Coinbase-backed blockchain card game Gods Unchained launches public beta

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Competitive digital collectible card game Gods Unchained, developed and published by Fuel Games, today launched its public beta.

Using the power of the Ethereum public distributed ledger blockchain, Gods Unchained makes it possible for virtual playing cards to be minted, owned and traded similar to physical trading cards.

The collectible, competitive card game has been in closed beta starting in November and since then has sold over 4 million cards and generated around $4 million in revenue. The developer, Fuel Games, also raised $2.4 million in May from Coinbase Ventures, Continue Capital, Nirvana Capital and Sora Ventures.

“Gaming is a $140 billion per year market that has capitalized on leasing premium features to select individuals based on their purchasing power,” said Robbie Ferguson, co-founder of Gods Unchained. “In almost every game, players are buying items, cards, skins and upgrades which they don’t truly own. Blockchain actually gives players digital-asset ownership, with the same property rights you can find in the real world.”

Collectible card games have been with gamers for a long time. Traditionally, these games use physical cards, which can be traded between players as a sort of currency – where some cards are more valuable than others due to their rarity.

Digital computer assets in video games, however, don’t have a physical nature and can be copied infinitely so there was no such thing as rarity or even individual ownership until the advent of blockchain technology.

With blockchain technology, it is possible to produce provably unique digital assets that can be linked to a digital wallet and held by a user. When a digital card is “minted” its unique cryptographic identifier is stored with a transaction the Ethereum blockchain, which is open and publicly visible. This means that a player claiming to own a particular card can prove they own it (by comparing their own cryptographic key to the blockchain).

This also makes it possible to trade the card to another player, who makes a transaction on the blockchain with the other player which changes the cryptographic key verifying the card’s ownership. Once traded, the transaction becomes publicly viewable and can be verified with the newly generated cryptographic key, which in turn is under the control of the new owner.

In this manner, Gods Unchained provides players a real way to maintain provable ownership of digital trading cards that can also have verifyable rarity.

For example, it is possible for Gods Unchained to mint 100 cards of a particular type. Since each card starts as a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain (during the “minting” process) and the blockchain is public, anyone can scan the blockchain and compare it to the Gods Unchained card list to verify that only 100 cards exist.

The game is free-to-play, meaning there is no box to buy and no subscription cost to play, and every player is given an initial starter deck of cards upon account creation. Booster packs are also available for purchase to help players round out their decks.

During its presale, Gods Unchained released a limited-edition Genesis Set, which includes over 380 unique cards. After the completion of the first balancing beta for the game, the developers at Fuel Games plan to retire the Genesis Set and begin issuing a new season of cards. As a result, the cards from that set will become truly limited editions – much like how out-of-print physical cards become limited editions.

“With Gods Unchained, we’ve captured the allure of traditional print card collectibles like Magic: The Gathering, married them with appealing visuals of digital games like Hearthstone and added true ownership through the Ethereum blockchain,” said Ferguson.

Magic: The Gathering is a physical competitive, collectible card game published by Wizards of the Coast LLC in 1993. Since then it has become one of the most popular games of its sort in the genre and its big tournaments often bring in multi-million-dollar prize offerings. Hearthstone, a digital collectible card game by Blizzard Entertainment Inc., launched in 2014 follows a similar path but is only played online and the cards are only representations and not actually owned by players.

Early examples of blockchain-based collectibles games include the Ethereum-based CryptoKitties, which involved spawning, breeding and trading digital kitties, and Spells of Genesis from EverdreamSoft SA. Cards in Spells of Genesis are also minted and traded similar to how Gods Unchained operates, including limited runs and seasonal editions.

Players who join the Gods Unchained public beta this month will be able to initially collect but not trade cards as the developer tests out game balance. During this time the developers will monitor gameplay and performance in order to better understand the fairness of different deck combinations.

After this period, cards will be opened up for trading. Because these cards are blockchain-based cryptographic assets, players will be able to trade them with anyone else in the Gods Unchained ecosystem.

Currently Gods Unchained will only run on computers using Windows and MacOS. The company has published plans to port the game to mobile devices, tablets and virtual reality as the technology becomes available.

Although the game itself is free-to-play, booster packs and cards still must be purchased with the underlying currency of the Ethereum blockchain, ETH. In order to purchase and exchange cards with other players, users will need to purchase ETH, from an exchange or another person, and then use it from their own digital wallet.

This also means that the Gods Unchained cards will have an accepted value in ETH and ETH itself has a USD value. As a result, players who wish to turn rare cards into money could presumably do so. This makes the game similar to physical collectible card games, such as Magic, where collectors sometimes keep rare cards as investments or sell them for money.

Registration for the Gods Unchained beta is currently live and pre-sale booster packs start at .012 ETH, which comes out to approximately $3.70 each.

Image: Fuel Games

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