#1: Crypto Unicorns Launched
The long awaited Crypto Unicorns game — which leverages farming, land, breeding, and, yes, unicorns — launched last week.
Like many games in the lineage of CryptoKitties, Crypto Unicorns involves the collecting and breeding of virtual creatures with more or less desirable “genetic” properties. The bigger difference is the game’s focus on the farming aspect as a resource management system rather than battling your Unicorns. As such, being able to play the game requires a Land NFT and a single unicorn, although obviously you’ll need two to breed.
Trading volume for the land NFTs has predictably increased. On OpenSea, there was $2,352,150 in volume over the past week (as of the time of writing), with a floor price of approximately $585. The unicorns themselves have also seen a bump in trading, but they command a much higher floor price of around $3,410, which makes starting to play as prohibitive as Axie Infinity was at one point. At the moment there are nearly 3x as many land holders as Unicorn holders — 6,063 vs 2,816 — which reflects the ranging supply of NFTs. There have been between 250-460 new unique wallets per day acquiring land since the game went live.
Crypto Unicorns developers are running a three-month “Summer of Love” promotional event to help celebrate the launch, and this month’s focus is breeding (which naturally helps onboard more new players). Despite the focus on farming, the promotion has already resulted in 84 unicorns bred, which amounts to $8.7k in the UNIM token spent to breed so far. Hopefully, an early focus on breeding will also result in downward pressure on the Unicorn NFT floor price to make the game more accessible for new players.
#2: Square Enix Sells off Legacy Franchises to Fund its NFT Future
Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda has been a consistent pro-blockchain voice among AAA publishers who have often backed off amidst backlash from traditional gamers. Most larger publishers — with the exception of Ubisoft — are mostly tip-toeing into NFTs and tokens, careful not to stir up public animosity. Square Enix proved its commitment this week by selling off iconic franchises to Embracer Group like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Legacy of Kain, and Thief along with the studios behind them: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal, and Square-Enix Montreal.
It’s important to note that Square Enix has been looking for a buyer of these assets for quite some time and failed to make meaningful returns on those studios. In other words, this transaction isn’t about NFTs — it’s about exiting low ROI assets — but the effects of selling could accelerate the company’s efforts with newer technologies. The deal for $300M may be partially used to help finance a number of NFT-based projects. The company will likely experiment before it integrates NFTs into its most important franchises — like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts — but it’ll be exciting to watch where it goes.
Square Enix hasn’t announced any games to be developed with the money yet, but they do have a number of games announced for this year, so it’s entirely possible for there to be some early signs of blockchain integration. Square Enix is not totally new to blockchain development, as it has dabbled in NFT trading cards on Immutable in October 2021. Square Enix also recently announced that it’s bringing its Dungeon Siege game IP to The Sandbox (which it has invested in) despite being an older franchise.
On the other side of the transaction, Embracer Group has clearly acquired a large number of game publishers and studios over the past year, but it has also signaled a disinterest in NFTs. Therefore, it’s unlikely that the acquired franchises will incorporate anything blockchain-related.
- Blockchain Brawlers announced a PvP mode designed by the famed Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Link
- Illuvium: Zero, an Illuvium-related city-building game released recently, voted on land sale details. Link
- Train of the Century, a train-based NFT TCG, released v1.0 details and an updated roadmap. Link
- Doomsday, an on-chain NFT survival game on Polygon, released season 2 details. Link
- Kongregate revealed an upcoming NFT metaverse spin on its popular 8-bit Heroes game. Link
- Sky Mavis released new details of how its Axie Infinity: Origin Land staking program will work, which is causing some price volatility. Link
- Sky Mavis also released an Axie Infinity mid-season esports update and a tool for anyone to burn SLP tokens.
- BoomLand, a blockchain platform, launched its first game, Hunters On-Chain. Link
- Poppin, a Solana “eat-to-earn” game, was announced. Link
- StepN is bringing back “double mint” activity to increase shoe “breeding.” Link
- CyBall announced a variety of small updates including Seasonal Guild Leagues.
- Sipher released a technical pre-alpha sneak peek. Link
- Thetan Arena started a special “donut battles” tournament. Link
- Realm is doubling staking rewards to celebrate its Gate.io listing. Link
- Revomon, an NFT VR monster-collecting game, released a mobile version. Link
- Tatsumeeko, an idle MMO for mobile, is running an airdrop promotion for in-game furniture. Link
- Delysium, an open world game, launched its pre-alpha test.
- Mines of Dalarnia released a land management dashboard. Link
- Snail Trail, an Avalanche-based racing game, is launching on May 5th. Link
- Star Atlas is partnering with The Sandbox for a community contest. Link
- Undead Blocks, a zombie-shooting FPS, released its UNDEAD token and a public beta livestream reveal. Link
- Yuga Labs’ Otherdeeds NFT sale made $600M in sales while costing more than $150M in record-breaking Ethereum gas fees. Link
- Venly, a blockchain agnostic service for web3 games and apps, raised $23M in a round led by Courtside Ventures. Link
- SnackClub, a Brazilian-based sister company to esports brand Loud, raised $9M to help blockchain games grow in developing countries. Link
- 0x Labs, a DEX protocol, raised $70M thanks to a recent partnership with Coinbase for its NFT market in a Series B funding round led by Greylock Partners. Link
- OpenSea and Polygon are now both supporting ApeCoin. Link, Link
- THNDR is helping push bitcoin lightning network transactions into mobile gaming. Link
- NFTrade, a multi-chain NFT marketplace, broke $2M in trades led by NFT game Mines of Dalarnia. Link
- Solana Network experienced a major outage thanks to a bot swarm. Link
- Ancient8 announced a partnership with Magic Eden along with the release of its new “read-to-earn” research portal. Link
- YGG SEA announced its SEA token IDO on the Copper launchpad. Link
Notable Market Moves
- Most of the top 10 took a small dip this week, with the exception of Render Token, which did the opposite. RNDR went very vertical on April 30th, climbing quickly from the lowest point it had been since the end of last October. The token shot up from $1.211 to a same-day peak of $1.7543 before settling down to around $1.5 where it has been bouncing up and down from. Part of the growth may have been due to an update announcing a 3.5x growth in frames rendered, followed up by a new Octane renderer update.
- Axie Infinity’s AXS token and StepN’s GMT token both saw significant drops. Both had announcements that should in theory have positively impacted the listed governance tokens (AXS and GMT respectively), but market interest seemed to disagree. GMT did manage to drop back below AXS, but just barely. We may continue to see some downward pressure on both as the hype around StepN settles down and Sky Mavis struggles to regain faith in its ability to improve the economics around Axie Infinity.
- Outside of the recently released Blockchain Brawlers, Wax hasn’t seen a lot of interest despite 2 of its games, Alien Worlds and Farmers World, taking up the number 2 and 3 spots on DappRadar’s game charts. Overall, Wax doesn’t seem to be attracting the scale or caliber of games that are making a home on networks like Polygon, Solana, and Immutable. It’s possible this could somewhat reverse, or at least stabilize, if the touted EVM compatibility ever materializes, but there hasn’t been an update or release date given for some time now.
Content Worth Consuming
- The Future of Axie Infinity with Philip La, Game Lead at Sky Mavis (The Metacast by Naavik) – “Philip La is the Game Product Lead at Sky Mavis, the makers of Axie Infinity. He joins your host Nico Vereecke today to discuss all things Blockchain Gaming. We go into #1 What makes Axie Infinity special, #2 Axie Origin, #3 Axie Land Gameplay, #4 The future of Play-to-Earn. YouTube video. Link
- Land value tax in online games and virtual worlds: A how-to guide (Game Developer) – “Keep in mind that if you don’t make land tradeable, or provide some sort of currency for your economy, players may simply provide both features themselves. If land cannot be formally traded between accounts in-game, players will form a black market to buy, sell, and trade accounts out-of-game, or provide services that do whatever it takes to move an asset from one account and into another one. And if you don’t provide an official currency, players will find some other commodity in game to stand in for one and use that.” Link
- Why designing NFT sales is hard and key considerations (Derek Lau) – “If you want to design a great sale, you must understand the meta. Doing a Dutch auction sale right after a series of ‘scam’ projects release Dutch auctions could give your community an incorrect bias that your sale format is also ‘scammy’. Using a raffle system for your community might work well for the first project that does it, but not if everyone starts building bots to enter these raffles. Even using KYC could end up being exploited, something we saw with the Yuga Labs sale where thousands of KYC accounts were allegedly traded on the secondary market.” Link
- Blockchain Gaming with the Web3 OG, Shahaf Bar Geffen (Deconstructor of Fun Podcast) – “Shahaf started a company called ominously Web3 back in 2006. Since then he has been at the forefront of the adaptation of blockchain technology first within finance and now within games as the President of UnCaged Studios. In this episode, we discuss the reasons why blockchain and crypto broke into the mainstream last year. Why do investors remain bullish about blockchain gaming despite massive security hacks and lack of audience growth? As well as what is the most important part when assessing and predicting the success of a blockchain games company.” Link
- NFTs recognised as ‘legal property’ in landmark case (The Art Newspaper) – “In a judgment, due to be published later this week, the judge held that the assets were ‘property’ and thus able to have access to legal protections—in this instance, an injunction served on accounts on Ozone Networks (which hosts the NFT marketplace OpenSea), to freeze the assets, and a Bankers Trust disclosure “compelling [OpenSea] to send information about the two account holders” who currently hold the NFTs.” Link