In the gaming world, NFTs don’t have a very good reputation. Whether it’s with players who have recently rejected several studio initiatives, or even developers who are pretty critical of non-fungible tokens. As for pure crypto games, “play-to-earn”, which promise players to make money for them, they are more of a speculation tool and a Ponzi pyramid than a video game. Far from next-gen gameplay and graphics, they have suffered the brunt of the market downturn and plunged in cryptocurrency prices. Witness the current setbacks in Axie Infinity.
a big budget play-and-earn
This does not deter Darewise, a studio founded in 2018 by Benjamin Charbit (former investment banker and former producer of Assassin’s Creed at Ubisoft) and Samuel Kahn (game engine software developer), whose Animoca took 70% of the capital last April. for 30 million dollars. The startup had previously raised 4 million euros from Serena Capital, Lakestar and business angels. In early July, Darewise launched the “open alpha” version – a trial version – of its massively multiplayer online game project, Life Beyond, which around a hundred people are currently working on.
At the intersection of MMORPG, metaverse, Sim City and life simulation, Life Beyond presents itself as “first AAA game developed under Unreal Engine 4 and Web3 technologies” (polygon blockchain, in this case). Equipped with a budget of around 40 million euros, it depicts the conquest of a planet that players can explore to colonize new territories. On the menu team battles, resource gathering, construction, crafting, but also trade and politics. The character design is reminiscent of Fortnite.
nfts, being a true “digital citizen”
“We do not define ourselves as a play-to-earn game, but rather ‘play-and-earn’. The main motivation for the players we will get is to live an experience, not to generate income.”, explains Benjamin Charbit, CEO, at L’Usine Digitale. The alpha version is also free and open to anyone on PC, with or without NFT. In fact, Darewise perceives Life Beyond as a primarily social experience. The NFT component is there above all to bring a dimension “innovation and entrepreneurship” to the experience.
“It will be the first MMORPG where you can be whoever you want. In WoW, for example, all players are heroes. In Life Beyond, thanks to NFTs and tokens, they will be citizens participating in the world as they want. We want to see the emergence of a true digital society. The dream of digital citizenship has always been interrupted, even in MMORPGs, because there was no ownership of the content. Under these conditions, investing is complicated because the day you stop , you leave everything behind. NFTs respond to this. If I want to sell, rent, lend, it’s my choice. The more I commit, the more value I accumulate. An NFT is an asset + a smart contract. With that , I can compose any service without needing permission from Darewise.”
political and economic simulation
For example, if a player wants to get involved in the game without fighting, but by creating useful services for other players (farm, refinery, shop…), he can. If he wants to be a developer, rent his apartments, get involved in the management of his territory, he can. The political aspect of the game will allow, for example, to organize elections, to impose taxes and to regulate the economy. We imagine that tokens will participate in the virtual political life of cities. To create content, on the other hand, you must have the right skills. A bit like doing “modding” in PC games.
The studio’s role in all this? “We deliver storytelling, contextualization and creation of intellectual property”, answers Benjamin Charbit. Darewise controls the size of the world and its geography, the overall plot of the story, the goals that bring all players together (conquering the planet, fighting the alien threat) and the associated rewards. What separates Life Beyond from a metaverse such as The Sandbox or Decentraland that rely solely on user-generated content.
long phase of collaborative development
Free-to-play, Life Beyond’s business model will be based on the sale of NFTs, but above all on a 5% commission on NFT sales on the secondary market.
The studio does not expect a final launch of its game until 2024. Until then, it plans two other open alpha phases, after the first one, which should end at the end of 2022. A method that will enable it to collect feedback , and which, according to Benjamin Charbit, adapts particularly well to web3 projects, “by definition collaborative”. “A metaverse is conceptual, it is not launched like any other product. And when we discuss it, we are already living part of the experience”, he adds. Add to that the process allows the pioneers of the planet Dollos, the game world, to also be pioneers in its development phase. It’s pretty consistent.
to go from concept to realization, the most difficult
Currently, according to the studio, the project has 40,000 people on a Discord forum. About 10,000 players have already played the alpha version. Based on this experience, the MMORPG.com site withdraws, which was not necessarily very convinced at the start, that it has “potential”.
Another project similar in concept, Star Atlas, is currently under development at the ATMTA studio. It is also a space exploration and conquest game, focused on immersive and political simulation, developed on the Solana blockchain and under the Unreal Engine. The game is currently more talked about for its cryptocurrency than for its content, which is limited to a trailer and a marketplace.