Concurrent with the dev program, READYgg initiated a series of blockchain gaming tests, leveraging another core feature - the “avatar system.”
Designed to serve multiple purposes, the avatar system is an important requirement for a virtual goods economy:
Avatars are a canonical form of player identity: designing and customizing an avatar is a method of establishing who the player “is” both in the core game, and in the “meta game” that sits outside the core game.
Fashion- meaning branded, styled avatar clothing- has shown a powerful ability to increase player spending. Whether it’s a tie-in with top-tier IP, such as Marvel characters (e.g. Marvel themed skins in Fortnite), or high-fashion in surprising places, such as the collaboration between Gucci and Roblox.
Avatars can sit in the “metagame” - meaning they can represent the player without necessarily being required to exist in the core game. This creates a portable, “universal” asset enabling portable avatars that don’t disrupt or require core game mechanic compatibility. For example, a poker game and a golf game could share the same avatar system in the pre- and post- game results and player profile screens, without having to inject the avatars into what are first person game experiences.
Remixing, “modding” or otherwise “bottom up building” is a powerful UGC creation mechanic, generating a long-tail of sellable virtual goods. This is evident in Minecraft and Roblox, where thriving UGC marketplaces developed as a central component of the play experience. Avatars, as a potentially universal meta-game component, become a natural canvas for UGC marketplaces.
READYgg issued an in-house app called ICON: Avatar Fashion, and used the app to develop a turnkey, abstracted avatar system that could be injected into existing SDK and deployed into any game that wanted to open this form of a virtual goods economy. ICON is used as a way to introduce RGN’s marketplace to players and to onboard creators to READYgg’s virtual goods infrastructure.
This avatar system SDK includes a creator tool and marketplace to support ‘play to earn’ mechanics and NFTs. Players can make and sell items directly in READYgg’s marketplace for other players and developers to purchase, under their own “fashion label,” linked to an NFT. This also provides a pathway for branded IP to collaborate with the avatar system, by releasing limited edition virtual goods. This became the basis of the first blockchain-based gaming tests.
These tests, conducted in September-October 2021 involved selling limited edition NFT-backed avatar assets in partnership with Brooklyn-based artist Nazarov and Epik Prime, who handled the minting of the “Nazarov Collection.”
Items were placed for sale using in-game currency inside ICON, called “iCoins.” The iCoins were purchased with fiat via Apple and Google’s mobile IAP systems. Key findings included:
A shift in ARPPU from $4 to $23, as players purchased the Nazarov items.
Compliance with Apple and Google’s policies while purchasing an NFT: as the in-game currency had been purchased through IAP systems, Google and Apple received their 30% marketplace commission. Compliance with app store policies removed a regulatory barrier to mainstream adoption on mobile.
The “normalizing” of a wallet concept- in this case the crypto wallet was invisible to the user (handled by Epik). An amateur player could own a unique Nazarov item. A more “crypto educated” player could visit Epik Prime, and from there sell the item.
In late November 2021, READYgg conducted a second blockchain gaming test, putting up for auction “store front hashtags” on Epik Prime. The sale lasted for 60 hours and included six storefronts. These were presented as:
Hashtags that would be used across RGN to organize avatar cosmetics.
Owners of the hashtag would receive 5% of GMV in perpetuity, from sales affiliated to that tag.
The six items items at auction ranged in price from $197 to $997, with a total reserve price of $2,382.
The auction was a success: all the items sold out, with an average price of $550 per hashtag. The total sold was $3,441, or 130% of the reserve price.
Both these tests validated the notion that blockchain dynamics could add a powerful accelerant to the game economy, by shifting the experience from “renting” or “consuming” game assets to “creating” and “owning” game assets.
Ready is pushing forward with these experiments: In Q1 2022, Ready will deliver a capsule collection with the Smiley company. Top brands, such as H&M, Ganni, Pacsun, Palladium and Lee Jeans, have recently launched collaborations with Smiley. What makes Ready’s collaboration unique is that it’s Smiley’s first virtual goods collection.
85% of the early adopters to READYgg expressed “strong interest” in blockchain based solutions being integrated into their games. The simplified modular system of READYgg allows developers the ability to only integrate the components that they need to power their games, which allows for an accessible way to make their games into “blockchain” games, that is appealing to the gameplay and player base. They can add NFT components, Play to earn components, or they can integrate everything READYgg blockchain related.