by Rebecca Addison & The Atlantean
While the world of blockchain gaming is still relatively new, leaders are beginning to emerge in the industry. Among them is Gala Games, a gaming platform partially owned and operated by it’s players.
Gala Games broke records earlier this year when it sold a digital real estate NFT for $800,000. The sale was submitted to Guinness World Records as the largest single NFT transaction. Their next piece of digital real estate went for $1.6 million.
The company was born out of a love for gaming. Gala Games’ leadership team is made up of gaming veterans. It includes Eric Schiermeyer, who co-founded social game developer Zynga; and Michael McCarthy, the creative director behind viral gaming hits such as Farmville 2. And this love of gaming drives the company’s philosophy. (The team has even been known to play turn-based strategy game Civilization while reviewing their OKRs and KPIs from the day).
“All of us are gamers,” says Jason “Bitbender” Brink, Gala Games’ chief marketing officer who officially joined the team last June. “We grew up in an era when playing a game meant you actually owned something. You would own a game cartridge you could take to school in your backpack and swap with your buddy. There was a very tangible sense of ownership related to gaming. As gaming has moved to the cloud, that has been lost. You used to have a shelf of your discs all lined up and you don’t have that anymore.
“What’s worse is you spend tons of money on in-game items, to buy the newest upgraded skins, or whatever it is, depending on the game you’re playing. And at the end of the day, when you’re done playing the game, you don’t get to keep those. They just are useless, you’re pouring money into a pit and this is a multi-million dollar a year industry.”
Gala Games’ mission is to give power back to players. Their current and future offerings--Town Star, Mirandus, and Fortified--give players control over the in-game economy.
“We believe that if you’re going to buy something you should own that thing. That is the foundational thesis of what we’re doing. We want to give players ownership of their in-game assets,” Brink says. “This is honestly the only way to go forward. We find that once people discover that this is an option, the idea of going back to normal gaming is just a non-starter.”
In Gala Games titles, players have the ability to sell an item, move it elsewhere, or give it to someone outside of the platform itself. For example, if a player purchases an item in Gala Games’ upcoming title Mirandus, they could send it to a non-game related wallet and then pass it along to someone else. Players can trade items on NFT marketplace OpenSea in a way that’s not related to Gala Games at all. That essence of decentralization is very important to the company.
All of Gala Games’ game items exist on the blockchain and are designed to be scarce. This differs from items in other games where there is little limit on item drops. All of the items in Gala Games’ offerings have a cap on them. They’re also transferable to other games.
“Once that item is out there in the wild, other games can decide if they want to take that item, or token and give it utility within their own platform,” Brinks says.
For example, Gala Games could decide to partner with CryptoKitties, a blockchain game that allows players to purchase, collect, breed and sell virtual cats, and give Mirandus players who own a CryptoKitties NFT a special cat companion. (No word on if that will actually happen.)
“It makes it possible for different games to use the increasing functionality as a marketing tool to better access other communities,” Brink says. “This is a netgain for the users themselves which is what this is all about for us.”
Another thing that makes Gala Games unique is it’s network of nodes. Games typically exist on a centralized server that can be shutdown if the game’s developers decide it’s no longer profitable.
“As a game development company, if you decide that game isn’t making you money anymore, you sunset the game and turn it off,” Brink says. “We’re building a system where that game will have the ability to live on in a decentralized network of nodes. The ownership of the game itself can actually pass to the node network so it can live on as long as there are people who want to play it. Only when there is nobody who wants to play does it actually sunset. That’s a very different model for how to handle infrastructure. That makes it possible for us to make it so games can essentially become immortal.”
Gala Games is committed to being a carbon negative company. They’re currently planting 50,000 trees in Iceland at a place called Dragon’s Nest and will be building that location into one of their games.
And, sustainability is built into the fabric of their games as well. In the farming simulation game Town Star, for example, if a player cuts down an entire forest, it decreases the amount of water available in that area, making it more difficult to grow things.
The same is true in Gala Games’ Mirandus. Gala Games gave BGN a sneak peak of how forests grow inside the fantasy RPG. Similar to the way trees grow in nature, the simulation never ran the same way twice.
“The world of Mirandus is designed to be a simulation so the way things work in the real world is ideally how we want them to work in Mirandus as well,” Brink says. “We’re seeding the world and allowing it to evolve and grow however it naturally would.”
As NFT sales continue to break records, there’s currently a lot of hype around blockchain technology and some experts are heralding an unsustainable bubble. Brink says Gala Games extends beyond the hype and will live on once the hype has died down.
“Gaming has unlimited potential provided we develop ways to effectively onboard users. What we focus on is making things extremely playable and removing barriers to onboarding because that’s going to be what makes it work,” Brink says. “If we do this the right way, there’s going to be an amazing ecosystem that incidentally happens to use blockchain as a tech layer. Blockchain should be invisible to the end user unless they want to focus on it.”
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