Though Gods Unchained is not even playable yet, people are already shelling out huge amounts of cash to get an edge in Fuel Games’ upcoming blockchain-powered online card game. One card recently sold for over $60,000 worth of ether. Read on to find out what the buzz is all about.
The Rise of Card Game Mania
The collectible card game genre dates back to the 1993 release of Richard Garfield’s Magic: the Gathering.
In MTG, players with rare and powerful cards have a distinct advantage over players with cheaper, less effective cards. This gives the game players an incentive to collect– and continue to spend money.
Hasbro recognized MTG’s potential and paid $325 million to acquire it in 1999. Today, MTG is one of the toy maker’s main revenue generators.
Though physical collectible card games are still popular, digital card games may represent the future of the genre.
An online version of Magic: the Gathering was released in 2002. Despite some initial skepticism, it proved to be a big hit.
Today, Hearthstone— an online-only MTG franchise competitor– dominates the online card game market. Hearthstone has 20 million players and typically generates anywhere from $25 to $40 million in revenue each month.
Research firm SuperData predicted that the market for digital collectible card games will continue to grow. It forecasted that the global market will be worth $1.5 billion in 2018.
Existing online card games are cash cows for game makers– but top card game players are making money, too. According to VentureBeat, 86 percent of digital card game players watch online videos of other people playing digital card games on YouTube, Twitch and other similar sites. Elite players attract huge followings, which in turn allows them to earn money through affiliate programs, subscriptions and donations. The top Hearthstone streamer on Twitch has the 54th most popular channel on the entire site.
Here Come Blockchain-based Card Games
One key disadvantage of online card games like Hearthstone is that players have zero control or ownership over the cards they earn. At any time, the game’s developers can “nerf” a powerful card– or in other words, weaken a card’s statistics.
Blockchain-based online card games like Gods Unchained are apparently more difficult to alter. Gods Unchained cards are non-fungible ERC-721 tokens housed on the ethereum blockchain. That means they are fully owned and controlled by the holder of the card’s cryptographic key. To put it another way, Gods Unchained cards can’t be easily changed or deleted.
How Gods Unchained’s blockchain features will play out remains to be seen. One possible risk is that Fuel Games could accidently release a card that throws the mechanics off balance. Ideally, there should be multiple ways to win a card game match. But if a card that’s too powerful creates a situation where one type of strategy beats all the other strategies almost every time, Gods Unchained could become too one-dimensional.
The developers of Gods Unchained seem to have anticipated this possible pitfall. According to CoinDesk, there will be a “rebalancing period” shortly after the game’s launch. Details of this rebalancing period are not available on the Gods Unchained site or elsewhere online.
In addition to the revenue generated by the ongoing pre-sale launch of Gods Unchained, Fuel Games has also benefited from venture capital investments. An initial seed round netted $2.4 million and was led by investors Continue Capital and Nirvana Capital. Sora Ventures and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase also contributed venture capital funds.
Fuel Games CEO James Ferguson was encouraged by the surge of interest in his innovative game.
“Receiving an investment in our equity round from Coinbase Ventures was validating, especially of our core belief that gaming is an industry where blockchain technology actually makes lots of sense.”
Gods Unchained’s ERC-721 tokens are already valuable. And if the game takes off, its developers could reel in enormous profits just by generating new tokens.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Ferguson elaborated on how blockchain technology empowers game developers.
“It’s essentially like every single games studio, or every single publisher, is a central bank.”
More and more investors are beginning to see the potential of ERC-721 tokens. ERC-721 exchange RareBits recently raised a $6 million investment. A collectible card games platform called Gamedex raised $800,000 during its seed round.
The Minds Behind Fuel Games
Fuel Games was founded by two brothers: Robbie and James Ferguson. But does their company have what it takes to compete with Hearthstone, Magic: the Gathering Online and other popular digital card games? Here’s a quick look at the core development team.
- Robbie Ferguson – Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer. Robbie Ferguson has more cryptocurrency experience than his brother, but less experience overall. He created a capital gains tax analysis platform for various cryptocurrency exchanges when he worked at the Australia-based law firm KPMG.
- James Ferguson – Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer. James Ferguson is a full stack developer engineer. He co-founded e-commerce app Shopyak and was the lead developer at Appliances Online. His first gaming venture was Rivlr, an esports tournament platform.
- Callum Spring – Lead Game Developer. Spring’s game development credits include the action/adventure game Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, casual puzzle game Puzzle Puppers and turn-based strategy game Attrition: Tactical Fronts.
- James Wakeham – Lead Game Designer. Wakeham worked with Spring on Attrition: Tactical Fronts and Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth.
The high prices of cards sold during the recent Gods Unchained auction shows that there seems to be a great deal of interest in the game already. Another good sign: Fuel Games has managed to attract several high-profile venture capital investors. The runaway success of games like Cryptokitties proves that there’s a market for blockchain-based collectibles, and digital card games seem like a natural fit.
Whether or not Gods Unchained will actually be fun to play remains to be seen. Art and details about the game look intriguing. However, if big money Gods Unchained players get too big of an advantage, it may not catch on. Another point of concern: the two Fuel Games co-founders, the lead developer and the lead designer all have experience and talent, but none of them have ever worked on a digital or traditional collectible card game project before.