Sandbox founder’s 2024 game picks: Shrapnel, Star Atlas and My Pet Hooligan
Sebastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox, says that interest in blockchain gaming is ramping up and 2024 is set to be a big year for the industry with Web2 studios joining the fray.
“I do believe the attractivity of the Web3 gaming space for its next growth phase is more linked to the upcoming launch of promising game titles developed by large Web2 companies,” he tells Web3 Gamer.
Borget is particularly excited about the launches of first-person extraction shooter Shrapnel, space-themed strategy game Star Atlas and battle royale NFT game My Pet Holligan.
Another emerging trend that Borget has noticed is Web3 games veering toward educating gamers and rewarding them for their skills, especially as they conquer quests and missions. He says this helps to foster and attract a higher caliber of players.
YGG Quests, IndIGG and Crew3 are platforms that are really honing in on this area.
“This drives higher quality players, who are more engaged into the games they play and allow more discoverability and education of players, replacing the guild and previous play-to-earn model that we have seen rise and fall in 2021.”
Meanwhile, Shi Khai Wei, chief operating officer and partner of Web3 venture fund LongHash Ventures, says the industry is breathing a sigh of relief after a tough 2023. Many games were still in the early building blocks phase and money in the market was scarcer than hen’s teeth.
“We can give a plus to those who have persisted through bear markets to launch in this new cycle,” says Khai Wei.
“In 2023, many games were still in development, and the lack of liquidity in the bear market cycle makes it difficult to attract crypto native whales in Web3 games,” he explains.
Optimistic about a potential bull market in 2024, Khai Wei says the year’s game plan for LongHash Ventures is about focusing on games with robust gaming infrastructure and broad appeal to diverse audiences.
“We are looking for the strongest social graphs of gamers and new disruptive ideas like dynamic or executable NFTs,” he declares.
“Our main criteria has always been a balanced team with strength in both crypto native and gaming experience,” he explains.
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Neopets co-founder says blockchain games need to spice things up
“We need more killer concepts like Portal, and fewer reskins of the same old, same old,” says Donna Powell, the co-founder of the ‘99 hit virtual pet game Neopets.
If you haven’t heard of Neopets, ask your parents.
By the mid-2000s, the game had more than 25 million users.
Neopets has received a makeover with nonfungible tokens and is trying to win back the crowd almost two decades later. Now, they’ve got three collections:
— Neopets Genesis Collection
— Neopets Pizzaroo Collection
— Neopets Masterpiece
Now, Powell and her husband, Adam Powell, the co-creator of Neopets, are working on a new 3D MMORPG called Dragginz. It’s getting built on the Internet Computer (ICP) blockchain.
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However, coming from the Web2 gaming world, where games wowed players with leaps in graphics and internet technology, Powell says Web3 devs need to crank up their creativity to push those same boundaries.
“I think all games need to try to push boundaries and think outside of the box,” she says.
Furthermore, Powell points out that old-school gaming big-shots should open their eyes to blockchain’s infrastructure benefits.
“Even traditional game studios should utilize the security benefits of Web3 like the Internet Computer. Imagine no more concerns about account breaches, for example?”
But Powell emphasizes there’s no need to separate Web3 games into their own sub-genre. Once you are playing a game, you should not be able to tell the difference.
“Web3 is just the underlying technology; it should be invisible to the user,” she states.
With spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds now approved (for real this time), she envisions a ripple effect hitting Web3 gaming.
“Generally, it will make the introduction to crypto easier,” Powell told Magazine, speaking when the applications by BlackRock and others were still pending. “Bringing more non-crypto people on board will make crypto as a whole more attractive to other developers looking to move from traditional Web2 to Web3.”
Hot Take: Trickshot Blitz
Who doesn’t dig a game that amps up your geometry skills and hand-eye coordination, right?
Trickshot Blitz is a blockchain-based pool table game on your phone, where you can earn some crypto in the form of RLY tokens for entering tournaments, leveling up and inviting mates to sign up.
Getting paid to play pool is not bad considering I usually have to chuck a $2 coin at the local pub to play a game.
Alright, I might be a tad biased here, considering I’m a fan of good ol’ real-life pool games.
But decentralized app tracking platform DappRadar ranks the game at #9 on the top games list.
So, it’s gotta be half-decent, right?
Using the Flow blockchain, this game had no problems hooking me up with opponents.
I was jumping into games within seconds, and that was a relief because these games only lasted for two minutes.
That’s super quick compared to real-life pool, unless your mate decides to sink the black right off the bat.
There is this strangely soothing feeling when you play pool on your phone, similar to the satisfaction you get from conquering levels on Angry Birds.
You line up your angle, pull back the cue, and boom (hopefully, it goes in).
It has all the angles on the screen, too; you’ll feel like a mathematician. It’s a real treat — if only the angles showed up on real pool tables after a drink or two at the pub.
The graphics on the pool table are top-notch, and the tablecloth is probably the cleanest and crispest you’ll ever see on a pool table. But let’s be real, it’s a pool game, not some chaos RPG – and with Web3 games studio Joyride, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
These guys are pros in crafting blockchain-powered mobile games and have some big hitters in their corner, like Coinbase Ventures, Animoca Brands and Solana Ventures.
The game’s got decent liquidity. In the 24 hours to my deadline, there were 61,800 transactions, totaling $1,620.
That breaks down to an average transaction of around… $0.026.
However, one thing did throw me off a bit during sign-up – they want your mobile number and shoot you a text for verification, which is kind of rare in the blockchain game scene.
I hesitated, thinking that now I’m gonna be bombarded with game promos.
Ten minutes later, I get a text about some 50% off sale, and I’m like, here we go.
But it was just my Nana hitting me up with the latest New Year clothing sales deals.
Long story short, no game promos so far. If you’re worried about throwing in your digits, it seems pretty safe.
Notcoin is not good and does not even have a token yet
Notcoin, a game on the Telegram app, scored over 6 million users and 1.2 million daily active users in just 10 days after launching on Jan 1.
The project brands itself as a viral Web3 clicker game. It pretty much is just that – clicking a button to pile up more Notcoins. One trillion Notcoins have apparently been mined already.
But here’s the kicker — those points are worthless. People are doing it, crossing their fingers for a crypto release and hoping for an airdrop. Right now, it’s kind of a gamble with your time, if you ask me. The official statement notes:
“There is no Notcoin token, and a Notcoin has no market value. Notcoin operates as an in-game virtual asset within Telegram’s Web3 ecosystem and does not function as a cryptocurrency.”
Most of the tasks to earn extra coins are pretty dull, involving free marketing tasks like subscribing to Telegram, Discord, Twitter, or other Web3 projects.
The only one that seems to have some benefit for users is submitting your own TON wallet for possible future airdrops. That’s, of course, if they ever decide to launch.
— Axie Infinity activates the parts evolution utility and implements an official balancing patch for the upcoming season.
— AI and metaverse firm Futureverse is collaborating with Ernest Cline, the author of Ready Player One, and Dan Farah, the film’s producer, to bring Ready Player One into the metaverse.
— Popular RPG Pixels announced it will be introducing the PIXEL crypto token. The premium token will exclusively be distributed among the top 7,000 players on the leaderboard.
— Find Satoshi Lab reveals the beta version of the social strategy game Gas Hero, making it accessible to gamers on mobile.
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Ciaran Lyons is an Australian crypto journalist. He’s also a standup comedian and has been a radio and TV presenter on Triple J, SBS and The Project.