Play2Earn Gaming: Gods Unchained
Gods unchained and unleashed on the blockchain
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When it comes to the merger between gaming and NFTs, nothing makes perfect sense more than having a blockchain-based trading card game (TCG)—for some obvious reasons. For one, gameplay can be exactly as it is as if players were holding real physical cards between them (albeit much faster without having to compute points manually) And two, because the cards are NFTs, the same market dynamics can exist as they do with real-world cards—the rarer the card, the more desirable and expensive it. And some rare trading cards CAN get really expensive.
A first edition holographic Charizard for example, from the Pokémon trading card game (PTCG), sold for a whopping $369,000 in December of 2020.¹ Meanwhile, a Black Lotus (Alpha) card from Magic: The Gathering (MTG) sold on eBay for $511,100 in January—the most expensive TCG card ever sold to date.²
And digital ownership of NFT trading cards is technically more secure than owning actual physical cards. There are plenty of forgers out there who are constantly trying to pass off bootleg PTCGs and MTGs for the real thing, and dealing with rare cards comes with the hassle of having to consult with experts and authenticators. Current online TCG platforms meanwhile are no better, relying on centralized databases for storing game data—which are prone to hacking and which doesn’t give players that “feel” of actually owning one’s card deck.
But all of that is practically done away with using blockchain technology. In fact, this is the reason why game director, Chris Clay, left his executive posting at Magic:The Gathering Arena to work instead on a blockchain-based TCG, Gods Unchained, throwing his bet on cryptocurrency gaming as the new frontier for game developers.³ Already, that bet is paying off with Gods Unchained drawing in 450,000 players on its beta release alone and with over $34 million worth of NFTs sold or traded so far.
The new frontier is of course, play-to-earn gaming, which is literally turning the whole gaming industry inside-out by providing gamers a return on their investment instead of games being just another commodity that people buy for entertainment and having all the revenue going to the gaming companies.
Gods Unchained’s play loop uses the GODS token to support a sustainable in-game economy.
And Gods Unchained is built precisely on this key value proposition. The game is free-to-play, but the more you play, the more you earn GODS (the game’s native utility token). The GODS token can be used to craft or buy NFT cards, which you can later sell for ETH or trade for other NFTs to expand your own card deck and improve your gameplay. In fact, Gods Unchained is so heavily bent on establishing this self-sustaining in-game economy that 34% of all supply of GODS is already allocated for play-to-earn rewards.
How to play Gods Unchained
For those who have never played TCGs before, the mechanics might seem daunting to learn and for good reason. TCGs are the epitome of strategy gaming. With a pool of thousands of different cards, the combinations of plays seem infinite. In fact, Magic: The Gathering has been declared by mathematicians as the world’s most complex game,⁴ more computationally difficult than chess by many orders of magnitude. But before this scares you from even trying out Gods Unchained, keep in mind that it is this same complexity that lends TCGs their unique depth, lore and balance of gameplay.
Like MTG, Gods Unchained is set in a fantasy universe with heroes, wizards and other magical creatures comprising your deck of cards, with the objective of using the unique abilities of these characters in toppling the other player’s deck. In Gods Unchained however, you start each round by selecting a god you wish to play as, keeping in mind that each god has its own perks that you can use to your advantage in combination with the deck that you own.
After selecting a god is the “mulligan phase”, where cards are reshuffled and players can pick which cards to start with. Like in MTG, “mana” is used to activate cards into play with each player starting with only one mana, but which builds up progressively after each turn, allowing players to use more and more powerful cards and to come up with unique hands for combined attacks.
For each turn, players can choose to attack the other player’s god, or to attack its minions (the other cards in play) and whoever can bring down the opposing god’s health to zero, wins the match.
A tutorial video from the official God’s Unchained YouTube channel.⁵
Winning matches earns players card packs (each with five cars inside), which players have the option of selling as an unopened pack in the marketplace or opening it and selling the individual cards. Card packs come in four tiers corresponding to the value of its contents:
Core pack — contains five standard base cards
Rare pack — contains at least one rare card
Epic pack — contains at least one epic card
Legendary pack — contains at least one legendary card
Duplicate cards can be combined to create more powerful cards, which players can trade or sell or put into play.
Crafting and buying new NFT cards and NFT packs.
From time to time, Gods Unchained also releases expansion sets which are limited NFTs only available for purchase. Though players can make do with the cards they win by playing, expansion sets are a means to offer new content and new dynamics to the gameplay.
Immutable X and the future of NFT ownership
Another groundbreaking feature of Gods Unchained is its partnership with Immutable X in providing the NFT infrastructure. As Ethereum’s Layer 1 has long been critiqued for its limited capacity and high gas fees, Immutable X’s Layer 2 solution provides the scalability Ethereum needs to support fast NFT exchanges. And with immediate massive success as since migrating to Immutable X in June 2021, the NFT trading volume for Gods Unchained alone was 1.5 times greater than all other NFT trades on the Ethereum mainnet itself for the same time period. Speed likewise is at an astounding 9,000 trades per second—with zero gas fees!
This bodes well for Chris Clay’s vision for Gods Unchained with NFT cards “being able to travel the world and know where it’s been” as opposed to just being stored in a database as with current online TCG arenas. To put this in context, he points out that in the future, card decks that will be used in championship games will carry with them that provenance, greatly increasing their value and collectability.³ In fact, NFT cards can also be digitally signed by creators, artists, celebrity gamers and the likes, ushering in a truly new global culture of digital ownership.
GODS Utilities and Tokenomics
Aside from purchasing and crafting NFTs, the GODs token is also used for staking and community governance. Furthermore, 20% of all primary fees and 20% of secondary trading fees in the marketplace are paid for in GODS and are placed in the GODS staking pool.
From the pool, staking rewards are given to all active stakers at seven-day intervals, proportional to the lowest amount held in their Immutable X account.
GODS has a total supply of 500 million which are allocated as follows:
Play-to-earn reward (34%) — 170,000,000
Reserve (25%) — 125,000,000
Community and Ecosystem Fund (20.5%) — 102,500,000
Community Allocation (7%) — 35,000,000
Token Sale (7%) — 35,000,000
Token Foundation (6.5%) — 32,500,000
With their team comprising some of the best and most experienced talent in TCG development, it’s really hard to be skeptical about the future of Gods Unchained. And with an already strong community foothold, thanks to familiar game mechanics that are so readily adaptable onto a blockchain, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of places where things could go wrong for this game.
Real-world TCGs are historically known to have cult-loyal followings which drive up the value of their cards as time goes by. And though this remains to be seen with current blockchain projects, all the signs point to how the whole setup is a perfect formula along conceptual, technical and economic lines. Gods Unchained as the first successful blockchain TCG is simply looking like it's going to be MTG on steroids.
¹The Top 12 Most Valuable Pokemon Cards in History
²14 Most Valuable and Rare Magic: The Gathering Cards
³‘Magic: The Gathering’ Executive Leaves for Blockchain-based ‘Gods Unchained’
⁴“Magic: The Gathering” is officially the world's most complex game
⁵How to Play; Gods Unchained Tutorial