#1: Phantom Galaxies Runs Massive Planet Sales
Phantom Galaxies, developed by Blowfish Games, followed up the recent release of its playable episode 3 content with an oversubscribed private sale of NFT planets that drew in a massive $19.3M from investors for 7.7k planets. This past Wednesday and Thursday the team ran two presales referred to as Presale A and Presale B, followed by a full public sale on Friday. The presales have a unique approach compared to the typical whitelist release to both fight bots and recognize participation. Each presale comes with its own respective ticket NFTs based on either community participation or completion of the first two episodes of the game. The mechanisms weren’t just designed to fight bots but also to focus on players over speculators. The way planets provide rewards is also designed to reward playing the game over passive ownership - something that also discourages speculation and the typical land investment mentality. Overall, this aligns with the idea of ownership in a game designed around gameplay first, which white papers have been keen to include recently.
Unlike other highly ambitious AAA games like Star Atlas, Phantom Galaxies has been proving that quality web3 games can be trickled out through playable episodes. The game also provides a very low barrier to entry; it only requires a Halberd-001 NFT to play, which at time of writing can be picked up for under $7 on OpenSea. For an alpha of a game that doesn’t get a lot of press attention, it already has 500k owners of the Halberd NFT and 125k active players. There are a number of other NFTs available during the four episode Alpha series, such as Posters and Medals, mostly acquired through active play and community participation. With the next episode in June and a September Beta launch date, it’s looking likely that these Planet NFTs will end up valuable, especially to players. More games should take note of Blowfish Games’ strategy to focus on actual players first and prove they can deliver consistently.
#2: The First Cross-Game, Cross-Chain Event
Web3’s first real cross-game, cross-chain event is now occurring. The popular Polygon-based Sunflower Land partnered up with the more obscure Wax-based Million on Mars for a 30-day crossover. Despite varying themes (rural farming and Mars), both are simulation games in which players use land and crafting to build up resources. The crossover event is groundbreaking, because it’s not just a simple promotional advertisement or special item. The actual game loops involving crafting can be started in one game and finished in another. In the Web2 world, this sort of collaboration would require opening some kind of API or database connectivity between games, but in Web3 it works by connecting wallets and reading on-chain data, and both games can stay on their respective blockchains.
The way the actual event works is twofold. Players start in Sunflower Land by gathering resources for a crashed spaceman from Mars. Once that’s completed, the game directs these players over to Millions on Mars where (over 14 days) they can collect Sunflower Seeds to trade for resources and eventually the ability to grow sunflowers on Mars. It’s not a very complex interaction, but it sets up a simple form of cross-game task-based play that can be repeated or copied by other games. Realistically, Millions on Mars is far more set up to benefit from this, as according to Dappradar, Sunflower Lands is hovering around 20-24k Unique Active Wallets per day compared to 180-240 for Millions on Mars. Looking at the stats one day after release doesn’t show any major uptick in players for either game, and there is very likely some audience overlap. Both game teams are excited enough about the project that they are interested in taking the concept further, possibly later this year. Hopefully, the event inspires other developers, especially Animoca Brands who has already done significant cross-promotion in The Sandbox.
- Mythical Games announced the development of NFL Rivals in partnership with the NFL. Link
- Summoners Arena launched on the BNB mainnet. Link
- Thetan Arena is running a Fusion Event from May 23rd - 30th. Link
- The Sandbox announced a partnership with RLTY for “no-code event management.” Link
- GRIT, a battle royale game, passed a vote to join the Gala Games ecosystem. Link
- DeFi Land, an agriculture game on Solana, launched play-and-earn mechanics. Link
- MegaCryptoPolis, a city management game, announced major economy changes. Link
- Alien Worlds announced new Missions and a new NFT points system. Link
- Arker, a BNB P2E gaming metaverse, announced a partnership with Habbo to integrate NFTs. Link
- Benji Bananas announced its first season reward campaign for PRIMATE tokens. Link
- MetaSoccer released the details of its reward system. Link
- Axie Infinity: Origin hit 550k in downloads for early access after a recent mobile release. Link
- Pegaxy released its mobile beta. Link
- Project SEED released a game demo trailer for its Outland Odyssey ARPG. Link
- Andreessen Horowitz announced Crypto Fund 4, a massive $4.5B mega-fund for web3 with $1.5B for seed investments and $3B for venture investments. Link
- MetaKing Studios raised $15M in a seed round for its Blocklords MMO led by Makers Fund and BITKRAFT Ventures. Link
- Azra Games raised $15M in a seed round to develop web3 RPGs led by Andreessen Horowitz. Link
- Immutable X partnered with Kongregate to launch a $40M fund in IMX tokens for blockchain games on the relaunched Kongregate.com. Link
- Machinations, a web based economy modeling platform, raised $3.3M in a Series A round led by Hiro Capital. Link
- Polygon launched an “uncapped” fund to help Terra developers migrate to Polygon’s chain. Link
- BUD, a metaverse social app with NFT plans, raised $36.8M in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India. Link
- FreshCut, a creator community for Web3 games, raised $15M led by Galaxy Interactive, Animoca Brands, and Republic Crypto. Link
- Voyage Finance raised $1M in a pre-seed round for its guild funding model led by Delphi Digital. Link
- Square Enix announced plans to put more funding towards Animoca Brands and The Sandbox. Link
- GameStop launched its self-custodial wallet with plans for a Q2 release of its marketplace. Link
- Yield Guild Games released its Q1 Community Update, noting a 174% increase in players. Link
- Immutable X and StarkNet partner for frictionless NFT trade on Layer 2 and 3 networks. Link
- Niantic rehired a former director to return as president of Web3. Link
- Yield Guild Games announced a partnership with African blockchain infrastructure company Cassava Network. Link
- Yield Guild Games released an official statement on the ongoing situation with Merit Circle. Link
Notable Market Moves
- Most of the top 10 gaming related tokens saw only minor movement this week as general interest in NFT gaming stabilized after the initial bear market shock, with BORA, SAND, APE, and STEPN being the notable outliers.
- The Sandbox experienced a nice jump thanks to an announcement about Elvis NFTs for the game. It wasn’t enough to overtake Decentraland’s recent momentum, but we’ll likely see that change when Alpha Season 3 starts to ramp up, likely in June or July.
- ApeCoin started a minor downward correction as hype has died down. The sharper part of the move seemed to come in response to a proposal Avalanche submitted to the ApeCoin DAO, that it should use an Avalanche subnet in regards to its recent Ethereum gas fee issues. Yuga Labs hasn’t released any details on exactly what blockchain technology it is considering for The Otherside yet, only that it is considering creating one.
- Bora experienced a fairly sharp jump despite a lack of any recent news outside of a Competz-related minting. The trading is likely driven by ongoing speculation and could very well see a near-term correction barring any unreleased announcements or activity.
- StepN’s GMT token was the worst performer in the top 10 this week. Like all ponzinomic-driven projects, its value begins to unravel as new user growth and excitement around the project start decelerating. This deceleration of growth then begins to accelerate doubts around the sustainability of earning such high yields, which defy common sense anyway. As mentioned last week, we will be digging deeper in a future deconstruction, but for now it’s worth bracing for a fallout.
- Despite the bear market and global macroeconomic pressure, there is strong optimism about the long-term future for blockchain gaming. While projects without real sustainability will most likely not survive into 2023, solid projects focused on building have the potential to grow over 2022. Plus, as you can see from the funding announcements section, investment funds continue to raise capital and are continuously looking for amazing projects to back. Hype may be waning, but the ecosystem is getting healthier as a result, and it’s still so very early.
Content Worth Consuming
- People are the new platforms (Product Hunt) - “But here’s where it gets interesting. Let’s remember that the individual consumer is also someone who’s able to build out the platform in a low-code environment—and incentivized to do so by holding a token. Smart contract composability, the premise that one smart contract can call on the data and functions of another the way a DJ might remix another artist’s work, is typically understood as software legos: the ability of one dev to build on another’s code. The implications, however, redefine business as we know it. After all, companies no longer need to build code from scratch in siloed environments when they can draw on each other’s work. More to the point, companies no longer need to exist when individuals can just build on top of each other’s work for cheap. As we’ve seen with Rari, a DeFi aggregator built by teenagers with over $1B in TVL, anyone with a computer and a bit of dev experience can—in theory—create a protocol.” Link
- A Model for Sustainable and Accessible Blockchain Games (Philip La) - “In other blockchain games where assets are primarily minted directly from the developer instead of being generated by other players, developers should optimize those prices so players can focus on playing the game and not getting an ROI. Yes, in the short-term you can hype up the game, sell $10,000 NFTs, and get millions of dollars in your bank account today… but many of your players will be focused on getting $10,000+ ROI back and not the fun of your game which will make it unsustainable in the long-term. The magnitude here is actually not the specific problem, as there are game players who spend thousands of dollars in traditional games over time and don’t need an ROI because they gain the value in fun, progression, expression etc. The pricing just needs to be matched to the underlying non-monetary value players get from it. They should feel that by spending the money they are getting the equivalent and reasonable amount of non-monetary value, and so do not need monetary ROI to justify the purchase to themself.” Link
- As GameFi Market Crashes, Blockchain Gamers Remain True Believers (Forbes) - “Over the past year, GameFi grew roughly 2,000%, according to DappRadar. In the first quarter of this year, before the Ukraine war and inflation caused sell-offs in the markets, blockchain games raised about $2.5 billion in venture funding. Will that go kaput? It might, in this market. But if gamer start-ups do manage to raise capital at the same rate they did in this last quarter, venture numbers will beat last year’s. That will depend on a serious sentiment shift. Investors might like the blockchain game universe, but when their investments are falling 40% in a week, it is not hard to imagine all players hitting the pause button.” Link
- Understanding the WAX blockchain with gaming veteran Michael Rubinelli (Deconstructor of Fun Podcast) - “Before he joined L1 solution WAX as their Chief Gaming Officer, Michael Rubinelli had a long and accomplished career in gaming. Spanning companies including EA, THQ, Midway, Take Two, Disney, and Kixeye, Michael’s career has taken him across many gaming platforms and business model transitions. In this interview, we talk about how WAX is the L1 solution purpose-built for gaming, the challenges of transitioning to blockchain gaming, the success WAX Studios has seen with Blockchain Brawlers as well as its role in game development and publishing. This interview is hosted by Ethan Levy, who currently serves as Executive Producer of Legendary: Heroes Unchained at N3TWORK.” Link
- On the future of Ethereum (Jason Levin Twitter thread) - “Last week, Vitalik Buterin co-published a paper predicting Ethereum's future. I read the 37-page paper and interviewed its co-authors so you didn't have to. The future according to @VitalikButerin revolves around soulbound tokens (SBTs). SBTs are NFTs that can't be transferred after they are received. Once you receive an SBT, you hold it in a Soul wallet forever.” Link