#1: Splinterlands Is Expanding Faster Than Expected
Over the course of a couple of months, Splinterlands has gone from a singular success to a series of explosive recent announcements. The past few weeks have been especially noteworthy in terms of the upsurge in announcements, releases, and sales. Last week alone, Splinterlands released the GLS whitepaper, sold a new PFP (ProFile Picture) project, released pre-sales for a new card set, released pre-sales for a brand new game, sold a ton of validator licenses, and even released its first official podcast — all while preparing for the Splinterfest convention that’s happening in less than two weeks! Let’s take a closer look at these happenings.
First, following up on the announcements around Genesis League Soccer, Splinterlands released a general Genesis League Sports whitepaper. Rather than focusing solely on the soccer-based game, the whitepaper appears to be a blueprint for all of the sports games in the system, with a strong emphasis on the tokenomics aspects. It introduces three different tokens: Genesis League Governance Token (GLX), Genesis League Stable Token (GLUSD), and Genesis League Game Time (GLGT). This is reflected in the recent changes to Splinterlands, where the governance token is now also the main reward provided for playing, and it’s achieved via the “reward shares” which were introduced in the latest reward system revamp.
The GLUSD is looking to use two different mechanisms to maintain a $1 peg, seemingly as a response to the soft peg for DEC in Splinterlands breaking. The two mechanisms are the ability to redeem $1 worth of GLX for 1 GLUSD and products being priced in GLUSD at a $1 rate regardless of external exchanges. Lastly, GLGT (too many G-tokens!) is presented as a staking reward, which is reminiscent of the voucher system in Splinterlands, although the use case here is geared primarily towards discounts rather than access. The whitepaper contains lots more details and finishes up with a nice roadmap for both GLS in general and the soccer-specific content.
Shortly after the whitepaper release, Splinterlands began pre-sales for card packs of its new set, Riftwatchers. The sale itself was a bit of a twist on how cards had been sold previously. With Riftwatchers, the packs were sold for the game’s core governance token, SPS, instead of the utility token, DEC, as before. The profits from the sale also went to the DAO instead of the company, creating additional value for SPS holders rather than Splinterlands itself. These changes must have been well received as all 500K packs sold out in 96 seconds for over 25M in SPS and 500K in vouchers which are primarily owned by whales of the game.
Most interestingly, the bullish behavior didn’t end there, as 500K packs didn’t seem to be enough spend depth, and whales started rapidly buying SPS Validator Node licenses at such a rapid pace that the entire remaining 1,300 in the tranche sold out. This created even more value for SPS holders as 80% of the SPS spend was burned and 20% went to the DAO, another situation in which the company wasn’t taking profit. As a result, the value of SPS managed to climb from $0.056 on September 7th all the way to a peak of $0.088 on the 16th before returning back down to $0.066 by the 21st. Finally, even the licenses weren’t enough as buying continued with 30K packs of the previous Chaos Legion card set.
Next up is a brand new type of product in Splinterlands called a Runi. A Runi is an interesting combination of a PFP and playable Splinterlands trading card. Using a typical PFP-traits-based system, it provides both a unique visual for normal PFP purposes as well as a unique card to be played in the game. It’s also slightly different from a normal Splinterlands card in that it primarily exists on Ethereum instead of Hive. Ethereum is the primary PFP NFT blockchain, but you can stake it and connect your Splinterlands account to your Ethereum wallet to make it playable in-game on Hive. The downside of not being an actual card on Hive is that you can’t sell or rent it out through the Hive markets, but you can sell it through Ethereum markets like OpenSea. Despite there being 1B possible trait combinations, there will only ever be 6.5K Runi minted at a price of $500 each. Whitelist spots for community members will be sold for 100 vouchers and provide a 50% discount on minting. Minting itself won’t happen until October 25th, but based on everything mentioned so far, we expect that these will likely sell out quickly.
Then there’s the brand new tower defense game that was recently announced. While there is some utility for existing Splinterlands cards, the game has its own cards to sell for primary use. Pre-sale for card packs was limited to 250K and sold out relatively quickly. The price per pack was reasonably in line with other Splinterlands card packs at 5K DEC and 1 voucher. At the time of writing, 5K DEC equals about $3.57, making the total value sold at nearly $900K. It will be interesting to see if they continue to sell well as the general sale begins soon on September 27th. This is a good sign that despite the recent and abrupt announcement of this game, players are excited about any new offering from Splinterlands at this point. If all of these pre-sales are any indication, then we can expect the Genesis League Soccer packs to also move swiftly despite being a very different theme.
Lastly, on the community front, Splinterlands will host its first convention, Splinterfest, on October 8th-9th. The convention will be held in Las Vegas and include some in-game exclusives like a special title and promo card alongside tournaments and typical panels. While certainly there are signs that Splinterlands still has a decent amount of bots around, an in-person convention will be a great indicator of how many humans are still passionate enough about the game so as to travel in order to celebrate it. We look forward to seeing attendance reports to gauge the fan base but do expect it to be a reasonably lively event. Splinterlands is also building on its regular town halls by now releasing an official podcast with a schedule of two episodes per month. This builds on other community engagement efforts like Splinterlands TV in an effort to increase the stickiness of players. Overall, Splinterlands is trending towards a community that could at some point rival Axie Infinity. We will definitely keep an eye on the trajectory of its many projects over the next year.
#2: LootMogul Raises (Up To) $200M
Despite web3 often being viewed as more of a techie or cultural movement, we have continually seen sports be a major early-adopter in the space. In fact, the biggest funding news of last week goes beyond fantasy sports (like Sorare) and collectibles (like Top Shot) and instead looks to connect even more to the real world. LootMogul aims to not just create NFT utility in its virtual sports-themed world but also add real-world value — and it just raised $200M to try to make that possible.
While not your typical fundraising setup, LootMogul secured an investment commitment from Gem Global Yield (part of a company called Global Emerging Marks Group - or GEM for short) that provides the entity a share subscription facility of up to $200 million for a 36-month term, following an equity exchange listing. In short, the deal allows LootMogul to withdraw funds by issuing equity shares to GEM without a minimum drawdown obligation, allowing the startup to control when and how much funds will be used. LootMogul isn’t a fresh startup as it’s been building its metaverse project since 2021, but the funds will help boost development as it continues into 2023.
Currently, LootMogul’s site provides a combination of NFTs and games. The games are interesting in that their focus is on cash entry and prize trivia competitions, with some bonus HTML5 Unity games as extras. The site provides a $5 signup bonus for new accounts and uses location checking for legal compliance with a clear focus on attracting know-it-all sports fans who will put their money where their mind is. The NFT side of things is a mix of PFPs and trading cards, hoping to appeal to both kinds of collectors. The idea is that the NFTs themselves come with real-world utility like tickets, merchandise, access to private events, influencers, and celebrities. Much of this utility will of course depend on partnerships and deals that may or may not materialize, but the $200M in fundraising will certainly help. The PFPs also come with the typical utility of being used as avatars, which is nothing special, but could still be a valuable signal to other sports fans.
The virtual side of LootMogul is full of typical so-called metaverse ambitions and follows a common trend of seeking to mirror real locations in the virtual. This also means selling assets in the form of blockchain-based land, stadiums, and even stadium seats for avatar use. LootMogul is looking to sell brand spaces, something that virtual worlds are already primed to be filled up with, but sports fans are pretty accustomed to that in billboard form. The promises for virtual world interactions seem to lean pretty heavily on economic ideas like shopping, merchandise, and brands, but also around ideas of frequently interacting with influencers. In general, the idea of different forms of exclusive access suits NFTs and is a big draw in the sports world, so it’s no surprise to see it leveraged here. The big question is whether or not LootMogul can truly deliver that access as it often depends on striking profitable deals with other parties. If the project is even moderately successful, then just like NBA Top Shot, Sorare, and other popular sports projects, it will continue to onboard a mass of sports fans into the world of NFTs even if its metaverse ambitions turn out to be undeliverable.
Game Launch Radar
- Hash Rush launched a free open beta. Link
- Blankos Block Party (still in early access) released on the Epic Store with a full launch set for September 28th along with new Season 1 content. Link
- Epic League announced the grand launch of its Dark Throne game on September 28th. Link
- Myria, an EVM Layer 2, added two new games, Carnage Carnival, migrated from BSC, and Meta Nomads, with an Alpha coming in Q4. Link
Other Game Announcements
- Guild of Guardians released a second roadmap and announced partnerships with multiple major esports organizations for in-game representation. Link
- Galaxy Fight Club announced a cross-IP championship 3-event series with $250k worth of NFTs and assets in prizes. Link
- DeFi Kingdoms announced its Harmony network Serendale 1.0 shutdown plan and released Gardening Quests in its Crystalvale version. Link
- Star Atlas announced its 426LIVE:NYK event with a Twitch livestream on September 29th at 1:00 PM EDT. Link
- Sparkadia released its Origin hero collection NFTs for use in its upcoming Edenbrawl game and more. Link
- Blockchain Brawlers launched an open beta for PvP. Link
- Skyweaver released new cosmetic content with rewards called Legacy Hero Skins. Link
- Yuga Labs hired Spencer Tucker, formerly President of Games at Scopely and Senior Vice President of Product at Gree, as Chief Gaming Officer for its Otherside metaverse. Link
- Mines of Dalarnia announced updates to elite equipment and its Land Economy 2.0. Link
- Illuvium released more details about its genesis NFTs. Link
- Era7: Game of Truth released details about its upcoming card set. Link
- The Sandbox announced a new Dubai-themed Dubaiverse and plans for other city-themed projects such as Turkey, Singapore, and Korea. Link
- Spanish football league La Liga signed a deal with StadioPlus to build using La Liga’s IP in Decentraland’s Vegas City District. Link
- Life Beyond announced updates to the reward program for its open alpha. Link
- Metaprints and Forj announced a BAYC-related 'Monkeying Around' experience in The Sandbox with $30K in prizes. Link
- Undead Blocks partnered with BluMint for another $10K tournament. Link
- Phantom Galaxies announced an anime and NFT updates at the Tokyo Game Show. Link
- Immortal Game raised $12M for its web3 chess game in a round led by TCG Crypto. Link
- Random Games raised $7.6M for its Unioverse game in a round co-led by Resolute Ventures and Asymmetric and joined by one of the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, David Jones. Link
- Magna, a token management platform, raised $15M at $70M valuation in a seed round led by Tiger Global and Tusk Venture Partners. Link
- Animoca Brands announced the intention to acquire WePlay Media for an undisclosed amount to incorporate its MotoGP Championship Quest gameplay into MotoGP Ignition. Link
- The Sandbox announced an investment in Cosmo Media Labs and a partnership with Faze Clan. Link
- South Korea’s Seongnam City announced plans for an NFT Citizenship and metaverse copy with municipal service access. Link
- Sega and Bandai reaffirmed commitment to web3 while Ubisoft backpedaled, calling it “research mode.” Link
- Oasis blockchain is running a hackathon for confidential dapps. Link
- Starbucks announced a partnership with Polygon for an immersive NFT reward program. Link
- Style Protocol released the whitepaper for its cross-metaverse interoperability platform. Link
- OpenSea announced upcoming Arbitrum support and launched its OpenRarity system. Link
Notable Market Moves
- Despite all excitement around Ethereum’s “Merge” update, it hasn’t had an immediately positive effect on token prices (“buy the rumor, sell the news” as they say). Of course, it was still a celebratory milestone for the Ethereum community.
- ApeCoin managed to repeat its strong performance from last week with yet another 13% gain, going completely against the grain. Interestingly, the rally was initially a rebound from a large dip, leading up to a massive 25M token unlock for launch contributors, or 14% of total supply, that was expected to be dumped onto the market. There are some other developments in the ApeCoin community that happened around the time of the unlock, such as a proposal for Magic Eden to build a DAO NFT marketplace and a proposal around marketplace feeds that benefits holders. Lastly, there is some anticipation around a fall delivery of a staking platform from Horizen Labs, which was voted on back in May. Who knows what happens next week, but the token overall has done quite well lately despite delivering more speculation than utility.
- With most of the top blockchain gaming tokens following the same general pattern, Gala suffered the worst (for no notable reason). That being said, Gala has shown good long-term prospects if it manages to deliver on a wide array of games in its ecosystem, especially the branded properties.
- As always, we remind you to look long-term as the technology and industry continue to mature. The Merge may not have created any immediate bull market, but it was a successful long-term upgrade, which was a massive undertaking in itself. We expect Ethereum to continue underpinning much of the market, and long-term improvements set the entire ecosystem up for greater success.
Content Worth Consuming
Exploring Player Sovereignty Through Dark Forest Arena (0xhank) - “On-chain MMOs have seen two unfortunate trends: low retention rate of new players and slow iteration of game design. This gives Dark Forest a reputation for being hard to learn. Our team wanted to tackle these concerns with an approachable, fast-paced version of Dark Forest. Thankfully, the composable nature of the pre-existing game made it trivial to begin. After five months of work, the result is Dark Forest Arena.” Link
Ex-Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime on Metaverse, Gaming NFTs, and the Future of Nintendo (CNET) - “I believe that blockchain as a piece of technology can be interesting, but it has to provide value to the player. It can't just be a new way of monetizing. There needs to be something inherently positive for the player for this as a technology to take off. So I'm not for or against NFTs. I want to see an example that really adds value, and I have to say, I haven't yet seen that example.” Link
Loot: One Year Later (The Metacast by Naavik) - “Was Loot a flash in the pan, or has it created a new way of human collaboration and IP development? Background on Loot on this week’s Crypto Corner. Loot builders Timshel, Threepwave, and Loaf join your host Nico Vereecke for a conversation about recap on Loot, decentralized IP creation, decentralized game building, what’s next for Loot, and more!” Link
Top gaming VCs on investing during a crypto winter (Deconstructor of Fun) - “Tokenomics is back, and what an absolute treat of an episode. This week, we're joined by two of the top VCs in the Web3 gaming space, Anton Backman of Play Ventures and Nico Vereecke of BITKRAFT, who are here to give us an inside look on how VCs are approaching investing during the latest crypto winter. Good news for all the gaming entrepreneurs out there, we learn that the VCs are still investing in worthy projects. In fact, they have an obligation to keep seeking out and investing in the best projects on behalf of their funds. Our host, Ethan Levy, asks all the questions a prospective gaming entrepreneur could want to ask from two of the top VC firms in the game.” Link
How web3 onboards a billion users (Web3 Breakdowns) - “My guest today is Gabriel Leydon whose episode last year was one of our most popular ever. Gabe has spent the last 20 years designing video games and is one of the most original thinkers I know. He was the co-founder of Machine Zone, which pioneered free-to-play hits like Mobile Strike and Game of War. Over the past year, he has been in stealth mode, building a “web2 meets web3” video game company called Limit Break, which is founded on a brand new business model that he calls free-to-own. We dive into his vision for the future of gaming, how it could onboard a billion users onto the Ethereum network, and why the LTV of crypto gamers is far higher than their web2 equivalents. Please enjoy this conversation with Gabe Leydon.” Link
Newzoo on the evolution and future of play-to-earn (Pocket Gamer) - “The rise of blockchain has made play-to-earn not just more common, but more lucrative. Now, rather than being an unsanctioned approach to gaming, the monetary gain is a primary—and often the only—incentive. However, Newzoo argues that this model is unsustainable. Like a ponzi scheme, “Once player growth stalls and new players stop joining the ecosystem, the in-game economy would crumble.” P2E game makers are faced with the challenge of creating a game which is both sustainable and accessible, and thus far, publishers have not yet found a solution. As such, no game has successfully brought P2E to the masses.” Link