Lessons From Launching Web3 Games | BitPinas Webcast 27

In the first BitPinas webcast leading up to the YGG Web3 Games Summit, let’s discuss what is it like to launch web3 games in the context of the different expectations from gamers, token holders, and investors.

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Lessons from crypto and web3 founders: What is it like to launch a web3 game? Let’s ask the harder question: What is it like to launch a web3 game in a bear market?

In preparation for YGG Web3 Games Summit, one of the world’s premier web3 games events hosted by Yield Guild Games, Anito Legends Co-Founder Jayvee Fernandez and Cryptopia CEO Sangho Grolleman shared their experiences on launching a web3 game compared to traditional games, building a community in the Philippines, and promoting crypto adoption through gaming during the 27th episode of the BitPinas Webcast, “Lessons From Launching Web3 Games.” 

Watch the interview below:

Lessons From Launching Web3 Games | BitPinas Webcast 27


Entering the Web3 Gaming Industry

  • Fernandez started his career as a journalist and a digital marketer. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he left these professions “for personal reasons.”
  • “It was during this time, I was doing a podcast with my now co-founder James Chua and another co-founder whose name is Jed Cruz. And I’ve known these guys for so long, probably 15 years. We’ve been playing video games online since the days of Guild Wars, they’ve really been my pandemic buddies and they were the ones keeping me sane.”
  • James Chua is the CEO of Masayato Games, the developer behind Anito Legends while Jed Cruz is the chief creative officer. Meanwhile, Fernandez is the chief marketing officer (CMO). 
  • According to Fernandez, the podcast that they were doing during the pandemic focused on video games, and they invited YGG Co-Founder Gabby Dizon as a guest. He also shared that he and Gabby became colleagues at publication giant Inquirer.net before.  
  • “And many weeks later, James, Jed, and their other cofounder Erick, who actually have been working together for quite some time, they’ve been developing games on Android and iOS for about maybe 10 years already, they messaged me and said, ‘Hey, I know you left your work. Are you interested in joining this interesting project? Remember the thing that we talked about with Gabby? We’re doing trying to do something similar.’” Erick Garayblas is the team’s chief operating officer. 
  • And after watching some documentaries about NFT gaming, Fernandez gave it a shot and accepted the team’s offer to him, he shared. He then emphasized that he was one of those who were onboarded during the pandemic. 
  • “And that’s how we started Anito Legends—this is around August 2021. They had already been prototyping the game back then and when I joined, they had actually just about to raise the seed round. And then the bear market happens. And that was a very interesting time because it really hit us smack in the face. This might not be what we thought it was, but then we said, ‘Look, this is really our core competence.’” 
  • Anito Legends is the 22nd game produced by Masayato Games and the first-ever blockchain game by the developer. This Filipino folklore-inspired blockchain game recently migrated to the Polygon Network from Binance Smart Chain. 
  • Meanwhile, Grolleman, who started his gaming journey around 2007, shared that he was also one of those who hoped that web3 gaming and blockchain technology would “solve all the problems in the world.” But the public seems to be not interested in the “important things” brought by it. 
  • “So I’m pretty idealistic guy (and) I really follow on social media those that’s really gonna change all this and now it turned out that we have a unique opportunity and a unique second chance with web3 and that’s what really motivates me. So we can really again try to take control over our own digital identity of our own digital actions, not only in the gaming sector but also a bit wider and we can really say no to the corporates and really say no to the unchecked capitalism and make it a more the world, a bit more fair.” 
  • For the CEO, he saw that digital ownership offers a unique opportunity to fix capitalism while having more potential. 
  • “I was like, ‘Okay, this is something I cannot miss. I should jump aboard and take part in this project.’ And the two founders, Frank and Hans, I know them from a previous project and we did some projects in the blockchain, smart contracts for other projects. And when they said to me, ‘Okay we’re going to build a game on the blockchain,’ they explained everything to me, I was like, ‘Okay, this is really something I need to be in. ‘“ Frank Bonnet is the game’s lead developer while Hansco Leek is involved in operations. 
  • Cryptopia is a blockchain-based society that claims to let its citizens buy, sell, vote, and perform “essential activities using a safe, secure, and transparent system.” It has a free-to-play game that seeks to provide a “fun and fair gaming experience” for its citizens.
  • “So you don’t need to have an NFT or you don’t need to hold an amount of tokens in order to start earning. And what makes us unique, we integrated the military signature wallet into our game. So if you want to play our game, you don’t need to have a wallet, you don’t need to have crypto, you can just download the game, start playing, and start learning.” 

Why Web3 Gaming? Why Not Launch a Traditional Game?

  • When you say something is a web3 game, it involves some form of blockchain technology, like NFTs, which make it different to traditional game, according to Fernandez.  
  • “There are actually a lot of web2 games that allow you to collect assets, but they are confined to that game. An example of this is all the Pokémon games, because every time you release a new Pokémon game, you have to go and collect and collect and collect. So every, game is like that.”
  • This was seconded by Grolleman, who explained that if players spent money in a game and did not own something in return, like asset ownership, that should be disappointing. 
  • “It’s really about ownership. It’s really about ownership rights and we believe in a fair exchange failure. With traditional games, it is only fun or or or some sense of achievement, but that’s it, right? And everything above it, like the monetary aspects are still with the game publisher or the one who owns the game.”

Importance of a Web3 Game Community

  • According to Grolleman, having a community is really important, especially during the crypto winter. Because without the Cryptopia community, “we are nowhere.”
  • However, the CEO also reminded game developers to be wise with spending through airdrops, raffles, and other programs just to attract gamers during the bear market, it is because they might just attract “wrong people”—who joined only for monetary benefits and not to play the game. But instead, create programs for the community. 
  • “I’m very proud that we have a really strong community. So people are really seeing that we do stuff or the community organize events, we have a singing contest, we have quizzes, game nights, so all these things are amazing. So for us it’s very important to have that growth.”
  • Moreover, the CEO then shared that their gameplans and gameplay updates depend on the feedback of the community, making sure that it is approved by the people who play the game. 
  • “So if your community says, ‘Hey, what you’re now going to do or your ID’s not sure if we like it.’ Well, we listen very carefully to that because that’s the feedback.We need to improve our game. So yeah, community is the heart of our projects.”
  • Meanwhile, Fernandez highlighted that the “Basta Pinoy, Rug Pull!” mentality keeps on Filipinos to join Filipino founded projects and communities. 
  • “Well, yeah, what about Sam Bankman-Fried basically, right? Or what about Do Kwon? Are they Filipino? It’s a bit of the perception when we’re here, we think about that, but when you’re in another country, they also mention their own local versions (of crypto personalities and projects who scam).”
  • Fernandez then shared that as a Filipino-founded project, when they launched the game, many still stayed and played it because they, the developers, already have credibility as Anito Legends is Masayato Games’ 22nd game launched. 
  • “We actually named some of the weapons after them [Discord server]. We actually launched a special NFT character which is like a monkey and then we give that away to people who top the leaderboards and also to people who contribute a lot to the community. So we really try our best to reward them in this period, and It works really well because We are very active In our Discord channel.”

Why Is Digital Ownership Not Being Utilized?

  • In a 2023 Survey Report by the Blockchain Gaming Alliance, it was concluded that while digital asset ownership is still blockchain games’ key benefit, it is currently not utilized effectively.
  • In blockchain games, a player can do what they want with their items, the most important of which is that they can sell them without violating any terms of service, which is almost always the case in blockchain games. Also, if a game shuts down, the player can bring their assets to another game as long as they are supported.
  • The same sentiment is voiced out by Grolleman: “For digital ownership to be used to the full extent means that you can do whatever you want with that item. So in order to fully benefit from digital ownership, you also need to be able to take it with you, then you would fully utilize it. Then you can say, ‘Okay, I have this item and I can choose where to use it, and choose like the hundreds of games or maybe 20 games and I can take it with me and can use it in that other game.”
  • On the other hand, Fernandez shared what they are doing in Anito Legends to utilize digital ownership: “If you look into our game’s marketplace, you can see Anitos being sold for as low as ₱50 pesos, that’s about $1 to $3. So for the price of a Happy Meal, you can really get a team of Anitos. And I want to compare that with the Filipino concept of buying via sachet, like you buy the shampoo in the sachet and then you use it, you throw it away. So I believe in that concept for Anito Legends because the utility is derived from the NFTs.”

Gameplay, Not Play-to-Earn Mechanics Will Drive Blockchain Gaming Adoption in 2023—Report

  • Moreover, BGA also reported that good gameplay will be the main driver of blockchain gaming being known by the public. 
  • Grolleman admitted that web3 games are not there yet—producing high-quality gameplay, graphics, and storylines. 
  • He then told his co-developers in the web3 gaming industry to minimize game requirements so newbie gamers could play their games easily. 
  • “Well, as I said before, people try to compare us with something that is not there yet. But for us how we can drive the people or increase the likeliness of people trying our game is by lowering the barriers to enter the game and for that we have our own military signature wallets. I think that’s a really big one especially for people from outside of the crypto sector because otherwise they need to go to an exchange and do KYC to acquire crypto then send crypto to that game or connect the wallet.” 
  • “I can imagine people from outside the crypto sector are really afraid to even try it. To lower the barrier, just download the game, have a wallet, and play. And the second one is, of course, if you ask people to pay upfront, I believe it’s not going to work and people are not inclined to try our game if they need to spend money on it. And also, I think it’s a bad message to the people.”

Advice on Developers Who Want to Enter Web3 Gaming Industry

  • For Fernandez, it is better to release a solid game to 10 players than a sloppy one to 1000 players. 
  • “Because those ten people will give you the five-star App Store reviews, right? And they’re going to be the ones you’re going to be talking about this game. You don’t want 100-one-star reviews, right? That’s how we started in Anito Legends, and now we’re up to 5000 daily logins. Because the word really helped spread.”
  • Meanwhile, Grolleman tipped: “Ask yourself, why do you need the blockchain element in your game? 
  • He also added that if web3 game developers just want to have play-and-earn mechanics to their games, be decentralized, and do other monetary stuff, then their task is not yet done to develop a successful blockchain game. 
  • “You really should think about it. Do I really embrace the decentralized philosophy and thought? Can I give control to my gamers and to the community? Can I share the profits and can I hand over the control? That’s really important. And following that, what are you going to do with the NFT? How do you plan to use them? Then you’re bound to fill if you have utility if they’re upgradable, etcetera. And then you make a chance that starts with that first question. Why do you want to be in the blockchain space anyway?”

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