AIP-338: The First ApeCoin Sponsored Competitive E-Sports Tournament with Wreck League

I was thinking along the same lines in my missive above. Here are the challenges with this:

  • Web2 gamers will resist playing a Web3 game; especially one that’s got token-gated NFTs like this one.
  • As per above, that since the game’s release a few weeks ago, the barrier of entry is already high, and with an already imbalanced metrics of player assets, it’s even more unlikely that any Web2 gamer or influencer would play it.
  • nWay actually had plans to release a Web2 version, but ended up focusing and leading with the Web3 version, which we can all agree was an absolutely bad idea. So, now there’s only the Web3 version. And even if they release (not sure if they already did) a Web2 version, the damage is already done I think.
  • You’ve never going to get any Web2 influencer to touch a Web3 game - unless it also caters to Web2. And even so, most of the streamers have much bigger fish to fry. In fact, according to metrics that I ran moments ago, most of the Web3 streamers have already played and featured the game. So, that ship already sailed.

For context, let me segue into my game dev soapbox…

In gaming, you rarely - if ever - get a second shot. It doesn’t matter how great the game is nor how well-funded or how experienced the team is. The end result is a crap-shoot formula that relies entirely on the whims of gamers and trends. e.g. Look at the recently released Baldur’s Gate 3. Not even the devs anticipated that at launch they would be averaging over 800K DAUs. They planned for about 100K. And weeks later, it’s stable at around 200 DAUs. Even Microsoft completely underestimated the game. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Immortals of Aveum, another high-profile AAA release came out around the same time, immediately tanked and layoffs ensued thereafter.

That’s how high the stakes are in gaming.

There is no Web2 or Web3 in that equation - other than the fact that most Web3 game devs have decided to go for the get-rich-quick scheme that has plagued the crypto scene since WAGMI (an abject fallacy) was a thing. A lot of Web3 people don’t get the concept of item ownership beyond the need to make money. That’s all there is to that. Meanwhile, in Web2, since the advent of the first MMO games, the concept of item ownership is embedded in the game’s premise, lore and culture. Never outside it because, with Counter-Strike being the exception to the rule, most gamers only care about two core things: a good game & a good game that their friends are playing. And, for the most part, Web3 gaming P2E is basically a glorified ponzi scheme of sorts because for you to win, someone has to fail. And if there are less people failing, you lose the edge that it takes to win. Which is one of the reasons that Axie collapsed - never to recover.

First impression, right out of the gate, is what determines the end result. Sure, there may be other factors that affect this, but hype is no longer enough. And Wreck League had an ample dose of that hype - particularly because it was touting the much-antipicated Web2<—>Web3 cross-over. Then it didn’t happen. Games Beat had an excellent write-up (below) about specifically this. You really should read it to get a good idea of what I am talking about and why it’s no surprise that the game ended up the way that it did.

Animoca’s nWay finds a smart Web3 strategy with ****core mech game Wreck League:


"“Wreck League is a hybrid Web3 and Web2 project,” said Kim. “Our aim is to unite the communities and players, leveraging the creative potential of the Web3 community to continuously enhance the game’s content. With our expertise in competitive fighting games, we are confident in delivering a well-rounded experience that has the potential to truly combine both the Web3 and Web2 gamer communities by creating a symbiotic relationship between the two groups.””


Similarly, Naavik, too had high hopes for the game, and expressed the same concerns and hopes for the Web2/Web3 cross-over.

Wreck League Crashes onto the Web3 Gaming Scene


The varying rarities are a system nWay is clearly looking to capitalize on by providing mints in “blind boxes,” with some ways to modify the odds towards higher rarities. Yet a combination of customization, rarities, and monetization usually creates a conflict around fairness due to a strong pay-to-win incentive that will inevitably exist around rarer NFTs. This is an issue most collectible games have to deal with, but nWay has already laid out its strong esports ambitions. To follow through will require creating a game with a high level of competitive integrity.


Also, I should note that they already have a tournament going on, called Mez’i’s Mayhem running Sept 14-Sept 28. But you wouldn’t know it because the engagement is basically non-existent.

Want to know why Web2 gamers won’t engage in this game no matter the winnings in a tournament? See this comment from a Web3 degen.

wl-01

That - right there - is your first barrier of entry.

When I first decided to make “a game with Web3 elements”, though I was already involved in crypto going all the way back to when the Bitcoin white paper was first released, I knew that there was no way to on-board Web2 gamers given the sentiments surrounding crypto in general. And to do it the other way by on-boarding Web3 to a Web2 game, meant getting into the minds of the gamers who actually care about Web3 games. The fact is that, most don’t. Not really. They only care about one thing and one thing [P2E] only: owning stuff that translates to making money. That - right there - is the Web2/Web3 divide. And to this day, it remains a tough nut to crack. Which is why all the top tier Web3 games in dev, being promoted or coming out within the next few years, are now downplaying that whole Web3 thing. Which is precisely what Wreck League started to do - but fell short of those aspirations for whatever reason.

And given years of industry experience, I already knew all of this; which is why, instead of spending several years and millions of Dollars on a new game, I decided to re-master and re-launch a pre-existing Web2 game that was popular before; and use that as a Trojan horse to do the Web2<–>Web3 experimental merge of sorts. How? By retaining all the Web2 elements while introducing new and non-intrusive Web3 elements. And ofc the experiment could eventually fail, but worse case scenario, the Web2 gamers won’t need to go anywhere because the original game is still there and there are no Web3 elements preventing them from playing the game. You can read my game AIP-318 (please read the whole thread because there are several supplemental updates) which goes up to vote tomorrow.

I have written several articles about this Web3 gaming conundrum. If you have interest in reading my opinions on why Web3 games are failing to engage Web2 gamers, you should peruse them. And there are many other devs and investors saying the same thing - repeatedly.

I personally had high hopes for this Wreck League game because even though eSports is basically dying a slow and painful death, the idea of releasing a Web2/Web3 cross-over casual game isn’t something that has been done before because you’re either releasing a Web2 game or it’s a Web3 game. The merge is a precarious proposition because by their very nature, Web3 games have monetization schemes which simply do not work for Web2 games and gamers. And the [Web3] industry only realized all this just this year, even though some of us devs have been sounding the alarm for months on end. In fact, if you have time, read some of my blogs about this very specific issue.

Anyway, this is just my thesis of why the idea of sponsoring a WL tournament to attract Web2 gamers isn’t going to work. That $100K could very well be spent in marketing and advertising the game to the Web3 gamers in order to get more of those people playing the game because the opportunity to on-board new blood via Web2 gamers is likely insurmountable due to the fact that the game is already imbalanced and front-loaded by early gamers who they aren’t likely to monetize enough to sustain the game’s monthly burn.

At the end of the day, the decision to vote for this AIP depends on whether or not the voters believe that spending $100K to promote the game is worth spending. And if so, how does a $100K benefit the DAO when the game, with an already massive marketing spend, has failed to move the adoption needle.

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