Top News

#1: Mythical Kicks Off On Mobile

NFL Rivals
Source: NFL Rivals

Mythical Games released its collaboration with the NFL, called NFL Rivals, late last month. It marks the NFL’s foray into web3 gaming and Mythical’s first crack at a "web 2.5" mobile game, considering Rivals doesn’t mention any blockchain technology directly within the app and as a result is available through Apple and Google’s mobile marketplaces

In NFL Rivals, players step into the shoes of General Managers, controlling their teams and players during matches. The game features real NFL players and teams, thanks to OneTeam Partners who assisted with licensing. Monetization in the game follows the typical free-to-play (F2P) model with soft currency coins and hard currency gems.

NFL Rivals
Source: NFL Rivals

Players can purchase booster packs containing one or more football player cards, with hard currency packs providing better cards in line with F2P game norms. Player cards in NFL Rivals have various stats to reflect the real-life players' abilities and are put into positions on a fictional version of a real NFL team. Coinciding with the 2023 NFL Draft, the game's early access period, called "Offseason," introduces themed in-game events and player packs to celebrate the NFL Draft.

NFL Rivals
Source: NFL Rivals

The gameplay of NFL Rivals is simple and focuses on the offensive side of the sport. Defensive side events are simulated based on player stats and a degree of randomness. Players can choose between three types of plays on each down: short pass, long pass, and running play. When passing, players control the throw, with slow-motion assistance to identify suitable receivers. For running plays, players use two virtual joysticks to control movement and choose between juking left/right or diving. Some weird quirks, such as teammates blocking running paths or causing bounce backs when diving, are expected to be addressed in future updates.

NFL Rivals|  Field Goal
Source: NFL Rivals

Field goal attempts in NFL Rivals use a typical bounce back and forth meter with green and red areas for aiming and a similar system for power. The power meter still activates after failed aiming when the player lands in the red zone, making it unclear how much skill or randomness influences success. Quarters in the game last less than two minutes, so a full match can be completed in under five minutes.

NFL Rivals| Game Mode
Source: NFL Rivals

NFL Rivals offers both a Campaign mode and a PvP mode. In Campaign mode, players can guide their teams through a season of PvE matches in pursuit of the Super Bowl. Campaign mode gameplay provides soft currency and other resources for upgrading players but is limited by a recharging mechanism. PvP mode essentially swaps in the target player's team into a match against AI to compete for improved leaderboard ranking.

Mythical aims to protect gamers new to blockchain through a custodial wallet for their digital items while allowing advanced players the freedom to link their wallets via bridges between the Mythical Chain and public mainnets. The company has been working on interoperability and is currently moving the Mythical Chain over to the Polkadot chain. Polkadot will facilitate Mythical's access to Ethereum virtual machines, as explained by Mythical CEO John Linden, who believes the move will result in a "stronger platform for governance, security, and interoperability."

Card NFTs in NFL Rivals online Marketplace are priced in Mythos tokens, with 1 Mythos Token equating to $1.04 at the time of writing. Players can purchase cards using a credit card, so there is no need to navigate complex on-ramps or token swap systems. Mythical Games is selling special NFT Draft packs in the NFL Rivals app, which will include 31 new players drafted in the first round as "Draft Pick Cards." The power ratings on Rookie cards will improve based on their real-life achievements during the 2023 season, a feature exclusive to Rookie cards. These ratings will only increase, with real-life events such as starting the first game of the season, winning multiple games as a starter, and earning rookie of the week honors influencing the changes.

Rarity League
Source: OpenSea

Mythical is also partnering with the NFL Rarity League for an NFT collaboration. Rarity League is a limited collection of unique generative art 3D helmet NFTs, officially licensed by the NFL. The collection features over 500 traits of varying rarities, including team-specific traits, backgrounds, and animations. NFL Rivals will adopt the Rarity League collection, granting NFT owners access to special events, in-game rewards, and other unique features. The current floor price for an NFT in the Rarity League is $93.54, which is a Rams helmet with a mohawk. At mint, Rarity League NFTs were sold for 0.14 ETH, or the equivalent USD (about $216) when paying by credit card.

Mythical aims to expand the web3 audience, as it did with Blankos Block Party, by appealing to new demographics. Sports games in web3 have been quite successful, partly due to the natural connection between collectability and trading cards or sports merchandise. The web 2.5 approach (optional web3) and expansion to mobile platforms are expected to further broaden the audience.

Mythical has worked with Apple to ensure compliance with Apple's policies by not mentioning web3 elements within the app. Although the website refers to "The Marketplace" and includes crypto mentions such as the Mythic token price, these elements are not mentioned within the app itself. Draft Packs within the app can be purchased for USD using the normal IAP system and will provide an NFT without actually stating it. Instead of referencing NFTs or web3, the in-game pack description simply states that the card is "tradeable on the marketplace."

NFL Rivals Game
Source: NFL Rivals Game

In testing, we purchased the $4.99 Limited Draft Pack. That resulted in a Jordan Addison card with a floor price of about $12 on the Mythical Marketplace, showing some potential for flipping for a profit, although that particular Draft Pack was limited to a single purchase. Purchasing an NFT card off the marketplace required restarting the app after linking an account to see and use in the game but otherwise worked smoothly.

With Mythical providing a custodial wallet, all players need to do is link their Mythical account on the website and in the game to access their NFTs. While the gameplay itself may not be groundbreaking, the accessible web3 elements have the potential to extend Mythical's reach and possibly attract new converts. Unfortunately, there is no in-app trading for non-NFT cards, meaning only web3 users can engage in trading. This could, however, incentivize web2 users to explore web3 and ultimately have a positive impact. With the recent court ruling allowing game devs to link to outside payment systems, Mythical will likely steer players to the web3 marketplace later on.

It remains to be seen whether NFL Rivals can successfully enter the well-established mobile sports gaming market during the football offseason. The game has been in soft launch since March 5th in places like Mexico and Canada, and according to has so far racked up 287K downloads, $42.7K in revenue, and 30.4K active users total across iOS and Google Play. A larger user acquisition push is expected when football season resumes, with the current player base focused on early adopters. The game currently tops the free chart on iOS, but may struggle with long term retention as the gameplay is fairly repetitive and the asynchronous multiplayer style feels almost exactly like PvE. There is also the issue of being dependent on excitement around a limited length football season.

Mythical Games as a company seems focused on trying to find a broader userbase for its games outside of web3 natives. In both Blankos Block Party and NFL Rivals it has kept the web3 aspects relatively unintrusive and focused on collectors. Using a custodial wallet system tied to a game account has also made for much easier onboarding combined with credit card direct payments. The ability to never have to see a wallet or deal in any kind of fungible token directly to participate in the NFL Rivals marketplace is a great stepping stone into the NFT world for NFL fans. There is some opportunity for casual crossover appeal to Blankos Block Party, but with them being on different platforms (mobile vs pc) and very different genres it’s unlikely to be significant.

Coming Soon

The company was built by experienced game developers, but it’s worth noting that the games released so far have been fairly shallow. During the writing of this Mythical also removed the previous banner links to its forthcoming Nitro Nation World Tour (built in partnership with Nitro Nation developer CM) and replaced the section for the game on its Games page with the image of a car under a cover with just a “Coming Soon” text and no game name. 

The game was slated for a 2023 release and still has its website and previous info, including whitepaper, available. So it’s likely this will be the next big web3 game push for the company in the very near future. Building off an existing game like Nitro Nation may result in the World Tour version being one of the more robust games for Mythical and we look forward to a big announcement “soon.”

#2: Sui Blockchain Launches

Sui Blockchain
Source: Coingape

The highly anticipated Sui blockchain, a Move-based layer-1 blockchain platform developed by former Meta (formerly Facebook) engineers who worked on the now-defunct Novi project, went live on May 3rd about 30 minutes before its scheduled launch. Following its launch, the network experienced a gradual increase in transaction speeds, with an average of 4 transactions per second (TPS) minutes after going live and around 18 TPS six hours later. In comparison, Aptos, Sui's closest rival, currently processes transactions at 9 TPS. Decentralization may be a current weakness though as despite having more than 2,100 nodes operating across 43 countries, the majority of nodes are concentrated in Germany and the U.S., with a few running across Asia and eastern Europe.

The Sui blockchain has shown much more impressive performance in tests, reportedly achieving throughputs between 10,871 TPS and 297,000 TPS on various workloads. In comparison, Solana, one of the fastest layer-1 blockchains, boasts a TPS of roughly 4,000. The team promises fast transaction speeds that can notably rival its peers. Sui’s special object-centric data model enables parallelization of object interactions at scale, allowing validators to process multiple transactions simultaneously on separate machines, as long as the transactions are not interdependent. The Sui Move programming language also has built-in safety properties that prevent certain types of hacks/exploits like those that have hit Solana.

297,000 TPS
Source: Sui

With its competitive throughput and support for an e-commerce or micro-transaction-focused economy, Sui has attracted interest from investors, protocols, and games. The network currently has more than 200 projects in its directory, with another 100-odd projects vying to build on it. Mysten Labs, the company behind Sui, had a very successful run in raising funds recently. There are a number of interesting game development partners such as Aether Games of Cards of Aethernity, SunSpear Games of Immortal, Netmarble for Grand Cross: Metaworld, Panzerdogs, and more with a lot of exciting looking games here. With the chain just now launching it could still be some time before we actually see any of them live however.

Sui| Community
Source: Sui

Mysten Labs also has some money to throw around to help encourage games to come to its platform as many other chains have done. Mysten raised $36M in a Series A round led by a16z and $300M in a Series B round in September 2022 at a greater than $2 billion valuation, led by FTX Ventures. The Sui Foundation, an unaffiliated foundation, was also established to build the Sui community and fund/support creating products on Sui. It’s not clear how much of this might end up funding game developers, but considering the tech might appeal strongly to them it will definitely be an important chunk.

While there are a multitude of blockchains competing to be the next big gaming blockchain, Sui does have some fresh technology besides high transaction speed to help. With it not being an EVM compatible network it has a different concept of tokens, NFTs, DEXs and other smart contracts as “objects”. Objects on Sui are an interesting design and can have four different types of ownership: Objects owned by an address (NFTs or fungible tokens), objects owned by other objects like a sword NFT owned by a character NFT, shared objects that anyone can read/write to (DEXs or auction contracts), and immutable objects without an exclusive owner that are read-only (auctions frozen as immutable after the end of an auction).

Sui's Economic Model
Source: Boxmining

In addition to the network launch, there was also a network token following it. SUI, the native token of the project, has a total supply of 10 billion and is used for paying transaction fees and governance purposes. The initial circulating supply of the token is 528.2M (5.28% of the total token supply) and is currently trading at $1.44 after falling from $2.16 within minutes of its launch and giving it a current market cap of $756M. That price still represents a significant rise from the pre-sale price of 3 cents and the public sale price of 10 cents in partnership with centralized exchanges like Kucoin, OKX, Bybit, and Binance.

The exchanges raised $49M from over 100,000 users, and Binance users staked over $4 billion worth of crypto tokens to farm SUI tokens. Due to the crowding of the pools, however, an average of one dollar invested in the launchpad only reaped 0.016 SUI. There was a bit of drama around the staking between Binance and Tron founder Justin Sun, who found himself in yet another controversy, sending 400M TUSD to Binance to earn rewards in the form of new tokens. Crypto Twitter quickly identified Sun as the transactor, believing the Tron founder planned to farm SUI on Binance. This led to Binance founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) threatening to “take action” if he used any of the deposited TUSD to farm SUI as it was intended for retail users not whales. Justin Sun apologized and claimed it was a “misstep.”

Sui Token Distribution
Source: Sui

As with many of these new blockchains we look forward to the launch of its first big games as a test to really determine just how viable it could be. Bringing users onto the network will require a lot more than just quantity of dapps, it will require the business development team spending time and money on big bets that draw a very significant user base. Both Polygon and Immutable have already had a major lead from dedicating the last two years to bringing in every promising game they could. 

There is also the Layer 1 issue where there will be a lot more liquidity and built-in activity on Ethereum Layer 2’s by virtue of Ethereum itself that makes initial traction difficult as it will require a lot of on-ramping or bridging to get transaction volumes up enough for the transaction speed advantages to even matter. Solana experienced a similar situation when it first started, which led to it becoming more of a discount NFT blockchain than the gaming platform it was hoping for. Solana’s approach does show that there is some possibility in getting volume started through a non-game route, but it’s unlikely Sui could replicate success through simply being cheaper for NFTs.

While we remain skeptical of any new Layer 1 blockchains looking to compete with Ethereum given the struggles of Solana, it’s good to see a successful new launch in the space. The continued evolution of blockchain technology and heightened performance competition is good for the industry as a whole. The big risk, however, is in competing with the network effects of Ethereum and the various Layer 2’s able to help it address speed issues. Even the idea of decentralization requires enough adoption to accomplish and without significant adoption it might as well be a centralized service like AWS. 

There are also a lot of networks specifically targeting the gaming sector now with the expectation of it being one of the stronger growth vectors as DeFi has somewhat settled down. The other risk is in moving away from Solidity and EVM towards more custom solutions as it forces an inability to easily port should it not work out. We believe that the competition in the blockchain space is healthy at the moment, but will undoubtedly whittle down to a few big winners in time and Sui is going to have to grow quickly to have a chance at being one of them. 

Upcoming Game Announcements

  • Animoca Brands developer Notre Game announced a partnership with ONE Championship. (Link)
  • Champions Arena opened a new free to play public playtest of its turn-based strategy game. (Link)
  • Chainmonsters announced it would be pausing development after recently switching to Immutable from Flow. (Link)
  • Helix Metaverse launched Land access for its Parallel City Residents. (Link)
  • Trial Xtreme Freedom launched a closed alpha for those who signed up. (Link)
  • MetalCore added PvE in its newest playtest launched on Epic Games Store. (Link)
  • Aurory announced more details on its Prologue to Adventures. (Link)
  • Gala Games announced a variety of “May Mayhem” programs for its games. (Link)
  • HashRush released its April 2023 development overview. (Link)
  • Across Lunacia released a free public demo. (Link)

Live Game Announcements

  • Sunflower Land launched a new design mode for farm customization. (Link)
  • Spider Tanks announced a “May Mayhem” update and released its v1.2 patch. (Link)
  • Genopets launched its Augments pet customization feature. (Link)
  • Ultimate Champions announced a Sustainability focused update. (Link)
  • Uldor launched a major update to its fantasy arena survival game, Dread Arena. (Link)
  • Imperium Empires switched to F2P with the start of Season 6. (Link)
  • Gods Unchained announced a two-week extension to crafting for its Band of the Wolf expansion. (Link)

Funding Announcements

Source: FFnews
  • nChain, a web3 tech company, announced a $4M and taking a 20% equity stake in metaverse platform Transmira. (Link)

Ecosystem Updates

  • Epic Games Store now lists 18 blockchain games, quickly becoming a web3 gaming hub. (Link)
  • Wemade announced it’s signed up 100 games total now for its Wemix blockchain with 26 currently live. (Link)
  • Voodoo is once again teasing its Infinity web3 platform with a target of Fall 2023. (Link)
  • Neobank Cogni launched soul-bound NFTs for KYC verification for its crypto wallet and bank customers. (Link)
  • Google Cloud announced an expansion of its Startups Program for web3 projects. (Link)
  • Coinbase has gathered momentum for its “Stand with Crypto” NFT campaign. (Link)
  • Mist Metaverse announced intentions to launch its own EVM compatible Mist blockchain. (Link)

Notable Market Moves

Notable Market Moves| Fully Diluted Market Cap
Data Source: CoinMarketCap
  • Immutable took one of the biggest hits this week as it didn’t recover as much towards the end of the week as some of the other tokens despite coinciding with the beta release of its Immutable Passport, which may have just been not exciting enough.
  • Gala Games also saw a similar fate with a muted response to its May Mayhem event across all the multitude of games Gala has to offer. This may be partially because most of the games are not live and using the Gala token yet with Spider Tanks still being the main fully released game and using its own SILK token instead.
  • Most of the other tokens followed nearly identical downward and then slightly upward patterns this week which resulted in them being down slightly.
  • As always, we remind you to think long term. Most of the crypto market still moves mostly in unison at the moment as gaming hasn’t truly broken away from BTC and ETH just yet.

Content Worth Consuming

Content Worth Consuming| Cover
Source: Philip La
  • What value does Web3 bring to Games? (Philip La): “Web3 does not need to have an A+ value-add in all of these topics to create new game-changing experiences. We’ve seen throughout history how the streamlining of experiences and development with technology can make a massive difference in a given space (e.g. Social: MySpace > Facebook), and Web3 can be this next evolution for games. As a hardcore physical collector myself, I was personally originally drawn into the space by the Ownership Permanence value. I’m also excited for UGC in particular though, as it can gain much more proliferation across games through the use of Web3 rails.” (Link)
  • Reserve Utility Token Model (Economics Design): “The Reserve Utility Token model involves locking the token as a reserve backing the value of NFTs in the ecosystem. The NFTs can broadly represent a variety of assets or benefits that participants value, such as cosmetic items, gameplay-impacting items, battle passes, or gameplay experience improvements. In order to mint an NFT, some of the tokens need to be locked as reserves, which could be redeemed later by burning the NFT. This can be abstracted away in the user flow, so the user can pay in dollars (with a constant $ price) and a portion of that revenue goes towards buying and locking tokens as reserves.” (Link)
  • Karate Kombat: Blood, Sweat, and Battle Royale – Inside the World of a Web3 Owned Fight League (The Delphi Podcast): “Karate Combat is UFC for the next generation and is built on crypto rails. Co-Founder OnlyLarping joins the podcast to discuss the fight league, tailoring the entire sport for short and engaging experiences, catering to online fans of a younger demographic, bucking the trend by not signing exclusive distribution agreements so the sport is available everywhere and the token dynamics around UpOnly Gaming.” (Link)
  • Consensus 2023 Recap (TPan): “There were almost 15,000 attendees at Consensus. Despite the market volatility, the regulatory concerns particularly in the US, and the uphill battle towards mass adoption, the space is seeing continued interest and energy. There were less side events (or at minimum, they were smaller) and the conference floor was less hectic. However, this presented opportunities for quality conversations and more space to think and reflect.” (Link)

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

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