Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) games have been making the rounds across the web, and many of the faces behind the games may have been involved in some of your favourite games, whether you like it or not.
For example, a Riot Games higher-up leaves for a chance to make NFTs work in brand-new games. Justin Hulog, is a former employee of Riot Games, the international gaming conglomerate most renowned for League of Legends and VALORANT. Earlier this year in March, Hulog left his cushy job at Riot Games to pursue the NFT-gaming industry and joined Immuntable as Chief Studio Officer. Perhaps the prospects of NFT in games seem too attractive a calling to not ignore, it seems. Amidst the sea of grifters and pyramid schemes, perhaps this company might be the one to not be part of that bad side of NFT.
So far Immuntable has developed two free-to-play games. One is an online tactical card game dubbed Gods Unchained and led by the former game director of Magic The Gathering: Arena. The game focuses on competitive play, which means players must strategically outsmart their opponents by building decks that are able to combat a wide variety of tactics. In Gods Unchained players completely own their digital items, giving them the freedom to trade, sell and use their cards any way they like – just like owning real, tangible cards. And the other game is Guild of Guardians, which is still yet to publically released. Guild of Guardians a mobile RPG where “players can turn their gaming passion into assets”. It will be a multiplayer, fantasy, action RPG where players build their dream team of ‘Guardians’ and compete in a guild to earn epic, tradeable rewards.
We sat down with him and asked him a series of questions regarding the transition from Riot to Immutable, the games being produced and where they stand in the industry as well as his views on the longevity of NFT games.
Why did you leave Riot for Immutable?
As a Filipino-American who was originally from the Philippines and grew up in the US, who had also worked in the early days of web2, I’ve experienced a lot of transformations within the digital landscape. As a gamer myself, and through my time at Riot, I witnessed first-hand the impact that mobile gaming has had on the gaming landscape and could see a lot of parallels with the advent of web3 games.
Over the past year, I saw how big web3 games were growing back at home in the Philippines. All of my nieces and nephews were really into it; and in web3 games, they were able to take their time and engagement in video games more meaningful. At the same time, I noticed a lot of resistance and pushback against web3 games, very similar to the pushback against mobile games a few years ago. Today mobile is arguably the largest and most profitable part of the gaming industry.
Being part of web3 and spearheading this transformation across the digital landscape felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I happened to meet Robbie Ferguson and Immutable opportunistically and was really impressed by the genesis of Immutable as a gaming-first web3 company. Immutable’s mission to build great games that leverages the power of blockchain in an innovative and player-focused way resonated with me deeply.
So when Immutable invited me to join, I couldn’t say no.
Tell us more about the two games Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians.
Gods Unchained is a free-to-play tactical card game that gives players true ownership of their in-game items. Led by the former game director of Magic The Gathering: Arena, the game focuses on competitive play, which means players must strategically outsmart their opponents by building decks that are able to combat a wide variety of tactics. In Gods Unchained, players completely own their digital items, giving them the freedom to trade, sell and use their cards any way they like – just like owning real, tangible cards.
The game has tens of thousands of active users and hosts a thriving play-and-earn economy. Over $52M worth of cards have been exchanged on the marketplace with over US$13 million worth of NFTs out in the world.
Guild of Guardians is a free-to-play multiplayer, action RPG (ARPG) where players build their dream team of Guardians and compete in a guild to earn epic rewards. GOG combines action, deep strategy, a dynamic trading economy metagame and social-focused gameplay that will keep players engaged for years. It is set to be released on iOS and Android later this year.
The game already has a community of over 400,000 pre-registered users and successfully sold out their first NFT Founder sale which generated $4.6 million which will be used to build and grow the game.
How do the two action RPG games stand out in a market already saturated by games like Diablo 3/Immortal and Path of Exile?
Both Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians stand out in a highly-competitive gaming market because unlike mainstream games, our games give players complete ownership over their in-game assets. Unlike mainstream games where players are only licensing/renting these items short term, we empower players to truly own, trade and upgrade their in-game items.
How does Ethereum NFT and blockchain gaming make the two games fun?
NFTs and blockchain make games more fun a few key ways:
In blockchain games, the time and money that players spend on a game is no longer a sunk cost for players and instead they are rewarded for their labour and purchases. Additionally, with trading enabled, players can choose to buy cards or heroes directly and can bypass painful gacha systems.
Furthermore, the NFT and token economy adds additional depth to the metagame and introduces new ways to engage with our products via economic gameplay.
How long do you see both games last? Is there a backup plan in case NFTs and blockchain tank?
We’re building both Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians for players for years to come. We have long-term ambitions for growth for both games and their IPs. We strongly believe that NFTs and gaming will continue to progress irregardless of the NFT/crypto market condition.
We are no stranger to bear markets here at Immutable. Gods Unchained has been on the market since 2018 and launched right into a crypto downturn (which some would argue was in some ways even shakier than the current cycle).
Times like these are when we believe projects like Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians which are built with the right fundamentals and substance – those focused on ownership and utility and not short-term financial gamification – will continue to grow and thrive. With our recent Series C funding, we are going to continue to build and grow and disrupt the gaming industry and onboard millions of users to NFTs.