Web3 has become a topic of growing interest in the video game industry. Actually, we have a partner site entirely dedicated specifically to blockchain gameswhich represents some of what technology has to offer.
But Web3 isn’t just for PC users: game makers around the world are increasingly taking steps to bring the technology to mobile phones. Immutable games is just one of these companies. We spoke with Justin Hulog, the company’s studio director, about his work in web3 and the technology’s potential on mobile.
PG.biz: Please tell us about your role at Immutable.
Justin Hulog: My name is Justin Hulog, Studio Director at Immutable Games. I work to create premium Web3 titles that bring true digital ownership to the gaming community. These include Immutable’s flagship offering so far, Gods Unchained, a collectible card game, and our upcoming mobile RPG Guild of Guardians.
As CSO, I constantly work alongside our development teams to implement the best balance of game mechanics, tokenomics, and asset management in all titles that Immutable Games builds in-house or in collaboration with partners like Studio 369 and Bazooka Tango.
Before Immutable, I worked at Riot Games, where I was General Manager for Southeast Asia. My goal within the company was basically to help them launch and self-publish their new games. When I joined Riot, there was only League of Legends. There, I helped launch League of Legends: Wild Rift, their mobile offering, and other key titles like Valorant and Legends of Runeterra.
Could you “sell” us on Web3 games (for a reader who may not be familiar with the type of experience Web3 can provide over Web2)? What is the advantage of Web3 gaming over other forms of gaming?
Players increasingly understand that their time has value. Web3 brings a new level of valuing time spent in a game. In Web2 games, if you win or pay real money for credits, you can purchase the in-game item you want. The reward is the pleasure that this item brings you in a game, but these in-game items are licenses and are not tradable. When your account is banned or the game server shuts down, your content is lost. This is the compromised user experience that gamers are accustomed to accepting.
In Web3, you actually own that item, you can move it off the platform and even resell it when you no longer use it. They get all the experience of owning content in a Web2 game, but their time and money are better value because they can choose to trade that content if they want. The Web3 game is not about making people rich; it’s about allowing them to retain the value of their time and money.
The Web3 game is not about making people rich; it’s about allowing them to retain the value of their time and money.
What can Web2 gaming companies do to efficiently transition to Web3?
Web2 developers already know a lot about creating games that people love. What they need to help them successfully transition to Web3 is access to experts who can provide the best strategy and execution support. More specifically, it means a product suite that includes a range of pre-built, ready-to-use solutions. These are solutions optimized for immediate use, helping new Web3 developers get to market faster, and all without sacrificing security or gaming experience. Developers will also need Web3 consulting and support in direct to their communities, all tailored to their unique project.
Streaming giants such as Netflix and TikTok continue to move into the gaming space. Do you see this decision as a threat and what can be done? What effect will this have on web2 and web3 games?
We do not view competition as a threat. In reality, there are many demographic groups, and not all of them want the same thing. It’s essential that developers try to figure out what the next big thing will be, but what we all need to focus on is quality games and experiences. In the future, there will still be many Web2 experiences that don’t directly compete with Web3, so there will be plenty of room for innovation and a wide variety of products.
Do you think the growth of Web3 and blockchain games has slowed down? Is there the same passion and enthusiasm for blockchain and web3 as there was a year ago?
We’re certainly past the initial phase of enthusiasm for games like Axie Infinity, which is understandable given the lack of true, high-quality titles, the slowing market, and a general skepticism towards Web3. However, Web3 games continue to generate huge investments.
When you look at mobile games, you see similar challenges: early mobile games were considered inferior versions of console/PC titles, and it took time for developers to create quality mobile experiences and find a gaming model mobile that worked. They did, and now mobile represents the majority of the gaming market. We expect a similar trajectory for Web3 games. As more teams understand what models work for Web3 and the quality increases, revolutionary titles are developed.
What long-term implications does Web3 gaming have on the mobile gaming industry?
Mobile gaming has long been built around the “free to play” model, supported by microtransactions and loot boxes. We see web3 as a more equitable evolution of this model. Obviously, the early models of “play to win” were not very successful either, which is why the next evolution is “play AND own”. This takes the flexibility and monetization aspects of the existing model, but makes it less of a primary focus while also allowing the gaming community to retain and generate value.
Players will enjoy smooth gameplay without ever knowing the complex blockchain technology behind the curtain.
Where do you see mobile gaming in five years?
We believe that Web3 will be a significant part of the mobile gaming space in the coming years. As a new wave of players and developers arrive, we will continue to grow and improve the quality of games – with new titles emerging that are truly enjoyable to play. These games will have subtle Web3 elements incorporated into the design, players will enjoy smooth gameplay without ever knowing the complex blockchain technology behind the curtain.