In the gaming world, NFTs don’t have a very good reputation. Be it players who have recently rejected several studio initiatives, or even developers who are quite critical of non-fungible tokens. As far as purely crypto games, “play to earn”, which promise players to earn money, they are more of a speculation tool and a Ponzi pyramid scheme than a video game. Far from next-generation gameplay and graphics, they have suffered from a downturn in the market and falling prices for cryptocurrencies. This is evidenced by the current failures of Axie Infinity.
high-budget “play and earn” game
That doesn’t discourage Darewise, the studio founded in 2018 by Benjamin Charbit (former investment banker and ex-producer of Assassin’s Creed at Ubisoft) and Samuel Kahn (game engine developer), whose Animoca received 70% of the capital last April. for 30 million dollars. The startup has previously raised €4 million from Serena Capital, Lakestar and business angels. In early July, Darewise launched an “open alpha” — a trial version — of its massively multiplayer online project, Life Beyond, which has about a hundred people currently working on it.
At the intersection of MMORPG, metaverse, Sim City and life simulation, Life Beyond is “the first AAA game developed with Unreal Engine 4 and Web3 technologies” (in this case, the Polygon blockchain). Budgeted at around €40 million, it depicts the conquest of a planet which players can explore to colonize new territories. The menu includes team fights, resource gathering, construction, crafts, as well as trade and politics. The character design is reminiscent of Fortnite.
nfts to be a true “digital citizen”
“We don’t define ourselves as a ‘play to earn’ game, but rather a ‘play and earn’ game. The main motivation of the players that we are going to attract is to gain experience, not to generate income,” explains Benjamin. Sharbit, CEO of L’Usine Digitale. The alpha version is also free and open to everyone on PC, with or without NFT. Indeed, Darewise sees Life Beyond as primarily a social experience. The NFT component is primarily intended to bring the dimension of “innovation and entrepreneurship” to the experience.
“This will be the first MMORPG where you can be anyone. In WoW, for example, all players are heroes. In Life Beyond, thanks to NFTs and tokens, they will be citizens who participate in the life of the world as they see fit. We want to see the emergence of a true digital society. The dream of digital citizenship has always failed, even in MMORPGs, because there was no ownership of the content. It’s hard to invest in these conditions because the day you stop” you leave everything behind. NFTs answer that. If I want to sell, rent, borrow, that’s my choice. The more I commit, the more value I accumulate “NFT is an asset + smart contract. With it, I can compose any service without requiring permission from Darewise.”
political and economic modeling
For example, if a player wants to participate in the game not by fighting, but by creating useful services for other players (a farm, a refinery, a shop…), he can do so. If he wants to be a builder, rent out his apartments, manage his territory, he can. The political aspect of the game will allow, for example, to organize elections, impose taxes and regulate the economy. We imagine that tokens will participate in the virtual political life of cities. On the other hand, you need the right skills to create content. A bit like modding computer games.
The role of the studio in all this? “We offer storytelling, contextualization, and intellectual property creation,” says Benjamin Charbit. Darewise governs the size of the world and its geography, the overall plot of the story, the goals that unite all players (conquest of the planet, the fight against the alien threat) and related rewards. What separates Life Beyond from metaverses like The Sandbox or Decentraland that rely solely on user-generated content.
long stage of joint development
Free to play, Life Beyond’s business model will be based on the sale of NFTs, but above all a 5% commission on NFT sales in the secondary market.
The studio doesn’t plan on definitively launching its game until 2024. Until then, she plans two other open alpha phases after the first, which is due to end at the end of 2022. A method that will allow her to collect feedback, and which, according to Benjamin Charbit, adapts especially well to web3 projects, “by definition collaborative.” “The Metaverse is conceptual, it doesn’t launch like any other product. And when we discuss it, we are already living part of the experience,” he adds. Add to this that this process allows the pioneers of the planet Dollos, the game world, to also be pioneers in its development phase. It’s pretty consistent.
go from concept to implementation, the most difficult
Currently, according to the studio, the project has 40,000 people on the Discord forum. About 10,000 players have already played the alpha version. Based on this experience, MMORPG.com, while not necessarily very convinced at the outset, concludes that it has “potential”.
Another project very similar in concept, Star Atlas, is currently in 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 on the Unreal Engine. Currently, the game is more talked about because of its cryptocurrency than because of the content, which is limited to the trailer and marketplace.