Once upon a time, eternal life could be had for the price of a token. At video game arcades of old, tokens represented an escape from the real world and the beginning of a fantastical journey into a virtual one. Dimly lit rooms full of giant, imposing machines with glowing screens that all read ‘insert coin’ were the gateway; the token was the key.
When it was game over, another token meant a continuation of the escapism; the difference between life and death. Gaming has changed. Amusement centres ran out of continues long ago. In the meantime, its brand of escapism has migrated to a screen near you.
Arcade staples such as Dragon’s Lair, Mortal Kombat and Pac-Man have become apps, permanently available wherever you go for just a few bucks. Alongside these exiles are bespoke mobile apps, fully realised gaming experiences that are just as immersive as anything found on PCs or PlayStations – and a far cry from Snake.
The newest generation of mobile gaming is powered by the blockchain-based decentralised autonomous organisation system, a community-driven model that elects council members to assist with its overall operation and future direction. Core contributors simply create the project; the community takes it to the next level.
One of the newest DAO-based games is Illuvium, a fantasy battle title that’s already raised more than US$40 million in the initial seed and public sale rounds. “That’s our single greatest achievement to date,” says Danny Wilson, Head of Strategic Partnerships.
The seed raise, which included 10 of the largest investment firms within the cryptocurrency space, was intended to provide two years of runway, attract top gaming and crypto talent to the project, and create the first AAA-quality blockchain title.
“It’s ambitious, but we won’t stop until we’re the biggest blockchain game in the world.” Founded in Sydney by ecommerce and blockchain experts Kieran and Aaron Warwick, the 47-strong team behind Illuvium is made up of some of the best and brightest in the field.
Danny joined with 20 years’ experience in computer and technology retail, most notably with Harvey Norman, and most recently as CEO of Onsport, one of Australia’s largest online sporting retailers.
We won’t stop until we’re the biggest blockchain game in the world.
“Eventually I moved out of the retail space and into providing B2B technology solutions,” he shares. “I’d been investing and participating in the blockchain space since 2017 – it excites me to no end – so when the opportunity to join Illuvium arose, I took it without hesitation.”
Danny joined the Illuvium team during the very early stages of design and creation. “Moving into a blockchain game that incorporates non-fungible token collectability and decentralised finance rewards was simply a dream of mine,” he reveals.
Collectables have been a part of gaming for decades, but NFT technology allows the practice to reach new heights – NFTs are akin to the arcade tokens of the past in that they allow buyers to actually own digital items.
Powered by blockchain, NFTs allow for creative work such as artworks, music, animations and videos to exist as unique digital tokens. Lately, the market for NFTs has exploded, with several high-profile sales attracting cashed-up collectors. Illuvium wants to bring this concept to the mobile gaming world, a marriage of ideas that could prove both lucrative and revolutionary.
“With NFTs, you truly have ownership over your assets,” Danny says. “So we designed play-to-earn features that are only possible this way.” A mix of role-playing game, collect-a-thon and auto-battler, Illuvium presents players with a vast, beautiful 3D world in which they encounter and capture creatures known as Illuvials.
“The crux of the game is to build an effective deck of Illuvials to battle other players,” he explains. “The better your team, the better your chances in battle.” While the pursuit of assembling the ultimate Illuvial team will give NFTs a chance to prove their worth in the gaming world, Danny hopes the game’s “tokenomics” will make clear Illuvium is a long-term enterprise.
“We’re giving people adequate time to get to know what we stand for, so they can be confident we’ll be here for years to come,” he says. “So for the next 18 months, all of our attention will be focused on building one of the best, most addictive games on the blockchain.”
The first stage of the game is set for release in the third quarter of 2021, with further content to be released and expanded on over time. “It’s the genesis of a much larger world we intend to create,” Danny points out.
“This year, you’ll be able to buy and stake our coin, and use them to earn rewards in a number of ways. Anyone who stakes our coins will share in the revenues generated in the game.” It’s this aspect that the team hopes will drive the creation of a strong community for Illuvium.
“It’s the only way to truly be huge in the blockchain space, to have an amazing community,” he says. “I genuinely believe DAOs are the next generation of business and will be controlled by communities of people around the globe. Eventually, there will be hundreds of AAA games on the blockchain, and we want to pioneer that race.”