Amid all the breathless talk about how blockchain-powered play-to-earn gaming will enable people to make a living, all too often one vital point is overlooked: blockchain games should be good gaming experiences first and foremost.
That’s something that multiplayer survival strategy game Gold Fever isn’t taking for granted. With lush graphics and immersive gameplay, it plunges players into a fictional jungle wilderness inspired by the dramatic events of the real gold rush at the turn of the previous century.
As adventurers, players explore the wilderness, work the gold claims they discover and battle to survive in the face of the rough terrain, hostile wildlife and indigenous tribes. As tribes, they defend their land from the depredations of the outsiders who’d exploit it. Their reward for doing so: the shiny stuff, which they earn in the form of an in-game currency called NGL.
“We’re creating a product that will stand on its own and be relevant for a passionate gaming audience and a crypto audience,” Gold Fever’s CEO and founder Emilian Ciocanea told Decrypt.
Evolving in-game economies
By building Gold Fever as a compelling game first, which just happens to dole out its rewards as cryptocurrency, the developers are hoping to avoid the trap of play-to-earn titles that turn people’s leisure time into grinding for in-game currency.
“We’re able to do that because the in-game economy mirrors a real economy, and because the items in the game have real utility within the gameplay and for the primordial audience of the product—the players,” said Ciocanea.
Survival games are supposed to allow players to survive inside the game without having to spend money, right?
If you want to eat Coconuts all day long, we won’t stop you, but don’t expect your characters to be strong in battle.
Eat a good breakfast from the Bar! pic.twitter.com/yg63PtF1qu
— Gold Fever (@GoldFeverGame) December 2, 2022
When players in a traditional video game buy in-game gear, like weapons or a skin, that money goes to the game developer. In a play-to-earn game, the NFTs that players acquire are often purely digital assets without real-world value beyond the fact that someone might consider them to be collectible. But Gold Fever transforms the entire in-game infrastructure—from the boats, planes, land and buildings to the shops where players are able to buy tools and weapons— into commercial NFTs.
“Blockchain games can create friction points, but we’re removing them by giving ownership of the entire game structure to people,” Alina Tudor, head of growth for Gold Fever, told Decrypt.
Unlike collectible NFTs, commercial NFTs empower holders with a different, deeper form of ownership. Commercial NFTs are useful both as part of the gameplay and as a product that can generate wealth for players beyond the game.
The creators of Gold Fever refer to this as the game yield generator model. Because players have full ownership over their in-game assets in the form of NFTs, they can earn money while simultaneously contributing to the game’s economy.
It’s true decentralization in action. Commercial NFTs invite players to become a dynamic part of the ever-evolving Gold Fever universe.
“Everything in the game has utility,” Ciocanea said. “We are evolving from a play-to-earn economy to something that is more complex, but we’re also creating an experience that can be for any type of player.”
Play to your strengths
Attracting different types of players is central to Gold Fever’s plans—from casual players drawn to the title purely on the basis of its gameplay, to enthusiasts who grind for NGL and NFT rewards. Then there are the entrepreneurs, who stake out a space for themselves in the game’s economy, taking the NFTs they own and turn them into a profitable business for themselves.
“Blockchain technology has a certain type of beauty and poetry—it can help people change the way they see life,” Tudor told Decrypt. “We’re talking about the difference between just playing and earning and the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.”
It’s important to recognize that entrepreneurship isn’t a new concept in the gaming industry; esports players, Twitch streamers and even gold farmers make a living playing conventional games. Blockchain-powered games like Gold Fever takes that same concept and empowers gamers with true ownership over in-game assets, a response to an industry that’s too often seen game publishers become rent-seeking intermediaries, hoovering up profits at the expense of players.
In Gold Fever, if a player owns an NFT that represents a store selling provisions, they can earn revenue by lending collateral and generating income from in-game goods even when they aren’t actively playing the game.
Players also control and predict the amount of yield they have for their NFTs. Although Gold Fever will only release NFTs periodically based on the number of monthly active characters in the game as a way to maintain scarcity, Gold Fever itself won’t own any of the in-game infrastructure.
The in-game economy ends up being a flywheel for entrepreneurial players. The more people of any type who play the game, the more they’ll need the infrastructure that supports their gameplay, Tudor said, and investor-type players will benefit from that dynamic.
It’s what Tudor and Ciocanea refer to as an economy of utility: a metaverse economy built on a free market for goods and services that lives independently of centralized ownership.
“Owners have an ongoing opportunity to put that infrastructure to work and create wealth for themselves,” Tudor said.
Although the majority of NFTs in the game are tied to a specific utility, there is one new type of collectible NFT within Gold Fever called “Genesys masks” that endows players with special superpowers.
Genesys masks will be made available in January on the Gold Fever site in a Dutch auction, and on NFT marketplace OpenSea when the contracts are audited. The masks unlock a premium beta of the game—players won’t be able to access the mainnet until Q3 without a mask—and provide other benefits, like increased fighting skills and the ability to recover lost NFTs, extract gold more quickly and magically revive when injured without having to be sent to a hospital.
The best way to think of them are as keys to the game, almost akin to cheat codes. Gold Fever is creating and selling them as a way to roll out the red carpet for its most loyal token holders and raise money so that it can keep on hiring and developing the game.
Gold Fever is also having a premium pre-launch of the game—called Game of Diggers—for the opportunity to access Gold Fever in open beta and earn NGL and NFTs worth $1 million. To access it you need a Genesys Mask NFT attached to your character.
These early adopters and crypto investors will help build the infrastructure within Gold Fever and pave the way for more mainstream players to get into blockchain gaming.
“We know the crypto audience will be interested in this,” said Tudor. “Once they’ve helped lay the foundation we can open the doors to passionate players and deliver on our promise of giving them a fun and very good game experience.”
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