Yuga Labs, the heavyweight behind some of the biggest web3 IP, including Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, and Meebits, made its first foray into games just over a year ago with its toilet-themed infinite runner, Dookey Dash. Now Yuga is here with a sequel called Dookey Dash: Unclogged, and there are a lot of innovations from the original - the most important of which are that it is not token-gated, and it is mobile. The game was developed in partnership with one of the earliest web3 game studios, Faraway Games, best known for its shooter Mini Royale: Nations. In conjunction with this release, Yuga and Faraway have announced that Faraway Games is acquiring a subset of Yuga’s IP portfolio and that Yuga Chief Gaming Officer is joining Faraway as Chief Product Officer. 

In this episode your host, Niko Vuori, dives into Yuga’s and Faraway’s strategy, how the partnership came to be, what acquiring some of Yuga’s IP means for web3 gaming more broadly for the ecosystem, and what learnings Yuga took from Dookey Dash to the sequel. 

Learn more about Yuga Labs and Faraway Games. You can find Spencer Tucker on LinkedIn.


We’d also like to thank Nefta for making this episode possible. Nefta has created an advertising network that pays game publishers higher eCPMs on their iOS opt-out users and drives better results for advertisers. Learn more about how Nefta can boost your results at http://nefta.io/ 

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Niko: Hello and welcome to the Naavik Gaming Podcast.

I'm your host, Niko Vuori. We have a great episode for you today. And one I am particularly excited for last year's most popular Naavik podcast episode was with today's guest. And we were covering the topic of Yuga Labs and their then newly released game, Dookey Dash. Today, we go back to the future for a bit of deja vu.

And once again, we'll be talking about Yuga. One of the heavyweights, of course, in the Web3 space with Boarded Yacht Club, among many other top crypto native intellectual properties. And Yuga, in partnership with Faraway Games, is going to release with their Dookey Dash toilet themed Infinite Runner sequel called Dookey Dash 2.0. Unclogged. And there are a lot of animations from the original. The most important, which are that it is not token gated and it is mobile. And in conjunction with this release, you go and far away, have announced that far away games is acquiring a subset of Yuga's IP portfolio. So we have a lot of news to cover here.

So today we welcome back Spencer Tucker. Who as chief gaming officer at Yuga led the development of the title and partnered with Faraway Games on it. Spencer also has some personal news to share as he is transitioning from Yuga to become chief product officer at Faraway, but he will remain closely involved in continuing to develop new IP.

With you, a lot going on a lot to unpack. So without further ado, Spencer, welcome back to the pod.

Spencer: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here. And yeah, definitely a lot to cover.

Niko: This is a, it's a meaty episode here. A lot of news being, being covered here. We always start with this. I knew you've been on the pod before, but just reminder listeners about your background.

And of course, share the story, the exciting personal news about joining far away.

Spencer: Yeah just brief kind of history on myself. I've been in gaming for roughly 20 years prior to, or like before that I was in banking doing bank ops for about 8 years ish so previously worked at Scopely as president of games, before that I was at GRI as SVP of product there and SVP of studios at Glue, and then before that I was in the PC, MMO scene.

Running a bunch of mid core games and business ops for area games. And yeah, most recently, I forgot I should mention CGO at at Yoogalabs, and now, as of last week just transitioned over to Faraway and brought I guess you could say that the kids with me, so I brought a number of IPs and And different game experiences over to far away.

And of course the relationship there is pretty, pretty tight as you might imagine. We're still making dookey dash. And we're still working directly with with the folks over there and the founders to integrate some of the brands that we picked up and some of their properties and the whole, interoperability.

Sort of ecosystem play lives on in that sense.

Niko: Nice. Yeah, our listeners I'm sure are mostly familiar with you, the labs and board ape and, mutant apes and crypto punks of course was acquired by them as well. A lot of crypto native IP, like I mentioned in the intro, but our listeners are perhaps not as familiar with far away games.

So tell us a bit more about them. When I got to know. Alex Paley, who's the founder there. This was back in 2021. They were still very focused on building a Solana native open world shooter called mini Royale, which had of course, NFT integrations and open economies. But it looks like a lot has changed in the subsequent years in fireways strategy and what they're working on.

How has the company evolved over the years and what are they doing now?

Spencer: Yeah. So I think originally the vision was, lightweight. Mobile, easy, accessible games that you can launch up with interoperability and a crypto native component to it. That's still a thing.

However the company's evolved quite a bit. So now it's focused on its platform strategy, almost think of it as B2B, B2C, D2C a SAS sort of solution for crypto economies, crypto games with a marketplace. non custodial wallet solutions to onboard non Web3 native folks much easier.

They've also been focused on building additional games. Some of those are what I'd refer to as like kind of degen first games or like Web3 NFT gated experiences, but also looking to grow the ecosystem with more kind of let's call it free to play Web 2. 5 types of experiences. And so the real kind of strategy there is still to focus on games first, but to build out an ecosystem and a platform that really creates a sort of sticky inflow from from more traditional gaming and gets people onboarded to the kind of value proposition and retentive features that are only available through the blockchain.

So that's the focus right now.

Niko: Nice. And how does the Yuga partnership with far away come into play here? Like, how does that fit into the strategy? And if you can actually tell us a little bit about the background on how the original deal came to, to be and how it evolved and what is it, what does it mean for you guys now going forward?

Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. Happy to speak about that. So I think to appreciate that you got to go back a little bit pre far away at at Yuga labs. As Chief Gaming Officer at Yuga Labs, we did a whole bunch of what I'd call mini games activations, generally very short dev timelines, and typically not being built with with developers who had a lot of robust experience in either free to play or at scale product or games as a service experiences.

And one of the challenges there, aside from the short dev timelines, were just the number of features you could get out, the types of experiences you could build and dealing with like bugs and like scale problems and things like that as a byproduct of the development ecosystem that you are leveraging.

Because Yuga at the end of the day is just not a first party developer and never really was. After we put out a few of these games, it became very clear to me that we needed to start to partner with, Other developers who had a little bit more experience bandwidth moved fast, which is critical and Web3.

But Bill built stuff that could stand up at scale and had experienced live operating product. There are obviously a lot of developers out there. There aren't a ton of developers that build at the pace that kind of accommodates. Web3, and that was one of the considerations, given my prior experience with Alex and Dennis both at Glue and also worked with them at Scopely, I had a pretty tight relationship with them.

As a byproduct of that I reached out and I said, Hey, would you guys be interested in building out some products with with Yuga? I helped tee them up with the mutant cartel guys for Serum City. And so we already had a kind of ongoing conversation. And we had this idea at Yuga to grow the ecosystem.

I, I talked about that I think last time with with Doki Dash. So really this idea of Doki Dash and Clog came up. It was like what if we, open the front of the funnel, no longer token gate, it, try to create a reward mechanism to simulate the original zeitgeist.

And like driving factor behind what I saw as like best in class KPI profiles for a game like that. And then built it, for scale, mobile first, new engine, et cetera. So they were into that. They thought the idea was great. And and that's how it all kicked off.

We've been developing that for, call it, I think, seven months now, something like that. And it's a brand new engine, lots of changes. We can get into some of that stuff and how the strategies changed a bit, but That was the Genesis point. And then from there, as they continue to iterate and create this game Yuga was looking at the product and kind of the quality of the output and was pretty impressed with it.

And they're like, these guys are basically delivering a great product at a great pace. And we've got all these other games that we don't really have the capacity or attention span or focused energy to really. Go deep into maybe it makes sense to have a conversation when far away, reached out to you guys and said, Hey, we're interested in some of these Ips.

Maybe it makes sense to pursue, exploring that route. And so that's what ended up happening. As a byproduct of that far away, picked up legends of the mora and heavy metal. They're still attached in the typical web three way through interoperability to the ecosystem, but now they're like dedicated far away IPS and we're getting the love and attention of a dedicated, developer who actually has like the capacity to build for those communities.

So that's the Genesis of both the IP, the games, and then my factoring into that is part of the conversation when we. Explored IP going over to too far away. They were already making the game and I was spending, the majority of my time working on these products.

Anyway, it was like, does it, does it make sense? Alex and Dennis were like, we. Spencer really knows his stuff better than anybody else. What do you guys think about maybe he coming over and joining far away? And so we had a back and forth about that with Yuga. But I think we all generally arrived at the conclusion that made the most sense.

And so I was happy to to be able to join them officially and and still continue the work that I was doing at Yuga and again. Keeping the relationship strong between you and far away as a result of that. So it's that's the change in the move for me. But ultimately it's empowering for those IPS in those communities to be able to have a dedicated person who understands the brands and understands product focused with those guys to put all those resources behind delivering great, excellent kind of sticky experiences for those collections.

Niko: Yeah, that's a lot has happened, as we say, and things move fast in web three and, you blink and you miss it, like I said, I was looking at the faraway website in preparing for this episode, and I just remembered Alex and Dennis working on mini Royale back in, not that long ago, only a couple of years ago and here we are, the website looks completely different.

And so yeah, blink and you miss it. In addition to the some of the IP coming over and obviously, that frees up far away to build as they see fit. I presume with that IP and then tying it back to yoga. Are there still plans to do more of co development or Taking other Yu Gi Oh IP, like the biggest of the big IP, like the Board Apes and like you did with Dookey Dash and continuing to do more of those games as well, or is this, the Dookey Dash Unclogged, is this not done there?

And then they're planning on, Farway's planning on working on the new IP exclusively, or is there some mix of things?

Spencer: Yeah, I think it's it's definitely a mix of a number of things. So obviously Dookey Dash Unclogged is Board Ape IP. And that's going to be developed with with far away and launched and operated with far away the heavy metal stuff and legends of the Mara think of like legends of the Mara is an analog to, Star Wars legends.

So it's like you've got other side is the main brand and colon. A star wars story is like some offshoot stories on top of that brand legends of the morrow is the same deal. So the degree to which we continue to work together and realize that universe collectively, like that will be a thing.

But I think, for you and far away, like the relationship will continue to evolve and we'll see, what we do in the future collaboratively together with different brands. But I can say from far away's point of view we definitely want to lean into those IPs as a prime priority and deliver experiences that people are really looking for.

And I can get into what that looks like. There's really we have a pretty unique, I think, business strategy at this point which is what I describe as first and second party Like game publishing and ecosystem plays plus a kind of split focus what I call degen first games and let's call it web 2.

5 front funnel games. And so the idea there is first we built this this platform and I actually think, probably most people out there don't even know this stuff exists. They go to faraways website and check it out. I think you'll be pretty. Surprised at the tech that already exists there.

Like the non custodial wallets, multi chain support there's like Fiat payment options, crypto payment options, like interoperability and games, a game marketplace where it shows you, off the, it chews up off chain data on that marketplace to show you like, Hey, you own this like NFT and it's interoperable in these various different places.

There's a UGC layer that's already built. That's already live and working in Dookey Dash Unclogged and many Royal nations and some of the other products. There's a lot there from a, just a pure like SaaS business platform perspective, as well as like a consumer marketplace perspective.

So I think that's a. That's definitely something interesting, but as we look at the, D gen to gen to free to play, I guess you could call it, what, 2. 5 gaming, really the idea is the free to play stuff is going to be targeting, mobile. Because that's where scale is, like mobile, cross platform, honestly, mobile and PC all our games are going to be cross platform in that respect.

But what you can do with those games, as you might expect, is like more limited than what you can do if it's a D Gen first game. So the D Gen first games will do things like you would expect a D Gen first game to do. Look at individual traits, work those into the gameplay look at the reward systems and make sure those are aligned with what people expect out of a Web3 gaming experience.

Really lean into this kind of interoperability play in a way that really speaks to the Web3 crowd directly. But at the same time, those pieces of content will still be useful in the free to play kind of Web 2. 5 play. And so I'll give you like a real practical example of this.

In Dookey Dash Unclogged, you've got NFT benefits in the form of this thing called YugaScore. YugaScore. And so you've got a sewer rank. So if you remember Dookey Dash 1, you had different tiers. You had 2, Tier 3, Tier 4. That mechanic still exists, but in the free to play version of the game, you can earn your way from Tier 0 effectively to the top tier, which we call Goat Tier.

And you get the same benefits you would if you had owned, a Board 8 at the time in Dookey Dash 1. So same kind of concept. Now there's two ways to unlock that kind of tier. The first way is to basically play your way all the way up earn stars every run until you unlock each of those tiers progressively.

The other way is you own these NFTs, you hold them in your wallet, and when you connect, it gives you a thing called Yuga score and that Yuga score then automatically unlocks those tiers. So it's like a bypass for the grind in essence. So that's like, Meeting the criteria of Apple and Google in terms of you're not giving benefits or advantages that can't be earned or bought directly in the game but it's still giving utility to those NFT collections.

And that's something that that I think is pretty interesting. So if you think about it that way, it's now you've got this free to play funnel that we can leverage to grow the ecosystem. We can then find conversion points within that ecosystem through various different things to get more people into Web 3 and vice versa.

Because there might be some Web 3 players who also want to play, Dookey Dash, even though it's not completely DGen first. That's the idea. And then on top of that. We have first and second party sort of gamey development things going on. I can't get into too many details, but suffice to say we're either deeply in conversation with or co developing outside of the Faraway ecosystem on a number of games.

We want to lean into the strengths of Faraway, both from a game genre standpoint and execution standpoint, but also from a Knowing where we're weak and leveraging, those Strengths and other parties outside of us. So we're in conversations with some pretty large developers that i'm sure people have seen some interestingly high fidelity products or developers in the kind of more traditional Free to play mobile space that do genres that we're, just not prepared to develop in so I think you'll see a number of those things coming out.

And again, back to the ethos of interoperability all of these things are going to fall into one of those two categories I just described, even if they're external. And all of those things are going to interoperate with each other. And so all of those collections that we're working with are essentially going to be given utility in these experiences.

And we're going to be looking at ways to convert folks from each of those experiences into our ecosystem and we're supplying the technology and all those things I mentioned before at a platform level like the kind of non custodial wallets, easy onboarding marketplace with all that off chain data represented for players, a trade ecosystem, like all that that people then get to not just trade within a game, but trade with.

Outside of games, like basically sell content from one game to a person who uses it in another game, that kind of stuff. So it's a pretty interesting play, but that's that's how this strategy is Is evolving and manifesting at the moment.

Niko: So that's very meaty, very, very meaty. And lots of impact there.

I actually, I did have a question that came to mind as you were talking about all the different initiatives of faraways in engaging in the SAS products and the web three DGN stuff, and then. Free, casual, mobile, something, everything in between first party development, second party development.

There's a lot going on there, right? And I did have a question on the genres because even before you got into that, it's very rare for a developer to have expertise in multiple genres very rare. Typically you'll find studios focus on a single genre and they'll just basically make that their entire careers and focus on that.

Infinite runner and, open world shooter already are very different. And you've just mentioned that there are a whole bunch of other genres that are in the mix. Yes, you mentioned some of the second party stuff where you're co developing with studios that have that expertise. But all of this, but, and then the SAS stuff, that's all very different to like selling, B2B is not the same as developing your own IP.

And it's not the same as co developing with other people's IP. So all that to say wildly ambitious and I love ambitious. Projects and companies and guests. So I love that from that perspective, but it does beg the question. Is it too much? How are you able to work even with Open World Shooter and Dukidash, the Infinite Runner?

Like, how is their expertise internally to do just those two, never mind all the others?

Spencer: Yeah, so I think a few things I'll point out. First thing is with respect to like the platform stuff, there's dedicated teams on each product. And the platform team is no exception. So that's like a single lane.

It's not a shared resource pool. And it's entire kind of like skill set is around building building out that plat platform tech. That like SaaS stuff, the marketplace stuff. Second thing is that in certain cases, some of this is not necessarily being built from scratch. And I think that's where a lot of the challenges in game dev can be.

Building from zero to one is difficult. If you've got a starting position and emulation targets, it tends to be easier. And then you also have to look at what you're building and who it's for. I'll give you like two examples. Minireal Nations I'm pretty sure that was like a codebase that pre existed and was acquired went far away, started, and then they built on top of it.

So it wasn't like they, built a shooter from the ground up from scratch. It was like something that already pre existed and then they just built on top of it and added a ton of meta depth and different layers. Similarly with Dookey Dash we did that at Yuga. The code is brand new from scratch.

But one of the hardest things you can do with a casual game is get that core loop right. And that initial experience and a lot of that work was bolted done already. And proven out at some degree of like meaningful quantifiable scale with the community and Dookey dash one. And so what we did was took Dookey dash core concept added, what you would refer in the industry as like a plus one, right?

So it's like we added like the magnet and the slowdown timer and some of the stuff I actually want to get into the original. And then we started adding in additional layers that actually were very synergistic with stuff that far away already had. The UGC stuff, for example, already existed. The fact that we were building in a new engine and the fact that platform tech already worked and we already had skeletons and rigs and kind of specs for those avatars and vehicles and stickers and everything, made it like super easy to plug it in and all of a sudden now you've got a UGC layer on top of Dookey Dash.

So it's not like you have to iterate, your way to that point. It's like you're borrowing from stuff you did historically and just adding it on top. There is a lot new going into Dookey Dash as well. And that's obviously iterative work. I think other genres for example Serum City was also built on the back of an acquired game that they have.

I think it's like far away. I forget the name of it, but it's on the website. It's it was like a city builder. It was more of a 3D one. And so they moved to 2D, did the art, but the kind of like core game code base and like format are pretty similar. It's basically. A township like game and then when it comes to, legends of the Mara.

There's the free to play version, which we're still iterating on. And then there's the rebirth, which will be a re revision of the current game. Added a whole bunch of technical depth, etc, but we again have the code bases. We've already, imported those, stood them up on staging and now we're talking about adding health mechanics and like a combat layer and stuff like that.

Again, a separate dedicated team. So I think it's it is true that is a lot and it is very ambitious. And I have no doubt that the strategy will continue to evolve as we go. But I think the core thesis here is to build on top of what you already have. Leverage tech that's already been executed and put live and battle test it.

And then acquire either the expertise or the technology to give you a leg up on the next game that you make. And then there's one other factor that I think is actually important to mention, which is the reality that if we're going to do a free to play game, you have to be competitive with a free to play market, even if it's Web 2.5.

That is an incredibly high high bar to Crest, very difficult. If you're competing with a D Gen game the kind of game quality bar is much different and you're not over optimizing the way you might have to do in free to play. It's not about min maxing CPI like CAC and kind of LTV ROI yield stuff.

That, that will be a factor I'm sure at some point, but right now that's not really the case because you've got that big den audience. And so what you really want to do there and I think what we're doing is like you ask yourself the question of what is the purpose of this game? How are we monetizing it?

What actually is the strategy for this and then that in relationship with the the kind of web 2. 5 funnel play create this this ecosystem play where it's what I'd call like collateralized LTV and UA. So it's like more of like your network function allowing you to grow and then be a force multiplier on.

On that yield and that CAC so that you can more effectively spend your way to, to that scale. So I think it's a balance but the reality is the DJN games don't have to be, the most AAA of AAA games. And they don't have to, they don't have to be competitive with, um, Clash of Clans or, yeah, Monopoly Go, exactly.

And it's, yeah so I think that's one of the benefits. And even with the free to play stuff, if you look at Dookey Dash, the play there is like pretty novel in a lot of respects. For that reason, right? I'm not going to pretend that we're going to go smash Subway Surfers tomorrow just because we built an infinite runner, right?

That's a silly thing to, to assume. But, and it's also true that, in in the aggregate sense, I don't think a lot of people know what BoardApe is or Dookey Dash in general, right? I'm, I, there's a certain crowd, absolutely and I think we already have their attention. So the UA from that crowd is baked in effectively and it's free, but.

How do you reach a broader audience? And so that's some of the stuff we're working on now, like adding arcade mode, with the e sport layer, with the prize pool that grows over the course of the season with a pretty like big starting number, a million dollars with like our, our leveraging our relationships with different apes that have like other relationships, in media and like with other large like merchandise product based Brands, et cetera.

So there's like a whole bunch going on there. That's not even just the game. It's it is leveraging the capacities of both companies to drive that product to success. And so that's yet again, the, your the name of the game never changes. You're looking for some sort of disruptive advantage and here, I think, it depends on the game and the advantage, but ultimately the more that we can tie these all together.

Hence interoperability, et cetera. The more de risk you need, one of these things becomes. So that's kind of the, the play there.

Niko: Yeah. All makes sense again, wildly ambitious, as I mentioned before. I have to ask this question. I don't know if you're going to be able to answer this. But as far as I could tell the last publicly announced the funding round for far away was in 2021, which was 21 million a lot of this Stuff that you're describing is again, ambitious, takes time.

It's expensive. I believe there's an unannounced funding run in 2023. Are you able to share any more on that? Because stuff doesn't come free. It's not cheap to build.

Spencer: Yeah, I can't, I cannot really get into like specific numbers, but what I can say is we're well positioned to be able to execute.

What we need to execute and to the extent that we. Want to pick up more stuff or need the extra runway, we'll of course keep our option space open, but we're in a pretty solid spot right now. And we're very fiscally responsible. I think that's one thing that I really appreciate about Faraway and those guys in particular is just How buttoned up they are in terms of cost optimization.

Niko: And like you're not hiring Taylor Swift for your all, no,

Spencer: Come on. Yeah. Yeah. It's treat it the way you should treat a startup. But uh, like lean in where you think you've got like the most confidence in the upside.

Niko: Got it. Got it. All right. That was a very diplomatic answer.

I had to get it in there and I figured this would be the response. But but yeah thanks for at least for giving the we're well positioned line there. So that's that's at least some confirmation there. Okay. So I do want to get into some specifics here. We are talking Dukidash. We're comparing it to the original.

You've touched on a few of the pieces here already, but I really do want to go in on that because last year we're talking about growing the audience. It sounds like that's, What you're really leaning into now. Obviously the original Dukka dash was extremely DGN, like it was token gated and board apes are not cheap.

You needed to have a very expensive NFT in order to even play the game. Obviously couldn't be mobile. Couldn't even be in the Epic store at that time or steam certainly. So it was browser based game, which of course has its limitations. So tell me from that starting point, obviously you've got a totally new code base and it's mobile now.

Talk more about the differences between what you learned about a token gated, very DGN web three, truly web three experience to where you are now, which is as far as anybody who doesn't know about board apes is concerned. It's just a free to play infinite runner, right? With some then rewards at the end for NFT holders.

A very different experience despite being the same genre, infinite runner talk is more about all the changes that you made and all the things that you learned from the original coming into this one.

Spencer: Yep. Learned quite a bit which is also why we made a lot of changes. So I think first and foremost the first learning is when you token gets something that the ecosystem.

Is interesting. And by that, the web three ecosystem. The audience is interesting. It's not what I think most people would expect. So you look at like wallet count. There's no way to anchor back to a definite, single player, if that makes sense. So it's like I could have 20 wallets, right?

And I count that's 20 different people, but you really get an appreciation for the total amount of people. Sort of size of the player base or potential player base when you do something that's like token gated on a single token basis. And the reality is looking at that, it was we're talking about like 30, 000 people, 40, 000 people max, right?

So yeah, very disproportionate in terms of behavior from a spend and kind of retention perspective, but also very small. And so you've effectively capped out because I think, arguably, Dookey Dash is probably one of the most successful Web 3 games in the last couple years. And I think it achieved its maximum potential pretty quickly, and I don't think it would have sustained, over a longer period of time as a Sass game, because there's just no front funnel.

There's there's the tokens, the gate, there's the motivation that's short lived. And then the reality is there's not a mechanism for scale. So what I learned was a couple of things, like one that play again is reliant on kind of current market dynamics and hype to carry it.

And it's probably capped out at, whatever that, that percentage of the total audience that's participating in the NFT ecosystem at the time ultimately is. The second thing I learned was that, um, if you're gonna, if you're going to build like a game that's more open, you need to carry over that same motivation and there is a relationship between the token gating and the kind of mechanism for motivation, in this case the sewer pass evolving to a heavy and rank, based on your rank, etc.

You have to find some way to simulate that at scale, right? And that's difficult to do. And I think we spent a lot of time thinking about that in particular, because I, again, I'm not, naive enough to believe that the game itself is going to be hugely successful as a free to play web 2 game, just because it's a toilet humor infinite runner.

And so you look for what are the, what are the things you can do to give your, give yourself as close to the kind of prior success factors as possible, but at a scale that's much different, like orders of magnitude greater. And I think that's what started us down that process of electing what we're going to change about the game.

So I really started with what is the motivation? We already had the mechanic. And we knew that a mechanic would work if the motivation was there and it was clear enough. And and then you also have to ask yourself another question. Another layer of complexity, which is how is this going to be promoted by the people who played the first game if it is not token gated?

And it's, like not the same sort of like narrative from a web three point of view. And so the, you add on top of that, what can you do? Because you want to get the scale, you have to be on Apple and Google. So you're limited in terms of some of the things people would normally expect, like a huge power advantage or whatever, because they own an NFT.

You can't do that. And you also can't do that because of the type of game it is. Skill based, game. So took all those factors into account. And and thought about, what is the actual, like, season plan, live service plan, sass, or not sass esports approach that we want to take to, to emulate the success of the last game and motivate people to behave the way they did before.

Where we landed was, with respect to checking the box of giving utility to the old collections, such that they still feel like they want to, one, participate, but two, are going to be a mouthpiece and Elevate that brand through social media. We added in that token utility.

I mentioned the sewer stuff. So that was one component was like figuring out the analog to the tiers that we had before and then tying that In a way that wouldn't be problematic for Apple and Google. But still like beneficial for those who originally, supported the game and got the word out.

Second thing we did was we looked at the format for the season. So the season's gonna run for three months. And the way it's structured is you're competing on a weekly basis. And then on a Seasonal basis for the opportunity to win these things called the golden plungers and the golden plungers are going to be MFTs.

And the way that works is on a weekly basis, and there's actually some interesting eSport nuance here if you want me to get into it, but there the golden plungers are going to compete weekly for a chance to win these things. And then, if you. are at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the season, you're guaranteed one.

So the ones that are on the weekly basis are a little more RNG. So you basically, the higher your score on the leaderboard, the more opportunities you have to successfully pull one of these out of those those boxes that you went off the leaderboard. But everyone effectively has a shot at getting one of these, even if you're at the bottom of the leaderboard, you only get one box.

So it's more of like quantity and like a probability. That you're competing for in that sense. But if you are just crushing it you still have a chance to win at the season, the top, whatever number of places TBD, the exact number. So these golden plungers will be minted and you could keep them, sell them, whatever trade them around.

But those things are basically tickets, access passes. And that's how you get into the e sport tournament and the e sport tournament is. It's fixed to the number of people who have those passes, and that's where that prize pool is ultimately going to be rewarded. On a weekly basis, you're competing for these these tickets to compete in the eSport tourney, and over the course of that season, the prize pool grows, it starts at a million dollars.

And so by the time the season ends, it will be over a million dollars, TBD how much and you'll be in a position to compete for those prizes. And then in the actual tournament, it's very similar in terms of format. You will compete based on your rank, you'll get these these points and you'll be able to flip over tiles or open a chest TBD on the actual mechanic.

But each one of those will have, a prize below it. And those prizes can range in amounts between whatever, it could be as small as maybe a, 500 all the way up to 100, 000, maybe even more, we'll see. And the idea there is once again, if you're at the top of the leaderboard, you're not taking the whole pie and kind of everyone else is losing out.

You're getting more shots, different chunks of the pie, and you might still take the whole pie, but somebody who only gets one shot might still win something pretty material and disproportionate to the their rank. And so that's how you keep the motivation really strong to participate in that competition.

And then, of course, it wouldn't be. Dookey Dash without the key. And so at the top of the leaderboard, there will also be, in addition to, say, those number of chances you get to take rewards with a key of sorts. And that key is going to be a very deal no deal type scenario. So it'll be like, you can keep it, you can open a chest with it.

You can sell it. What's in the chest? I don't know. Could be anything. Is it a car? Is it a coin? Who knows? TBD. But that's the, another kind of degen mechanic at play there. And that's the format, and that's the motivation factor to try and emulate the kind of first game.

And of course, we'll evolve this over seasons, and I'm sure it will change, but for Season 1 that's what it's gonna look like. Now, you add on top of that, the UGC component, and the fact that the people who create the UGC, literally take 90 percent of of their content that they sell if they're selling it on their storefront.

And there's an Amazon style referral program too with like links. And so there's ways for people to monetize even, like collecting a bunch of content and and creating these little collections for use in Dukie Dash, et cetera. And then on top of that, you've got these social mechanics where you can watch people's runs, look at the top score, you see their avatar at work.

Doing stuff with eSports streamers already, and you can imagine where the vision for this ultimately goes. It is a much bigger game both from a feature perspective, but also from a technology perspective than the first one. But ultimately that's that's the play. And I think that's what's required to make this sort of successful.

So like right now we're in, I guess you could call it like a beta of sorts in the Philippines, we just opened up Australia. We're really just right now trying to make sure that the tech's stable and getting a sense of UA costs, et cetera, trying out different creative and standing up the various add, algorithms that are going to be required at scale.

We're going to continue to iterate there and once we're happy with the KPI profile, we'll open up additional geos and eventually we'll launch. Right now we're aiming for, I think July probably. But the reality is, you know as well as I do game dev is you don't want to just rush something out to rush it out to hit a date.

This is not about like, hitting dates. This is about delivering something that's going to be disruptive. And that's exactly what we're aiming to do. That's where it's at the moment.

Niko: All right. As you were talking, I scribbled down all the words that that you are attacking on or not tacking on, but baking into this game, you have social, you have e sports, you have streamers, you've got UGC layer, you've got mobile, you've got web three, you got web 2.

5 you've got free to play, you've got DJs, you got NFTs. And I think I missed a few, cause I only started taking these down about halfway through.

Spencer: This is also cross. Platform.

Niko: Oh, of course. I'm sorry. Yes. I'm going to write that down to cross platform. For an infinite runner, which is typically the most casual of casual certainly free to play, genres like subway surfers is just, it's so hyper casual.

This is a lot, right? And so what's the thesis here around? Like I get the motivation. The motivation is money. You gotta just, you gotta lead with that money is the motivation. Always a good motivation works every time. But why infinite runner was, were you almost forced into that because of the original Dookey dash or I, I have to believe there are other genres of games that are better suited to you know, maybe not, maybe I'll let you speak to this actually, I won't presume anything and I'll let you just speak to that.

Yeah. So why. Why infinite runner? And then, why so many different layers of complexity, arguably, which makes it harder for you guys, right? It makes it more interesting, potentially for the player, but it makes it really hard for the developer to, to balance all of those different components.

Spencer: Yeah, happy to answer that. So the this, like the easy short answer to why infinite runner is one, it's what we had that we've, we'd already proven worked once. And I didn't want to, do something, untested before. If you have something that's already proven to work in an esports capacity, even though it's novel, right?

Like an infinite runner esport game is a pretty novel thing, but it is skill based. And there's a number of things you have that you have to have skill be a factor if you're doing real money rewards. That's one thing. Second thing is we'd already tested this out with the target audience, even unintentionally as that was, eSport players came in, Mongrel won.

So we know that there's a there's a demand for it. We also had other eSport players like like Sway and others playing this, France and feedback's been generally consistently very positive. So I think for me, it was a don't fix what's not broken. We'd proven this out. I think it did.

There are things that we found, in beta that I think are interesting and that we've been focused on. For example without that motivation, it's just an infinite runner. And and like people don't understand like what they're competing for. And so their tolerance for friction or, lack of a fatigue or whatever is like quite low.

So hence we added all that stuff in. And an arcade mode for the more casual players to have objective based things to do versus just competitive mode. So we have both. But yeah, that was the idea there. It was like, I don't want to do something that we've never done before because I just don't know how it's going to work.

And if it's like not an infinite runner, is it going to be scalable? Is it going to require all this like net code? Like shooters are a can of worms, like didn't want to go that path, so it's, it was just it was the right mix, I think. Yeah. And with respect to all the other crazy stuff that got layered on top of it, really, honestly, it goes back to that point I was making before is there a way to leverage the stuff that already exists in interesting ways to improve the experience and again, de risk various different factors, like maybe LTV or, whatever.

And the answer is yes, there was stuff we could do and UGC layer actually didn't. Take that much effort. It was pretty pleasant play and that's how the tech platforms set up. And then the web 2. 5 stuff, same deal. This is the benefit, honestly, of far away having all this like web 3 tech is, account creation, super simple, a single click non custodial wallet, super easy.

Checking people's wallets for NFTs to give them the score in game. Super simple. Already done. UGC component layer. Already built in Mini Royale. Just plugged it right into Dookey Dash. So it's like all this stuff sounds crazy, but like it's been built over the past three years for this purpose.

And that's the idea is you just it's Legos, so that's the value of having that first party dev too, just like Legos, huh?

Niko: A little more complicated than Legos, but but sure. I take it, take the analogy. Question on monetization. We haven't actually spoken about that.

What are the kind of monetization paths here? Is it a, Free to play with in app purchases, which presumably is the kind of the only thing you can do on Apple and Google. Is there anything that lives outside of the mobile experience where you can monetize some of these whales, some of these, maybe token holders talk to us more about how you expect this game to make money, especially if you're giving away a million dollar prize pools it needs to make at least some money to, to pay for itself.

Spencer: In app monetization, absolutely a thing. So we've got a consumable buffs that you can buy. Pretty standard fare for an infinite runner, right? The, and also very similar to what we did with the first Dookey Dash. And the good news there is yet again if the motivation is strong enough, and I think this is something that maybe people don't realize, if the motivation is really strong and you have what is in effect an infinite monetization apparatus, which is what consumables are, especially if they're run based you've got an opportunity to monetize effectively, infinitely, until the end of the season.

So the structure of the events, the way it's score based, the way it's your top best score, and you want to burn these things every run to have your best shot for that one time that you nail your top score of getting the best score, but you're constantly trying to be one upped by other people, and therefore you have to push yourself yet again.

It creates that loop. So I think that's a pretty effective mod station strategy. But in addition to that, we also have content that we're going to be able to sell. Skins, avatars, stuff like that. But as I mentioned, we have that arcade mode that opens up a whole bunch of different mod station opportunities that don't affect the skill gameplay at all.

But do affect like your typical, free to play like meta mechanics and stuff like that. There's a profile player profile estimations there. So there's a lot of like in game stuff definitely I think out of game, not specific to this game big for obvious reasons. I think, we're not gonna flirt with disaster on our maiden voyage.

So it's yeah it's not, that's not really in the cards, but to my earlier point, I do believe in this concept of collateralized LTV. And so there is a reason for the interoperability of content, because what we will do is we will incentivize people to play these other games with the content that they own or have purchased or bought or created from Dookey Dash.

And by doing that, that we can get them into those D Gen experiences that I mentioned before, 2. 5 stuff that's not targeting mobile, maybe it's just PC, maybe Epic Store etc. And there we've now got this this effective funnel, right? Because if I pay, whatever, a dollar for a player in Dookey Dash, and my conversion rate is even low, maybe like 10 percent of the population that gets into the rest of the ecosystem.

That 10 percent might disproportionately spend in other experiences and therefore now the kind of like ecosystem LTV is significantly greater than the cost of acquisition and the math works and you've got that yield and that CAC ratio that makes a ton of sense. And so that's the play here is yes, I want that game to be really effectively monetized but I also don't want to do anything that's going to damage its retention or it's it's placement on the app store as a front funnel.

Yeah. To the rest of the ecosystem, and then we're going to optimize and try and maximize LTV through that mechanism I described.

Niko: So yeah, talking about retention actually and another metrics how much can you share? You mentioned that the game has been in closed beta or in the Philippines.

I think you just mentioned that opened up to Australia recently. I know your global release was set to be May, but it sounds like that's going to be pushed out to July. Totally understandable. That's great. That's game dev for you. Game dev one on one. So these metrics that you're tracking, what are you tracking?

Is it your standard kind of free to play game metrics or is there some extra layer for the web three component the token holder? I don't know how many token holders are in the Philippines or or Australia. But it's probably not thousands. So is there a way to measure the, this collateralized LTV component that you mentioned, which by the way, it's a nice term.

I think you may have. Have you coined that term? Is that I haven't heard it before.

Spencer: So yeah, I came up with it before.

Niko: I've been thinking about this stuff for a long time. Yeah, nice. Okay. So yeah. So talk a little bit about the metrics. What can you share? What's working? What's not? If you can talk about that as well.

The fact that you're pushing out to july implies that there's some more polishing needs to go. Of course, that's normal. So yeah, what's working and what needs more work? Okay.

Spencer: Yeah, so I can't get into specific KPIs for obvious reasons, but what I can say. Is that like initially we're focused on the UA I guess technical stability, right?

That was the first thing. So making sure that the game stood up, didn't crash, that kind of stuff. Then it was like prepping the UA funnel, getting ad creative created. Putting all the kind of telemetry in place. All the SDKs from the ad affiliates, like we're working with a company called Superfine.

Niko: Oh yeah, I agree with those guys. Yeah

Spencer: Yeah. So they're doing a lot of the UA right now, so we're like iterating back and forth, but we haven't really spent that much money. The CPIs are looking pretty decent. And really now we're going to start to focus on like retention. So that's the main area of attention right now.

And we've got a build in the works that should be introducing that stuff I mentioned before, like the Fatui and the the arcade mode. And and that's the next key thing, and my hope is that, we're gonna hit the target that, that I want to hit which is the day one of north of 50% with a strong, day over day, clip off and and then once we have that, we'll go live.

But I do think there's this factor of part of the game, and this is the part I'm, oddly not sure what to do with. I think once we put it out there, like Dookey Dash 1, a large part of the stickiness of the game is going to be related to this value proposition. The monetary incentive and kind of format.

And who knows what that does to the KPI profile, but if it's anything like Dookey Dash, it might be a force multiplier, which I would love to see. So it's a question of, like, How much do we optimize over how much time before we run that first season? So I think that's why I say July. It's like at some point you make a decision and you want to just roll it out and see what what sort of force multiplier value is added on top as a byproduct of running the actual season.

Because right now we can't do that obviously until the game fully launches. But yeah, tech wise, KPI's looking good. We're still building more telemetry in. I'm not doing as sophisticated stuff as I'm used to. Segmentation, multivariate testing, that kind of stuff yet. So we still need to get some more telemetry in.

 But yeah, it's really, it's so far so good and looking to hopefully get this thing out in the Relatively, at least in game dev terms, near, near future.

Niko: Yeah. Good luck with that. I think the TLDR, if I'm taking anything away from this is the wild card is the, the prize, right?

The million dollar prize. And that's the thing that this is going to hinge on in many ways. Cause you know, infinite runners don't monetize particularly well. They're, casual games. Obviously if you've got massive scale, like subway surfers, then yes, you can make some money. But those days are long gone where you can grow to the scale of subway surfers on the back of a.

Very casual, hyper casual game, like a, like an infinite arena. So I wish you good luck when you put it out there. I think it'll be a hearts in your throats kind of moment. I'm presuming when you put it out there in July, hopefully July and announce the prize pool and, watch the.

It's like the streamers and the gamers and the e sports fanatics and the casual players too, who think they can win, compete watch that flood of users come in. So it'll be either very exciting moment and it'll validate a lot of the theory or the thesis behind this or, there might be more work too, but anyway I hope for the former of course, and I'm sure you do too.

One big question I had, which I didn't ask earlier But I'm going to ask it now anyway, because I think it is highly relevant. What has the community reaction been? One of the things that everybody knows about web three in general, and of course, board apes in particular is that they are truly fanatical about their club, right?

It's their exclusive club and they bought into it and they are proud of that fact. You mentioned, you briefly mentioned that, you've been trying to balance the community thing, and it hasn't, it's been positive, I think, is what I took away from it. But you must have been nervous about messing, so to speak in the minds of some, I'm sure, with this beloved IP that is truly a part of the personalities of these holders.

Spencer: Yeah, so I think one, the response has been unanimously positive. So it's, yeah they love it. They're always, I get dm'd literally daily when do GDASH unclogged so it's a thing. They're like, cause it really was a moment. I think you know, the whole experience just was a big kind of cultural.

Thing for the 4. 8 community. And they missed it. And the reality is I'd also get asked all the time, when Dookey Dash relaunched, just so we can play it. I have that all the time. It's just just put it up. It doesn't matter, if there's an incentive there. We just want to play the game.

Which is obviously a good sign. From a retention standpoint. But the irony is they didn't know and we didn't talk about it. We were building it and we were going to launch this this Dookey Dash on Cloud game. The buildup of that demand was funny to see from the inside because it's like you know it's coming and you know you're gonna announce it.

And the cool thing with this game and the fact it's cross platform also is that we're able to, do like IRL events. So we did like Paris Dubai. Once the game's live, we might even have think of it as like a LAN party type situation where you stand this thing up and you've got like a bunch of people directly competing, maybe for merch, like in real time, so it's not just the game itself at a scalable kind of persistent state, it's also like standing it up at ApeFest or, whatever events or this place, that place, whatever. Maybe doing it for partners at their events, like who knows. I think the community has just been really enthusiastic to play it more.

We ran a big, huge beta with a Mutant Ape as the top prize. And and that went over really well too. So I think, yeah, overall it's as positive as you could possibly imagine. Yeah, no, no concern on my end on the community front

Niko: Nice. And you mentioned a follow up question here. You mentioned that you're hoping to activate some of the kind of more famous slash influencer slash engaged apes in the community to hopefully give you that extra oomph on the collateralized LTV.

Spread the word broadly. How are you planning on doing that? I'm not asking to mention individuals, of course but how big is this network of highly influential apes that you're hoping to activate for this purpose?

Spencer: Yeah, there, there are quite a few and and the community is pretty strong.

And the really cool thing is it's not like you'd be surprised, a lot of these people just do it. Because they like the community, it's really, it's not a paid thing. It's just they want to be part of it because it's part of their kind of club. And and we've seen that numerous times and we see it even now.

Even, working with Sway just flew him out to France. We made him an avatar and a bike, like he was cool and he's been streaming it and, it was great. So it's. Like that kind of stuff is pretty, one of the cooler things about the art club is just like the networking and the passion behind supporting stuff within the ecosystem and within the community. That's great to hear.

Niko: We are coming up to time here. We've, we have covered a lot of ground. Obviously, we had a lot of ground to cover, and there was plenty more things I could ask you about, but I'll throw it over to you.

Are there any parting thoughts on On what you'd like to call out, what's, what comes next other than the July launch, what is the post launch roadmap look like anything at all that we haven't touched on here yet today?

Spencer: Yeah, I think we've touched on a lot. We have, and I appreciate that.

Yeah. Yeah. So nothing really jumps to mind, but I think yeah, my, my partying, thoughts are, yeah it's ambitious. The roadmaps ambitious. We're doing a lot. Yeah. At both companies that you got and at far away. But I think, the benefit here is this idea of this concept of like an ecosystem and sort of dividing and conquering and then using effective work done in different places to reinforce and level up the new stuff that you're doing.

So we'll see what the future holds, but I am very bullish overall. And I think we've seen like a return at least of crypto and I think Web3 gaming is going to have its time when people realize the opportunity there. And it's one of those things where, at least in my opinion it's easy to argue against it if you're working in a traditional free to play business.

But when somebody breaks the seal and achieves exit velocity, as we all know, the entire industry is going to follow suit and that first mover advantage in that position, especially when you think about it in the context of this collateralization of LTV and network infrastructure and like how all these things tie together, you're going to have a real hard time breaking in after that.

 That's the play. This is not a small play, but I am confident that it is an interesting one. And if you're going to do anything in an industry as super optimized as gaming is at this point, it has to be something pretty novel. And so that's, that's the game.

Niko: Yeah, wildly ambitious.

I love it. Good luck with it. You want to be the subway surfers in 2024 that captures the collateral cell TV, as they were too early to them and the tomb Raidery one, the one where you're,

Spencer: Oh yeah.

Niko: Temple run. Thank you. Yes, I was blanking on that.

Yeah, you want to be early because that way you do capture the infinite runner. I remember Zynga was working. It was a really good game. Actually, it was co founder of mine, Justin on a previous company. He was the design director on that. It was a running with friends and it was a really great game, but it was way too late to mobile.

And sadly it just never reached that escape velocity that we talked about. So yeah, you do need to be early. And once you get that, you get going and it's really hard to unseat. So yeah, good luck with that. Final question. I ask all of our guests favorite three games that you're either playing or are excited by could be web two, could be web three, could be mobile, could be PC, could be anything.

Spencer: Sure. I am getting back into EVE Online I just started playing last Epoch, curious to see what that trade system's like, uh, whole bunch of mobile games, and I'm looking forward to the the Elden Ring update. So I'm kind of like all over the place, uh, different genres different genrese.

Niko: Maybe this is exactly right for you guys. And at far away, you can be a master of lots of genres or are you a a master of one or a jack of all trades?

Spencer: I'd say, I'd say I'm, I have definitely I have some skill sets that I'd say are like genre agnostic, definitely, especially on the product side, but when it comes to design, I'm probably more a mid core like RPG guy.

Niko: Got it. Alright. Perfect place to end. Thank you so much for coming on the pod again. Spencer, you're welcome back anytime. I'm very eager to have you back. Once you guys launched and you have some metrics to share and maybe that first million dollar prize pool has been won by somebody.

And we can talk about how that all went down and hopefully look back at the the success of the game. So thank you.

Spencer: Awesome. Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

Niko: And as always, a big thank you to all of our listeners. We'll be back next week with more interviews, more insights, and more analysis from the weird and wonderful world of web3.

So until next time, friends, stay crypto curious and feel free to send questions, guest recommendations, and comments to me. My email is [email protected].

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