Gaming is big business. How big you might ask? According to Amsterdam-based gaming market intelligence company, Newzoo, the industry is expected to surpass a whopping $200 billion in 2022. For context, that’s bigger than both the music and movie industries combined.
When looking at the breakdown of this massive market, we can see traditional gaming studios and publishers control the lion’s share. To illustrate just how much they control, Newzoo reports the top 10 gaming studios accounted for $126B in revenue in 2021. These centralized companies function on a traditional Web2 model: providing an entertainment service in exchange for money and access to user data, while preserving ownership of digital assets to themselves, rather than the user. However, the tide is slowly turning, as these studios begin to dip their toes into the Web3 space.
Enter Castle Crush, a Web2 game developed by Wildlife Studios which, in June 2022, expanded the title to incorporate blockchain technology, effectively transforming it into a Web3 game. Let’s drill down on what that means for the game and industry.
Learn: Web2 refers to the version of the internet most of us know today. Companies in Web2 provide services in exchange for your personal data which they own. Web3 runs on blockchain technology which is permissionless and allows users to own and control their data.
In case you didn’t know, Wildlife is a top mobile gaming developer and publisher. Founded in Brazil back in 2011, the company is a global organization with offices spread out in the US, Ireland, and Argentina. Wildlife operates games in the casual to midcore space, reaching over 2.2 billion downloads across its portfolio of 60+ titles. This is supported by a team of over 1,100 employees as of early 2022.
Castle Crush is one of Wildlife’s headline games, with 200k daily active players (40k competitive). It features elements of card-building, Real-Time Strategy (RTS), and Auto-Battlers. There are three lanes stretching between your castle and the enemy counterpart; players must carefully craft decks of cards to defeat their opponent’s units and destroy their castle, ultimately winning the match!
The game uses a mana-based resource system where a variety of units are at different mana price points. Adding onto the strategy, the three lanes are separate, so neglecting to focus on one can lead to a player’s downfall!
Players also receive long-term rewards; winning matches gives players trophies allowing them to climb from Castle 0, the Training Castle all the way to Castle 9, the Black Citadel, with 8 other tiers in-between. Chests earned by playing give players different rewards based on what castle level they’re currently at. This way, climbing up the ranks gives both prestige and a wider range of cards to include in decks.
“We are thrilled to be building new games with Avalanche, unlocking features and functionalities that make Web3 gaming a big win for users, rather than a clunky addition to their experience,” said Fernando Sette, Sr. Director of Product at Wildlife Studios via their website. “The high performance and deeply customizable nature of Avalanche has removed the obstacles to making Web3 games that excite, intrigue, and engage our players.”
What’s new coming to Castle Crush? Well, there’s new functionalities, among which being that all cards having Ascended Tier versions available as NFTs. Players can use, trade, loan, and sell them, allowing for greater ownership over their in-game assets. Additionally, players can earn Ascension Crystals ($ACS) by playing, ranking well, and winning tournaments! These tokens can be exchanged or used with their use-case being for minting and upgrading NFTs.
Castle Crush’s Public Mint Date ended June 16th, 2022 and completely sold out.
Why Castle Crush and not another of the 60+ games built by the studio? Sette explains: “card games lend themselves well to NFTs.” Other NFT card games include Gods Unchained and Skyweaver. He elaborated that the team wanted to enter the space quickly and begin iterating– thus, updating an existing game made more sense than developing a new experience from scratch.
“As we thought of how to position ourselves in the blockchain gaming space, one thing was clear—we needed to move fast and learn from direct experience,” he said. “Castle Crush was an obvious fit for us. Even though gameplay is in real-time, its progression system is derived from cards and deck-building.”
Avalanche Growth / Web2 to Web3 Transition
Sette went on to comment on the general growth of Web3 and P2E: “Web3 represents a new era for gaming. The ecosystem feels reminiscent of the early days of mobile free-to-play (F2P) gaming. A lot of the discourse and activity we’re seeing now with blockchain gaming reminds us of the beginning of Wildlife Studios. Naturally, we were drawn to these parallels and recognized the potential for an exciting new business model.”
Adding NFTs will allow Wildlife to capture and formalize what previously existed as a gray market outside the game. This included the ability to buy, trade, and loan out cards. Players were already seeking out ownership of in-game digital assets. This is similar to other cases like Hearthstone, FIFA, etc. where there are gray markets for digital assets.
Sette also acknowledged giving control back to players: “We’re excited by the possibility of putting more control of the game in the hands of players who have been passionate about this title for years,” he explained.
The company’s Director of Product further pointed out the reason for choosing Avalanche: “As mobile gaming developers, our priority has always been to provide a seamless experience for our players. When evaluating which blockchain to launch our first Web3 project on, Avalanche appealed to us first and foremost because of the customization it offered to craft the ideal UX for our players.”
Sette also mentioned Avalanche’s developer ecosystem and support from Ava Labs as Wildlife foraged into Web3: “It’s been great to have a closer partnership with them as we develop the Web3 layer for Castle Crush.” Like other games on Avalanche, Castle Crush will use the chain’s subnet to customize implementation.
NFT Launch & Game Release
The public mint and token release occurred between June 13th and June 16th, 2022. Founders’ NFTs will have special rewards, be special cards, and also allow for voting on Treasury Fund usage along with Wildlife Studios (50/50 Founders/Wildlife).
The game recently updated its release timing with Chest Opening slated for July 18th, 2022 and NFTs playable on August 15, 2022.
It’s clear to see Web3 and P2E’s growth in the space as well as the importance of Avalanche’s features and ecosystem attracting growth. Castle Crush is an established game coming into the space. A stark contrast from many other games and studios which are first-timers both in crypto and in gaming. It’s a good sign to see more traditional players such as Wildlife testing the waters.
You can follow Castle Crush’s developments on their Twitter or Discord. They also have a whitepaper, where you can learn more about Wildlife Studios, CastleCrush Gameplay, The Social Layer ‘Clans’, NFT launch, Founder Benefits, and more.
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