Why I purchased 200+ Wildpass Genesis NFTs
May 11th, 2023
Disclaimer: FLYING FALCON HAS INVESTED IN GENESIS WILDPASS NFTS. THIS STATEMENT IS INTENDED TO DISCLOSE ANY CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND SHOULD NOT BE MISCONSTRUED AS A RECOMMENDATION TO PURCHASE ANY TOKEN. THIS CONTENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE DECISIONS BASED SOLELY ON IT. INVESTING IN ANY CRYPTO ASSET OR NFT IS A MAJOR RISK. THIS IS NOT INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE.
As the crypto industry continues through a bear market, we have been amazed at all the development progress happening in the web3 gaming vertical. We got the first initial glimpse of what happens when you better align the incentives between player and developer with the web3 gaming boom in 2021, and with lessons learned from the prior cycle, more talent entering the space, and frankly more time to build, we believe we are witnessing the early innings of web3 beginning to reshape the gaming and crypto industry as we know it.
We have been and continue to be on the lookout for top tier game studios entering the web3 space. We are looking for game studios that do not just cater to the current web3 audience, but ones that can reach the 3 billion gamers globally. This is done by building game experiences that are familiar but fresh to this audience and introducing them to web3 in subtle ways that ultimately elevate the player experience.
We think we found a studio and game that meets this bar: Wildcard Alliance.
Wildcard Alliance (Wildcard) is a web3 enabled game that is being built by industry veterans from Playful Studios. The Co-Founders and Co-CEOs are Paul Bettner and Katy Bettner. The experience within the Wildcard team speaks for itself, most recently responsible for delivering the hit title Words with Friends (within NewToy) which was acquired by Zynga. Before that, they were involved in the Age of Empires franchise that led to Microsoft acquiring the corresponding studio.
Playful Studios has been around for 5+ years which welcomes the development of Wildcard. In 2021, Playful Studio raised $46 million from Paradigm and Griffin Gaming to expand out their vision for Wildcard. Wildcard is very much pushing the boundary of being a cross genre style game, which has recently been claimed to be a “Summoned Moba”. The game is built around its PVP matches, with the goal of the game to summon creatures from your champion and defeat the opposing team’s goal.
Wildcard is very much a blend of a trading card game and battle arena. Wildcard is taking some of the greatest aspects of each popular genre and blending it all into one experience. There is great depth and strategy in both Champion selection but also in selecting the creatures that you can summon making the game easy to learn but hard to master. The team takes the best of TCG in collectibility and deck building, but combines a more engaging player experience by incorporating real time strategy rather than turn based like TCGs. The result of this genre blending is that players get all the joy that comes with building and collecting the perfect deck, while also living in real time through their Champion and summoned creatures; creating a more immersive experience.
I recently had the chance to playtest the game. I believe this has the potential of kicking off an entirely new subgenre. Card games truly lack the real-time action on the battlefield that they are supposed to be portraying. By merging the genres it feels like I’m fighting an IRL Pokemon battle!
Perhaps the most intriguing element the Wildcard team is building revolves around their platform as a stadium and fan experience. At present, Youtube and Twitch dominate the viewing experience of video games. In 2020, Youtube had its most successful video game viewership year with over 100 billion hours of content watched and over 40 million different gaming channels. Minecraft alone has officially crossed over 1 trillion lifetime views! These platforms were created, however, before it was understood how commonplace it would be to watch others play games. While the idea of watching others play games has become accepted, the platforms that exist today do not fully capture the potential experience in our opinion and limit the connection between the creator and fan.
We believe there is potential to completely elevate the fan and creator experience with the web3 toolkit at our disposal. Essentially, creators now have the ability to directly interact with their fans by utilizing digital assets. Imagine creators rewarding their most loyal fans directly through NFT memorabilia associated with the in-game experience. Imagine witnessing a competitive match as a fan through your own personal stream as a PFP in the crowd. Now imagine as a fan being able to interact with the experience such as waving NFT flags, influencing crowd noise, purchasing creator branded cosmetics/skins, playing mini-games with token rewards on an in-game jumbotron, or participating in live token raffles. This all begins to look like an IRL sporting event with creators and fans at the center. We believe Wildcard is at the forefront of making this a reality.
The Ultimate Battle Pass
Battle pass background
What largely was popularized with Fortnite, Battle Passes have become a familiar form of monetization for web2 gaming companies. We are likely all victims of purchasing Battle Passes in our favorite games to enrich our experiences within. Typically a Battle Pass unlocks content and experiences for paying players that otherwise would not be available. Such experiences could include: different reward tiers, leveling up tiers, cosmetics (emotes, skins, etc) all of which enhance the players relationship with the game and often creates a flex avenue to show off to other players. Battle passes also come in different shapes and sizes, some can be free, some more expensive and mostly all of them are only available for a certain amount of time. The Battle Pass is not a new concept and dates back to 2013 when Valve released a pass known as the “Compendium” for Dota 2 players providing unique in-game content for players. The Battle Pass sale was used as a way to increase the ultimate prize pool for the T13 International. For the time, the sale was seen as a massive success and increased the prize pool from $1.6 million to $2.8. Fast forward almost a decade and Battle Passes have become the hottest way to monetize and engage a community. In 2020, just before being removed from the App Store, Fortnite generated $1.2 billion in spending just on Battle Passes alone.
The Ultimate Battle Pass (the web3 version)
We have started to see a number of web3 games (mostly in alpha or beta) launch fixed supply “ultimate” battle passes, or sometimes referred to as genesis passes. While details vary by game, and sometimes are vague, they tend to have a few pillars in common. The general idea is to elevate the relationship between developer and community by allowing early users to have a stake in the future of the game. They generally do this by allowing pass holders certain perks such as early testing of the game, access to devs / gated discord channels, and perhaps most importantly allowlist to all future in-game drops. It is worth double clicking on the allowlist, as we believe this is what truly makes the ultimate battle pass valuable. These ultimate battle pass holders in many cases will have forever access to all in-game assets, which can be currency, cosmetics, characters etc. More so, these assets, unlike web2, will often be transferable in the form of NFTs and tokens allowing them to monetize the value if they desire rather than the developer reaping all the value. They truly become a stakeholder in the success of the game.
That said, while these passes can be extremely powerful for both the owner and game developer, the details are important. First, it goes without saying that the game must be fun for players to find collectible value in the associated airdrops. Second, developers may be inclined to also launch traditional seasonal battle passes for business sustainability, and if they do so, they must make sure to keep premium value to the ultimate battle passes (such as select rare collectibles only going to the ultimate battle pass). Lastly, developers must be careful not to overpromise and underdeliver on the future benefits of the battle pass. If the ultimate battle pass is done right, early community members reap value and the developer gets an army who will market and help drive success for the game.
The Wildcard team recently released their ultimate battle pass “Genesis Wildpass” to the community, providing one of the first ways where players and community members can take a stake in the Wildcard Game. The team released 4,444 Wildpasses for a price of 44 matic and the mint sold out immediately. There will only ever be 4,444 ultimate Genesis Wildpasses. Like passes in other games, the Wildpass is designed to elevate and become the ultimate experience for players and community members directly giving holders access to early game builds, testing products, private discord channels, dev team chats and many more features that all enrich the player experience. Most importantly, the passes grant me a forever allowlist for future drops within the game experience. I imagine this may include certain exclusive in-game characters, cosmetics, skins, emotes and more. Given how fun the game already feels, the team behind this, and the early community, this is an ultimate battle pass I certainly wanted. I went ahead and purchased over 200 of them 🙂
We are entering a new era of gaming where players can own their assets and have a better relationship with the core builders of the game experience. We think this will be led by teams that understand how to reach the billions of gamers that are not yet in the broader NFT and crypto industry. In studying the team and getting our hands on the Wildcard game itself, we believe it has the potential to be a smash hit not just for web3 but for gaming more broadly. In response, to be a stakeholder alongside the rest of the community and team, I decided to purchase 5%+ of the genesis Wildpass. I am thrilled for the game to continue to develop, the community to expand, and to be airdropped digital assets associated with the play experience. Follow Wildcard on Twitter and come hangout with us in the Wildcard Discord. Hope to see you in the arena!