplate implementation comes with drawbacks in customization and innovation for the sake of playing it safe. Right now these tools can be thought of as training wheels for both a technical and cultural shift that has already begun in a retention-driven post-IDFA world. There will likely be some inevitable growing pains as open economy design is still in a relatively immature state, but the push for mobile to explore Web3 possibilities is well underway.

#2: Gods Unchained Lumbers Forward

One of the older surviving blockchain games has been shaking off some dust lately to make big pushes. Gods Unchained began development in 2018 on the Ethereum blockchain, much like Axie Infinity. Similar to many other projects, the team (under the Immutable umbrella) eventually realized the Ethereum Layer 1 chain wouldn’t suffice as a gaming platform, and in May 2020 introduced Immutable X (its Layer 2) to facilitate faster and cheaper card trading. As time has passed, Immutable has grown significantly as a platform despite not having any other major games playable on it yet, but Gods Unchained hasn’t quite reached the level of success the developers hoped for.

The game originally started with a focus entirely on NFT earning and trading, but eventually in 2021 the $GODS token was introduced to allow for different mechanisms that require a token. Adding the token became a requirement of minting card NFTs, which then sparked the journey of figuring out how to distribute $GODS. First was a weekly engagement system called Blessing of the $GODS, and then Weekend Ranked replaced it while the team struggled to figure out a daily earnings system.

As markets started seeing issues in May, Immutable realized it needed to really step things up to make the game a serious contender. Developer communication has increased, with details coming about the daily play and earn, staking rewards, and player council of mortals. Finally, all of that culminated this week in a large roadmap update that shows they are ready to seriously push the game forward. Gods Unchained has seen a renewed focus on bugs, UI/UX, economy, and even a new team rather than just minor improvements and new card sets.

One has to imagine this renewed focus is partially a result of a huge influx of funding that Immutable has received and partially due to realizing there remains upside opportunity in the size of the player base. TCGs have a strong future in blockchain gaming, with Splinterlands continuing to improve, Skyweaver demonstrating impressive polish, and many more competitors looking to enter the scene. First mover advantage will only get you so far, and this year might just be the “make or break” moment for Gods Unchained.

Game Announcements

Source: Playtoearn
  • Skyweavers launched its first major card expansion called Clash of Inventors. Link
  • Heroes of Mavia posted a massive update including a new roadmap. Link
  • StepN announced its Q2 profits and how it intends to spend them, including a GMT Buyback and Burn. Link
  • MetalCore announced its whitelist NFT minting will begin on July 26th and a public mint on July 28th. Link
  • Tomonobu Itagaki of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden fame formed Web3-focused Apex Game Studios and announced its first game, Warrior. Link
  • Aavegotchi announced a farming update for its Gotchiverse. Link
  • Krabots, a robot fighting game, opened beta registration for iOS and Android. Link
  • Farsite, a space MMO, launched its Open Alpha to some initial disappointment. Link
  • Yuga Labs ran a successful Otherside public stress test. Link
  • Illuvium announced NFT avatars called Illuvitars to be used across all Illuvium games. Link
  • Mini Royale: Nations released a Sank Toys NFT collection for costumes and items. Link
  • Dark Country, a western horror card game, went live with play to earn features. Link
  • Champions Ascension airdropped pet NFTs to Prime Eternal NFT holders. Link
  • The Sandbox announced partnerships with Tony Hawk, Planet Hollywood, and Playboy.

Funding Announcements

Source: VentureBeat
  • Bravo Ready raised $3M for its Solana-based BR1: Infinite Royale “win-to-earn” game. Link
  • Samsung announced an investment in Genopets as a SAFT. Link
  • Animoca Brands raised $75M as the second tranche of funding announced in January at a valuation of $5.9B. Link
  • Klang Games secures $41M in funding for its player-built online universe. Link
  • Blockchain gaming studio Cauldron secures $6.6M in funding. Link
  • Play2Own metaverse REALM receives $10M to enhance platform. Link

Ecosystem Updates

Source: NFT Plazas
  • Reddit launches its own NFT avatar marketplace. Link
  • Magic Eden launched a venture capital fund for games called Magic Ventures. Link
  • Oasys, the blockchain protocol designed specifically for the gaming community, has announced a successful private token sale of $20 million. Link
  • Former TikTok gaming head, Jason Fung, is launching a blockchain gaming startup. Link
  • GameStop releases a public beta NFT marketplace. Link
  • 48 projects based previously on Terra are moving to Polygon to take advantage of the help offered. Link

Notable Market Moves

  • This week most tokens simply followed the lead of the crypto market, with a downward movement starting on July 9th. The exception here is WAX, which actually launched its second Wax Studios game, Music Mogul, on the 9th, leading to a solid uplift until the 11th before correcting back down a bit.
  • It is surprising to see that The Otherside stress test didn’t seem to have an impact on ApeCoin price despite being the first shred of evidence that there is actually something coming. It’s possible the “First Trip” event on Saturday the 16th will have more of a weekend price impact. Of course, no matter what is shown, a $4.5B diluted market cap still bakes in extremely high expectations that will be hard to meet.
  • As usual, we recommend looking long-term and considering both the actual fundamentals of these projects, plus the influence of macroeconomic events on current prices. Current market uncertainty is likely to result in further instability before any strong upward movement, and even though many prices have been crushed, fully diluted market caps for many of these top projects still may be too high given the limited traction and economic design struggles seen so far.

Content Worth Consuming

Source: VentureBeat
  • How South Korea’s Wemade aims to become the Steam of blockchain games (VentureBeat) - “Currently we have about 15 games on our platform that are running live. We also have the most successful blockchain game in the world, Mir4, which began onboarding in August. By the end of this year, we plan to have 100 games on board. 100 games is an important goal for us, but we believe that through this process, it’ll be an important learning experience as well. What we offer is going to be the optimal blockchain game platform for games. You might think that for some game platforms, like the App Store or Google Play or Steam — they’re distribution platforms for games. But in our case, we won’t intervene in distribution. We’ll be a solution where games can issue coins and NFTs, and also have virtual blockchain systems to build their economies.” Link
  • Post-game, that’s wen token (GamesTX) - “Launching a game — especially one with some level of monetization — and seeing what the community actually does with it and then rolling out a token to better tie together those two elements seems to be a much better approach to me. You could even call it putting the cart behind the horse.” Link
  • Game Monetization, Part I - Lessons of History (MetaPortal) - “Historically, players have traded offline for in-game items. This constitutes RMTing, and it is why you see accounts or online items being auctioned off on eBay or shady-looking sites that are willing to facilitate trade between players. Even in the earliest MMOs, people were willing to engage in marketplaces with real-world currency to get what they wanted. Unfortunately, due to the risk of copyright infringement and disruption of in-game economies, eBay officially banned the sale of digital goods from online games in 2007.” Link
  • Open Economies, Social Connectivity & Play (Naavik Metacast) - “On this week’s Crypto Corner, Anton Bernstein, CEO and co-founder of Pocket Worlds, joins your host Nico Vereecke for a conversation about the future of social connectivity and play. Pocket Worlds is the creator of Highrise and Everskies, two leading mobile Metaverses with a combined userbase of more than 15 million players. We discuss his entrepreneurial journey, learnings from creating highly successful Metaverse Economies, and what role Web3 technology will play in the virtual worlds of the future.” Link

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