In the gaming world, NFTs don’t have a very good reputation. Whether it’s the players, who have recently turned down several of the studio’s initiatives, or even the developers, who are quite critical of non-fungible tokens. As for the purely encrypted, “play-to-earn” games that promise players to make their money, they are more of a speculation tool and a Ponzi pyramid than a video game. Away from next-generation gameplay and graphics, they have suffered the brunt of the market downturn and the collapse of cryptocurrency prices. Highlighted by Axie Infinity’s current setbacks.
a high-budget game-and-earnings
This doesn’t deter Darewise, a studio co-founded in 2018 by Benjamin Charbit (former investment banker and former Assassin’s Creed producer at Ubisoft) and Samuel Kahn (game engine software developer), whose Animoca took 70% of the capital last April for 30 million dollars. The start-up had previously raised € 4 million from Serena Capital, Lakestar and business angels. Darewise launched the “open alpha” version – a trial version – of its massively multiplayer online game project, Life Beyond, in early July, which around 100 people are currently working on.
At the crossroads of MMORPG, metaverse, Sim City and life simulation, Life Beyond presents itself as the “first AAA game developed with Unreal Engine 4 and Web3 technologies” (the Polygon blockchain, in this case). With a budget of around 40 million euros, it tells the story of the conquest of a planet that players can explore to colonize new territories. On the menu, team fights, resource gathering, construction, crafts, but also trade and politics. The character design is reminiscent of Fortnite.
the nfts, to be a true “digital citizen”
“We do not define ourselves as a play-to-earn game, but rather ‘play-and-earn’. The main motivation of the players we will get is to have an experience, not to generate income”, explains Benjamin Charbit, CEO of L’Usine Digitale. The alpha version is also free and open to everyone on PC, with or without NFT. Indeed, Darewise conceives of Life Beyond as a primarily social experience. The NFT component is there primarily to bring a dimension “innovation and entrepreneurship” to experience.
“It will be the first MMORPG where you can be whoever you want. In WoW, for example, all players are heroes. In Life Beyond, thanks to NFTs and tokens, they will be citizens who participate in the world as they wish. We want to see the emergence of a true digital society. The dream of digital citizenship has always been aborted, even in MMORPGs, because there was no ownership of content. In these conditions it is difficult to invest, because the day you stop, you leave everything behind. NFT respond to this. If I want to sell, rent, lend, it is my choice. The more I commit, the more value I accumulate. An NFT is an asset + a smart contract. With it, I can compose any service, without needing to obtain permission by Darewise. “
political and economic simulation
For example, if a player wants to get involved in the game without fighting but by creating useful services for other players (farm, refinery, shop…), he can do it. If he wants to be a bricklayer, rent his apartments, get involved in the government of his territory, he can. The political aspect of the game will allow for example to organize elections, impose taxes and regulate the economy. We imagine that tokens will participate in the virtual political life of cities. To create content, however, you will need to have the right skills. Kind of like modding PC games.
The role of the firm in all this? “We provide storytelling, contextualization and intellectual property creation”replies Benjamin Charbit. Darewise controls the size of the world and its geography, the general plot of the story, the objectives that bring all players together (conquest of the planet, fight against the alien threat) and the associated rewards. What differentiates Life Beyond from a metaverse like The Sandbox or Decentraland, for example, which relies solely on user-generated content.
long phase of collaborative development
Free-to-play, Life Beyond’s business model will be based on the sale of NFTs, but above all on a 5% commission on NFT sales on the secondary market.
The study does not foresee a definitive launch of his game before 2024. Until then, he foresees two other open alpha phases, after the first which is expected to conclude at the end of 2022. A method that will allow him to collect feedback and that according to Benjamin Charbit particularly well suited to web projects3, “by definition collaborative”. “A metaverse is conceptual, it is not launched like any other product. And when we discuss it, we are already living part of the experience”, He adds. Add to this that the process allows the pioneers of the planet Dollos, the game world, to be pioneers even in its development phase. It is quite consistent.
go from ideation to realization, the most difficult
Currently, according to the study, the project has 40,000 people on a Discord forum. About 10,000 players have already played the alpha version. From this experience, the MMORPG.com site, not necessarily very convinced at first, withdraws that it has done so “potential”.
Another project quite similar in concept, Star Atlas, is currently under development within the ATMTA studio. It is also a space exploration and conquest game, focused on immersive and political simulation, developed on the Solana blockchain and under the Unreal Engine. There is currently more talk about the game for its cryptocurrency than for its content, which is limited to a trailer and market.