EXCLUSIVE: Aavegotchi Poised to Morph into Play-to-Earn Game on March 31

Gotchiverse2

Aavegotchi, the playable characters loaded with Aave’s interest-bearing tokens, are getting their own little gaming universe. The Gotchiverse will launch March 31, The Defiant has learned.

Aavegotchi are NFTs that work now somewhat like Tamagotchis of the late ’90s and somewhat like digital piggy banks. Owners have to care for them so they grow and also so they don’t decay. But the Gotchiverse is the next phase of these characters’ evolution. It’s a 3D space where the characters can move around, meet each other, gather fresh tokens, make stuff and eventually battle against invaders.

With this new virtual world, Aavegotchi makes the transition to a complete play-to-earn game, where players have strong incentives to play a lot and gather up in-game assets that correspond to ERC-20 tokens which will presumably have real world value.

It will also be a way of making the community of Aavegotchi owners even more real by giving them real time ways to interact beyond Discord and Twitter. In fact, the team behind the game is attempting to break new ground on just that point.

The Defiant talked about the launch with Jesse Johnson, the chief operating officer of Pixelcraft Studios, the company that works for the AavegotchiDAO and has built the game up to this point. 

“We are basically taking on a very ambitious job here,” Johnson said. “We are experimenting with everyone in the same world on the same instance.”

To translate for non-gamers: there are a lot of games out there where players play in a virtual world and can interact with each other, but those worlds tend to be copies of each other. Networks aren’t fast enough or powerful enough that every player in the same online place can see every other player at the same time.

Magic Fountain

So while your avatar may be standing outside the magic fountain and your friend’s avatar may also be standing outside the magic fountain, you still might not see each other’s avatars. That’s because you and your friend are on different instances, or copies, of that world.

 Aavegotchi, Johnson said, is working to solve that problem so that every player will be able to interact with anyone else in the same spot.

“We have servers all around the world and we have to sync them,” he said.

Gameplay begins in The Citadel, a tranquil and safe game area. Image courtesy of Pixelcraft.

There’s a few ways the Gotchiverse can be played, but one of them is a Pac-Man reminiscent style race to pick up valuable stuff that’s lying around. That stuff corresponds to real ERC-20 assets, so it’s really important that if one Aavegotchi beats another to a particular asset, there’s no confusion about who got it for players.

“I think other teams and other projects will definitely benefit from the stuff we’re trying to pioneer here,” Johnson said.

The Gotchiverse will release four new in-game assets into the world, known collectively as Alchemica. The four assets are called FUD, FOMO, ALPHA and KEK, listed from the most rare to the least rare. These will all correspond to real tokens that can be used on Ethereum or Polygon (Aavegotchi mostly runs on Polygon, due to scaling issues on Ethereum’s mainnet).

Useful Tools

Another level of the game will be to own territory in the gamer and steward it well, using those in-game assets to craft or buy useful tools for managing the land.

When crafting occurs, the tokens spent largely get recycled back into the larger Gotchiverse economy (including paying Pixelcraft and the AavegotchiDAO), though 5% get burned).

This resource management game, Johnson said, will probably be the one with the most depth for people who really enjoy gaming, at least early on.

A final level of the game will be social, where players mobilize each other to entice the game to rain down assets. The more Aavegotchi get mobilized at once in one of these rituals, the bigger the rewards will be.

This was really devised with gaming guilds in mind. It’s a way they can all band together and have an experience where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

A player moves collected tokens off the game to Polygon for sale. Image courtesy of Pixelcraft.

Beyond that, the Gotchiverse can also be used as a general purpose metaverse, Johnson said, like Second Life or CryptoVoxels, where players can just hang out and interact with each other.

Here in the early days, the game is going to be very mellow and safe for players. It all starts in what’s called The Citaadel, which is an Aavegotchi only zone (somewhat reminiscent of the high security Empire regions in EVE Online). When the lands outside The Citaadel open up, there will be more bountiful territory on which to harvest tokens, but there will also be dangers out there.

An enemy of the Aavegotchi, Lickquidators, roam on the outer lands. In fact, players will be able to participate as the arch enemy, who can be seen at the end of the trailer. 

One of the biggest themes in play-to-earn gaming has been the ability for players who own NFTs that allow them to access the game to lend them to other players, in exchange for a bit of whatever they earn. In Axie Infinity, these are called “scholarshhips,” but really it’s just a rental program.

It’s like someone who owns a taxicab with a medallion that gives it the right to pick up passengers renting it to a driver who has time to drive.

To play in the Gotchiverse, a player will need an Aavegotchi, and much like the NFTs that allow players access to Axie Infinity, Axies, the most basic Aavegotchi costs about $1000 in the game’s native token, GHST. That’s more than most players can afford.

Rental System

The Gotchiverse has a much more refined rental system designed, so that players can pick and choose what kind of deal they want and owners have really fine control over getting their Aavegotchi back when they want it.

So rentals can shift the amount that the player gets to keep, the time they can hold and other variables.

This sounds nice but of course with resources popping up on the surface all the time, it’s easy to imagine that there might be a lot of players just renting Aavegotchi and grinding away in very boring ways to simply gather as much loot as they can in a way that’s not so much about fun as getting by.

“One of the biggest concerns developing a web3 game,” Johnson said, ” is that you have to have healthy ladders.”

In-game chat box. Image courtesy of Pixelcraft.

In other words, there needs to be a way in which a player might be able to start out renting and eventually own. In the Gotchiverse, they can own Aavegotchis, but they can also own land. Land also produces resources.

By creating more nuance around the kinds of deals that players and owners can strike, Johnson hopes there will be more deals that are more generous to players out there, who will be able to steward some of their earnings and eventually become owners.

Funding and business model

Aavegotchi has always been inextricably linked to DeFi. Every Aavegotchi has some amount of Aave’s a-tokens inside it, and those tokens give it unique properties both in its original gameplay and in the Gotchiverse. In that way, Aavegotchi are like savings accounts. Its token deposit keeps the character alive, and Aavegotchi can only withdraw it by sacrificing the tokens inside. It’s rarely worthwhile to do so on the value of the token alone, but these Aave tokens keep growing in value, so one day? Who knows.

That connection with the Aave platform is one of the reasons its founder, Stani Kulechov, is one of relatively few traditional investors who have backed Aavegotchi. The project has largely eschewed venture fundraising, outside of a small friends and family round early on.

Otherwise, Pixelcraft has been able to get by on other streams of revenue. It has a small drip of DAI from the bonding curve that generates the GHST token. It also shares in revenue that the platform earns, along with the AavegotchiDAO, whose treasury currently sits at a bit over $5.8M, according to Open-Orgs.

“We’re in a very good position where we have plenty of runway,” Johnson said.

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