The current public perception of NFT games is that they’re simple, boring, and are essentially cash grab games for the companies. However, with the release of ‘ArcheWorld’, XLGames hopes to break some of these stereotypes of NFT games. Through the MMORPG, Archeage, a game that’s rich in content, their goal is to provide more decision making options through a decentralization policy called DAO. That’s why the initial goal of ArcheWorld is not increasing sales. They are attempting to implement blockchain technology into an MMORPG to make it a blockchain game platform. Is it an impossible challenge? Or are they the first ones to tap into an infinite number of possibilities? We at Inven spoke with the CEO of XLGames, Kwanho Martin Choi to hear more.
CEO Kwanho Martin Choi: “ArcheWorld is XLGames’ platform expansion project.”
Internally speaking, what position is ArcheWorld in? Given the company’s history, they start as a small seedling that branches out to bigger projects. Is ArcheWorld essentially a new branch project from Archeage? Or is it a game that’s more about NFTs?
ArcheWorld is our new method and result of exploring the XLGames’ inherent IP, where we’re continuously looking for new forms of MMO. Archeage first showcased an open world, sandbox style of MMO, and Archeage 2 is essentially a step up, where we’ve made improvements to the aspects that lacked from its predecessor. Ultimately, we hope that the new title is a step closer to the so-called ‘Metaverse’, and with the use of blockchain and Web 3.0 technology, we hope to create a political economy that’s more realistic.
ArcheWorld is a project that’s essentially a middle step in achieving our final goal. We wanted to see if blockchain technology and token economy can settle in, while providing our players with innovative entertainment and profit. Also, in order to enter the market as quickly as possible, we just added the token-based economy system onto our existing game. If successful, I think that all games should have an NFT version, just like how some games have a mobile version. I like to think of it as platform expansion, rather than something entirely new.
Why did you decide on the name, ArcheWorld?
When blockchain games were first being discussed, we weren’t really interested in publishing tokens, creating P2E games and servicing them, nor selling the coins back when they go up in value. There is still a lot of skepticism, and we’re more interested in the metaverse aspect. What I mean by skepticism is not in the sense of marketing, but in the sense of servicing. We initially wanted to call it ‘Archeverse’, but it felt like we were jumping on the bandwagon too quickly. We once initially used the word, ‘Virtual World’ in the past, so we decided to call it ‘ArcheWorld’.
It feels like Archeage’s original intention is what the current metaverse strives to be, In terms of building relationships and experiencing new things. Whether it’s building a house through making money, farming livestock & crops, and even trade, there are those that were even sent to jail when they committed a crime through trial, and those even getting married IRL.
I think the archetype of the metaverse is an MMORPG. I think the current negative connotation behind the metaverse is not because of the technology behind it, but because of how memeish the marketing of it is. These are only something that the producers are talking about, not the consumers. We’re people that create content and provide service to users, so rather than just simply jumping on the bandwagon, we wanted our services to be accepted as the metaverse.
In the end, metaverse isn’t focused on AR or VR. It’s important that the main focus of it is the relationships that are built from the online experiences. If time spent on the virtual world is equal to the time spent in the real world, I think that’s what the metaverse experience is truly about.
How will ArcheWorld gain its core gamer audience? These gamers’ goal isn’t to make money, but rather spend money to be entertained and relieve stress.
In the end, it’s going to be whether or not ArcheWorld is a game worth investing time and money on. Archeage showcased various BM and systems to the world over its long years of service. We started as a subscription service, then made only a part of the game be paid content, and in terms of NA and EU, we’ve sold the game like console games and provided both F2P and B2P versions. There’s a trend within our player base where they naturally accept these attempts.
Our users will be anticipating new Archeage servers or new types of service, the one that involves a new BM and economy system. We anticipate that a lot of our users that love Archeage and want new systems will participate.
Furthermore, if I’m being honest, Archeage didn’t give back to the users as much as they spent money. That’s why there are diehard fans, as well as those that criticize the game for not achieving commercial success. Our goal is to improve on such areas that we lack.
Through Facebook, a description of the game said, “[ArcheWorld] isn’t a game where the company buys the goods that users obtained in-game.” It feels like the direction is different from that of other NFT games, so can you elaborate?
Many believe that P2E is something new and grand, but the concept of making money through playing games is something that existed for a long time. Those that play the game a lot then selling their accounts when they quit is a great example.
However, as the era of the mobile games came, the game company took control of everything related to core growth and sold it as gacha. The trade of in-game goods between the players became very meaningless. In the current P2E games on the market right now, when players obtain such in-game goods, they can trade it into the company to receive tokens. This system obviously has its limits, as the company cannot just buy everything from the players. It can be a meaningful marketing tool, but not a sustainable model.
In the end, players need to be able to trade with each other. The company needs to provide the platform and sell something that doesn’t affect the balance of the game, and the goal is to allow the players to buy and sell the things that they’ve obtained themselves to each other. It was possible during the days of the subscription service, right? The difference now is that through blockchain technology, players are able to safely make transactions with the random people they meet on the internet.
Even still, there’s still a lot of negative perception from gamers.
That’s right. There are two major types of perception with regards to how they view NFT, and they’re both negative. One is, “We’re already making money, and you guys are just adding more ways to make money”. We receive such negative perception almost immediately, not just from games, but from entertainment as well. Then there are those that aren’t interested in cryptocurrency at all.
Even on the ArcheWorld Discord server, people say that NFTs are scams. There are a lot who say this, but there are also those that say, “Let’s wait and see, because these guys are still XLGames.” Because of faith shown like this, we’re motivated to do really well.
Archeage is still considered as one of those few games that many consider to be legitimate, so in a way, it may be a game not best suited for P2E and blockchain technology. However, if this project is successful, we hope to prove that crypto games also can be of such quality.
In that sense, we hope that our attempt with ArcheWorld does well. We’re not selling crypto, but rather just providing a platform, receiving only a part of the commission from the transactions between players, and leaving everything else up to them.
If the company’s only receiving commission, doesn’t that mean that the projected profit is very low?
You’re right, so that’s why there needs to be a lot of transactions [laughter]. If profit was our priority, we wouldn’t have made such a decision. If we prioritize high profit margins, we just have to publish more coins and release via P2E, just like other companies. However, we decided to do things differently from them. Of course we will be selling tokens and starter packs early on, but that’s not our main focus.
What’s the biggest change that Archeage players will face when playing ArcheWorld for the first time?
If P2E is to become possible without dev influence, the game needs to be direct, and opportunity cost & reward from growth need to be crystal clear. Archeage is an open-world RPG experience that gives players a lot of freedom within a sandbox, but on the flip side, it’s very hard, and is very difficult to get used to the game. ArcheWorld hopes to simplify the growth routes, and be more direct with cost and benefits. However, due to Archeage’s unique traits, it will not be as easy as your typical run-of-the-mill MMOs.
How’s the fan response to pre-registration events and ArcheWorld fandom NFT card mining?
This was our first time holding events like that, so we’ve definitely made mistakes down the road and had our bumps down the road. To be honest, the situation isn’t that great. The current PFP NFT market doesn’t focus on utility, but rather on art and fashion. Same goes for BAYC and Meta Toyz Dragon NFT markets as well. We’re starting with our IP/characters and slowly expanding onto content.
On the other hand, we’re selling our core resource, land, as NFTs, and are selling fandom card NFTs through whitelisting, so we do not meet some standards of those currently in the market. However, the token definitely has its uses, so unlike the NFTs that were released domestically, there’s a lot of overseas users that showed interest. In order to meet the standards of the token holders, we’ll make sure to increase benefits and activities that can be done with them.
The ArcheWorld White Paper was revealed on Apr 22nd. White Paper is a very new concept for normal gamers. What is a White Paper and what kind of information is in it?
There are two main categories to the White Paper. One gives an explanation about our service and the game’s main qualities. We explain how ArcheWorld is both similar and different from Archeage.
The second is on how the in-game economy system works and the token that circulates that economy; how many tokens there are, and how they’re utilized. For the service in Korea, players spend cash on Archeage to exchange for an in-game currency called XL Cash, and as players play the game, they’re able to utilize the gold [which can also be bought via spending real money] for in-game transactions and strengthening gear. All the in-game currency will be replaced with a token called BSLT and with core currency called Archeum. It’s a detailed explanation of how all this works.
Changing the concept of ownership – “What you’ve earned and grown is yours.”
Whether it’s land, houses, gear, and other various items, ArcheWorld transformed them into NFTs and accepted that the ownership completely lies with the players. It’s definitely different in concept, so what values do you believe you’re giving to the players?
Truthfully, the core goal of this project is to test that. MMO players already believe that whatever they own in-game is theirs. However, due to legal issues and responsibilities, the game companies did not accept that, thus the player transactions were very limited. You had to give up the things you worked so hard to achieve when you were forced to take long-term breaks or quit the game itself.
We want to tell our players that what they’ve earned in-game is theirs. It’s our declaration. Enjoy as much as you want, sell whatever you don’t need, buy the things that you do, and in the process, have more fun. However, while whatever you own inside ArcheWorld is 100% yours, it’s limited to the ArcheWorld platform, so they can’t be used in other games. However, we’ll make sure to improve whatever is necessary for the gamers in the mid-long term with DAO [Decentralized Autonomous Organization]
It’s very surprising to hear that a DAO will be in charge of game operations. However, it’s also very worrisome.
Right now, it’s more of a declaration that we’re leaving game operations to a DAO [or users], because it’ll take a lot of time to actually make it happen. Archeage already had a lot of polls that involved the players themselves. With ArcheWorld, we hope to have players or token holders participate in polls that involve important matters. This way, not only do the players learn more about the game, we also get to contemplate the good and the bad. Once data builds up, I believe that we can leave it to DAO.
One misconception is that DAO is not an entity of gamers, but rather token holders. It’s not an entity of high level players, but rather an entity that allows token holders to easily participate in decision making.
Even so, we’ve internally contemplated a lot on whether or not it’s okay to leave it to DAO. However, compared to stock companies and on a bigger scale, democracy, such worries are trivial. If an ill-intended individual decides to buy a lot of a company’s stocks to control them the way they want, then it can be derived that the management’s at fault for dropping the value of the company. For shareholders, the value of the company needs to go up, and it’s the same with the token holders. That’s why trust needs to be put in their egoistic good nature.
Some say that the company needs to have a lot of tokens as a failsafe. However, if we do that, this means that there are a lot of existing tokens that can suddenly be released on the market, and that the company has the power to distort user opinions, so it’s a lot more dangerous. We’re going to leave it up to fate, and I believe the experimental process is what’s going to benefit us in the future.
While the transparent aspect of DAO operations can be beneficial, there’s also the concern of clash in opinion.
Gamers and token holders definitely have different things they like. Gamers love low commission rates on transactions, while token holders love higher commission rates. The best outcome for all concerned parties is for differences like such to diminish, so that the game does well and the value of the tokens go up or maintain its value. However, we believe such a difference in opinion also allows balanced decision making.
ArcheWorld: “The first step in creating a world owned by the people.”
What are some of the main things the team focused on while preparing to launch ArcheWorld?
One of our biggest concerns is the balance and composition between users. There are areas that overlap between those from the crypto world and coin investors and gamers, but there are also areas where they’re very different.
For example, the game ‘Mudol Rebirth’ is a game that brought people from the crypto world onto the game. There are even those that started playing the game as a side job, but stayed because of the gameplay. Our biggest problem is that it’s very hard to bring people from the crypto world to MMOs like Archeage, because the game’s very hard to learn. That’s why we flipped the concept and our goal is to introduce blockchain tech and tokens to those that enjoy MMORPGs. By giving tokens and various rewards to those that spend a lot of time in ArcheWorld, we hope to become more user-friendly.
The current NFT games focus more on the P2E aspects, rather than the core essence of a game itself.
I believe that the term and genre, ‘P2E’ will disappear soon enough. If a game’s being played for financial gain, then it means that the core essence of the game has diminished. It’s okay to make money and have fun playing the game; some company is already using the term, “Play AND Earn”, rather than P2E.
As platforms evolve, genres do as well. Historically, whether they’re PC or mobile games, they all started with casual games, which evolved into FPS and MMOs. I believe blockchain games will also walk down the same path. They’ll first start off as casual games to quickly enter the market; and with inevitable competition between the developers, the quality will continue to rise. I hope that ArcheWorld becomes the forerunner of changing perceptions about blockchain games.
The release of ArcheWorld will mean that it’ll be the biggest MMO amongst the NFT games. How do you hope this game will be remembered?
In the long run, we predict that our experiences and the relationships built will all be via online. I’m talking about purely online experiences and relationships, unlike messaging someone IRL via a messaging app or guild members gathering regularly.
Just like how it was in the movie, ‘Ready Player One’, a world that’s more realistic than the real world will open up through ArcheWorld. In order to pursue such a direction, our starting point is to create an economic system that allows players to make and spend money as they please, ultimately creating a world owned by the people. Whether we succeed or not, we’ll continue to explore this topic, and hope everyone’s ready for an adventure.