Ultra's launching 25th April
Steam-on-blockchain distro platform is go
Given the project was first announced in 2018, it’s good to see blockchain PC game distribution platform Ultra has finally stated its global launch is happening on 25th April.
Marketed as a Steam-on-the-blockchain, Ultra is in some regards more fully-featured than Valve’s platform, hence the long development cycle.
As well as the ability to buy and sell games, it also has its own NFT marketplace, esports hub and integration with web3 Twitch streaming service Theta.
Of course, it also runs on its own Ultra blockchain — based on EOS — and the PC client has an inbuilt wallet for the native UOS token. This can be used for purchases, as can traditional debit/credit cards.
And that duality is one of the interesting approaches. As well as distributing web3 games, it also supports traditional games; currently notably The Walking Dead series from Telltale Games and CI Games’ Lords of the Fallen.
Of course, given the number of PC game stores — and their flexibility on pricing — maybe it would have been better to have more aggressively leaned into the blockchain side of things. Personally I can’t see too many people spending £40 on The Walking Dead in Ultra, even if it does offer 50 hours of gameplay, because it will be more convenient for most interested parties to buy it for £40 on Steam, where it’s been available since 2020.
Similarly, there are a lot of simpler web3 game distribution platforms — such as Exilir Gaming, Flame and HashUp — springing up. Epic Game Store also looks to be actively signing up blockchain games.
Over the past five years then, Ultra has lost something of whatever first mover advantage it once had. This may not be an important factor in the long term. But in such a nascent market, building to a long term vision does necessarily mean missing out on some short term alpha.
The other classic economic issue with such marketplaces is that their success relies on two-sided networks . So, you need to have a lot of paying users to get support from game devs and simultaneously you need a lot of high profile games to get a lot of users.
Again, my gut feeling would be that crypto is potentially very good in terms of bootstrapping both sides of such markets because you can give away a bunch of longterm value for free for the short-term. But you do have to be pretty active in optimizing such leverage.
So, given that Ultra’s spent the last couple of years solving some difficult engineering issues, I guess we’ll see in the coming months how good it is at marketing.
This Substack is sponsored by Hiro Capital: investing in the future of games
Gunning For Avalanche Subnets news
German developer Gunzilla Games has announced it’s building its own Avalanche subnet. Called Gunz and using the GUN token, this will primarily be used to operate its forthcoming PC/console extraction shooter Off The Grid. Creating its own subnet will allow Gunzilla to customize the blockchain’s operations to its particular needs.
However, as well as Off The Grid, Gunzilla is also signing up thirdparty devs, who are interested in using Gunz, as well as its associated additional white label services such as the ability mint NFTs, run marketplaces and create companion apps.
The move follows similar scaling announcements from developers such as Boomland, Nexon and Aavegotchi, who are either using Polygon’s supernets or the new Immutable zkEVM infrastructure.
Additional South Korean Links
Ex-Nexon CEO, now Delabs’ CEO Joonmo Kwon talks web3 gaming potential
Com2uS US president Kyu Lee talks web3 gaming potential