Exclusive: FTX buys Good Luck Games in a bid to get gamers to love NFTs and blockchain

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FTX Acquires Good Luck Games, Makers of Card-Based Auto-Battle Game Storytelling fight. The purchase marks both the company’s first foray into in-house game development and an important step in its ongoing efforts to make blockchain-based digital objects an accepted business model in the gaming category.

I have already covered the difficult road that FTX had ahead of it when it initially announced that it was founding a division entirely focused on offering a “blockchain-as-a-service” solution to companies in the industry. of the video game. How he planned to pull off his entry became a little clearer when I later spoke with FTX Gaming head Amy Wu about the matter. Now, it’s become clear that this is a task that FTX says can best be accomplished with a little help from its friends.

The current environment

Gamers were not receptive to early attempts to introduce blockchain-based technologies such as NFTs and cryptocurrency into their games. Initial efforts resulted in everything from customer boycotts, to internal protests from development staff, to customer outcry so vitriolic it resulted in the immediate cancellation of once-rented plans.

Through it all, companies have continued to search for an inflection point that will allow them to introduce NFTs and crypto assets in a way that gamers won’t reject. To understand how FTX hopes to leverage its newest acquisition to help find that sought-after eureka moment, I caught up with FTX’s Head of Games Amy Wu, its Head of Game Partnerships Steve Sadin, the co-founder of Good Luck Games and the design manager Matthew Place, and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

Through all of these conversations, one thing was clear: FTX management hopes that Good Luck Games and storybook brawl will serve not only as a showcase for what it can offer customers, but also as a pool of internal advisors to help FTX Gaming, as Steve Sadin put it, “care about the good stuff.”

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In a way, the union of the two companies had been brewing for many years. Not only have Matthew Place and Sam Bankman-Fried known each other since childhood, but both Place and Sadin are veterans of the trading card and trading card game (TCG) arena. Place worked at Hasbro, which owns Magic: The Gathering Wizards of the Coast creators, while Sadin told me he’s been a member of the Good Luck Games team for 20 years, thanks to stories shared in the competition Magic: The Gathering scene.

Putting all of this history together and considering what FTX is trying to accomplish, it’s easy to see how the executives involved might see Good Luck Games as a possible golden ticket to widespread acceptance.

Card collecting meets digital tokenization

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Good luck games

This acceptance depends largely on storybook brawl, The first title of Good Luck. It’s a PC exclusive that currently sits at a Steam review rating of “Very Positive”, with 88% of its over 2,200 reviews being favorable. The game is based around drafting, collecting, and battling with digital cards, combining traditional tabletop card games with the auto-battling genre widely popularized by titles like Automatic failures or Riot’s League of Legends spin off Teamfight Tactics.

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Just like the different digital versions of physical card games Magic: The Gathering and Yu Gi Oh!or Blizzard’s digital-only card game Foyer, Storybook Brawl features “hundreds” of cards for players to collect. Each of these cards represents a potential vector for FTX Gaming to show how blockchain-based collectibles can be created for its future customers.

Details of exactly how these cards will be paired with blockchain technology remain somewhat up in the air. During my interviews, I heard about unique tokens that will improve gameplay and the possibility of being “the only one on the planet who owns this version of this card”. But, these ideas were always referred to as prototypes, and no one was willing to commit to a format or timeline for the public to see the first fruits of this new union.

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The only concrete plans revealed were for a more traditional, art-based NFT drop that the duo will host at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), where they also plan to go public with the acquisition.

Good Luck Games as Sherpa

Going forward, it seems less important for the executives of both companies to know exactly what form their blockchain-based offerings will take, and more important that those forms adhere to the ethical ideals they believe will convince gamers that NFTs and crypto content can be more than a scam or theft of money. Good Luck Games co-founder Place told me his company is fully focused on using FTX funding and technologies to make his game “A+”, with plans to “understand monetization”. somewhere downstream.

Sadin perhaps best summed up this apparent prioritization by saying “When there are great games that really resonate with people, and there are business models that they feel really good about, where they understand the value of assets …that’s where we’re going to win. You know, that’s when people are going to really accept that.

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Along the same lines, Matthew Place hopes that Good Luck Games can be “some kind of shining knight in this space.” Sadin, meanwhile, hopes the knight is ready for a constructive battle. He believes the Good Luck Games team will provide FTX with “comments that are strong on technology, that are strong on consumer experience, that can just beat us.”

All of this fuels what FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried called “the highest call you can have,” to create a game that simultaneously incorporates blockchain technology and makes players say, “Oh wow. It was really well done. It’s a great game right there.” Fried is well aware of how important a turning point a great game can be for a given business model.

The historical trajectory of free games came back into our conversation when we discussed the relative rise in quality of what he called the “second generation of free games”. Fried seemed to agree with my use of the rise of this business model as a historical example of what blockchain-based games are now trying to accomplish. As mentioned in previous coverage, free games have gone from being seen as scams and money grabs to powering some of the hottest titles on the planet today, including League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone, and much more.

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The future of blockchain-based games

Both companies clearly hope that their respective expertise and motivations will translate into an interaction that produces an equally bright future, not just for them, but also for the customers they hope to serve, and for blockchain technology as a whole. If they can achieve that goal, and that’s a very big if, the obvious follow-up question is, how long will it take?

I asked the head of FTX for his educated guess on when blockchain technology will become a mainstream part of the industry. He replied that he didn’t expect that to happen in the next three months, but that he would be surprised if it didn’t happen within five years. He also noted how easily “one little thing” could move the needle “30% in either direction”.

Clearly, FTX and Good Luck Games are hoping their union will serve as, at least, a “little thing” moment, pushing the needle towards widespread acceptance of blockchain use in gaming.

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But, will it work?

Ultimately, industry attempts to convince gamers of the value of blockchain are still in their infancy, and FTX Gaming has only been around for a fraction of those attempts.

The company’s acquisition of Good Luck Games seems, on paper at least, to be a step in the right direction. The management involved is clearly hoping that they can take what user reviews suggest is a well-received game and use the combination of its card-collecting mechanics to introduce NFTs and digital item ownership in a non-predatory way and in a way which adds value to the gameplay. experience.

There is a long way to go for FTX Gaming. Now he has a companion on this journey who at least seems to have his audience’s intentions at heart. However, many technical and logistical obstacles will have to be overcome to achieve any joint progress.

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FTX and Good Luck Games must also overcome the damage done to the credibility of blockchain technology in the gaming space by companies trying to exploit players with shoddy money winnings. Any progress towards transforming monetization through digital item ownership into a viable business model absolutely requires that FTX and Good Luck Games prove that they are, without a doubt, different.

Steve Sadin knows it. He himself has said that he realizes that “trust has to be earned and re-gained” when trying to convince “smart and very critical” players that NFTs and the like can in fact be a good thing.

It remains to be seen what lies at the end of this road, but FTX clearly thinks to bring the storybook brawl and the Good Luck Games team on board is a huge first step down a righteous path.

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