Ukraine-based Stepico Games is developing the blockchain game for publisher Immutable, which is known for its Magic-like digital collectible game Gods Unchained, which has a marketplace for selling NFTs. Players can earn these NFTs — which use the transparent and secure ledger of the blockchain to verify authenticity — in-game and trade or sell on the marketplace. That means that these games will have uniquely identifiable digital items that players can earn or buy or sell, allowing the players to own the items permanently.
Guild of Guardians sold its first wave of founders collectible NFTs in June, raising $3 million. And now it will create NFT collectibles in partnership with the Los Angeles esports organization NRG Esports to tap into the unexplored esports market and bolster fan engagement.
The partnership will mark the release of the NRG X Guild of Guardians hero — an in-game NFT playable character within the Guild of Guardians universe. Users will be able to buy the hero in the next wave of Guild of Guardians’ founders NFT sale. One buyer will also get the chance to own an extremely rare “mythic” version of which only one will be produced.
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The collaboration will also see the world-exclusive launch of NRG’s first NFT collectible, a tradable piece of digital art commemorating NRG’s success across various gaming championships in recent years.
Guild of the Guardians has been in development at Stepico in Ukraine for the past year, and Immutable is overseeing production. A team of 25 is working on the title. It will come out as a free-to-play title on Android and iOS.
“The vision of the game is to create a really fun and compelling mobile game played by millions of players,” said Lau. “It will enable everyone to turn their passion for gaming into assets. The audience has been pretty positive about it so far.”
Lau said that 250,000 players are already engaging with the game across different channels, including Twitter, Facebook, email, and Discord. It’s a squad-based multiplayer RPG with a fantasy setting. You build your dream team of heroes and fight for dominance. You can play as humans, elves, orcs, and others. It’s akin to Diablo, except that it has multiple characters fighting at once.
“You have a team of heroes and you send them into dungeons to fight against monsters and bosses, collect loot, craft equipment, and so on,” Lau said. “We have already sold some legendary heroes, which are characters you use to play the game.”
The game will also have guilds of players, and if you want to join a guild, you have to own NFTs in the game. “The game is very strategic,” Lau said. “You need to think about the synergies between heroes, different elemental strengths and weaknesses, different combinations, as well as strategy and action elements.
A soft launch is expected early next year. Players can play the game with common items without having to buy premium NFTs. They can grind and earn items that they can use to craft NFT items. Some NFTs you can only get by working together with the rest of your guild.
Immutable X is a marketplace for players in games such as Gods Unchained to buy and sell the items they have collected. The Guild of Guardians game will mint its NFTs on the carbon-neutral Immutable X platform, which has zero gas fees, instant settlement, and with little environmental impact, the company said.
Immutable X is the brainchild of Immutable, the Australian game team that runs the NFT trading card game Gods Unchained. Gods Unchained is an important NFT game, as it is built by a development team headed by Chris Clay, the former director of Magic the Gathering: Arena. Gods Unchained is a “play to earn” game, where players can earn collectibles over time, Immutable founder Robbie Ferguson said in a recent interview with GamesBeat. And they can make money by trading those collectibles, including the unique NFTs that can be proven by the blockchain, the secure digital ledger technology, to not be copies.
In the past few months, NFTs have exploded in other applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Published by Animoca Brands and built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $700 million in sales, five months after going public to a worldwide audience. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Investors are pouring money into NFTs, and some of those investors are game fans. The weekly revenues for NFTs peaked in May and then crashed, but now those revenues are bigger than ever.
As one of the highest-grossing blockchain games of 2020, Gods Unchained has logged millions of matches during its ongoing beta and boasts over 4 million assets. The token launch comes off the back of Gods Unchained’s latest expansion set, Trial of the Gods. That set completely sold out, and a new expansion is on the horizon.
NRG’s involvement is a validation for NFT games. Founded by Sacramento Kings co-owners Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller in November 2015, NRG has evolved into a well-known esports organization, claiming significant investment from some of the biggest names in the sporting arena including Shaquille O’Neal, Jimmy Rollins, and Alex Rodriguez.
NRG represents competitive teams across Fortnite, Rocket League, Apex, Call of Duty, and Overwatch, with multiple championship wins across numerous titles. The firm boasts an impressive fan base, with content channels reaching over 34 million unique views per month — cultivating over 118 million fan engagements.
As part of the collaboration, Guild of Guardians will gain access to NRG’s fanbase, enabling the game to tap into a highly engaged demographic. Meanwhile, the partnership will allow NRG to take fan engagement to the next level by providing fans with a new and innovative way to interact with and potentially profit from their favorite teams. Introducing exclusive, collectible NFTs to fans also unlocks further monetization opportunities for NRG.
Derek Lau, game director for Guild of Guardians at Immutable, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the rise of digital ownership is a huge indicator of what the next stage of the evolution of gaming and esports fan engagement will look like. He said he expects more esports brands to follow suit with their own collectible NFTs. By 2024, we will see 577.2 million esports viewers globally, according to market researcher Newzoo.
Andy Miller, CEO of NRG Esports, said in a statement that his company is excited to be moving into the NFT sector. The introduction of tangible, ownable in-game items, fan collectibles, and merchandise is a genuine game-changer for the esports sector, he said.