#1: Blocklords Beta Unleashes Noble Ambitions
Blocklords, an innovative strategy MMO game, hosted a live community stream to pull back the curtain on its gameplay dynamics and announce the release of a free-to-test community beta, allowing players to dive into the complex game systems. The purpose of this beta release is to gather a wealth of feedback from the gaming community, helping the team to fine-tune game mechanics and optimize the economic balance, thereby refining the overall gameplay experience.
Blocklords is a strategy MMO game we’ve previously deconstructed with a striking resemblance to 4x games like Rise of Kingdoms. The game combines elements of city building, resource gathering, and player hierarchy, making it a melting pot of strategic gameplay. The team behind Blocklords refers to it as a "Permadeath Dynasty Simulator through political warfare/family politics", a description that also brings to mind the intricate hierarchy system, territory control, and resource gathering elements of games like Eve Online.
The unique hierarchy structure of Blocklords allows players to engage in different levels and styles of gameplay. Whether a player prefers resource production, combat, or engaging in political strategy, Blocklords offers a rich and dynamic gaming experience. The original whitepaper for the game outlined the various gameplay levels, painting a vivid picture of a dynamic, player-driven world.
Farmers work the land to produce essential resources, contributing to the overall prosperity of their kingdoms. Raiders, on the other hand, can launch attacks on farmers and villages to plunder resources. Knights serve as protectors, defending farmers in exchange for a salary. The game's politics come into play with Lords and Ladies, who rule over villages, providing protection by collecting taxes and paying knights. At the top of the hierarchy, Kings and Queens rule over alliances of Lords and Ladies, managing high-level politics and regional direction, including the declaration of wars. The beauty of Blocklords' system lies in its capacity for upward mobility. Players can start as lowly farmers and gradually rise through the ranks, eventually achieving the status of royalty. It's a gameplay loop that offers a tangible sense of progression and achievement.
The community beta allows players to experience this unique hierarchy system firsthand, offering a glimpse into the mechanics of the game up to the Lord and Lady status. On their first login, players can view and choose from 50 different regions available in the beta, learning about the current Lord or Lady of each region and the prevailing tax rates.
Players start their journey as farmers, guided by a comprehensive tutorial that familiarizes them with the game mechanics at the farmer level. They are also able to claim their free Hero, with the tutorial explaining how to effectively use it. The game implements a system similar to other web3 games like Crypto Unicorns, where players must send their Hero NFTs into the game, and export them from inside the game to make them tradable again.
In terms of gameplay, Blocklords leans heavily on resource and time management, offering a diverse array of resources for players to gather and manage. Starting with villagers who can gather basic resources, players can quickly recruit builders to construct buildings and enable other types of NPC workers. Gold, the game's soft currency, is used to recruit various types of NPCs, who, in conjunction with natural resources and buildings, are crucial for generating and converting the game's various interdependent resource types. These NPCs also operate on a Stamina system that requires food and time to replenish. Players can use gold to purchase any necessary resources from the Marketplace, thus saving time, and can also sell excess resources for gold, effectively allowing one resource type to be converted to another.
The resource collection in Blocklords starts simply enough, with players gathering wood from trees and stone from mines. However, the system quickly adds layers of complexity. Players must engage in multi-step processes such as growing and harvesting wheat, converting wheat to grain, baking bread, hunting and skinning animals for meat, and raising and milking cows. These processes introduce a variety of configuration choices that can impact resource yields. For instance, wheat planting offers different options for seeds, plow types, and fertilizers. Baking bread involves a chain of processes from growing wheat to milking cows and combining the milk with grain.
Adding an element of unpredictability to these processes are randomly occurring events that present players with two choices, each with different odds for good or bad results. These events can impact resource quantities, adding an extra layer of variety and challenge to the otherwise predictable production process.
Heroes, the players’ key characters, can be assigned to NPC groups to boost production. This element of the game combines both micro and automatic management aspects. Players may need to manually recharge the Stamina of NPCs or adjust their tasks, depending on the circumstances. Over time, players establish a routine and rhythm, making adjustments for efficiency as they become more skilled. As players progress through the game, they encounter various missions during and after the tutorial. Completing these missions earns them Might, a form of spendable XP that can be used to upgrade a player's Status, functioning similarly to a player level in other games by gating certain game elements like which buildings are available to construct.
The player hierarchy becomes increasingly important over time as different resources may be required for individual farmers as well as for the needs of the village or the Lord or Lady. It's a little early to see how this might play out, but it's likely to be more engaging than a strictly linear single-player progression system. Farmers also need to be mindful of Raider players who might attempt to pillage their resources, creating a strategic dynamic where Knights' protective role is crucial. This gameplay style will undoubtedly feel familiar to modern 4x gamers, but Blocklords' unique web3 twist adds an extra layer of political depth and intrigue through ownership being tied to NFT Heroes.
The Blocklords community beta does a commendable job of introducing the basic, Farmer-centric gameplay with decent production values and straightforward controls. However, as is typical with beta releases, it still needs some polishing, with occasional crashes due to bugs. Resource production management can sometimes feel like a Real-Time Strategy game without the combat, which might become tedious for some players. The community beta also doesn't currently showcase the web3 aspects of the game as prominently as it could. With the focus on farming, the game primarily revolves around managing NPCs, rather than interacting with the player's web3 Hero NFTs. Although a marketplace for resources exists, it's not currently player-driven, and resources aren't exportable to the blockchain for external trading, unlike in some other web3 games such as Sunflower Land.
The Hero NFTs in Blocklords are intended to be unique, similar to a Profile Picture (PFP), but they have limited lifespans and are susceptible to permadeath through war and aging. The game transforms breeding into a more realistic generational family system, with the descendants also becoming NFTs. The expectation is that players will cultivate their family of NFTs and have the option of trading them with other players, potentially making power gains through marriage and heredity. Players who manage to elevate their NFTs to Lord, Lady, or higher status may find their NFTs increasing in value for trade, as other players might want to jump straight into those roles of power. Similarly, Raider or Knight NFTs may be valuable to players interested in more combat-centric roles. This could incentivize players to grind through the Farmer phase to "earn" by selling the promoted NFTs.
The Blocklords team, which has grown from a modest team of 5 to a robust 50, hadn't been particularly forthcoming to the general public with updates on the game's status and feel, so the release of the community beta comes as a welcome surprise. Timed during a period of relative quiet in the next-generation web3 gaming scene, this move serves to reignite some excitement around Blocklords. The secondary market sales of the Banner NFTs, which can be transformed into Heroes, have been ramping up, reaching $13M in volume last month and already hitting $5.7M this month at the time of writing. The opportunity to experience the game hands-on is bound to fuel the hype for many, though it might disappoint those who were expecting a more action-driven experience from the start.
Blocklords appears to cater to a variety of niche player types, and the potential for intriguing political dynamics could result in a very engaged community. The 4X genre has enjoyed considerable success on mobile platforms, with some games making the transition to PC. If monetized appropriately, Blocklords could emerge as a significant player in the burgeoning web3 gaming space. Additionally, the team is offering an NFT incentive for players to participate in the community beta season, with a special Militia Hero NFT and a chance at a one-of-a-kind Legendary Hero NFT up for grabs for those who contribute significantly to the community.
One of the key selling points of Blocklords lies in its potential for player-driven narrative and political intrigue. The ability to rise through the ranks from a simple Farmer to Royalty, the interplay between various player roles, and the permadeath system all contribute to a game environment that's ripe for storytelling and emergent gameplay. This, combined with the game's blockchain-based systems, could result in a unique gaming experience that blends traditional strategy gaming with the novelty of blockchain technology. This will of course require some delicate balance as it can be very easy to sell various aspects of power through the Hero NFTs.
There is, however, some uncertainty surrounding how the web3 aspects of the game will evolve over time. The secondary hero market will take time to develop and mature, and it remains to be seen how well the game's economy will balance player progression with monetization. The tangible progress that the Blocklords team has made, evidenced by a functioning tutorial and the community beta release, bodes well for the future of the game. However, its ultimate success will undoubtedly lie in the hands of the players.
Given the success of 4x as a genre traditionally and the unique angles the game provides, Blocklords has strong potential to gather some serious steam on full release. The F2P giveaway of initial Heroes should make it at least worth a try for the curious and the tutorial, while a bit long, covered everything well enough to understand and play. The next step for the game should be to try and join the others on Epic Games Store so it isn’t reliant on a downloadable executable for distribution. It’s a little unclear where exactly on the roadmap the community beta sits, but with there being a “season” to play through this almost feels like a soft release.
Upcoming Game Announcements
- Champions Ascension announced a migration to Polygon along with some bonuses. (Link)
- NFT Worlds announced a rebrand to TOPIA for its new Non-Minecraft based version, with plans for full game release this year. (Link)
- Everseed opened a new Demo to holders of Ranger or Plant NFTs. (Link)
- R3V3NGE, a zombie shooter competitor to Undead Blocks, launched a F2P Open Beta. (Link)
- Mojo Melee is offering a chance to mint a free Beta Chest in its browser playable free beta. (Link)
- Ascenders: Simulation is launching NFT Lands on May 18th. (Link)
- Champions Arena launched a sale for its Nexus and Estate NFTs. (Link)
- MOOW, a web3 fitness app, launched its Alpha Phase 2. (Link)
- Big Time released its biggest gameplay update with v0.26 including two new player classes and new challenges. (Link)
- HoneyLand, a competitive resource-gathering game, launched an open beta stage and is preparing for a full release. (Link)
- Affyn announced a new web3 mobile game that utilises its Nexus World buddy NFTs, Buddy Arena. (Link)
- Phantom Galaxies announced an upcoming airdrop of Catalyst NFTs for NFT holders. (Link)
- Katana Inu, a web3 Battle Royale, released a closed beta trailer. (Link)
Live Game Announcements
- Pegaxy released an updated 2023 Roadmap. (Link)
- iFToys, an NFT-based toy collection and gaming platform, launched its first Season with various competitions to win NFTs. (Link)
- The Sandbox announced a partnership with Turkish gaming platform Gamer Arena to foster web3 competition. (Link)
- The collapse of FTX has resulted in its acquired game Storybook Brawl, originally a web2 game, shutting down. (Link)
- Axie Origins launched season 4 with improvements to the new player experience. (Link)
- Bitverse launched a Mobileversary Event with a new dungeon and rewards. (Link)
- Vibe raised $4M for its NFT platform in a seed funding round led by Alchemy Ventures. (Link)
- Super League acquired metaverse experience developer Melon to serve as an in-house development studio. (Link)
- Alibaba Cloud launched Cloudverse, its metaverse Launchpad on Avalanche. (Link)
- Burn Ghost announced a partnership with Mobaso to port its 500 games to the competitive platform. (Link)
- Sui announced the 13 launch games for its blockchain. (Link)
- Chia announced its Chia Open Digital Economy (CODE) initiative to onboard and encourage game developers to its ecosystem. (Link)
- The Solana Foundation announced its NFT Showdown Competition. (Link)
- WAX blockchain released its Unity Web3 Suite. (Link)
- Amber’s Blockchain Games Vertical announced a partnership with LAMINA1 to join its Early Access Program. (Link)
- Binance announced a crypto-themed entrepreneurial reality show in the metaverse called ‘Build the Block’. (Link)
- Gala Games released more info on its May Mayhem event. (Link)
Notable Market Moves
- Axie Infinity managed to recover a little more at the end of the week due to some uplift from the launch of Axie Origins Season 4, which also included some new user experience improvements that Sky Mavis is hoping will bring in some new blood.
- Floki at first benefitted from a massive spike in price around the announcement from Binance that both Floki and the recent Pepe coin would be listed in Binance’s Innovation Zone with exchange pairs to TUSD. There was a small hitch that started a correction after Binance announced a delay to the listing. Despite the major volatility in the token lately, it still managed to come out slightly positive this week due to the spike.
- As always, we remind you to think long term. Crypto and gaming in general is still in a period of high volatility.
Content Worth Consuming
- How Blockchain Gaming Founders Should Think About User Acquisition (BITKRAFT): “ The environment for traditional performance marketing in web3 games – at least, as presently constructed – is challenging and underdeveloped. This leaves web3 games on an unlevel playing field with their web2 counterparts. Even if a strong web3 game were prepared to invest heavily in performance marketing, the macro headwinds against such strategies render them extremely cost prohibitive and largely unsuitable for early-stage ventures, many of which are likely still building their first game. Yet opportunities remain for savvy operators able to combine thoughtful data analysis with novel crypto-native marketing strategies. By leaning into three key areas (community, partnerships, and web3-native growth), founders can boost user acquisition in a cost-effective and web3-friendly manner.” (Link)
- Meta Shares New Insights into the Projected Economic Impacts of the Metaverse (Social Media Today): “That would cover all VR and AR advancements, and even more basic 3D online experiences - but again, I’m not sure that the general public would have such a broad definition of the metaverse in mind when considering what’s coming next in the space. The advantage for Meta in this respect is that it can package up all of these advances into a single economic impact figure, which makes the metaverse seem like it’ll be a huge boon for business.” (Link)
- How NFT Token-Gating Will Change the World (NFT Plazas): “The use of NFTs also means that there is easier collection, security, and verification of the assets used to unlock perks. Physical tickets get lost, but an NFT stored in a secure wallet is much easier to access at any time and their transfer is barely restricted by physical locations. A quick look at the applications of NFT token-gating will show what is perhaps their biggest strength; community engagement. From music festivals to restaurants and streaming app users, virtually every corporate brand has gotten the memo that the best way to secure continued patronage is to create a community that customers feel connected to online.” (Link)
- A Road forward for Web3 Gaming (0xKepler): “Game devs need control levers to steer the economy, similar to central banks. One caveat is that players don’t have to participate in the economy. Therefore, it’s essential to have a fun economy. The economy should fluctuate along an equilibrium and not stand still. Otherwise, it’s boring, and not much trading will take place. For comparison, a perfectly balanced game is not the goal in game design. It’s often good, for example, to have overpowered weapons and adjust the meta over time. This keeps players engaged. The second caveat is that it’s challenging to map real-life examples onto virtual economies as these are often simplified versions of reality. Making in-game economies more complex isn’t a solution, as most players are not interested in highly complex economic simulations. Therefore, central bank policy will look differently in games.” (Link)
- How Yuga Labs is Defining the Future of Web3 Gaming (Naavik Gaming Podcast): “Where does an 800-pound ape get its game on? Anywhere it wants to. Having launched some of the biggest NFT collections (including of course Bored Ape Yacht Club), acquired some of the biggest NFT collections (including CryptoPunks and Meebits), raised $450 million from a16z and broken all kinds of web3 records since inception, Yuga is ready to get its game on. It now wants to show the world what web3 gaming can really be, having hired some of the biggest names from Epic Games, Activision Blizzard and Scopely, among others, to senior leadership roles. Your host Niko Vuori speaks with Spencer Tucker, Chief Gaming Officer at Yuga Labs, about Yuga’s gaming ambitions, what “the metaverse” means to Yuga, how passionate the Bored Ape community really is and how to crowdsource growth through networking externalities with zero UA spend. Oh, and Jimmy the Monkey with the key stuck up you-know-where in Dookey Dash makes a reappearance as well.” (Link)