After years of development, a blockchain-based trading card game is hoping to attract crossover appeal with a gaming community that so far has proven to be suspicious of non-fungible tokens (NFT).
On Tuesday, Skyweaver announced the launch of its Open Beta after months of private access-only gameplay.
The game has been in development since 2019, when Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian led a $3.5 million funding round. In the years since then, multiple blockchain-based trading card game competitors have emerged, including Parallel and Gods Unchained, and the company may have missed a window to launch into peak NFT mania, which occurred over the summer 2021.
However, slow-rolling the launch has yielded some benefits, including a number of advanced functionalities and a quietly burgeoning player base.
Indeed, by the numbers the Skyweaver is already one of the most popular blockchain-based games on the market. The game’s phone app boasts 233,000 installs, a waitlist of 345,000 users and $1.7 million in sales on the project’s decentralized marketplace, according to a press release.
It remains to be seen, however, if the game can achieve true crossover appeal with users who are unfamiliar with blockchain technology.
For those initiated in the ways of Web 3, one of Skyweaver’s core features will be highly recognizable: a decentralized card marketplace.
The Skyweaver team co-authored the ERC-1155 token standard, which allows for non-fungible tokens to interact with smart contracts the same way fungible tokens might – in this case, for their cards to work in Skyweaver’s Niftyswap NFT automated market maker (AMM).
While the swamp of acronyms may be difficult to grasp on a technical level, ultimately it adds up to an “intuitive” user experience for players, Skyweaver co-founder Michael Sanders told CoinDesk.
“We created the Niftyswap protocol to enable seamless trading of these goods. We think this is important for Web 2 gamers to provide an intuitive marketplace where you can buy or sell the cards you’re looking for, rather than having to engage in this bid/order/sell process,” he said.
The Niftyswap protocol is open source, and Sanders expects the marketplace to play a key role in the development of the game’s “meta” – a term for popular strategies that emerge among competitive players.
“The ability for anyone to look at performing best, acquire those cards and influence that deck’s ranking, it makes the meta super dynamic, and we think it makes it really fun for players, too,” said Sanders.
Following the launch, the focus for the team is to reach crossover appeal to players who may be interested in the game and its mechanics but are unfamiliar with blockchain technology.
So far, multiple professional trading card game players have voiced support, and Twitch streams of tournaments have proven to be popular – both promising signs that Skyweaver might be able to get a foothold among regular users.
“The overwhelming response has been that these players adore Skyweaver for its gameplay alone – the strategy, the depth, the graphics, the new mechanics, all of that. They also love the player-owned economy, and I’ve seen how it can help them realize the potential of NFT economies,” Sanders said.
Additionally, Sanders hinted that a governance token may be in the cards further down the line.
“In terms of a single token, we have some interesting plans in the works that we’ve been ideating over many years. Before adding a single token, we decided to take a game-first approach to ensure Skyweaver is awesome, fun and players love it, and then we can add more blockchain-oriented aspects,” he said.
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