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#1: Crypto Unicorns Plans Four New Mobile Games

As a playable game, Crypto Unicorns has been out since May, but much of the gameplay roadmap is yet to be finished. Unlike many other games that have added land but have not yet actually implemented it, Crypto Unicorns went the other way around, with its land-farming being most of what’s available gameplay-wise outside of breeding. Although the game is far from finished, Laguna Games has announced plans to release four new mobile games based on Crypto Unicorns as soon as Q4 this year. It's definitely not unheard of for unfinished games to release smaller games as a sort of appetizer and source of extra utility for NFT holders while they wait. However, attempting to launch four games within the same quarter does seem a bit ambitious. Luckily, Laguna Games is also taking the approach of many other smart studios — outsourcing the work to other experienced game developers.

While the games themselves are planned as different subgenres, they all fall within the overarching category of hypercasual. Not only are hypercasual games much quicker and easier to develop, but they are also extremely popular on mobile. Usually, one of the downsides of this category is lower retention as players typically play but don’t stay. The advantage here for Crypto Unicorns is that these games provide extra utility for NFTs and give players a reason to hang around and attain some additional value while they wait for the major game modes to launch. That’s not to say all players will fall into this demographic, because even though the games are integrated with blockchain technology, interfacing with web3 features isn’t required, allowing anyone to play for free. This also offers the opportunity for random players not familiar with the NFTs to develop an interest and become more invested in the franchise; however, given the high cost of Crypto Unicorns’ NFTs and Land, there may be some player mismatch since hypercasual does tend to attract lower-spending players on average.

Specifically, Unigatchi will be the Crypto Unicorns version of Tamagotchis, the infamous virtual pets, and will support voice commands. It should appeal to Crypto Unicorns fans looking to engage with their NFTs on the go, but it’s unlikely to have a broad appeal outside of possibly some unicorn fanatics. Bumper Corns will be a PvP game based around bumping other unicorns off land. It might bear a resemblance to an older strategy game, Auro by Keith Burgun. Depending on its level of design and marketing, the game might be able to spark some broader interest. Mob Run, a multiplayer game about amassing the largest mob of unicorns, sounds like it’s along the “io” series of hypercasual games. Lastly, Rainbow Rumble is a battle royale game, which is a largely saturated genre (even on mobile). The game will likely be interesting because of its NFT utility, but it may prove difficult to attract any attention outside the core audience. Overall, this shotgun approach could be successful in providing extra entertainment for Crypto Unicorn holders.

It’s unclear how ingrained the actual NFTs will be in terms of in-game utility, especially if it provides an advantage over other F2P players. As the web3 market matures, game developers are looking for more and more ways to offer utility for NFT owners, even if this means going outside of the core game. The important question to ask regarding initiatives like these is whether or not they’re distracting from the main game development, both for players and developers. As much as this is an interesting marketing move, it also seems premature and potentially a distraction given the state of the main Crypto Unicorns game. All that said, we’re curious to learn from how the cross-game interoperability works and whether it could help push forward innovation in the market from that lens.

#2: Xterio Raises the Bar on Ecosystem Plans

Source: Venturebeat

As interest in bringing more and higher-quality games into web3 grows, so does the number of tool and platform providers looking to help with the transition. Among the latest to reveal their project along with a large fundraise is Xterio, which raised $40M in a round led by FunPlus, FTX Ventures, Makers Fund, and XPLA. The announcement also included a 27-page whitepaper detailing the plans for its platform. Unlike some platforms that provide only an API for easier blockchain communication or standardized smart contracts for tokens and NFTs, Xterio is planning for much more. The whitepaper laid out an entire ecosystem for games that would include an XTER ecosystem token, liquidity pools for game tokens, multi-game NFT interoperability, full cross-chain support, and a system for extended metadata sharing between titles. The ambitious plan has led to a $300M valuation for the company being developed in partnership with investor FunPlus, which will be providing the NFT technology stack.

Xterio is staffed by some industry veterans, including Jeremy Horn, former VP of Strategy for Jam City, a mobile game developer also famously moving into web3 with Champions Ascension. There is even some staff overlap between FunPlus and Xterio, with Yitao Guan serving as CTO for both companies. Based on the staff’s background in game development, Xterio is promising multiple high-quality experiences and partners already in the pipeline to bring games to the platform. The obvious risk here is that Xterio isn’t just promising a strong web3 gaming experience but an entire intermeshed ecosystem with a very smooth user experience. The company plans on using the funding to develop its own games, help with its partners’ titles, and build the actual platform itself. Not only will it need a functioning and well-polished technology stack courtesy of FunPlus but also a marketplace, social community hub, token exchange system, and XTER governance. Obviously, the platform will be a work in progress for some time, as with most of web3, but the whitepaper’s lofty goals are likely to require a long timeline in order to be fully realized. The end goal of the project does promise strong benefits in capturing an audience within a fluid ecosystem if accomplished.

There are some concerns around the lack of detail in certain areas of the whitepaper, which we hope to see fleshed out in the near future. The proposed XTER token is framed as a deflationary token that will be burned to maintain value, but no examples of any specific utility or burning mechanisms outside of staking and governance are mentioned. There are also indications that each game will be able to have its own tokens and Xterio will be providing liquidity pools and exchanges for them, yet details on the design or mechanisms to be used are lacking. There are definitely reasons to believe that Xterio is equipped to build and support its portfolio of games, but it will need to prove its ability to deliver a smooth and well-designed web3 ecosystem. We hope Xterio will be able to transparently build towards its ambitious goals, but it’s possible that the promises may need to be scaled back in the near future as the details get fleshed out.

Game Announcements

Source: Venturebeat
  • Sorare announced a partnership with NBA, adding a third sport to its portfolio. Link
  • Splinterlands announced a new Tower Defense game along with the upcoming release of its next card set. Link
  • Dimension X, a Flow-based RPG, launched with a free minting on September 7th. Link
  • Cross the Ages released an update detailing its economy. Link
  • Hellebore launched a sports prediction game for NFL, NCAA football, MLB, and international soccer. Link
  • Azra Games revealed NFTs and plans for its Legions & Legends game. Link
  • DeFi Kingdom announced its upcoming Dark Summoning event that provides Locked Token Utility. Link
  • StepN announced it is setting up a regional HQ at Hong Kong business park Cyberport. Link
  • Eternal Dragons released details of its nesting program that includes earning features. Link
  • PolkaPet announced expanding its virtual companions to Polygon. Link
  • Gods Unchained announced policy updates and a card cooldown system to combat multi-accounting. Link
  • Civitas’ developers released a MOBA on Steam to demonstrate development ability. Link
  • Pixion Games released a litepaper for its Fableborne game. Link
  • Chainmonsters announced an October 4th release date for its upcoming demo. Link
  • Goons of Balatroon released its GOB token. Link
  • My Meta Farm announced a September release but without a specific day. Link
  • Grease Monkey Games, a recently acquired subsidiary of Animoca Brands, received a MegaGrant from Epic. Link
  • Ethernity Chain developer Ethernal Labs announced a new strategic partnership with Metakey to build in Decentraland. Link
  • Crazy Defense Heroes will be hosting exclusive events for TOWER NFT card holders. Link
  • Monsterra announced a harvest-to-earn event using its token. Link
  • Blankos Block Party launched a Community Incentive Challenge leading up to Season 1 on Epic Games. Link
  • Mouse Haunt released a Dodgeball Arena PvP game. Link
  • Blockchain Brawlers released details on token utility. Link
  • Shatterpoint, a mobile ARPG, released details on its Heroes. Link
  • Gamee introduced a new OMP token for use with its G-Bot NFTs. Link
  • Gravity Game Link announced its Ragnarok Labyrinth NFT global launch. Link

Funding Announcements

Source: Venturebeat
  • Gameplay Galaxy raised $12.8M for its web3 competitive gaming platform in a round led by Blockchain Capital. Link
  • Stacked raised $12.9M for its web3 streaming platform in a Series A round led by Pantera Capital. Link
  • Metaverse Magna raised $3.2M at a $30M valuation in a private token sale for an African gaming DAO. Link
  • Crypto Fantasy Town raised an undisclosed seed investment from Solana Ventures. Link

Ecosystem Updates

Source: Venturebeat
  • LG released a NFT marketplace for Smart TVs called LG Art Lab. Link
  • South Korea introduced a new bill around metaverse regulations. Link
  • GameStop announced a partnership with FTX. Link

Notable Market Moves

  • In general, it was a largely uneventful week for the top 10 gaming tokens. Prices lightly fluctuated throughout the week and ended a bit down on average, but there’s no overarching major drivers or news to call out.
  • More specifically, BORA did fall more than the rest, but it has less to due with any news and is likely just driven by a slight reversion from the nice gains it saw last week.
  • ApeCoin also struggled to return back to its previous price as enthusiasm has died down. This is despite the release of a video promoting The Otherside’s narrative and intending to get supporters more engaged. We anticipate that further promotion of narrative elements without more concrete utility information or excitement around the experience will result in a continued lowering of the price.
  • Overall, most of the tokens here are likely to follow the market in any given week or month, although with the Ethereum merge impending, there is potential for some tokens to be affected more than others as a result.
  • As always, we remind you to look long-term as the entire sector finds its footing and continues to mature. Not all tokens will have long-term potential, of course, and we expect to see more tokens occasionally make it into the chart the way ApeCoin and StepN did in recent months.

Content Worth Consuming

The Play-to-Earn craze may be over with new coalition of gameplay-first communities (Bitcoin Insider) - “Your gaming identity is stored on the blockchain as a Soulbound Token, with data being pulled from web2 sources for games such as League of Legends, Apex Legends, and other AAA titles. Regis has the vision of Xborg acting as a scouting resource for esports teams to find the best unsigned talent in gaming by harnessing the power of blockchain data.” Link

The State of Play-to-Earn (Naavik Metacast) - “On this week’s Crypto Corner, Yield Guild Games’ Gabby Dizon and Jeff Holmberg join your host, Nico Vereecke, for a follow-up conversation about play-to-earn gaming guilds. We discuss the state of play-to-earn, the role of guilds in web3 gaming, how web3 games should position themselves, and what makes guilds like Yield Guild stand out.” Link

Kongregate's web3 ambitions, its $40M fund, and the Immutable partnership (Deconstructor of Fun) - "Whether you know it for its role as a hub of the Flash game development scene or in its later incarnation as a F2P mobile publisher, you are likely familiar with Kongregate. It has been making a lot of moves in the blockchain space recently, like its extension of The Bitverse into web3, the announcement of NFT-powered game Blood Vessels, and the announcement of its $40m web3 developer fund in partnership with Immutable. In this week’s episode, Ethan talks to Kongregate CTO, Max Murphy, and CBOO, Michelle Shaw, about their web3 ambitions, the partners they’re looking for from their $40m fund, and just why Kongregate is so excited about the applications of web3 in gaming." Link

DigiDaigaku Adventure Quest system (Gabriel Leydon Twitter thread) - “AdventureERC721 was designed to extend traditional NFT functionality with gameplay functionality. Standard ERC721 contracts have a limited set of actions you can perform that satisfy their original use cases. Adding gameplay functionality requires extending the standard. The traditional NFT mechanics are kept intact, and gameplay functionality is entirely opt-in. This means that holders primarily interested in collecting can expect the same user experience as before. The fun only happens when you opt into an adventure.“ Link

The Future of Web3 Games and Digital Ownership (Ark Invest Podcast) - “Today Frank Downing and Nick Grous are joined by current CEO of Polygon Studios, Ryan Wyatt! A lifelong gamer and technology enthusiast, Ryan shares his journey through these worlds as a user and then as a professional before we dive into Polygon and some of the foundational elements of what they are doing in the gaming and non-fungible token (NFT) space. Ryan talks about the Polygon protocol and also how the company relates and compares to its peers and adjacent technologies. From there, the bulk of our conversation is spent unpacking what Polygon Studios is bringing to the table and how it is aiming to attract customers through its unique value offer. We also cover exciting avenues in the gaming world and weigh how much of this is related to the move into the web3 domain. Ryan also comments more generally on the buy-in to decentralization, interoperability concerns, and his perspective on the realities of the metaverse.” Link

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