Source: CoinDCX

While there have been a lot of web3 developers putting out lower quality first-generation games in the last two years, a number of better games are looking to finally release in 2024. "Release" is a somewhat fluid term here, as some of these games aim to launch in public beta and evolve from there.

Let’s take a look at some of these upcoming titles.

Off the Grid

Source: Gamingbolt

About the game: Off the Grid is a third-person PvP/PvE shooter that combines a 150-person battle royale with 60 hours of PvE story content which takes place within the PvP environment. Its design echoes extraction shooters or Tom Clancy’s The Division, but the narrative and world-building have also attracted attention due to the involvement of District 9 director Neill Blomkamp and a team of experienced talent.

Dr. Disrespect x Clix x Imperialhal
Source: Youtube

What’s new: Details about this game began to emerge in September 2023, and included interviews with Blomkamp and other developers, as well as a lengthy gameplay video featuring influencers Dr Disrespect, Clix, and ImperialHal. This has been followed by multiple YouTube videos showcasing cinematic story elements, and various weapons and attachments. Unlike many other web3 games that generate hype prematurely, Off the Grid waited until the game was nearly complete before initiating its promotional efforts.

The blockchain aspects also began to unfold with the release of the Gunz wallet app on mobile, enabling the "decoding" and trading of usable NFT weapons and parts. Additionally, a drone-focused mobile game, TechnoCore, was released, allowing players to earn Gunz tokens and NFTs for free ahead of Off the Grid’s launch.

Join Discord
Source: X

What’s next: Unlike many other games on this list, Off the Grid seems set to bypass beta releases and go to a full launch. According to developer Gunzilla, the game is scheduled for release in early 2024, but it’s unclear on which platforms. It is expected to launch on PC and consoles, but a simultaneous release on all platforms seems unlikely. There are no specifics yet on how the web3 integrations will function, particularly concerning NFT trading. It’s possible that the web3 side may not be integrated on the console versions or directly in game clients to avoid platform issues. While “early 2024” doesn't specify a quarter or month, anticipation is high for a release in the first half of 2024, with increased promotion expected immediately before and upon release.

Source: IGN

What we expect: We anticipate a decent release that might persuade gamers to overlook some typical web3 backlash. The avoidance of premature hype or preselling anything web3-related suggests a commendable focus on the game itself, especially as Gunzilla has promised it won’t be selling NFTs to players. With the NFT elements seeming very optional, it could still be a compelling game for players without the web3 angle.

Battle royale may be an oversaturated genre, and filling a 150-player server consistently could be challenging without bots. However, the PvE cinematic story content could be a significant draw. We expect that the expected 60 hours of content will be paced to prevent rapid completion, especially since it seems to require completing tasks in the risky PvP battlefield environment, as implied by the influencer gameplay video.

All in all, the game appears to be a potential sleeper hit within the web3 space, provided it can execute a smooth release without the need for an open beta period.


Source: Playtoearn

About the game: Illuvium is an open-world RPG featuring creature collecting and training, along with a land-based resource system. The game is divided into three parts, currently released independently: Illuvium Overworld, the open-world component; Illuvium Arena, a creature battling auto-chess game; and Illuvium Zero, which hasland and resource management. Currently, the web3 elements include land NFTs and Illuvium tokens (ILV).

Source: Illuvium

What’s new: Illuvium began season one of Illuvium Zero in 2023, but the team has primarily focused on iterating the Overworld and Arena private betas. Both Overworld and Arena released beta 3 in Q4 of 2023, joining the Epic Games Store like many other web3 games.

Beta 3 for Arena was opened to the public, introducing PvP and numerous new features, along with some new Illuvial creatures (video review). Although Overworld beta 3 remains private, it has developed the game's overarching world significantly more. Players can explore, gather resources, craft items, and battle randomly encountered Illuvial creatures in the auto-battler (a simplified version of the Arena system), offering a chance to capture them, which adds a Pokémon-esque feel to the game.

Right now there isn’t much about the Overworld to truly stand alone as a compelling game, and long-term interest will hinge on the desirability of collecting the creatures for Arena play.

Illuvium Arena
Source: X

What’s next: The Illuvium team has slated beta 4 for both Arena and Overworld in Q1 2024, and hopes to transition into a full, open public beta in Q1. Besides gameplay elements, there are blockchain and economic components yet to be implemented. Illuvium is concurrently working toward a testnet launch, including integration with the newer Immutable Passport technology and an Iluvium-created Fuel exchange website, as Fuel is the primary resource that landowners produce for player consumption.

Source: Illuvium

What we expect: Generally, the auto-chess genre has struggled, particularly with monetization. Conversely, the demand for Pokémon-like games in web3 remains high due to a lack of successful forays into this niche. Combining these two aspects with a landowner-monetized resource system is intriguing but undoubtedly risky.

The game will be partially free to play, with NFT gating for the more advanced regions, though F2P players are promised a taste of everything. The challenge for Illuvium lies in balancing monetization and creature collection with competitive play and esports ambitions. While we don’t anticipate the game becoming a breakout hit in web3, its strong niche appeal should at least cultivate a dedicated fanbase, especially among invested stakeholders like holders of expensive land NFTs.


Source: Steam

About the game: Blocklords is a PC (and later mobile) medieval strategy game that combines farming, resource management, 4X kingdom territory battles, sandbox politics, and a player-driven economy. The game operates uniquely on four distinct layers, each with a different gameplay style: farming as a village, battles between raiders and knights over villages, village management/politics by lords and ladies, and kings and queens ruling regions and conducting wars at the top.

The integration of blockchain technology revolves around hero character NFTs, which possess a lifespan and potential for upward class mobility, and the upcoming $LRD token. Blocklords will be monetizing through season passes, IAP and NFTs/tokens.

Bearslayer season
Source: YouTube

What’s new: The open beta of the game launched on the Epic Games Store in Q3 2023, and it has been evolving ever since. Currently, only about a quarter of the promised game layers are complete, but there is potential to introduce at least the fundamental layers of gameplay this year. Following numerous revisions to the farming gameplay, developer MetaKing has begun expanding the PvE content and recently introduced the BearSlayer Season (with a season pass). This expansion lays the groundwork for the raiders (attackers) versus knights (defenders) dynamic and the additional lord/king layers.

What’s next: The next significant step for Blocklords is the launch of the $LRD token, which will activate the blockchain aspect of the game’s economy. Given the complexities of the tokenomics (and the risks that come with botting), this step is not to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, it’s an inevitable move, especially considering the investment received from VCs like BITKRAFT, Delphi Digital, Shima Capital, and others that likely expect token allocations as part of the investment strategy.

Following this token launch, the focus will shift to building up the player hierarchy system with different roles and advancing toward the eventual launch of its Lordchain DAO tech. Depending on the capacity to multitask, the Lordchain and the mobile client of Blocklords could be too ambitious for 2024 and might be postponed to 2025.

What we expect: While Blocklords might not become a mainstream hit, it holds appeal for many native web3 gamers with its mix of strategy and progress over time. The game offers a free starting NFT hero, making it accessible with an easy download from the Epic Games Store, thus lowering the entry barrier. The 4X genre is popular on mobile, but PC versions are typically more single-player oriented. Therefore, the key to success will be effectively implementing the remaining three gameplay layers (raiders/knights, lords/ladies and kings/queens) to attract diverse players, as farming alone can become monotonous on PC.

The use of NFT heroes is relatively novel and could stimulate a thriving secondary market. Already, January has seen a significant increase in trading of hero NFTs, spurred by the launch of the new season and features. It’s difficult to assess how well the $LRD launch could go due to lack of launch specifics and the general interest in tokens right now.


Playtoearn MetalCore
Source: Playtoearn

About the game: MetalCore is an F2P open world, mech and vehicle-focused, large-scale multiplayer PvE/PvP shooter for PC. It also combines third-person vehicle action with first-person infantry combat. The PvE content includes missions, boss fights, resource management, and crafting, some of which also influences PvP battles. MetalCore resembles a fusion of PlanetSide 2 and the MechWarrior series, with blockchain elements such as a two-token system and NFTs.

Source: X

What’s new: The game has undergone multiple open and closed alpha and beta releases to test both PvP and PvE, with an open beta on the Epic Games Store expected very soon. Initially slated for Immutable X, MetalCore shifted to Polygon, then recently moved back to Immutable, but this time on the unreleased zkEVM chain built using Polygon’s zkEVM technology. The game aims to generate interest in the open beta by offering free vehicles for preregistration. The last private beta provided a solid preview of the PvE content plans, though more content is anticipated.

Source: Reddit

What’s next: A roadmap is not available, but based on the tests so far, the game appears to be relatively advanced, and some obvious future development areas include additional NFT types and integration onto zkEVM, which is expected to launch its mainnet soon. Its two tokens also need to launch, an important part of monetization alongside the NFTs. The upcoming open beta should provide a clearer picture of how close the game is to a full launch.


What we expect: MechWarrior games were traditionally a niche genre, but the recent Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries, for instance, garnered an estimated 400K-plus players (according to Gamalytic), as mecha games have gradually gained broader acceptance.

MetalCore avoids the overly complex simulation aspect of older mech games, incorporating infantry and other vehicles, positioning it closer to the Battlefield and Planetside series. As a F2P multiplayer action game blending PvP and PvE elements, it has the potential for widespread appeal. The main challenges include maintaining a sizable player base for 100 player battles, ensuring high-quality polish, and addressing technology issues, particularly in networking and blockchain integration. With Immutable placing significant emphasis on MetalCore as one of the first major games on the zkEVM chain, concerted efforts from various parties are expected to ensure its success.

Guild of Guardians

About the game: Guild of Guardians is a fantasy roguelite, squad-based, auto-battle RPG with gacha style hero collection targeting mobile players. The game focuses on hero collection, progression, merging, and crafting systems, eventually leading to extensive trading and guild play. Gameplay is from an isometric perspective to accommodate large team sizes, numerous enemies, and bosses in room-based dungeon crawling.

What’s new: Initially introduced as Immutable’s ambitious followup to Gods Unchained, Guild of Guardians encountered challenges in meeting its initial targets. Subsequently, the game underwent significant refocusing, including gameplay and economy adjustments, along with a change in development partners. (Note: Naavik had a consulting role in developing the game.)

These changes have put development back on track, culminating in a recent regional Canadian soft launch on Android and iOS. The team has been transparent about major pivots, the rationale behind them, and has a solid plan moving forward with a revised and consistently followed roadmap. The soft launch also introduces the new Immutable Passport for sign-in, significantly enhancing the Immutable experience, especially on mobile.

Guild of Guardians
Source: X

What’s next: Following the mid-January regional soft launch, the team is gearing up for a Q2 global launch. According to the current roadmap, everything is proceeding as planned, with significant efforts toward polish and optimization in Q1 preceding the global release. Endgame content such as raid bosses and guilds, along with blockchain elements, are scheduled for Q2, likely coinciding with or shortly after the global launch. The game is free to play, with web3 elements being optional; thus the soft launch is not confined to just web3 players in Canada. The soft launch also includes in-app purchases, allowing for web2 monetization testing.

Gods Unchained
Source: Coinbureau

What we expect: Despite initial challenges, Immutable has demonstrated its ability to refocus and iterate, as evidenced by Gods Unchained’s growth last year. Some of Guild of Guardian’s community may be dissatisfied with the shift from real-time controls to auto-battle. However, this change aligns with current mobile market trends and broadens the potential audience.

While the new development partner, Mineloader, has consistently met roadmap milestones so far, soft launches often unveil the changes needed to optimize for global launch. A release in May or June seems plausible, and the swift transition to a soft launch with IAP post-pivot suggests strong execution. Given the abundance of squad-based auto-battle RPGs on the market, it will be intriguing to see if the web3 elements attract curious players.

Honorable Mentions

There are some other games worth noting that will make progress this year, but that have uncertain release dates:

  • Shrapnel is an extraction shooter currently in the pre-alpha phase, with a playable form coming for NFT owners in the very near future. Its developer is currently dealing with a legal battle for company control that could be slowing things down, so it’s unlikely to see a full release in 2024, and the roadmap doesn’t offer much guidance on timelines.
  • Deadrop is another web3 extraction shooter, although with a number of differences, such as verticality and drivable cars. The game is also being helmed by famous influencer Dr Disrespect and has maintained strong interest. The game lacks a public roadmap, but based on the current state of the game, it isn’t expected to release in 2024.
  • Champions Tactics - Grimoria Chronicles, Ubisoft’s first self-created (as opposed to funded) entry into web3 is actually supposed to release in “early 2024,” but we don’t have much information on it yet — other than that it is a “PvP tactical RPG experimental game on PC.” Ubisoft recently sold mints of its Warlords NFTs.
  • Phantom Galaxies is another mech game, but it’s much more akin to anime like “Gundam” and is set in space. It’s currently in early access on Steam and Epic Games Store, but its roadmap doesn’t detail much for 2024 yet.
  • Wildcard is a unique 1v1 mix of Smite-like MOBA and Clash Royale, with an emphasis on spectating and a sports feel. It’s currently in testing with community play-testers and has been shown off a fair bit, but the lack of any roadmap or public betas make it difficult to assess when this might release, though 2024 is a strong possibility.
  • Big Time is an ARPG with seasonal content that is currently playable in a “pre-season.” Its developer is iterating on a new 2024 roadmap.

As the new wave of web3 games hits the market, it will be a great chance to see new in-game economic experiments in action, backed by (hopefully) much more compelling gameplay than we saw in the last cycle.

If you’re a studio, publisher, or investor in the space looking to level up your web3 gaming efforts, our team at Naavik would love to help you on game/economy design, market research, investment support, or whatever you need. Just let us know!

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Game of the Week: Plants vs Zombies 3: (Re)planting the Seeds with a New Brainwave

Plants Vs Zombies
Source: EA
  • Developer: PopCap
  • Publisher:  EA
  • Platform: Android
  • GEO: UK (Soft launch)
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Gameplay: Link

Setting up the Field: PopCap has always been quite bold with trying out a new gameplay formula in their Plants vs. Zombies (PvZ) IP. Although it started as a tower defense game, the devs have toyed with gameplay ideas straying away from the proven formula, including, CCG-esque gameplay and third-person shooters. In 2019, EA attempted to revive the vanilla Plants vs. Zombies gameplay with PvZ3, but the attempt fell short. The game diverged from the original style, featuring modernized graphics and a shift to portrait mode gameplay. Notably lacking in narrative, the 2019 version failed to resonate with the established PvZ audience, leading to its discontinuation in 2020. It seemed that the changes had set the game apart too much from what fans expected.

Now, EA, being heavily inspired by the wide adoption of games with gardenscapes-inspired core loops, has revisited the drawing board, aiming to build on the franchise's foundations without straying from its beloved roots as much as it did with the previous PvZ3 iteration.

Keeping the Players’ Brains for Longer: Retention has historically been a challenge for the PvZ series: PvZ1 had a D7 of about 14% and D30 of roughly 4.5%, while PvZ2 had a D7 of approximately 18% and D30 of around 9%.

To address this with PvZ3, PopCap introduced a meta-narrative and decoration meta-game. Players engage in a loop of playing levels, collecting currency, and investing it in both story progress and meta-level decoration. While PopCap refrained from incorporating gacha mechanics, which have proven successful in other games, it may be a pragmatic decision due to PvZ's intense strategic gameplay — but this also is a step away form the original installment.

The game still demands players to build defenses within level limitations and contend with randomness in zombie waves. PopCap potentially worried that forcing additional decision-making burdens would be less appealing. However, this could also pose a fundamental disconnect from the IP’s roots, where players used to preselect which plants to take into battle. Most importantly, players can’t find matching seed bags to upgrade their plants, which takes away the long-term planning from the game. It seems like the bet is on opening the funnel for players early on, but with the risk of closing it off later down the road. All that could help lift its D7, but as a payoff for that, the D30 could take a harder hit.

Would it bear fruit? In its soft launch phase, PvZ3 exhibits signs of depth-building, introducing gradual power-up unlocks and various appointment mechanics like a daily login calendar. PopCap and EA appear dedicated to enhancing the long-term retention of the franchise. However, challenges lie ahead, particularly in balancing difficulty levels to avoid player churn. Notably, levels 13-14 pose a significant difficulty spike, potentially deterring players. As the game remains in soft launch, adjustments to smooth out these curves are expected.

The IP also has a huge shadow, and removing from the game the necessity to plan long term has a 50-50 chance of working. We can already see some discussion boards being highly critical about it. If they’re looking to appeal to their core audience and tower defense players, then this change is going to backfire. If they’re looking to appeal to completely new players, then it could stand a chance — but it’s rare an established IP sees success with new communities without satisfying its core community first.

The next critical question involves monetization. PvZ3 appears inclined to follow the proven model of selling power-ups, similar to match-3 and other puzzle games. However, this approach might conflict with the strategic intensity of PvZ gameplay. EA will likely explore different monetization models post-soft launch, aligning with player preferences and the game's evolving dynamics.

In conclusion, PvZ3 delivers a casualized version of the beloved classic gameplay. EA's pragmatic approach to aligning the franchise with contemporary mass market standards is evident, although it might come at a cost. The ongoing improvements leave us eager to see what the future holds for Plants vs. Zombies.

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