Blockchain games have grown in popularity in the recent past. This growth has been enabled by the overall crypto industry’s development, the rapid expansion of the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) concept, and the initial success experienced by projects like Axie Infinity. The blockchain games market has become increasingly competitive, with many game studios entering the foray.
Against this backdrop, an Australia-based game developer, Immutable, developed Gods Unchained (GU), a free-to-play Trading Card Game (TCG). GU is one of the earliest TCGs to enter the market, and the players compete in duels using fantasy cards. The developers released the beta desktop version of the game in 2018. With the free-to-play (F2P) and Play-to-Earn (P2E) mechanisms, the developers target a broader audience of game players.
GU’s game economy is built around the GODS token, an ERC-20 token issued on the Ethereum network. In-game cards are NFTs based on the ERC-721 token standard. GU has integrated itself with Immutable’s layer-2 NFT platform: Immutable X. Immutable X provides benefits such as layer-1 gas-free NFT minting, increased transaction throughput, and faster trade confirmations.
The GODS token provides several utilities to its holders. $GODS can be used to pay for in-game purchases and fees, fuse new trading card NFTs, stake and earn rewards, and permit community governance on specific decisions.
Immutable Group is hiring talent across many verticals. Chris Clay leads the Project, previously the Game Director of the Magic: The Gathering Arena (MTGA). He is supported by a team of veterans in the gaming industry.
GU has experienced its fair share of obstacles and difficulties through its journey thus far in implementing P2E elements and delays in hitting roadmap milestones. However, the team is now focusing on a new roadmap centered around strengthening the $GODS token economy, daily play-and-earn, staking, solving issues and improving gameplay experience, and implementing governance.
Our researchers gave Gods Unchained a final rating of 62.53%. The breakdown of this rating is available at the end of this report.
PRODUCT & COMPANY DESCRIPTION
Introduction to Gods Unchained
Gods Unchained (GU) is a Trading Card Game (TCG) developed by Immutable. The Free-to-Play (F2P) game has a Play-to-Earn (P2E) element with an integrated blockchain token mechanism for in-game items (ERC-721) and game currency (ERC-20). Therefore, the game caters to a diverse audience of P2E players, the play for the fun crowd, and competitive and deep gameplay-oriented players.
Group Structure of Game Developer – Immutable. Source: Immutable
GU attempts to build an entertaining card game with long-term sustainable economics built around it.
The project launched its game (desktop version) and NFTs several years back. The project team continuously optimizes game modes and improves the gamer experience. The team also plans to make the game available on mobile platforms in the future phases. However, it has met with obstacles and difficulties along the way due to delays in token launch, lack of P2E avenues, and other technical issues. Since then the project has made noticeable progress to address these issues.
Based on our understanding, there are several success factors for the project. These factors are listed below:
- One of the earliest blockchain-based TCG to enter the market.
- Layer-2 integration to provide the scale, lower transactional costs, and speed required for the gaming context.
- Experienced team.
- Backing of a well-funded parent company.
MARKET CONDITIONS AND COMPETITION
The blockchain gaming market gained popularity with the rapid growth of non-fungible tokens, a critical addition to the individual sense of ownership inside the gaming sector. Moreover, the overall gaming landscape expanded, presenting a conducive environment for flourishing blockchain games. The gaming landscape consists of Game Studios, Layer-1 and Layer-2 networks, development and other tooling, marketplaces, funding platforms (including venture funds), industry associations, and guilds.
There are over 1.2k games in the market now. However, only ~32% of them are live at present, while others are at different stages of development.
The total GameFi token market capitalization is currently at $11.8 billion. The GameFi market lost 78% (year-to-date), as reflected by Nansen Game-50 Index.
GameFi Market Capitalization. Source: Footprint Analytics (last updated 20 May 2022)
Blockchain gamer numbers are significantly lower than the global gaming user base. The daily number of blockchain gaming users has remained flat since late 2021.
Daily No. of GameFi Users. Source: Footprint Analytics (last updated 20 May 2022)
Gods Unchained resembles several traditional Trading Card Games (TCG) in the market. For example, Hearthstone by Blizzard Entertainment (over 50 million Google Playstore downloads), Magic: the Gathering Arena by Wizards of the Coast, Faeria by Abrakam Entertainment, Artifact by Valve, and Kards by 1939Games.
In the Play-to-Earn NFT gaming space, the competition is growing. The leading competitors are undoubtedly Axie Infinity and DeFi Kingdoms.
Top GameFi Projects by Volume – Last 365 Days. Source” Footprint Analytics (last updated 20 May 2022)
There are over 160 other competitors in the Trading Card Games genre. Popular games include Axie Infinity, Skyweaver, Alien Worlds, Cross the Ages, Parallel Alpha, Rebel Bots Xoil Wars, DogyRace, Age of Battles, and The Lost Throne.
The competition is also growing as more and more NFT/Blockchain gaming projects are entering the market (most under development).
Monthly No. of GameFi Projects Funded. Source: Footprint Analytics (last updated 20 May 2022)
How is the project different from other projects?
The Gods Unchained project is not very different from most NFT games in the market. However, it benefits from the Ethereum-based NFTs and Immutable X’s scalability. The project also retains an early entrant advantage as one of the first generation NFT/Blockchain gaming projects.
In Gods Unchained (GU), players compete in duels using fantasy cards. While the game is free-to-play for anyone, there are optional monetized content and features to expand the game experience. Presumably, GU is built on the Unity game engine.
It is reported that the game has ~450k registered players. However, the active user count is in the range of 15.2k players. $GODS, the in-game currency, is an ERC-20 token, and the game cards are ERC-721 non-fungible tokens.
There are three different types of cards in GU based on whether they are minted onto the blockchain.
- Token: A full ERC-721 token card that has been ‘activated’.
- Model: The most common type of card: locked in, shown on frontend, but not yet converted to an ERC-721 token to save gas.
- Centralized: Cards that cannot be traded on the blockchain (part of the core set or an untradeable promotion card).
Gods Unchained is relatively highly centralized. The project is not wholly open source, and there are also no public members contributing to its codebase. Gods Unchained does not facilitate ‘Game Modding’ as of yet. It is worth noting that user-generated content, add-ons, and revisions have their benefits and weaknesses.
Third parties can build tools using the public developer API documentation for GU, and there were two third-party tools built using these APIs, e.g., Gods Unchained Info and GUDecks. The current API version (v0) is in a limited public beta.
The team recently introduced royalty fees on secondary market transactions of cards, a measure aimed at aligning incentives of developers and players. It is also proposed to allocate 20% of the royalty fees to the staking pool to help create a sustainable Play and Earn ecosystem.
Statistics and Charts
As per Global GU statistics, 6,875,315 total cards have been created so far. Players have bought a total of 1,372,794 card packs.
Total GU Cards by Rarity. Source: godsunchained.info
Thus far, the Genesis set remains the highest market cap segment.
Market Capitalization of Sets (USD). Source: gutools.net
Daily GU card sales have normalized after peaking during the hype around the GODS token issuance.
GU Cards Sales (All-Time Chart). Source: tokentrove.com
Gods Unchained is an Ethereum-based project integrated with the in-house Layer-2 platform Immutable X. The layer-2 integration offers several benefits over layer-1.
- Gas-free NFT minting.
- Increased trading volume.
- Faster trade confirmation.
Immutable X is a ZK-rollup in partnership with StarkWare. There are several highlights to the rollup design; a vault Merkle tree, uses STARK proofs as opposed to SNARK proofs, data availability via rollup, and Validium (a Data Availability Committee (DAC)).
Immutable X’s current total value locked (TVL) is ~$34.51 million, showing a declining trend.
Total Value Locked in Immutable X (USD). Source: l2beat.com
l2beat.com has highlighted several risks inherent in Immutable X. We list them below:
- Funds can be stolen if a contract receives a malicious code upgrade. There is a 14 days delay on code upgrades.
- Funds can be lost if external data becomes unavailable and the proof system is implemented incorrectly.
- Users can be censored if the committee restricts their access to the external data, or if the operator refuses to include their transactions (however, they can still exit the system).
- MEV can be extracted if the operator exploits their centralized position and front runs user transactions.
However, it is learned that Immutable X could potentially mitigate some of the risks around data availability by integrating with solutions like Celestia.
The game is not entirely on-chain. It only utilizes blockchain to implement NFTs and associated ERC-20 tokens. The rest of the game is centrally developed and managed. Therefore, the game could essentially exist without blockchain technology. However, we can emphasize that blockchain can help deliver features that are not possible or could be offered better than a typical Web2.0 game design.
In October 2019, a Gods Unchained solidity security review was performed by Sigma Prime (on its Ethereum smart contracts, which made up the Pack functionality). Also, in June 2020, Solidified released an audit report on Immutable covering the Godsunchained Season 1 smart contracts.
The GU team has not presented a timebound roadmap for the project, and recent community discussions suggest that it seems likely to release a revised roadmap for the game.
The recent community discussions show that:
- The team aims to introduce more avenues to spend GODS tokens in the game to stabilize the economy and achieve a wider distribution of $GODS. Moreover, daily play-and-earn and staking are two areas of focus.
- It focuses on solving any issues that have come up, e.g., reducing bot activity, concerns around player ranking, making adjustments relating to gameplay (winning percentages, the saturation of cards of newcomers, shine fusing —burning low-quality NFTs to create high-quality NFTs).
- Governance implementation is another short to medium-term goal.
The Immutable Group consists of veterans in the games industry.
Chris Clay, VP and Game Director at Immutable, plays a ‘key-man’ role in the Gods Unchained title. At Wizards of the Coast, Chris led the Magic: The Gathering Arena (MTGA) team as the Game Director. Previously, he held Game Designer roles with Vicarious Visions and Turbine.
Matt Aldrich is the Lead Art Director at Immutable. Matt possesses extensive experience directing art for many game studios, namely Wargaming, Virtuos, Goodgame Studios, Lucasfilm, and Electronic Arts (EA). Additionally, Matt has worked for Chorus Games as a Studio Manager.
Derek Proud was a Producer of Gods Unchained before assuming the Director of Development responsibilities at Immutable. He was a Director for Ambitious Software and Garoo Games in the past. Moreover, he has an outstanding track record as a Game Producer with many top titles.
Arash Mahboubi, Product Manager, was with Consensys before joining Immutable. He’s a graduate of the University of Wollongong.
Hassan Ali recently joined Immutable’s Studio arm as the Head of Security. Interestingly, Hassan held senior security roles with Electronic Arts (EA) and NASA. Early in his career, he held Software Engineering roles with CNET Networks and Microsoft. His involvement ensures the project has the correct expertise from an Ethereum network perspective (central to the Gods Unchained design).
James Ferguson leads the Immutable team as the CEO. He graduated from the University of Sydney.
Robbie Ferguson, Co-founder and President of Immutable, is a Thiel Fellow. He was at KPMG Australia in Data Analytics/Blockchain.
The project has not appointed Advisors.
General Comments on the Team & Advisors
Currently, Immutable Group is hiring talent across many different verticals, namely Business Development, Marketing, Tokens, Partnerships, Community, Technology, and Software Engineering. Undoubtedly, Immutable is faced with the common challenge of hiring in the Web3 space.
During our review period, we did not find evidence that the team members have taken part in any previous or current illegal projects or controversial projects. We did not find evidence of the Advisors’ involvement in any controversial projects either.
LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE SPECIFICS
Gods Unchained Pty Ltd and other Immutable Group (previously Fuel Games Pty Ltd (ACN 626 193 351)) companies (except Digital World NFTS Ltd., and Gods Unchained Corporation British Virgin Islands business company) are incorporated in Australia. Australia is considered friendly toward blockchain projects.
The project plans to shift specific decision-making powers to the community via decentralized governance. Nonetheless, most significant decisions would still be made by the Gods Unchained and Immutable entities.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has implemented digital currency exchange providers’ laws. Australian firms are required to register and implement KYC policies, report suspicious transactions and comply with AML legislation.
The British Virgin Islands has been the favored jurisdiction for token issuances. The Securities and Investment Business Act 2010 (SIBA) regulates, amongst others, the provision of investment services from within the BVI. Nonetheless, cryptocurrencies in general, and tokens under an ICO or ITO, do not fall immediately within any of the above criteria and therefore do not fall under the SIBA regime. (Source: careyolsen.com).
The project’s tokens sale was conducted on CoinList.
Gods Unchained teamed up with OKEx Blockdream Ventures to promote the growth of the GU ecosystem. As part of this partnership, OKEx Blockdream Ventures participated in the “Community Growth” allocation of the $GODS sale at $0.24 per token to be unlocked linearly over 12 months with a 90 days cliff. BlackPool Gaming Guild has created a new Troop focused on Gods Unchained.
The project has not appointed legal advisors or any team member responsible for legal matters.
Immutable Group has advertised for recruiting a Senior Legal Counsel and a Senior Manager Risk and Compliance.
KYC & AML
CoinList sale was only available for KYC-completed applicants. CoinList complies with several applicable laws and regulations to AML. Applicants from particular jurisdictions could not participate in the token sale as per the guidelines.
The GODS token has several use cases in the game.
- Crafting trading card NFTs: The players need to spend $GODS to fuse new trading card NFTs.
- Staking: $GODS holders can stake their tokens to earn staking rewards from the Staking Rewards Pool.
- In-game purchases and fees: $GODS can be used to pay for in-game purchases and the marketplace fee.
- Governance: $GODS gives the right to participate in voting for proposals on the game’s ecosystem development.
The total supply of $GODS is 500 million, and the current circulating supply is around 33.725 million tokens. GODS tokens are Ethereum’s ERC-20 tokens.
Token Allocation. Source: Whitepaper
The tokens allocated for Play-to-Earn Rewards (34%) and the Community & Ecosystem Fund (20.5%) are unlocked over six years. The Gods Unchained Pty Ltd reserve is locked for 12 months.
There is no allocation for the team. However, there is a 25% token allocation to Gods Unchained Pty Ltd. These tokens are locked for one year, followed by a 48-month vesting period.
As per on-chain data on Etherscan, Immutable X: IMX Holdings currently holds ~84.5% of the GODS tokens. The concentrated token holding does not reflect a significant reward pool being built. However, recent community discussions show that the team aims to introduce more avenues to spend GODS tokens in the game to reduce the circulating supply and value translating to the staking pool.
$GODS Top 100 Token Holders. Source: etherscan.io (last update 22 May 2022)
The GODS token public sale was conducted in late 2021 on CoinList. At this offering, the project offered GODS tokens under two options. The project raised $10.32 million in public sales.
|Option 1||Tokens offered: 20 million
Price/token: $0.336 per token
Lockup: 50% linearly vested over 12 months & 50% unlocked after 90-day cliff (around Jan 2022)
|Option 2||Tokens offered: 15 million
Price/token: $0.24 per token
Lockup: 50% linearly vested over 12 months & 50% unlocked after 90-day cliff (around Jan 2022)
Subsequently, GODS tokens were listed on prominent exchanges, including Coinbase.
GODS token Price/Volume Chart. Source: Footprint Analytics (last updated 22 May 2022)
The GODS token has a finite supply. However, a majority of the tokens will come into circulation over time.
$GODS token supply schedule. Source: Whitepaper
The token allocation suggests that a significant emphasis is placed on community engagement and marketing.
Although GU did not directly raise venture funding, it has received financial support from Immutable.
Supply and Demand Dynamics
- Token Rewards: Rewards represent the most significant component of $GODS allocation. These rewards can play an inflationary role subject to the supply cap. P2E Rewards and the Community & Ecosystem Fund are released over six years.
- Token unlock and vesting: Different token holder categories are subject to varying lock-in periods and vesting timelines. It is essential to watch the timelines for such unlocking and vesting.
- Active Staking: The project proposes a staking mechanism to reward stakers via a Staking Pool. The staking pool consists of tokens generated from the Forge and GU Store (only a % of all purchases). However, this demand is highly correlated with the adoption rate of the game. (other utilities ensure this circular economic activity).
- Other Utilities: Apart from staking, $GODS has two additional use cases.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND VIRALITY
Gods Unchained verified Twitter account is the project’s most active social media channel. The channel currently has 95.6k followers, a growth of ~70% since November 2021.
GU’s Discord channel counts over 85k followers. Undoubtedly, it is the best place to talk to the team and get the latest updates. Discord link here.
Immutable is present on LinkedIn and its profile has nearly 18k followers. However, there is no separate LinkedIn profile for the Gods Unchained game. GU runs an active Facebook profile that has 9.1 followers. Its Instagram page (7.3k followers) communicates with the community on special events (AMAs), new packs, and tournaments.
The game’s YouTube channel has tutorials for newbies, launch videos, game updates and demos, and community updates. Interestingly, the team has used short-form and long-form videos to keep the community informed.
Many other third-party channels have produced videos about GU.
The game’s Twitch channel has gained 2.8k followers, and anyone can find videos that discuss in detail topics like gameplay economics and community Q&As.
There is no ongoing bug bounty program at present.
The whitepaper discusses the Viral Referral mechanism as a compounding growth loop. Under this scheme, GU would provide existing players tangible rewards for referrals. There are also Giveaways announced from time to time.
It is worth noting that Immutable has a solid social media presence, a strength GU can benefit from in its journey.
RISKS TO THE PROJECT
The following list of risks is not an exhaustive one. Some of these risks are internal, and others are external to the organization. Some risks may be minor/not materialized.
- Industry Risks: the crypto industry is very volatile. Therefore, extended periods of negative or lackluster industry performance could negatively affect the project’s progress. Similarly, uncertainties around dominant players could be detrimental to most GameFi projects (e.g., recent negativity around Axie Infinity’s recent performance and events).
- Regulatory/Legal Risks: The occurrence of regulatory inquiries or regulatory actions could restrict or limit the project’s progress. Moreover, evolving laws and regulations or new laws and regulations in Australia or elsewhere may become relevant for GU. The project’s ability to comply or not comply with these new laws or regulations could have financial or reputational risks involved.
- Technological risks: GU is integrated with Immutable X, which may suffer certain risks due to its design choices (discussed earlier). A similar event occurred when Ronin Network suffered an exploit recently. Moreover, blockchain technologies are still experimental, and these technologies may encounter unforeseen issues in their evolution. GU also relies on certain third-party services, which may experience outages or other technical problems.
- Operating risks: The project is developed and managed by Immutable. Any future unfavorable developments at the Immutable level could slow down or cause discontinuation of GU. This risk is assumed to be mitigated to a significant level due to Immutable’s strong financial backing.
- Survivorship risk: The planned token economics of $GODS is based on the assumptions of a certain level of game adoption by players and of sustainable game economics. If the intended adoption does not materialize or game economics becomes unsustainable, the project may not survive, putting the token holders and players at risk of loss. In this scenario, there are many aspects of the game that the developers are trying to pay attention to, such as integrating F2P along with P2E, maintaining native token utilities and their value, managing NFT supply and demand metrics, and retaining gamers who are comparably more financially oriented.
Everything you see in this report is the aggregate result of an extensive research process carried out by a distributed team of researchers and crypto enthusiasts around the world. The process consists of 60 questions divided into three phases. Researchers are called to answer these questions about a project, while providing links or screenshots as evidence to support their answers. For every answer, they also provide a rating from zero to ten. The average of their ratings is detailed below.
Our researchers gave Gods Unchained a final rating of 62.53%.
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