Early Stages Of Blockchain Based Games
It has been approximately three years now since the launch of the first blockchain based game Cryptokitties, and from that point on, there have been other unique game formats that have cycled through this industry. At the outset, many of the so called blockchain games that appeared were basically gamified Pump & Dump and FOMO schemes which were very popular methods for scamming in the cryptocurrency world. Of course people caught on to this and they didn’t last long, which then quickly proceeded into what we call the “Crypto” phase because the games that came out followed the basic collectible concept of Cryptokitties, employed the Ethereum chain, and probably 90% of the games that were released began with the term “Crypto” in its title. For example, Cryptocelebrities, Cryptocities, Cryptobarons, Cryptominerworld, etc… Even though almost all of these games died, this phase was the pivotal stepping stone for all future blockchain based game developers to build upon. The key concepts center around the idea of providing true digital asset ownership through non-fungible tokens in conjunction with the ability for the owners to freely collect, buy, and sell these digital assets or ERC-721 tokens standard (NFTs).
Emergence Of Crypto Collectible Card Games
As the core concepts of collecting digital collectibles became more solidified, providing entertaining gameplay was the next stage to be established for blockchain based games. Some developers did try incorporating on chain gameplay but this was a very slow and expensive process to which the gamers would have to wait to perform every in-game action and also pay an onchain gas fee for doing so. By reason of the horrible UX, this objective was immediately scrapped, however the games continued to follow with the NFT basis and the one game type that gained some traction over this short period were the various digital collectible card games. We would say the first that qualified to be in this category was https://cryptage.co/ . It had its own entertaining, off-beat spy and espionage theme and was the first IMGA blockcahin game winner, unfortunately though the team moved away from this game and onto the emerging defi sector. What has been a more common theme for these blockchain based digital card games is them falling into the fantasy realm, similar to Hearthstone and the popular Magic: The Gathering TCG’s. Some good examples of these are the games, https://www.etherlegends.com/ and https://splinterlands.com/ where their card descriptions mainly focus on characters such as dragons, ogres, etc. The spells and magic elements are also an important part in establishing the game mechanics.
Understandably, by transitioning the model of these traditional card games and synthesizing it with blockchain technology, a new vision for blockchain gaming was able to emerge which in part highly reinforces the migration into the next generation of digital collectible games. Players can now truly own their digital card assets and verifiably show this on the blockchain. This transparency that blockchain tech provides also helps legitimately expose the scarcity and provenance of these non-fungible card assets. Furthermore, all of these components together have opened up the opportunity for players to use, trade and sell digital assets freely in secondary NFT marketplaces, thus spearheading an advanced Play-to-Earn while evading the conventional Pay-to-Win gaming model. When comparing to the most sought after Magic: The Gathering “Black Lotus” card being sold on eBay for $166,100, in December of last year a player from a formerly new and popular blockchain based TCG ,God’s Unchained sold their one-of-a-kind digital card for 210 ETH, approx. $31,000 US dollars in their market. The demonstration that the value proposition exhibited from typical TCG’s proved it was able to translate well when moved on to the blockchain. This also provided confirmation that the P to E model was an important factor in the infrastructure for a whole new digital economy in blockchain based games.
Gods Unchained: Overview
Behind the God’s Unchained blockchain game is the team from Immutable and as their company name implies, they stand dedicated to providing unalterable, digital assets transcribing to the full ownership and transparency of their in-game non-fungible card tokens. There is proof that many are on board with their initiative, beginning with their limited edition “Genesis” set presale in July 2019 selling out of the 4 millions cards that were available and breaking $4.5 million in revenue.
Next came the $2.4 million seed round for Gods Unchained from Coinbase Ventures and some other investors. Then, not soon after Naspers Ventures led a $15 million round with Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital EOS VC Fund participating in this series as well.
Essentially, Gods Unchained is a free-to-play, turn-based PvP or PvE card game, where players use their own constructed decks of digital cards along with a selected God of choice and their included, unique powers. Each player’s God starts with 30 health, one mana, which is the primary resource in Gods Unchained, and their mulligan hand of cards. The maximum number of cards you can have in your hand is nine. Once you run out of cards to draw, you will begin to lose mana per turn and if you run out of all your mana, you lose the game. There are three types of non-fungible token cards; Relics, Creatures, and Spells and during your turn you can either: A. Use mana to play your cards B. Use your selected god power or C. Use your god’s ultimate power. After you are all done with your turn, you then give the board to your opponent.
Gods Unchained: Looking Ahead & Removing Barriers
On the horizon is the much anticipated launch of the Gods Unchained first season expansion titled “Trial of the Gods.” This update will present several unique cards, new gameplay mechanics and a fresh new look. Previously, in November 2019 Gods Unchained launched their marketplace enabling users to buy and trade the game’s digital collectible cards in the form of ERC721 tokens. Already having exchanged 7M worth of cards and soon to be adding the new cards from the expansion pack, the team is taking every precaution not to tip the scalability walls on the Ethereum chain. In order to avoid the fundamental issues such as causing bottlenecks in the ethereum network alongside the delay in transactions, the team has partnered with StarkWare in developing their Immutable X project. An off-chain exchange infrastructure supporting very high amounts of NFT trading and at the same time mitigating the work on the main Ethereum blockchain.
The Immutable team has always been establishing new designs to obtain the mass gaming audience and a primary objective to do this is by removing the obstacles relevant to the onboarding of non-crypto users with smoother and easier onboarding ramps. Originally, for users to play Gods Unchained they had to connect to the game through an Ethereum wallet, like Metamask. This method worked but still had its complications so to make it even more effortless, the team designed it so that all users had to do was create an account on the website. Another important ramp that was updated was providing the ability for users to make purchases for digital collectibles through their debit card enabled in-game purchases. Presumably, by making these provisions it has supported Gods Unchained consistent top ten ranking in total volume sales and transactions on NFT market such as Open Sea and ranking site DappRadar. Nevertheless, blockchain based game developers need to still work hard and always look for new alternatives in growing and sustaining their communities. For instance, a great opportunity to capture some PR arose when Hearthstone Esports player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was banned for a year and also stripped of his prize winnings for vocally supporting in a post game interview the Hong Kong people in their anti-government protest efforts for the withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill. As a solution, what Immutable offered was to cover everything Blizzard stripped from “Blitzchung” as well as providing the player with a ticket into their GU world championship grand final tournament. This directly alludes to the other big event that is coming up next from Gods Unchained. Immutable is entering the Esports world where they will hold a yearly Esports tournament with the current prize pool sitting at $570K plus 10% of all card pack sales to the winners. Back in 2018, there were 20,000 Championship tickets, that were actually ERC20 tokens, combined with other cards in the original legendary packs which sold out immediately. The unique feature about putting these tickets on the blockchain is that they all can now be sold or traded to another player in a secondary NFT market if a ticket owner chooses to do so. Do not worry if you cannot get one of the tickets this time around as the Immutable team have announced that numerous other tournaments are being planned and will be disclosed very soon.
In conclusion, as blockchain gaming is still a nascent industry and many pieces need to fall into place to gain that mass adoption, it does look like Gods Unchained is on the right track in paving the way to be a leader in the next gen collectible games market. They have great teams of investors backing their product and so far their game, Gods Unchained is fully living up to all the benefits that blockchain technology offers, the crucial one being that players can truly own their digital card assets. Their secondary NFT market trade volume is constantly on top of the charts and having the experience of Chris Clay, who oversaw Magic: the gathering Arena to obtain 3 million active players and managed to achieve over a billion games played, as Gods Unchained’s new game director under their belt doesn’t hurt either.
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