Fantasy-action RPG Guild of Guardians already had a big rep within crypto gaming, but with backing from gaming-industry giant Ubisoft now stuffed in its quiver, the game looks to have levelled up. Stockhead spoke with its Game Director, Derek Lau…
Hi Derek. Okay, the old “elevator pitch” question… can you please describe Guild of Guardians (GoG for short) for me? Preferably before the lift in an imaginary two-storey building reaches ground floor?
No probs. Guild Of Guardians is a mobile, team, action RPG where players summon their team of Guardians, battle through dangerous dungeons, and join a guild to defend the fantasy world of Elderym.
Ace. Sounds just like The Rings of Power, but without the architectural-based subplots and other boring bits. The lift seems stuck, so what else would you want to mention about it up front?
So far we have about 300,000 players on the waitlist, and the game is set to come out on mobile in 2023. It’s completely free to play and is particularly unique in terms of how social the game is as well as the fact that there is real digital ownership in the game.
Digital asset-ownership is the way. I’ve seen footage of the game and it looks like a frenetic, action-packed dungeon crawler. Gauntlet on steroids. What would you identify as its creative inspirations?
It was inspired by a mixture of the best mobile gacha games, as well as Diablo and Dungeons & Dragons. Think something akin to Diablo, but with non-fungible tokens [NFTs] bestowing genuine ownership over in-game assets.
However, Guild of Guardians also works hard to bring its own style and identity to the table. While it will be familiar to fantasy RPG fans, it’s also unique and will definitely forge its own personality.
‘The stigma around blockchain gaming is lifting’
Tell us how the recent Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed; Far Cry) backing came about. Are there any $$ figures you can attribute to it?
There aren’t any figures I can share, but the backing came about as part of Ubisoft’s sixth season of their Entrepreneurs Lab program. Guild of Guardians was chosen as one of the new startups working alongside the company to create the entertainment and technology of tomorrow.
Ubisoft recognised the potential that GoG has to positively impact entertainment, develop social bonds, and offer opportunities for players to learn and explore Web3 in a sustainable and equitable way.
Can you give us a sense of the magnitude of that backing and its importance to the GoG project?
Yeah, working with Ubisoft is a major boost for what we’re trying to do. While we are committed to success no matter what, there’s no denying that having the support of such a big industry name will make it possible for us to reach more people and show them what Guild of Guardians is capable of.
We were also able to contribute to their program as well by sharing our own learnings and connecting with other Ubisoft-backed projects. So, to that end, it is quite significant.
Do you see crossover between the mainstream/traditional gaming sector and crypto/NFT gaming beginning to strengthen?
I believe this is just the beginning of much more collaboration between the traditional gaming world and blockchain games. It’s been slow, and many game companies are wary of change, but the stigma around blockchain gaming is lifting.
Traditional gaming publishers and developers are now considering ways to integrate web3 technology. The more we continue to show the world that GameFi doesn’t need to be derivative or exploitative, the more developers will begin getting on board.
But… NFT gaming critics might ‘be right to worry’ in some cases
The negativity shown towards NFTs and NFT economics from mainstream gamers is well known. Do you understand where it’s coming from? And do you think that will subside in time?
There are myriad reasons behind the stigma surrounding NFTs. First and foremost is the precedent of gamers getting exploited by companies through things like loot boxes and pay-to-win gaming. They hear NFTs and think they’re micro transactions 2.0. What’s worse is they may, in some cases, be right to worry.
In the wrong hands, NFTs really could become an extension of the worst elements that have sprung up around monetised gaming.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and that’s a big part of what we want to show with Guild of Guardians. We’re creating a game with a balanced in-game economy that lets users build meaningful value without incentivising just farming the platform for profit.
If gamers and other developers can see a popular title implement blockchain and NFTs in a way that is actually enhancing the experience, then they will almost certainly understand its benefits.
So getting the in-game economy right – is the main thing you think blockchain gaming needs to accomplish in order to foster the growth of this sub-sector of crypto?
Well I actually think creators and players seeing a fun, working game on the market will be a big part of the overall acceptance and subsequent growth of web3 gaming. But building better infrastructure for these titles will definitely also be important.
Right now, everything is kind of experimental, but not every company wants to reinvent the wheel. Fostering sustainable practices and creating infrastructure for future IPs will help the field grow. So far we are one of the most anticipated and forward-looking games, and we aim to continue to pave the way for others to follow.
What does a well-balanced in-game economy look like for GoG?
GoG is building a carefully weighted economy that mixes the ability to grow real value with incentives for reinvesting and continuing to engage. We don’t want gamers to approach this like a job or a money-making scheme; we want them to come for entertainment.
We think decentralised assets can enhance that, but they must be carefully implemented. Guild of Guardians will provide players with joy, entertainment and social value beyond just its economy, and that will lead to a sustainable economy.
Built on Aussie-founded tech – Immutable X
GoG is published by Immutable (an Aussie company) and builds on its Immutable X platform – that’s correct isn’t it? What benefits does that protocol bring to the game?
Yeah, that’s right. And building on Immutable X offers a wide range of benefits… It’s a layer 2 solution for Ethereum, so we still get the security of the underlying Ethereum network while gaining a massive boost to throughput, clocking in at around 9,000 transactions per second.
Also, there are also no network fees for minting or transferring NFTs, which is incredibly important for building functioning GameFi economies.
Best of all, though, the network is completely carbon neutral, which will help with the current image of NFT platforms being bad for the environment.
As will Ethereum’s Merge to proof of stake, no doubt. Can you summarise the main factors you think will make GoG a success?
So we have close to 300,000 players already registered, with over 600,000 members joining our broader social media community. We have a strong team and are well funded, with $24 million [USD] in sales and with Immutable recently completing a $200 million Series C.
We have complete confidence in the game, as our early demos have shown promising metrics and feedback from our player community.
‘The pie is big enough for everyone’
What will success will look like for GoG? Mainstream adoption?
For us, success means building an incredible game that onboards millions of players to web3. So, yes, that means paving the way for mainstream adoption by the rest of the gaming industry, and eventually expanding GoG into more than just a single mobile game.
What’s coming up for GoG that has you pumped? Any eSports tournaments on the horizon, for instance?
We have a few really exciting partnership announcements lined up, which we’ll detail soon. And, of course, we’re looking forward to the game’s official launch. Once that happens, there will be a variety of tournaments, contests, and other events to keep users engaged.
Where do you think GoG sits in the GameFi landscape? Is competition for attention fierce? Any crossover possibilities with other games/metaverse projects?
While all entertainment products are technically competitors for users’ attention, we also know that Guild of Guardians will be entering into a whole ecosystem of other games that players will explore in Web3. Ultimately, the pie is big enough for everyone, and we are competing with traditional mobile RPG games, too.
But yes, we feel that working with other titles is a great way to get exposure and help both ecosystems grow. Last year we partnered with The Sandbox to enable Guilds of Guardians heroes to become playable within the metaverse. We expect many more types of crossovers with other metaverse worlds in the future.
‘GoG can withstand the bear market’
Finally, where do you think crypto/web3 gaming is headed this year? Do you have faith that the good projects can survive the bear market and come out the other side stronger?
We see the bear market as a good time for projects to develop without the volatility or hype that rising asset prices tend to bring. Studios can work on having their infrastructure in place before the next major cycle.
Weaker projects, or those only created to extract value, tend to get washed out, making more room for authentic projects to thrive.
Can GoG make it through some bear savaging relatively unscathed, even if a crypto winter sets in further?
We definitely see GoG as one of the projects that can withstand the bear market. We don’t need the value of our assets to be the measure of our success. As long as there are gamers looking for meaningful and robust experiences, we don’t plan on going anywhere.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in the interview in this article are solely those of the interviewee and do not represent the views of Stockhead.
This Q&A has been edited lightly in places for clarity and flow.
Stockhead has not provided, endorsed or otherwise assumed responsibility for any financial product advice contained in this article.