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Mythical Games launched its Blankos Block Party on the Epic Games Store, making it the first Web3 game to launch on the platform.
The game is free-to-play and available to download today in early access with the full game launch on September 28, which will feature Blankos Block Party’s Season One content. It is the first blockchain game specifically approved for sale on the Epic Games Store. The hope is this will lead to much wider exposure for the game and a chance to be part of a mass market.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said John Linden, CEO of Mythical Games, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We’ve been working for years to get some of these networks to start. We spent over a year with Epic working through this.”
The promise of the opportunity of taking blockchain technology into mainstream gaming has enabled Mythical to raise a lot of money.
Co-developed by Mythical Games and Third Kind Games, Blankos Block Party is a multiplayer party game set in a goofy online world, with a focus on custom art design, world-building, collecting and personalizing unique Blankos characters. It has a black vinyl art style and a lot of attitude.
Linden calls these characters “playable NFTs” that players can own. The NFTs enable players, creators, artists, brands and game developers to become stakeholders and owners in new “play and earn” game economies, where they can choose to sell the characters for a profit if they wish. You level the characters up, merge them together and create new characters. And you can sell them in a market.
New players can expect a wide selection of developer and player-created maps, which offers a huge amount of immersion, creativity and fun.
Blankos are collectible digital vinyl toys brought to life. Inhabiting their own, ever-changing, offbeat world, they love good vibes and good times. Players can expect to enjoy different gameplay types including racing, shooting, collecting, and brawling.
“We’ve had a blast watching the Blankos community grow in size and creativity since our launch,” said Jamie Jackson, chief creative officer at Mythical Games, in a statement. “On the eve of our full launch, we’re excited to welcome the Epic Games Store community to our vibrant player-base which has already created over one million accounts thus far.”
While not required to play, Blankos Block Party offers players the freedom to sell their digital items within the game’s shop. In other words, the things you earn and buy in Blankos are yours to own within the game. Now those players could see a wider market.
“The game did really well outside the stores. The challenge is so many of the mainstream gamers are aggregated to the stores,” Linden said. “It’s what they’re used to, accessing games through Steam or Epic or Xbox.”
Powered by the Mythical Platform, the marketplace gives the option for players who wish to exercise the freedom of digital ownership to sell or buy items in-game. Led by gaming industry veterans, Mythical’s team has helped develop major franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Marvel Strike Force and Skylanders.
Third Kind Games is one of the largest independently owned game developer studios in the United Kingdom and it has studios in Poland and Spain.
Asked what the challenges were that Mythical worked on with Epic, Linden said he couldn’t talk about the precise details but it was a matter of coming up with the right practices and language for user agreements. It helped that the Blankos game did not have its own cryptocurrency token. You can buy digital items in the game with U.S. dollars or with cryptocurrency, but players are not buying and selling the game’s own token as there isn’t one. Roughly 85% of sales are through U.S. dollars, though players can buy with cryptocurrency.
Rather, the characters themselves come with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which establishes player ownership and the right to resell on a Mythical marketplace that exists outside the Epic Games Store.
On this policies, “We aligned with Epic very early,” Linden said. “We shared a lot of principles and I’m excited we were able to get there. We’re solely focused on the digital assets, the NFTs themselves.”
One thing that Mythical had to do per Epic’s request was get the game rated by different ratings agencies around the world, including the Entertainment Software Ratings Board in the U.S. That was something Mythical didn’t have to do when it sold items through its own web site. And the board had questions about making sure children were protected in the transaction process. Because you can buy and sell items in the game, the title has a Teen rating in the U.S.
The ESRB process took months, and the company had to talk with PEGI in Europe and the International Age Rating Coalition. This process took months and it was an education for Mythical, Linden said. But he noted the company had a lot of people who had been through these processes before making console games. Still, Mythical made it through the process first, figuring out what happens if someone asks for a refund or if there is a claim of fraud in the sales process.
“We wanted to make sure and we worked with them on the best practices. It took longer because it wasn’t a normal game.” Linden said. “We’re excited at how this plays out and we are pretty bullish.”
Selling on the web, the game was pretty successful. It led to the creation of more than a million accounts for players, Linden said.
As for other stores, Mythical isn’t making a mobile version of Blankos. But it is working on other games — Nitro Nation and NFL Rivals — that will likely be played on mobile devices. There are issues to get through with the mobile app stores as well.
“Everyone is going to be different,” Linden said.
Not touting the blockchain
Mythical realizes that a lot of players are against NFTs and so it isn’t going to tout that part of them. Rather, it will focus on how the game is fun and how players have ownership rights and the right to resell the characters.
“We’re not beating our chests and saying this is a Web3 game and this is on the blockchain. We’re unique that way. You don’t need to know what a wallet is. You don’t need to know what cryptocurrency is,” he said. “You can literally just play it.”
Linden added, “But from an access perspective, it is a big deal. It’s the first time the new economies are going to be played in a mainstream game on the App Store.”
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