Games of 2022: Castle Crush
Pointing to the future
Despite all the terrible crypto news, when looking back at what I was actually playing (and doing) in the blockchain game sector during 2022, and there is plenty to be excited about.
Partly this is because there are so many blockchain games still in the earliest stages of deployment. 2023 will see the most releases of the highest quality titles to-date.
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I’ll do a fuller post of what’s anticipated in the coming days and Big Time, Blocklords, Champions Ascension, Eternal Dragons, Guild of Guardians, MetalCore, Mighty Action Heroes, Nitro Nation, Parallel, Planet Mojo, Shrapnel, Treeverse and World Eternal Online spring to mind.
But in terms of live games during 2022, the title that engaged me the most was Wildlife Studios’ Castle Crush. This was a surprise as — in many ways — it’s just a standard lane-based PVP web2 game, now with added NFTs and a token generated as a reward.
This is not the sort of high concept blockchain game that typicially interests me.
Running on the Avalanche blockchain, Wildlife sold off a very limited number of chests containing NFT versions of Castle Crush’s in-game characters in May, with owners having to link their wallet to their game account (via web2 credentials), thence gaining access to their NFTs within the game.
Playing with these NFTs allowed players to earn ACS tokens on a daily basis, which were then used to level up characters, enabling players to progressively earn more tokens, and move up the in-game rankings.
The final part of puzzle was completed by the recent release of the final set of character chests, which can now be bought using ACS tokens.
Of course, given the trajectory of crypto prices, I don’t think anyone has made any money playing Castle Crush, quite the opposite. The majority of NFT-enabled players appear to be from guilds such as YGG and BAYZ, who while acquiring their NFTs at heavy discounts are primarily using the game to engage their existing community rather than for more strategic reasons.
I’d also doubt the addition of NFTs has yet had much commercial impact on the game in terms converting its competitive web2 players to buy NFTs, although as well as buying some NFTs, I’ve also spent on standard IAPs, but — as ever — I don’t think I’m a typical player.
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Yet the significance of Castle Crush is that — perhaps because of diminishing interest from Wildlife which has now outsourced support for the game — it’s the sort of (blockchain) game that’s enjoyable to play without NFTs and is more enjoyable to play with NFTs, which means you’re happy to spend money — whether IAPs or NFTs — to further that pleasure.
(As an aside, given the money I’ve spent, it’s now a very rare day that I don’t play Castle Crush because that would feel like a wasted opportunity, even if it will take me 100 days to accumulate enough ACS tokens to buy a chest.)
On the positive side, there’s no sale hype around buying new characters. After all, you can only buy them with ACS tokens and you can only earn these through playing the game, which was different from the initial sale which used Avalanche’s native AVAX token.
Hence Castle Crush finds itself demonstrative of the growing trend for developers not to sell in-game assets directly, instead letting the players generate those assets through gameplay, which is much more holistic in terms of how value is created because it’s community-first rather than attracting high value NFT flippers.
In this way — and despite its lack of obvious commercial success — I think Castle Crush points to how successful blockchain games will launch and operate in future.
Instead of boasting large-scale top-down marketing based on FOMO, where value is anchored to psychological mint prices, these games will organically grow bottom-up; attracting players who are actually committed for the longterm because that’s how the game economy is being worked out.
For, in the long-term, this is the only way in which blockchain games will be able to generate value. Assets must be free — in monetary terms — with the value created by the players.