Aug 11, 2022 - Technology

More focus on fun, less on investment for upcoming NFT game

Illustration of video game character styled to look like Rambo and other action movie heroes
Image: Mighty Bear Studios

Web3 gaming still has its upsides, if done right with more focus on game quality, veteran developer Simon Davis tells Axios.

Why it matters: The NFT/Web3/blockchain part of the games industry has billions of dollars of investment but is surrounded by skeptics.

  • For some, a lack of hits — and players — is proof that the sector is a dead end, offering a technology that doesn’t inherently make games better.
  • For others, including Davis — whose company Mighty Bear just announced a $10 million investment to make a Web3 game — that’s just proof it’s early days.

What they’re saying: “When we get the first genuinely world-class experience in Web3 with a low enough barrier to entry and a low level of friction, we'll be there,” Davis tells Axios.

  • Reminder: Web3 gaming is another way of saying gaming that is tied to cryptocurrencies. These games often involve the ability to buy and sell in-game items, characters and land in the form of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

Some key problems hold Web3 games back, Davis says.

  • Many such games assume everyone wants to get into crypto or cares about it, requiring sign-ups for wallets and acquiring tokens before you’re playing. The game from Davis’ team, a battle royale called Mighty Action Heroes, will let people access it as a standard free-to-play game, with the chance to play with NFT-based gear as an additional option.
  • NFT-based games tend to focus on their marketplace and draw players who are thinking of investment first, Davis has observed. “To me, that's not healthy,” Davis says, emphasizing the need for the players to have fun playing them.

Davis is hopeful that Web3 could change the financing of games and even improve the dev-player relationship.

  • Teams making standard free-to-play games constantly need to turn out new content that they then pressure players to buy, he says. That “basically puts the studio in conflict with the players.” (Davis has worked in free-to-play for years).
  • For a Web3 game like his, Davis believes a team can forgo that model and sustain itself by taking a cut of sales of in-game items that players sell to each other. For his game, those items might be cosmetics or rewards otherwise earned through playing the battle royale’s seasons.
  • Could that be done without crypto, given years of experiments with in-game marketplaces in games such as Diablo? Davis argues that tracking transactions and divvying up profits are ideally done with Web 3 tech. “I could send a postcard instead of sending an email,” he said. “But it's not necessarily the best tool for it.”

What’s next: A playable build of Mighty Action Heroes should launch by year’s end.

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