‘$10K JPGs’ scare away gamers, Animoca’s crypto game streaming plans: Web3 Gamer


Animoca Brands buys streaming platform for blockchain games

Hong Kong Web3 gaming giant Animoca Brands (The Sandbox, Revv, Phantom Galaxies), has acquired blockchain-powered streaming platform Azarus for an undisclosed sum.

Built around the slogan “streams are not TV,” Azarus allows users to livestream their gameplay while using tokens for incentives and rewards. Animoca Brands says it wants to change gaming culture with Azarus’ tech, by enabling streamers to generate new sources of income, engage their audience and reward their followers while allowing viewers to support their preferred creators. 

This is actually how Twitch won out over the competition originally. By focusing on the interaction between streamers and their audience and designing layered incentives for users to be a part of the community, Azarus also has the potential to grow to a point where blockchain games can meet a much bigger audience.

Collaborating with known brands and streamers, Azarus has already disbursed rewards exceeding $2 million to a diverse audience of over 20 million unique players.

Animoca Brands Executive Chairman Yat Siu likens Azarus to the early days of The Sandbox, which Animoca also invested in, while Azarus CEO Alexander Casassovici says the deal “amplifies our vision.”

We’re not just enhancing streaming; we’re pioneering a movement where every viewer becomes an active participant, and every stream becomes an immersive experience.”

Animoca has a promising library of Web3 games under its umbrella, which means it already has the content necessary to develop the game streaming experience. Now, combined with Azarus’ tech, Web3 gamers can build a much more vivid community by banding together around their favorite games. The acquisition can also pave the way for Web3 gaming to become a popular profession — onboarding the next wave of gaming talent to take part in the future of blockchain gaming.

GAM3 Awards returns with a familiar jury

Web3 gaming’s new night of nights, the GAM3 Awards, is returning for its second year with three new categories: Best Fighting Game, Best Sports Game and Best On-Chain Game.

Thanks to a bunch of big-name sponsors including Amazon, Google, Magic Eden and the Blockchain Game Alliance, there’s $2 million worth of prizes up for grabs.

The first installment last year saw over 100 nominees across 16 categories, more than 250,000 votes, and a livestream of the event reaching over 30,000 users.

Big Time, a free-to-play multiplayer action RPG game set to launch its preseason, won Game of the Year, while Shrapnel, a competitive extraction shooter currently preparing for its public playtest, was the winner of the Most Anticipated Game award.

The event’s jury comprises prominent figures from the gaming world, including Web3 gaming VCs, chains, infrastructure partners, content creators – and yours truly. The jury’s decision will affect 90% of the final outcome, with community votes accounting for the remaining 10%.

The grand finale is planned to happen on Dec. 14 and will be streamed live.

Teaching financial literacy through Web3 games

The crypto and blockchain world gathered in Istanbul this week for Binance’s flagship event, Binance Blockchain Week. And, of course, blockchain gaming was a huge part of the two-day summit. Between the networking and servings of delicious Turkish food, I found a space to attend a panel where CryptoPotato editor-in-chief George Georgiev was asking some on-point questions about Web3 gaming to industry experts: Animoca’s Siu, Gomble co-founder Chris Chang, Xterio chief operating officer Jeremy Horn.

Who cares about this $10,000 jpeg!”

Those were the words of Xterio’s Horn to underline the point that when developers focus on financial gain, they scare away actual gamers. He also compared the attitude of gamers in the East to the ones in the West regarding Web3 games, stating that Eastern gamers have a higher tolerance for pay-to-win elements, as they are more familiar with free-to-play games.

“In gaming, we teach people all the time about new systems,” added Siu. “When you think about every new game you played, you come out of it you’ve learned a new skill.”

He said his children could talk all day about Pokemon characters, Call of Duty skills and Apex Legends characters off the top of their heads. Gamers learn stuff all the time in the games they play.

And it’s true. You learn attacking patterns in Elden Ring after rage quitting ten times and getting killed five times as often. Gamers know the players’ names in your favorite football club from playing FIFA. Some people even have military knowledge from games like Battlefield and Call of Duty.

So, when he said we could teach financial literacy through tokenized Web3 games and educate these games’ players, I believe he has a valid point. What Web3 needs is mainstream adoption, and to achieve that, people need to know that it isn’t a scam or a get-rich scheme. That can only happen through education. Siu noted:

We’re finally getting to the moment in time where the work from all of the developers working in Web3 is finally paying off.”

I really would like to see those promises fulfilled. People are starving for good games, especially in Web3. Good, quality games are the only way to gain popularity for Web3 gaming. When they come out – and only if they’re really good – people will turn their heads and say, “Oh look, there is that game in Web3 that I wanna play!”

Hot Take: Project Xeno

PROJECT XENO promotional art. (PROJECT XENO)

Developed by Japan-based CROOZ Blockchain Lab, Project Xeno is a tactical turn-based player versus player (PvP) game where players can battle each other using their NFT characters. It has a play-to-earn model, which rewards players for their in-game achievements with crypto assets.

Xenos are NFT characters used in battles that can be upgraded with leveling, weapons (that are NFTs) and charms (also NFTs). Each Xeno has two passive skills and a special skill. Special skills can be used by spending a special meter and leveling up using the in-game currency.

The players can put their three Xenos wherever they like in a 3×3 space. Characters are divided into six classes, which can equip four skill cards each. There are glimpses of a team-building aspect and some effort to put strategy elements in, but it needs some improvements.

The English translation is done poorly, with many examples, such as the “Skill strengthen” tab in the shop. Progression feels very slow and requires quite a bit of grinding if you are not willing to spend money. It’s a no from me, but if you’d like to check the game out, Project Xeno is free-to-play and downloadable on Android and iOS.

The gameplay is fairly simple. It made me wonder if it’d be more fun if Project Xeno were an auto-battler or an idle game, as it felt like it didn’t even need me around to play the game at times. The graphics are fun, but don’t expect too much on that front.

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Layer 1 blockchain and smart contract platform Sui teams up with Space and Time to provide Web3 game developers with zero-knowledge-proof-based tools.

– Immutable announces four upcoming Web3 games for its zero-knowledge scaling solution, zkEVM: GensoKishi Online, Cursed Stone, Sailwars and Rave.

–Illuvium is set to launch on the Epic Store Nov. 28.

– Decentralized cloud provider Aethir gets backing from Nvidia.

– Grammy-nominated DJ and world-famous music producer Steve Aoki collaborates with STEPN for a digital sneaker collection.

– Ronin-based mobile RTS game Wild Forest begins open beta on Nov. 9.

– Solana Labs launches the beta version of GameShift, a Web3 service for game developers.

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How blockchain games fared in Q3, Unioverse & Immutable, Upland token on ETH: Web 3 Gamer


GTA and CoD veterans’ new studio collabs with Immutable

Web3 gaming ecosystem Immutable is helping Random Games join the blockchain gaming world. The studio was founded by veteran developers and storytellers from famous franchises including Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Batman, Star Trek, The Walking Dead, Star Wars and South Park. The collaboration centers around Unioverse, a Web3 sci-fi franchise spanning multiple mediums.

Random Games plans to create a platform offering high-quality assets for game creation without royalty fees. The Unioverse community will be encouraged to produce their own stories, games and content using official assets.

Unioverse hopes to foster a continuous stream of professional and user-generated content, given its royalty-free nature. Users can monetize their creations by selling merchandise such as comic books, T-shirts and lunchboxes and retain all the profits.

Heroes from the first release in the Unioverse. (unioverse.com)

Immutable’s vice president of global business development, Andrew Sorokovsky says Immutable will provide the blockchain platform, tools and services, including its zkEVM for scaling and Immutable passport for digital IDs:

This will allow the team to focus on shipping a great game without having to become blockchain experts in the process — letting us take care of the heavy lifting,”

Unioverse features Hero NFTs, which are high-quality 3D digital items that you can own in the digital world. Hero NFTs started minting with ‘Reyu’ in Jan. 2023 and sold 20,000 NFTs, which was followed by the launch of ‘Krishah’ in June. With over a million NFTs minted and more than 110,000 verified accounts with connected wallets, they also debuted the first part of a six-part comic book series and introduced Proving Grounds, their first alpha game environment, in May.

Random Games previously raised $7.6 million in a seed funding round co-led by Resolute Ventures and Asymmetric.

Brawlers by Magic: The Gathering creator to launch on Epic Games Store

Brawlers, a player-versus-player blockchain card game will be launched on the massive, mainstream Epic Games Store.

It’s the debut game of Tyranno Studios, WAX blockchain’s inhouse game development team led by gaming industry veteran Michael Rubinelli, who has 25 years of experience at companies such as Disney, Electronic Arts and THQ.

Centered around the theme of pro-wrestling, Brawlers’ player-versus-player (PvP) mode was designed by Richard Garfield, famous for his creation of the popular card game Magic: The Gathering.

Releasing a blockchain game on EGS is a big deal for any developer, as the platform has over 230 million users, including 70 million monthly active users. But releasing a blockchain game on the platform is an even bigger deal as Web3 companies generally can’t access such a massive audience under such a reputable name. WAX’s Chief Gaming Officer Rubinelli calls EGS the “next step on our journey to the mass adoption of Web3.”

This launch further accelerates the paradigm shift in gaming as a whole, bringing blockchain-powered fairness, inclusivity and player-centric approach even closer to the mainstream audience.”

In the game, players compete in wrestling matches and earn BRWL tokens which can be used to craft or purchase content. Apart from the Brawlers themselves, every in-game item can be crafted, used, sold, traded or gifted among players as they’re NFTs.

Garfield emphasized the game’s similarity to traditional physical card games, where players can buy card sets and maintain complete control over their assets, enabling easy trading and exchange.

The game allows cross-platform functionality via NFT bridges to Polygon, Ethereum and Binance’s BNB Chain.

Over $2 billion invested in blockchain gaming so far in 2023

Blockchain gaming investments are up $600 million in the third quarter of 2023, bringing the year-to-date total to an impressive $2.3 billion in the midst of a bear market, according to DappRadar and BGA Games’ most recent joint blockchain gaming report.

Investments in Web3 Gaming Projects
Investments in Web3 gaming projects between Q3 2022 – Q3 2023. (DappRadar)

However, 2023’s tally only accounts for 30% of the preceding year’s total investments. But considering the state of the wider market, it’s a respectable figure that proves that a lot of people are willing to bet a lot of money that blockchain games will still be The Next Big Thing.

The report underscores how Web2 gaming giants are “making assertive strides into the Web3 realm.” One of the most notable being FarmVille creator Zynga’s successful introduction of Sugartown, which received instant adoption and high praise from the Web3 community. It’s a welcome development as better studios generally mean better games.

Daily unique active wallets (UAWs) saw an uptick of 12% compared to last quarter, reaching a daily average of 786,766 UAWs. Alien Worlds, a community-built metaverse, kept its crown as the most-played blockchain game of Q3 2023, capturing over 60% of WAX’s blockchain activity.

Top 5 Web3 Games by Transaction Volume
Web3 games with the highest transaction volumes for Q3 2023. (DappRadar)

Web3 gaming’s flagship titles, Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained, blazed the trail in terms of transaction volume, with volumes of $90 million and $55 million, respectively.

In the third quarter, virtual worlds experienced a dip from the last quarter’s $58 million as numbers showed $13 million in trading volume with 28,000 land sales. Despite virtual worlds’ declining trading volume, substantial investments like Animoca Brands’ $20 million funding for Mocaverse keep the metaverse fire alive.

Upland’s Spark shines on Ethereum

Metaverse platform Upland will enable trading of its in-game utility token, Spark, on Ethereum. The decision was approved by 87.25% of voters in a recent community governance vote.

Known as the Sparklet White Paper, the proposal was presented to the Upland community in late September. The plan involves bridging the game’s in-app token, Spark, to the Ethereum blockchain, where it will be mirrored and minted as the Sparklet token. Each Sparklet is equivalent to one-thousandth of a Spark.

Upland co-founder and co-CEO Dirk Lueth says the move is a win for decentralization:

Adhering to our mission to build the largest digital open economy, Sparklet allows us to take the next step towards progressive decentralization in a responsible way by offering tradability to our users while having mechanisms in place that can shield and protect Upland’s economy from unwanted externalities.”

A finite supply of 1,000,000,000 Sparklet tokens will be issued on Ethereum, although Upland has not shared the exact timeline yet. The Sparklet supply will be mirrored by the minting of 1,000,000 Spark on the EOS blockchain, ensuring a balanced ownership structure between the platforms.

Hot Take: Guild of Guardians

Guild of Guardians is a mobile rogue-lite squad RPG that is being developed by Mineloader and published by Immutable. It held a “friends and family demo event” this week for testing and I was one of the fortunate people that got to try the game.

As soon as the game opens, nicely composed Harry Potter-esque background music welcomes you to the world of Guardians. The demo consists of core dungeon battles, crafting loops, quests and level-up options. The graphics look decent, while the music and sound effects are on point.

Players assemble a team of heroes and venture into dungeons for combat. When assembling a team, you need to consider factional, elemental and class synergies and team composition. For instance, a team composed entirely of Hordes receives a raw attack boost, while teams of all fire elements have an increased chance of inflicting damage over time. Heroes are also split into traditional RPG roles like tank, healer, support and DPS – short for damage per second, which is used to describe damage-focused characters.

The main challenge Guild of Guardians needs to tackle is that squad-based PvP gaming has somewhat matured. None of the heroes feel original or new, and the user interface looks like every fantasy-element-bearing mobile game ever.

Artwork from Guild of Guardians
Guild of Guardians promotional art. (Guild of Guardians)

Of course, it’s not fair to judge such aspects by a “friends & family” demo, so it’s better to check the full version to see if there are improvements and refinements to form your own opinions — it’s going to be free-to-play anyway. Who knows, you might love it and find your next 600-hour addiction!

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Zynga’s Web3 IP Sugartown introduces an NFT collection called Oras.

– NFL Rivals announces 6-month partnership with Amazon Prime Gaming.

– Gods Unchained Season 2: Tides of Fate launches Oct. 25.

– Social web game Habbo ditches ‘Habbo NFTs’ for ‘Habbo Collectibles’ in its terminology.

– Animoca Brands subsidiary Darewise raises $3.5 million in token presale for sci-fi Web3 game Life Beyond.

– Business simulation strategy game Legacy launches on Oct. 26.

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Elon Musk streams, Amazon partners with Immutable, MetalCore preview: Web3 Gamer


Elon Musk is a streamer?

The social media website X, formerly known as Twitter, hosted its first gaming stream — a 50-minute-long Diablo 4 gameplay — on October 6. The stream, which has over 42 million views at the time of writing, involved X owner Elon Musk playing Blizzard Entertainment’s latest title and answering questions from viewers.

The stream happened as a test of X’s new streaming feature, as Musk wanted to see if the audio sounded normal, if the image looked reasonably good and whether the comments were working. The result was a success, with the stream concluding without any interceptions or distortions.

Musk’s desire to make X a super app is no secret, and this move is just another brick in the wall of features the “everything app” aspires to offer. Musk commented on X’s place among other streaming apps like Kick and Twitch:

“I think the very specialist apps are still gonna be probably better than us in a lot of ways, but you know, I think we can be the best generalist app. There’s some value to being a generalist app for, I guess, discovery and for interacting with the largest number of people in the world.”

He continued to answer viewer questions toward the end of the stream without speaking a word about crypto and announced the streaming feature for Xbox and PS5.

Using NFTs to build a Web3 gaming community

NFTs have gone through quite a journey, from funky ape images on the blockchain to the next step in the evolution of art. While it’s hard to call it a thriving market since early 2022, the NFT ecosystem is on a continuous rollercoaster as new use cases emerge and older ones become no longer feasible.

A DappRadar report shows that the daily active wallets for the NFT sector grabbed quite a bite from gaming in the third quarter, doubling its activity while jumping to 12% of the total blockchain ecosystem from a mere 7% in Q2 2023. 

NFT activity on blockchain. (DappRadar)

Aside from being cool images or pixelated art, NFTs might have shown potential as an onboarding tool for Web3 communities. Cronos Labs, a Web3 startup accelerator backed by crypto exchange Crypto.com, is no stranger to NFTs and Web3 gaming thanks to the NFT collections released by Crypto.com in partnership with global brands.

Cronos Labs head of ecosystem Ella Qiang tells Magazine that it’s notoriously difficult to bootstrap a community from scratch in blockchain gaming. However, having an NFT collection means you also have an engaging community of NFT holders — making a great start to building a community for a game.

“This is why some of the successful games on Cronos launched an NFT collection and built their community from there.”

Qiang says that crypto gaming has two main routes: “First one is the Web3 route, starting with the NFT collection to build an engaging community. Then the community becomes passionate about the collection and wants to see more utility for those NFTs.”

The second route involves established Web2 IPs and their established user base. At some point, the studio might want to add some Web3 elements to their IP. Cronos Labs is helping a number of mobile game studios to incorporate Web3 components into traditional games.

“It’s quite challenging for them. It’s not like chucking NFTs into an established title or creating a token inside the game — it’s way more complicated than that.”

The reaction of Web2 gamers might not be what the studio expects in such cases. They might not like the idea of having NFTs or tokens in a game they like, according to Qiang.

Presentation also plays a key role in the acceptance rate of the community. Zynga, one of the most established mobile gaming publishers, recently announced its Web3 gaming platform and transmedia IP, Sugartown, with a new NFT collection. Even though traditional gamers make up the majority of Zynga’s user base, Zynga’s “Sugartown Oras” quickly became the hottest NFT collection on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

Amazon partners with Web3 gaming company

Immutable, a Web3 gaming platform, announced its partnership with industry giant Amazon Web Services to expand opportunities for game developers. AWS added Immutable to its Independent Software Vendors (ISV) Accelerate Program, where companies offer software solutions that either run on or integrate with AWS.

The agreement allows Immutable to offer game studios training, technical support and AWS cloud credits up to $100,000 to cover cloud service costs via AWS Activate.

AWS Australia and New Zealand head of startups John Kearney commented on AWS’s impact on Immutable’s development:

“AWS is supercharging Immutable’s development by onboarding new game studios and providing them with resources through our flagship AWS Activate startup program and AWS’s ISV Accelerate Program, which give them the tools to accelerate their global launch.”

Immutable is no stranger to Amazon as the platform is built with Amazon EventBridge and AWS Lambda, serverless services allowing Immutable to use events to connect application components and rapidly scale.

Immutable product marketing lead Michael Powell addressed the concerns of blockchain purists, stating that games are built on centralized platforms and that striking a balance between decentralization and practical game development is vital.

Robots on blockchain: MetalCore hot take

The upcoming free-to-play massively multiplayer online action game lets players experience a chaotic battlefield with gameplay similar to the signature style of Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefield games. Combining infantry combat with vehicular combat, MetalCore boasts an impressive line-up of towering mechs, armored tanks and high-flying jets for players to command freely.

MetalCore has eight classes with different attributes and expertise: light infantry, heavy infantry, super heavy infantry, engineer, medic, scout, sniper and pilot. Players can switch between first-person and third-person and participate in player-versus-player and player-versus-environment game modes.

The graphics are mesmerizing and look AAA quality, and there’s good reason for that. The team behind MetalCore comprises industry veterans with prior experience in AAA games, including Fortnite, The Walking Dead, Gears of War 3 and Mortal Kombat. The game also features design and illustrations from people who worked on famous Hollywood franchises like Avengers, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Two studios, Studio 369 and Umbrella Network, are working on the game. Studio 369 handles most of the actual game-making on Unreal Engine, while Umbrella Network brings Web3 experience in blockchain development and data management.

MetalCore’s in-game token, FAB, is freely convertible and tradable on exchanges and allows players to buy and customize vehicles such as aircraft, gunships, fighter jets and bombers. Players can battle in these vehicles or choose to gift, trade or rent them.

Everything is represented as an NFT in MetalCore, from land and garages to exclusive equipment, war machines, pilots and in-game currencies. Utilizing NFTs allows players to truly own their assets. Rare weapons, cosmetic items and skins are also acquirable as NFTs that are tradable on an open marketplace.

Promotional art from MetalCore. (MetalCore)

The mechanized combat game is steadily assembling partnerships with solid companies, including Ethereum-based Web3 gaming platform Immutable and the gaming community’s second-favorite digital game distributor, Epic Games.

MetalCore looks quality, and this is precisely what Web3 gaming needs. If it delivers on its promises, we might finally get a good, fun product in Web3 gaming.

More from Web3 gaming space

– Animoca Brands partners with Drecom to support the expansion of Japanese Web3 gaming.

– Twitch streamer Dr Disrespect shares a new trailer of Web3 extraction shooter Deadrop, developed by his game studio Midnight Society.

– Bored Ape creator Yuga Labs invests in Hadean, a spatial computing company, to power BAYC-themed metaverse, Otherside.

– The Sandbox announces a partnership with T&B Media Global, a Thailand-based IP development company, to launch new virtual experiences.

– Aavegotchis are coming to The Sandbox on October 25.

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Minecraft bans Bitcoin P2E, iPhone 15 & crypto gaming, Formula E: Web3 Gamer


Pull your sats out of Minecraft now

Back in our July edition, we announced Satlantis, an independent Minecraft server run by the game’s fans, enabled players to earn Bitcoin by completing in-game quests using play-to-earn functionalities. We noted Minecraft developer Mojang’s previous NFT ban and concluded, “Time will show how this integration fairs against the ban.”

Time has shown, as Microsoft subsidiary Mojang has asked Satlantis to remove the play-to-earn features, according to a Discord post by server founder David Dineno. The server accepted the request and removed the feature two days after the Discord post.

The Satlantis founder stood behind the play-to-earn model and expressed his annoyance with the situation, stating:

“The Game That Shares its Profits with Players’ works. And it works well. All of the time, money, and energy that we put into this game together will not be forsaken by a few dinosaurs at some conglomerate.”

Despite the setback, the Satlantis community can take solace in the fact that the team is actively exploring alternative platforms that “encourage innovation instead of stifling it.”

Community of Satlantis backed their platform and shared their disappointment in Mojang (and indirectly Microsoft) through social media platforms:

Dineno advised players to withdraw their satoshis, emphasizing they will be diligently processed. Satlantis developers pledged to honor all in-game assets, including sats, prize pools, ASICs, players’ premium battle pass status and all other transferable data. The Minecraft server will remain operational, albeit without its play-to-earn features, as the team aims for a seamless transition to the next gaming frontier.

How can blockchain build upon eSports?

Blockchain-based online gaming hub Ultra Arena co-CEO and co-founder Nicolas Gilot says that eSports are struggling to generate profits, and a change of direction is needed.

“In my view, it can create a better, more sustainable product for viewers and sponsors by broadening participation beyond the elite level,” he told Web3 Gamer.

Web3 gaming arguably needs a solid eSports foundation to reach the mainstream audience.

The Ultra team recently attended the major gaming conference Gamescom, where Gilot reports that interest from game developers and publishers, eSports organizations and investors was high as the video game industry seeks new ways to stay afloat during challenging times.

Blockchain can act as the glue that binds all parties together, Gilot says. Without it, smaller teams, events and sponsorships won’t be as viable.

Smart contracts can remove much of the admin burden, distribute prizes and earnings, and give confidence to publishers, brands and influencers to get involved at all levels.”

Ultra’s eSports hub, Ultra Arena, is designed to help more gamers attract sponsors earlier and move up the ranks as they grow and improve, Gilot noted, “The Ultra blockchain also helps by building a player persona across all areas — not just competitive gaming but how they buy games and digital collectibles and interact with others in-game.”

Web3 Gamer: Mainstream eSports has shiny stages and massive marketing budgets. There are commentators, pre-game shows, and physical places and streams for the fans to watch the games live. How do you compete?

Gilot: We don’t want to! We want to see players who level up through Ultra Arena take the stage at those massive LAN events, which will be a proud moment for all of us.

What we do want is to feed into those experiences, helping grow the existing scene by opening it up to many more players, brands and publishers. For teams and brands, Ultra Arena will nurture more esports fans and provide more ways to activate fans pre and post-event with the help of blockchain technology. This could be unlocking access to an exclusive in-game digital collectible through attending the event itself or sponsor-branded skin being airdropped to you for watching on Twitch. Extending fan engagement will ultimately add value for all key stakeholders and support the journey to sustainable profitability.

Web 3 Gamer: Is there enough traction and interest on Web3 for a competitive stage that can make mainstream players willing to spend money?

For us, it’s not about how to make esports out of Web3 games, it’s more about how web3 technology can be used to improve the existing esports model. It’s the game, not the tech, that should be front and center.

The current esports model is probably overly reliant on sponsorship and advertising. To improve it, there needs to be a focus on cross-industry value creation, directly involving publishers, brands, esports teams and competitive players. Within Ultra Arena, we want to drive mutual growth by opening up the existing model to many more stakeholders, with grassroots competitive players turning pro, smaller brands gaining traction and startup teams becoming massive eSports powerhouses.

Apple iPhone 15: What does it offer for Web3 gaming?

When technology companies run out of innovation juice, the first instinct is to hop on the gaming train. Apple made no exception when it unveiled the brand-new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. The devices are pretty much the same as their 14th-generation counterparts, with an A17 Pro chip, the usual camera enhancements and a coat of new paint … but there is one significant difference.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro New Colors
Apple iPhone 15 Pro will be available with four new color options. (Apple)

The iPhone 15 Pro can run demanding game titles such as Resident Evil 4 (2023), Resident Evil Village, Death Stranding and soon-to-come Assassin’s Creed Mirage natively, meaning the games run directly on the device’s system without any external layers.

The new pro model features hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which enables games to present dynamic lighting effects. Thanks to Apple’s scaling solution MetalFX, the iPhone 15 Pro can offer better graphics with little performance loss.

The new smartphone, which will act as a handheld gaming device, will be able to display games on 4K monitors through upscaling and support third-party gamepads such as PlayStation’s DualSense controller, which is already being sold at Apple Stores. The possibilities are endless with the addition of Apple’s upcoming VR headset.

All in all, it’s clear that the newly-introduced Apple iPhone 15 Pro line will become a gaming powerhouse more than anything. The real question is how Web3 game developers can benefit from such advantages.

Developers can utilize the mighty system of the device to make mobile games with better graphics and more comprehensive gameplay. Web3 games on PC will also be easier to port over as features and graphics won’t have to be excised for better performance on mobile platforms. 

Hardware is one thing, but economics are another. Currently, Apple has stringent rules for NFT apps that practically force users to go through in-app purchases subject to Apple’s 30% commission, while apps are not permitted to support crypto payments.

It’ll be interesting to see what Web3 gaming companies come up with on the new monster iPhone. The tools are there for developers to leverage; let’s hope they fully utilize them to give us great Web3 experiences.

Oh, I nearly forgot the most revolutionary addition: The models come with USB-C.

Formula’s second swing in Web3

Formula’s first attempt at Web3 gaming didn’t work out as F1 Delta Time, a pioneering racing game and one of the first licensed titles utilizing NFTs and crypto technology, ceased operations in March 2022. After warming up in the formation lap with its first Web3 game, Formula is ready to return to the blockchain circuits with Formula E: High Voltage.

Formula E: High Voltage Promotional Artwork
Formula E: High Voltage promotional artwork. (Formula E: High Voltage)

Developed by Animoca Brands, the new Formula game focuses on Formula E, a motorsport championship with fully electric-powered race cars, instead of Formula 1’s models. Players are put in the shoes of a team principal responsible for their Formula E team’s strategic decisions and management with the ambition to become champions.

Various factors will determine your team’s performance, such as racetrack distance, difficulty, weather and temperature. Official Formula E racetracks in Berlin, New York, Rome, London, Jakarta, Seoul, Cape Town and Diriyah will be included, with more to be added later.

Race cars and drivers are available as nonfungible tokens (NFTs), with each driver possessing distinctive abilities from a pool of over 200 unique skills.

Formula E: High Voltage is available on early access until the 2nd of October. Will Formula E: High Voltage take pole position among Web3 racing games? We’ll have to wait and see.

Gods Unchained Launches New Mode

The free-to-play Web3 trading card game Gods Unchained has launched a new permanent game mode called Sealed Mode, where players will build a deck from a randomized pool of cards to triumph over each other. The idea is similar to that of FIFA Ultimate Team’s Draft mode.

Common card games are played with two players who have their own decks of cards that represent creatures and spells. Players take turns to strategically deploy their cards using resources. In order to win, players must reduce their opponent’s health to zero while protecting their own.

Sealed Mode begins as players pick one of the three Gods that represent the players, just like Heroes from Hearthstone. Once players pick their Gods, they receive a randomized pool of 60 cards. The goal is to craft a deck with at least 30 cards from these 60, while trying to combine cards that work well together to defeat other players.

Gods Unchained Sealed Mode Cards
Players are given a pool of randomized cards in Sealed Mode. (Gods Unchained)

Once players finalize their decks, they take on other players in a series of games until they win seven times or lose three times. Winning more games earns players better rewards, like cards and cool cosmetic items. The rewards get better the more they win.

Gods Unchained Sealed Mode Rewards
Sealed Mode rewards players when they win. (Gods Unchained)

The card collection in Sealed Mode includes cards from past Gods Unchained sets, including Welcome, Core, Genesis, Etherbots, Mortal Judgement, Winter Wanderlands and Band of the Wolf. Players who wish to play Sealed Mode are required to pay a fee of 15 $GODS tokens, worth roughly $2.5.

More from Web3 gaming space:

– PUBG developer Krafton introduces its upcoming metaverse project Overdare, previously known as Project Migaloo.

— Leaked internal documents from May 2022 show that Microsoft’s Xbox roadmap included support for crypto wallets.

– South Korean gaming conglomerate NHN Corporation ventures into the Web3 space in a partnership with Mysten Labs’ Layer 1 blockchain, Sui.

– Proof of Play, an NFT gaming studio founded by the co-creators of FarmVille, completes a seed funding round with $33 million in investment.

– Free-to-play battle royale game My Pet Hooligan launches in early access on the Epic Games Store.

– My Pet Hooligan developer AMGI Studios signs a 12-month deal with Amazon Prime Gaming.

– Star Atlas launches browser-based gaming metaverse SAGE Labs.

– Aavegotchi announces its Gotchi-themed game center.

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Web3 Gamer: PUBG devs’ Web3 project, Animoca’s $20M raise, Shardbound review


PUBG meets Cosmos

Krafton, the company behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), is venturing into Web3 with Settlus, a Cosmos-based blockchain project specifically designed for the creator economy. Settlus aims to provide content creators with a payment platform that streamlines transparent settlement processes.

The South Korean gaming giant’s project was announced at the Korea Blockchain Week’s Circle Hacker House event, co-presented by Circle and AngelHack. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire highlighted PUBG’s large user base of 30 million monthly active users.

Cosmos’ software development kit will serve as the framework, and network gas fees will be payable using stablecoins.

A metaverse project by the name of Migaloo is also in the works. The project will center around user-generated content, allowing creators to automatically create nonfungible tokens of their digital content and earn royalties from platform sales.

Krafton previously announced a collaboration with Solana Labs in March 2022 to “support the design and marketing of blockchain-based games and services,” but no Web3 products have been released since. Settlus’ testnet is scheduled to launch in early 2024.

Who’s after players’ wallets: Web3 games or big publishers?

Web3 games may be marketed toward the allure of monetary gain, as most of the demographic is made of investors and financiers who wish to get something in return. Traditional gaming is doing the same. The only difference is that, in Web2 gaming, it’s the company and its shareholders getting all the revenue instead of the ecosystem. Free-to-play multiplayer online game League of Legends generated $1.75 billion in revenue for Riot Games in 2020 — mostly from cosmetic skin sales.

For a free-to-play game, earning money through cosmetics can be understandable. But what about games that charge players the full premium?

Soccer franchise FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, which allows users to buy card packs that contain footballers they can use on their team, brought its publisher, Electronic Arts (EA), $1.62 billion in content revenue in 2021. As one Web3 gaming put it:

Gamers recall the backlash Star Wars Battlefront II received when EA Studios locked the most prominent characters of the franchise, including Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, behind loot boxes.

A comment from Electronic Arts’ community team regarding the complaints about the situation received more than 680,000 downvotes on Reddit, setting a Guinness World Record for the most downvoted comment of all time.

Most downvoted Reddit comment of all time. (Reddit)

Web3 gaming is nowhere near traditional gaming in terms of the user base. For example, Axie Infinity, one of the most popular Web3 games, reached a daily average of 11,072 users, while Roblox averaged 23,864,489 daily users during April 2023.

There were 2,155 Roblox players for each Axie Infinity player in April 2023. (CoinGecko)

Web3 game developers search for a solution in alternative business models, like play-to-earn, to draw in the masses and bridge the gap with traditional gaming, promising users monetary gains in exchange for their time.

Traditional gaming and Web3 gaming are not that different. But Web3 gaming receives more hate than it deserves on monetization, primarily due to preconceptions around the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Traditional games can get away with money-grab decisions because there are a lot of great games balancing the sheets. For Web3 games, the solution to breaking the general prejudice lies in creating better games, not turning the space into a cash counter.

Is $20 million enough to develop an ID system for Web3 gaming?

Animoca Brands raised $20 million in a funding round to accelerate the development of its Mocaverse project. The company was valued at $5 billion last year and has numerous investments in its portfolio, such as NFT marketplace OpenSea and Web3 games such as The Sandbox and Axie Infinity.

The funding round was led by CMCC Global and featured familiar names, including Sky Mavis founder Aleksander Larsen and Guild Games founder Gabby Dizon. Animoca Brands co-founder and executive chairman Yat Siu, who also participated in the round, commented on their goal:

“The ongoing evolution of the internet involves a shift from hierarchical power structures to autonomous ones, and the DAO-based approach of Mocaverse ensures that its community will be focused on driving innovation and collaboration across the broader Animoca Brands ecosystem.”

Mocaverse is preparing to launch its non-transferrable NFT collection called Moca ID as part of the funding round. The collection will enable owners to create their on-chain identities and participate in the Mocaverse.

Holders of Moca ID will have exclusive access to experiences within the project and earn loyalty points with their engagement. These loyalty points will be utilized in a permissionless and interoperable loyalty system that will be progressively decentralized. Will $20 million be enough to develop this ambitious system? With backing from a brand as solid as Animoca, the sky’s the limit.

Hot take: Shardbound

I was a hardcore League of Legends player back in the day. My only issue with the game back then was the mouse clicks. LoL was only available for PC during the early 2010s, and as a rookie copywriter at my agency, I was not able to play it silently during the office hours.

This is why the announcement of Vainglory, an iOS game sharing the same DNA with established titles like LoL and DOTA, was a big deal for me. I got an iPhone 6, then an iPad, just to be able to play that game silently like an office anarchist. 

I played Vainglory for years and sold my iPad only after they finally pulled the plug on the game by shutting down its servers. So, imagine my surprise when I heard the guys behind Vainglory were making a Web3 game.

With experience from Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Studios, League of Legends maker Riot Games and award-winning Vainglory in their pockets, Bazooka Tango co-founders Bo Daly and Stephan Sherman took on the Shardbound project and were kind enough to walk me through the game and answer my questions. 

In a nutshell, Shardbound is a turn-based tactical collectible card game that puts players against each other on a tile-based isometric map. After being given the chance to play the alpha version, I can fairly say Shardbound is a promising game — not just in the Web3 sense — that brings a new approach to an age-old genre. The general look of the game feels similar to auto chess battlers, such as Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics, with an art style resembling Blizzard games like Heroes of the Storm. 

The free-to-play game bears all the usual tactical card game elements we’ve seen in the likes of Hearthstone, such as heroes who have skills and cards with mana, health, attack damage numbers and different abilities. Except all this happens on a 3D hex map that introduces fresh movement mechanics. Players get to move and position their minions and heroes as they like to get the maximum strategic advantage.

Blue mana crystals, which randomly spawn on the map, award players with extra mana when attacked. Players can win the match by either collecting 10 victory points or by zeroing out their rival hero’s health. Victory points are earned by hitting randomly spawned orange crystals, which grant the hero or minion that hits them an orange shard. If the hero or entity is killed by the end of the next round, the shard goes to the opponent. If they stay alive, the shard disappears and the holder gains a victory point.

Shardbound is a PvP tactical card game played on a tile-based isometric map.

Shardbound has six different factions, each offering a unique hero and a different playstyle. For example, Landshapers, represented by the color green, offer a more control-oriented gameplay, while purple color-coded Bloodbinders take a more vampire-like approach and allow the player to damage their own hero to strengthen their minions.

Shardbound features six different factions.

Cards can be upgraded by combining copies up to five levels. The fifth level is called the “tournament grade,” with the end goal being to have a deck of 30 tournament cards. 

Shardbound has two sides: one in Web2 and one in Web3. It is possible to reach tournament grade on the Web2 side, but it is much harder, as cards are dropped from mystery boxes, which means the player is mostly dependent on their luck. The Web3 side allows tradeable and purchasable cards, making the upgrade process much easier. 

Competitive players will eventually have to get into the Web3 side of Shardbound to keep their competitive edge.

Even in the alpha stage, Sharbound bears immense potential and is a candidate to be an all-time classic with its innovative features. The game gives Web3 gaming an actual product that focuses on gameplay instead of monetization. If they don’t stray from their current path and gain some mainstream adoption, it is safe to say that Shardbound is set for success. 

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Polkastarter Gaming rebranded to GAM3S.GG after securing $2 million in seed funding.

– Crypto entertainment experience Tokyo Beast was announced at Korea Blockchain Week.

– Planetarium unveiled Verse8 and Immortal Rising 2.

– Zynga released the mint details for its Web3 IP, Sugartown.

– Blockchain-based MMO Heroes of Mavia introduced the mass ownership model.

– The Captain Tsubasa avatar collection is coming to The Sandbox.

– Creator of the Deadfellaz NFT collection, DFZ Labs, is creating a trading card game codenamed RIP TCG.

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GTA owner joins Web3, Bitcoin casino, Sunflower Land review: Web3 Gamer


Grand Theft Auto owner enters Web3 via mobile gaming arm

Fun fact: mobile gaming giant Zynga is owned by Take-Two Interactive, the same company that also owns Rockstar Games, which is behind ultra-popular video game series like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and NBA 2K.

Now Zynga is making its Web3 debut with a new franchise.

Best known for its FarmVille series, Zynga has created an offshoot studio called Zynga Web3 (or ZW3) and announced Sugartown. It’s a cross-media world that will be more like a Web3 gaming platform than a single title. The cute cartoonish animals featured in the teaser video give clues that there might be more than video games in the works.

It looks like a scene from a new Netflix series, so I won’t be surprised to see a cartoon featuring the Sugartown characters.

For now, though, the only thing that’s confirmed is that Sugartown will launch an NFT collection called Oras, and they will be required to participate in upcoming games within the universe. ZW3 said the franchise is working with different communities to allocate allowlists for the NFTs. 

If this platform becomes successful, perhaps it could give the green light for some of those big titles from the same company to jump into Web3?

More play needed in Play-to-Earn — Istanbul Blockchain Week

Why aren’t Web3 games adopted as much as traditional games? That was one of the subjects talked about during a Web3 gaming panel at Istanbul Blockchain Week 2023. The panel mainly focused on Web3 gaming adoption, the problems of Web3 gaming and the developer side of things.

Curator Studios co-founder Uluç Yuca’s answer stood out in particular as I sincerely believe it expressed the thoughts of many traditional gamers – including myself – toward the big problem with Web3 gaming.

He started his speech by asking the audience how many Web3 gamers there were. There were a few hands raised. “And this is a blockchain event!” he commented, then asked how many traditional gamers there were. There was a significant increase in the number of hands raised. He pointed out there are 3 billion traditional gamers in the world and only 15 million Web3 gamers.

15 million was not the (number of) active users in Roblox back in 2015. So what we have right now is just a little private party. That means we did something wrong.”

Here’s what we did wrong, according to Yuca: The Web3 community is always talking about features like third-party trading, ownership, making money and interoperability. But these features have existed since games were around, including in-game items in World of Warcraft, rare items in Dota, auctions in Diablo and those occasions RuneScape’s in-game currency was used as the local market currency when Venezuela’s money was depreciating.

Diablo III Auction House
The in-game player economy was present in Diablo III, launched in 2012. (Diablo Wiki)

So, we focused on features that already exist in various forms and combined them with games that aren’t fun:

We talk about all these value propositions and monetization models. Play-to-Earn, Play-and-Earn, Play-and-Own, Play-and-Have-Coffee, Play-and-Get-Married. It doesn’t really matter because there is no play. There is no product.”

He stressed that he has yet to see a game like Minecraft, or one that does “What Angry Birds did to mobile gaming back in the day.”

Despite the potential brought by Web3 elements, the real question was, “Do we have a game like Roblox (in Web3)?” Unfortunately, we do not.

Bitcoin casino works exactly like what you’d expect

Not many people know this but Satoshi Nakamoto may have been a poker player, with the original 0.1.0 Bitcoin code in 2008 containing scraps of code for an online poker game. 

With the introduction of Ordinals, it looks like we might be headed back in that direction. Ordinals has enabled the Bitcoin base layer to become home to numerous images, videos and even some basic games, and also laid the groundwork for “DeFi on Bitcoin” protocols such as Trustless Computer (TC) and the related New Bitcoin City (NBC).

Launched in early August, the gaming platform utilizes TC and transitions gameplay to NOS, a layer-2 on Bitcoin, according to core member Punk3700, who says it enhances speed and efficiency, ensuring complex interactions occur off the Bitcoin mainnet.

NOS brings an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to the Bitcoin network, allowing smart contract functionality without taking space on the main Bitcoin chain. Hence, data from games won’t crowd the valuable Bitcoin blockchain real estate.”

As for the gaming platform itself, don’t expect a 3D metaverse with high-fidelity graphics. The website is designed as a pixelated amusement park, with each tent representing a game offering very basic casino games like jackpot and slot.

New Bitcoin City Gameplay
New Bitcoin City has a bunch of casino-like minigames. (New Bitcoin City)

There’s also a graffiti tent where everyone can chip in to add a pixel and then get royalty if someone buys the finished canvas. 

The overall experience felt like what I had with my online poker adventures back in the early 2000s, but that’s apparently not the focus of the devs. “Bitcoin is expanding beyond just a currency and getting a lot of attention,” explained Punk3700, adding: “We want to make Bitcoin as generalized as possible — usable for far more than just a currency.”

The league is said to promote the win-to-earn trend where gamers earn based on their skills (and maybe luck, considering it’s a casino), and developers promise more to come, with an upcoming “Mega Whales” expected to launch on Sept. 26.

Hot Take: Sunflower Land

Sunflower Land is an online farming game built on Polygon and played via a browser. Gamers are welcomed with some strict rules: one account per player, no bots or automation. It also makes clear that Sunflower Land is a game, not a financial product — although only time will tell which one will be prioritized by players

The core gameplay sees users plant seeds, wait for them to grow, harvest the plants, buy more seeds and so on – similar to old Facebook games such as FarmVille and CityVille. All in-game resources, such as seeds, cooked food and equipment, are NFTs that can be transferred and traded on OpenSea.

Seeds and plants have different in-game values corresponding with the time it takes for them to grow. For example, sunflower seeds grow in 30 seconds and can be sold for 125 coins (equal to 7,500 for 30 minutes), while pumpkin seeds grow in 30 minutes and can be sold for 25,000 coins.

Sunflower Land Gameplay
Gameplay from Sunflower Land (Sunflower Land)

Sunflower Land features a skill tree that allows the player to work faster and get more yields from each produce as they level up. As the player levels up, the waiting time gets longer (up to 36 hours for a single seed), but they also get more space to plant their seeds. The game currently offers two minigames if you’d like to do something in-game while you wait. They are called Greedy Goblin, a minigame where you catch falling gold coins while avoiding the skulls as a goblin, and Chicken Fight, a two-player fighting game where you control chickens.

Sunflower Land Skill Tree
Crops section of the skill tree from Sunflower Land. (Sunflower Land)

Sunflower Land launched its new season called Witches Eve on Aug. 1, which introduced a massive multiplayer online (MMO) world for players to socialize called Pumpkin Plaza. The game also welcomed the addition of Community Islands – where players are provided with tools to build their own games inside Sunflower Land – with the ambition of “becoming the Roblox of Web3 gaming.”

The game works smoothly without any problems – a rare quality for Web3 games these days. The graphics look pretty, though the background music sounded really cheap. I don’t know if it’s going to become the Roblox of Web3, but Sunflower Land definitely has potential with its addictive gameplay loop. I’ll surely be coming back to check my island every once in a while.

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Turn-based RPG Champions Arena has launched on Gala Games.

– Zillion Whales’ mobile RTS game Wild Forest has been announced for Ronin blockchain.

– Mobile NFT game NFL Rivals has launched an in-game marketplace.

– French DJ Agoria and The Sandbox are collaborating to launch an avatar collection.

– Netmarble’s Marblex partnered with Aptos to expand its multichain gaming universe.

– Nexon’s MapleStory Universe tapped Chainlink as its Web3 infrastructure provider.

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Crypto games need EVO-style viral moment, Nitro Nation review: Web3 Gamer


Blockchain gaming needs its own ‘EVO Moment 37’?

While the Web3 gaming ecosystem is still trying to find its footing in the mainstream gaming world, a key element missing from almost all the Web3 titles is inspiration. To achieve a broader audience, Web3 gaming needs a “wow” moment to go viral and into the records of gaming history.

Web3 gaming studios are falling into the same trap that many of their traditional predecessors fell into: Better visuals, more rewards and a larger cast of characters. Sure, these are some vital elements of the gaming experience, but in order to expand a whole ecosystem, developers need to think beyond that.

With Street Fighter 6 just released and Mortal Kombat 1 on the horizon, it’s safe to say that the fighting games are having a big comeback. But let’s remember the exact moment that showed players worldwide the joy of fighting games for the first time: The EVO Moment 37.

In 2004, during the golden years of home consoles, the fighting game-focused tournament EVO saw a magical moment where two legendary players competed with each other and one of them — Daigo Umehara — pulled a move that was then considered impossible. YouTube was not a thing back then, so that moment was captured by the official DVD that was released the following year. It was named “Evo Moment 37” and became a major trigger for wide audiences to take fighting games seriously.

Web3 gaming needs that. Web3 studios need to add inspiration, “wow” moment potential and an aspect of virality to their products. It will be a tough road to gain the interest of mainstream audiences until then.

Om Nom enters the metaverse

Games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Cut the Rope assumed the role of catalyzers during the dawn of mobile gaming: They catapulted smartphones and tablets to the hands of a mainstream audience with vivid visuals, cute characters and intuitive gameplays that used then-groundbreaking frictionless touch screen in innovative ways. That’s why ZeptoLab partnering with The Sandbox to bring Om Nom — the green monster from the Cut the Rope franchise — to Web3 is big news for old schoolers.

Cut the Rope is coming to The Sandbox. (The Sandbox)

Players will have a chance to explore a virtual world inspired by the franchise in Om Nom’s Social Hub. The event will host familiar characters from Cut the Rope with the end goal of discovering Om Nom’s origin story.

ZeptoLab business development director Kristina Truvaleva says bringing the classic title to the metaverse will give players “a feeling that they have been transported into a whole new world — permeated with nostalgia but full of fresh challenges.”

The virtual world went live on Aug. 10. Players who complete all quests and requirements will have a chance to share a pool of 120,000 SAND. A real-life prize called Om Nom’s Money Box will also be sent to 1:1 avatar holders that pass all of Om Nom’s Social Hub quests.

Axie builders get the Greenlight

Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis recently introduced Mavis Hub: Greenlight, a program for developers to share their early game builds with the community. The program allows players to playtest and includes a voting system that lets the community vote on the games they are most excited about, driving competition between developers.

The games must be at the playable beta stage to be eligible for the program, meaning the core game loop should be complete and provide at least one complete game session. Successful games on Greenlight may receive extra support, such as additional grants and user acquisition budgets for soft launches.

The program echoes similar exercises in Web2 gaming, like the now-defunct Steam Greenlight, which has been turned into Steam Direct. They streamline the process for developers and provide valuable feedback from the community, driving engagement as players decide who stays and who goes.

Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis launched Mavis Hub: Greenlight
Players can vote for games they like using Mavis Hub: Greenlight. (Axie Infinity Blog)

Interested players can try out two debut games on Greenlight called Mini Tri-Force and Culinary Wars. In the former, the player tries to save their Axie clan in a poisoned forest by combatting youkai – ghosts in Japanese folklore. The latter is a co-op cooking game that heavily resembles Overcooked, where players take the role of chefs and make haste to fulfill orders in a short amount of time – often resulting in chaos.

Mavis Hub: Greenlight has been launched on the Mavis Hub Desktop App, while a web-based version is also in the works.

$150K inducements to join the dark side

Layer-1 blockchain network Aelf launched its Aelevate program, dangling the offer of up to $150,000 per Web2 studio to help developers transition to blockchain technology and create games on the Aelf network.

The company’s track record so far lacks any gaming ventures, but Aelf aims to break into the gaming world with this program. Considering the blockchain gaming market is projected to be over $60 billion by 2027 – nearly 15 times its $4.6 billion market size from 2022 – Aelf’s enthusiasm is understandable.

“Our goal is to break the daunting barriers studios face in integrating blockchain technology into their games, particularly in the current uncertain and challenging crypto climate,” said Tavia Wong, head of commercial at Aelf, adding:

Through Aelevate, we are pledging our support for the Web3 gaming space as we provide crucial infrastructural support and expert industry guidance for our participants to thrive and succeed in this new Web3 frontier.”

Aelf presents its suite of decentralized applications to successful applicants, streamlining the blockchain transition process with asset integration, token creation and the development of smart contracts. The program also assists the business side of Web3 with mentorships, market strategies and fundraising opportunities.

The program applications are open until Sept. 30, with the first round of grants scheduled to be awarded in October.

Hot Take – Nitro Nation: World Tour

Mythical Games’ Nitro Nation: World Tour is a free Web3 drag racing game on mobile and is a great option to blow off a long day’s steam. It combines simple gameplay mechanics with beautiful graphics – for a mobile game, of course.

The controls are straightforward to grasp, as there are only two buttons. The first is the gas button which is used to keep the indicator in the green zone at the beginning of the race. As the race starts, this button turns into the “Gear Shift” button, which should be pressed when the indicator is in the green zone to keep a steady pace. The second is the nitro button, which gives the car a little boost.

Gameplay from Nitro Nation World Tour
Nitro Nation: World Tour gameplay. (Nitro Nation: World Tour)

Players can upgrade and tune their cars to have an edge on the streets. The game also provides a wide range of customization options that can be bought using the in-game currency and boasts a vast roster of fully licensed cars ranging from Subarus and Mazdas to Aston Martins and Paganis.

Nitro Nation World Tour Licensed Car Brands
Licensed car brands in Nitro Nation: World Tour. (Nitro Nation: World Tour)

Web3 elements come into play as NFT cars, which can be dropped from purchasable car packs or directly bought from and sold on the marketplace. The NFT cars come pre-tuned and with better stats. The game is perfectly playable without NFT cars, so mainstream free-to-play (F2P) players aren’t forced into these Web3 elements. Nitro Nation: World Tour offers simpler gameplay than your usual Forzas and Need for Speeds but manages to keep it fun. If you are into cars, racing or NFTs, consider trying out Nitro Nation: World Tour.

More from crypto gaming space:

– Bandai Namco, the world-renowned publisher of Dark Souls and Tekken games, collaborated with blockchain network Oasys and startup Attructure to unveil an AI-enhanced virtual pet game that features NFT-based digital creatures.

– Amazon Prime Gaming partnered up with Web3 auto chess game Mojo Melee to offer free exclusive drops to Amazon Prime members.

– Web3 Mahjong game Mahjong Meta went live after its two-month-long open beta phase.

– nWay’s mech fighting game Wreck League collaborates with Yuga Labs to host Yuga-themed mech NFTs.

– NFT-based open-world social MMO game Dininho released on Arbitrum.

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Web3 Gamer: Zuckerberg’s metaverse losses, NFT game on Discord, Gods Unchained hot take


Mark Zuckerberg tries to restore trust as metaverse losses cap $40B

Let’s get business out of the way before getting to the fun part: Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, is heavily involved in virtual worlds through its metaverse unit, Reality Labs. 

However, its investments have yet to pay off, with the metaverse company reporting collective losses of over $40 billion. 

Despite the losses, investors are optimistic about Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term bet on the metaverse, sending the stock up 7% after hearing Zuckerberg’s reasoning on the Meta Q2 2023 Earnings call.

Meta’s stock price spiked to over $320 after Meta Earnings Call. (Google Finance)

Wall Street seems convinced by his arguments, which are backed by Meta’s improved overall business performance as the platform saw its revenue increase in the second quarter. Zuckerberg aims to cover metaverse costs with the growth from Meta’s family of apps, which has increased by $2 billion, making it just over halfway to covering the $3.7 billion loss from Reality Labs.

I can’t guarantee you that I’m going to be right about this bet. I do think that this is the direction that the world is going in.”

The Meta CEO believes an immersive version of the internet will become the norm. He supported this statement with examples of trends such as smart glasses and immersive communication:

There are 1 billion or 2 billion people who have glasses today. I think in the future, they’re all going to be smart glasses. And all the time that we spend on TVs and computers, I think that’s going to get more immersive and look something more like VR in the future.”

After the launch of Threads — excitement over which faded after a short while but has been reignited — Meta will reportedly release AI chatbots with human-like personalities with a focus on user retention.

Role-playing game combines AI and NFT on Discord

A new blockchain game is cooking for all the text-based role-playing game lovers out there. Alchemy: Battle for Ankhos will be running on Discord, using the platform’s familiar environment to host battles in a fantasy world.

Although this isn’t an entirely new concept, with examples like Wordle, PokeMeow and Guess the Song, bringing along crypto and AI will surely spice things up.

The art style immediately conjures memories of Darkest Dungeon — another turn-based RPG with roguelike mechanics. Four developers are building the game with the support of generative AI tools, including OpenAI and Midjourney. The Alchemy: Battle for Ankhos team utilizes Midjourney to create art, while OpenAI gives NPCs custom behavior. 

The project, which was one of the five winners in Solana’s NFT Showdown, will allow players to mint their assets from in-game menus without any blockchain knowledge. According to the game’s creative director, Alex Finden, nearly every asset earned or purchased in-game will be optionally mintable.

A new challenger: Web3 gets a new esports platform

Professional Dota 2 player Erik “Tofu” Engel, who has won over $400,000 from various esports tournaments, has recently expressed interest in the Web3 stage. 

Short for “electronic sports,” esports is a growing industry with an audience of more than half a billion people on the global stage in 2022, with expected growth to $1.87 billion in revenue by 2025. With these numbers, it is no wonder Web3 players are competing to enter the space.

Crypto gaming startup Ultra also heard the call and announced the launch of an esports tournament platform built on its own blockchain network called Ultra Arena. The platform, which will launch on Aug. 8, will allow players and brands to organize tournaments and leagues with NFTs and platform tokens as prizes. 

Ultra Arena will support popular Web2 games, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch 2 and PUBG, along with games already available on its PC game store, Ultra Games.

Hot Take: Gods Unchained

One of the oldest and most popular free-to-play Web3 games, Gods Unchained, found its way into my playlist with its recent release on the Epic Games Store.

The turn-based card game distinguishes itself from frontrunners of the genre with its Web3 elements, presenting the cards as tradeable NFTs and hosting a player-focused community marketplace.

Along with cosmetic items such as card backs and trinkets, cards can be bought and sold in the marketplace, providing true ownership to the players. There are also card packs, which can be bought using the GODS token.

The game features beautiful animations and a slick art style in general, but lag in gameplay and in menus often overshadow the graphics. Gods Unchained draws heavy “inspiration” card game genre classics, most notably Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone.

The usual mana, strength and health mechanics are all there, with the addition of “Gods,” which are like “Heroes” from Hearthstone. Gods have their own abilities, which you can choose at the start of the match.

After booting the game up and trying to play the first mission out of three in the tutorials, a bug appeared which prevented me from completing the mission, so I decided to “concede” – the in-game button for surrendering – with the intention of restarting the mission.

The game returned to the menu and awarded me the completion rewards for the first mission. So, I thought, “Huh, maybe that was the last step of the mission and the game registered it as complete.”

Then came the second mission, which was completed with no issues. On the third mission, another bug appeared. I tried waiting, clicking on every possible option and, with nothing else to do, had to concede. In front of me was the menu with completion rewards.

After that, I played a few casual and ranked games, and all went smoothly without any problems.

Web3 Game Gods Unchained Gameplay
Gameplay from Gods Unchained. (Gods Unchained)

In conclusion, the game could use some work. It does not present the seamless experience of Hearthstone or introduce new mechanics like Marvel Snap. Considering it has been five years since its initial release, and there are unfixed bugs in the tutorial missions, it feels like the developers aren’t really concerned with user experience. Hopefully, they can fix these issues in their upcoming mobile release.

If you are a fan of the genre and a crypto enthusiast, it is worth taking a look at. Otherwise, you are better off playing Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, Marvel Snap or Legends of Runeterra.

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis partnered with CyberKongz to enrich the Ronin platform. 

– Solana-based NFT game Aurory will integrate Ethereum scaling technology Arbitrum using its SyncSpace system.

– Web3 gaming guild Yield Guild Games announced an extended collaboration with Polygon Labs to provide enhanced support to partner games developed on the Polygon network, including popular titles like The Sandbox and Crypto Unicorns.

– Hasbro will collaborate with Xplored, the company behind the Teburu digital board game system, to experiment with integrating smart-sensing technology, AI, and dynamic multimedia.

– Rumble Racing Star developer Delabs Games raised $4.7 million in seed funding for development on Polygon.

– Solert Games will launch – “Game of Thrones” star Hafthor Bjornsson endorsed – Legends at War on the Avalanche blockchain.

– Mobile tower defense strategy game EF Defense is set to launch on the Ethereum scaling network, Immutable zkEVM.

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Web3 Gamer: Earn Bitcoin in Minecraft, BGA’s 50/50 gender split, Oath of Peak hot take


Minecraft gets the Bitcoin treatment

It seems like Minecraft has been around since the invention of computers, and there is a reason for that. Along with its official free updates, which provide extra content, the Minecraft ecosystem has an incredibly active community, helping it stay up to date. Thanks to the game’s open-ended gameplay, there is tons of community-built content available to enjoy.

Have you finished the standard content of the game? Then why not relive the industrial revolution with custom-built mods? Or enter a competition to see who can build a construction first against hundreds of others? There is a server for that. Pokemon in Minecraft? Pixelmon! 

And if you want to earn Bitcoin in Minecraft? Welp, you can even do that now.

Players can earn Bitcoin in Minecraft with the partnership between Zebedee and Satlantis. (Zebedee)

A community-operated Minecraft server by the name of “Satlantis” has integrated Zebedee’s gaming tech that lets players earn Bitcoin by completing in-game quests inspired by real-life BTC mining. Players in the server can join in-game mining pools, collect ASICs (popular hardware tailored for Bitcoin mining) and increase their hash rate to win block rewards. What a cool way to educate traditional gamers on the basics of Bitcoin!

Players can withdraw their earnings to Zebedee’s app, where they can spend their gains on other games made by the company or move them to exchanges that support Bitcoin’s layer-2 Lightning Network.

Don’t get your hopes up for buying a Lambo with your earnings from building pixelated wonders. The server will give out a total of 1 million satoshis — equal to one hundred millionth of a BTC — per week. That’s around $300 per week divided by God-only-knows how many people. While it isn’t much, it’s a start that could become a trend. 

The Bitcoin-friendly integration is an unofficial one, and neither Satlantis nor Zebedee is affiliated with the Minecraft developer Mojang Studios. The studio itself is pretty down on Web3, having previously banned Minecraft NFT integrations. Time will show how this integration fairs against the ban.

Blockchain Game Alliance ramps up diversity efforts

Diversity is a surprisingly new topic in the world of video games. Most major publishers had not even released a diversity report as recently as 2021. In 2022 Activision Blizzard gave itself five long years to meet its goal of 50% women and non-binary employees.

Members of the Blockchain Game Alliance, a key organization promoting Web3 and blockchain gaming, voted to install a gender-balanced board, with three men and three women. And the newly elected BGA board of 2023 is made up of all new faces.

Blockchain Game Alliance 2023 board members
Blockchain Game Alliance 2023 board members. (BGA)

They are Leah Callon-Butler, director of consulting firm Emfarsis; Yasmina Kazitani, chief marketing and partnerships officer at Interverse; Christina Macedo, co-founder and chief operating officer at Ready gg; Hideaki Uehara, director of business development at Square Enix; Mariano Rubinstein, CEO and co-founder at Sura Gaming; and Alex Kosloff, head of business development at Altura.

As an avid gamer, I will be watching with interest to see if the make-up of the new board can help progress and innovation across the Web3 gaming space.

Sega not a fan of P2E but developing a blockchain game

The makers of all-time favorite franchises Sonic and Yakuza have had an on-again, off-again relationship with blockchain technology. Sega announced plans for NFTs as play-to-earn (P2E) rewards last year. Later, they stepped off the gas after a backlash from fans, who considered the initiative a money grab.

This year, Sega is also walking both sides of the street. Shuji Utsumi, co-chief operating officer at Sega, called blockchain games “boring” and said the Japanese gaming giant wouldn’t be using its biggest titles in blockchain gaming projects.

However, Sega has announced a partnership with Line Next to bring its classic games to GAME DOSI, a Web3-friendly blockchain gaming platform. In light of this announcement, Utsumi clarified that investing in Web3 projects is within the company’s strategy but that they don’t intend to be a Web3 company but rather a “Web 2.5” one.

LINE NEXT signs memorandum of understanding with SEGA to develop game for GAME DOSI
LINE NEXT partners with SEGA to license and bring a classic game to the Web3 gaming platform GAME DOSI. (LINE)

As everyone’s aware, the mainstream gaming community is unenthusiastic about blockchain games and sees them as a temporary trend fueled by hype and speculation. Players are concerned about money grabs and the short lifespans of Web3 games, so it’s understandable Sega doesn’t want to put its big titles in an area where it has little-to-no experience. 

While some skepticism is warranted, it doesn’t mean blockchain technology won’t ever find its footing in the gaming industry. Multi-billion-dollar tech companies are aware of the possibilities Web3 gaming brings and know the importance of getting in on the ground floor.

Sega’s decision to test the water with its smaller IPs is a thoughtful and measured approach that respects its legacy while navigating the uncharted terrain of Web3 gaming. 

Studio’s $15M funding from Binance Labs for Web3 dino game

Binance’s venture capital and incubator arm Binance Labs has invested $15 million in Web3 gaming startup Xterio. The company labels itself as a “free-to-play-and-own” game developer and publisher, meaning the games are free to play, and players are able to earn and keep NFTs. In August last year, it raised $40 million in funding from investors, including FunPlus, XPLA and now-extinct FTX Ventures.

Xterio seems to have a lot of experience on the gaming front, with Web2 gaming industry veterans on its founding executive team from companies including Ubisoft, Krafton and NetEase. There are 11 games in its repertoire, ranging from Age of Dino — a massively multiplayer online 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) strategy game that features dinosaurs — to Overworld, a cross-platform sandbox RPG with anime-inspired graphics.

Xterio is developing an “emotion engine for AI,” with an aim to enhance player immersion by equipping game characters with realistic and dynamic emotional responses — The Matrix and the whole AI takes-control scenario were way ahead of their time.

Web3 Game Overworld by Xterio
Overworld promotional art. (Xterio)

The company uses AI very actively as they host an AI toolkit for developers and are creating a digital companion game called AIpal which is entering its beta phase later this year.

Hot take — Oath of Peak

The undeniable success of Genshin Impact — a Chinese MMORPG with cute graphics and fast-paced action that was released on virtually every platform except Casio Scientific Calculator — sparked off a trend of introducing every possible bit of Chinese mythology to Western audiences among developers. 

Oath of Peak
Oath of Peak promotional art. (Oath of Peak)

Oath of Peak, an action MMORPG game that diversifies with its Web3 elements, seems to capitalize on that itch. Available on iOS and Android platforms as a free download, the game offers an epic world that’s easy to get familiar with, thanks to its cute graphics. 

Similar to other massively multiplayer games, players can pick from five different classes with fully customizable avatars. The game offers melee, assassin, ranger, mage and support characters — nothing groundbreaking. 

With the recently-added English language support, it wasn’t hard to find my way around the colorful island. After completing some quests, I realized one cool thing about the game: it doesn’t shove its Web3 features at the player. Sure, the game has NFT monsters and a utility token that’s exchangeable with in-game currency, but it doesn’t become prominent until after players are invested in the game in terms of time and effort.

If you are in the market to check some new games with familiar mechanics, it’s worth taking a look at Oath of Peak, now available globally via app stores or its APK. It’ll only take 15-20 minutes for you to understand whether it’s a game for you or not anyway.

More from Web3 gaming space:

— Eyeball Games, led by the team behind Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool, has announced the launch of their blockchain-based mobile game, Eyeball Pool, on the Immutable platform in early 2024.

— Polygon Labs’ president, Ryan Wyatt, is transitioning to an advisory role after over a year with the company. Polygon’s chief legal officer, Marc Boiron, will succeed Wyatt as the new CEO.

— MetaGalaxy Land introduced the pre-alpha version of its metaverse platform, which utilizes Unreal Engine 5.

— Major League Baseball became one of the first professional sports leagues to own a virtual world. Improbable, a metaverse tech firm, announced the new virtual space called “MLB virtual ballpark.”

— Immutable has introduced OBS, its first Web3 racing game, as the latest addition to its game lineup.

— Telescope Labs launched a comprehensive range of AI-driven solutions tailored for Web3 gaming, empowering gaming enterprises with the necessary resources to construct robust virtual economies.

— Sweat Economy, a move-to-earn initiative, has revealed the introduction of Sweat Hero, an in-app game and NFT experience within their platform.

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