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Director of MTG Arena is joining Ethereum’s Gods Unchained [Interview]

Director of MTG Arena is joining Ethereum’s Gods Unchained [Interview]

The former director of Magic the Gathering: Arena, Chris Clay, is joining the Ethereum-based TCG Gods Unchained. Clay worked with Wizards of the Coast, the makers of MTG, since 2016. Just two months after leaving Clay is joining the highly anticipated blockchain game.

The fantasy-themed card game which takes inspiration from Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering (MTG), is picking up an industry insider to help it continue to gain traction. The company behind the game, Immutable (previously Fuel Games) is currently conducting its “genesis sale,” where players can purchase the first edition of cards before the game’s release.

According to a representative at the company, the game is the “top grossing blockchain game this year,” raising over $1.2 million from its initial card sale. CryptoSlate had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Clay and co-founder Robbie Ferguson for an interview about their plans for the company.

What lead you to work on MTG and now Gods Unchained?

“I first played Magic the Gathering in the back of my mom’s minivan during a break in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament back in the summer of ‘94. My love of gaming eventually led me to Turbine Inc. where I spent the first 15 years of my career working on MMOs such as Asheron’s Call 1 and 2 and Lord of the Rings Online,” Said Clay.

“Throughout that time, I still played card games, and with the advent of Magic Online, I always said I could make a better digital client, and when given the chance I jumped at it. MTG: Arena was the result.”

He continued:

“Leaving was a deeply personal and difficult decision, but I knew I needed a new environment to be my best self and so I made the decision to resign. With no intention of working on a CCG anytime soon, I initially just focused on dropping the crunch weight and getting back in shape. When Robbie reached out I was interested to learn more about what they were doing, and after talking with him and then James it was clear that I had found some kindred spirits. The world of possibilities they showed me for where we could take Gods Unchained and gaming with this new technology blew my mind, and so here we are.”

How would you describe the gaming experience for Gods Unchained?

“I believe anyone familiar with digital CCGs or TCGs will be able to quickly adapt to and enjoy Gods Unchained,” responded Clay.

“There are new mechanics and keywords to learn and a brand new meta to explore with our take on the genre. A huge difference is because the cards are on the blockchain, you won’t find the typical loot crate and microtransaction gotchas that have come to be the industry norm,” he emphasized.

“We don’t succeed by getting people in, monetizing them as heavily as we can, and then looking for a new user when they leave. With the player base in control of the majority of cards, we succeed by bringing them to the game and integrating them into the community so they stay and enjoy the game for a long time to come,” he concluded.

What can Gods Unchained offer that MTG Arena cannot?

“I’ve believed for a long time that the community is key to an online game’s success, and so I’ve often spent much of my own time interacting with the community for games I’ve worked on,” Clay said.

“I’ve also seen some of the most successful new genres from Battle Royales, to Auto Battlers, to MOBAs all evolve from the communities around successful games. With our approach to items on the blockchain I believe we can empower the modders, website builders, streamers and content creators to share in the success of the game in a way that has never been done before,” he added.

What do you mean by “share in the success” of the game?

“If someone wants to create a four player version of our client using the blockchain cards, then they can. Without our permission,” Clay said emphatically. “If someone wants to create an auto battler based on the blockchain cards they can. If another developer wants to let players trade our blockchain cards in for assets in their game—they once again can, without our permission.”

“This is one part terrifying and three parts exhilaration because we have released the trapped value that almost all game economies currently rely on. I believe this also brings a layer of accountability to the industry that has been missing.”

Can you describe when and how Gods Unchained uses the blockchain and when it does not?

“Everything to do with trading and asset ownership is on the blockchain. The details of every tradable card, including their stats, is on there, and the card pack contracts are fully transparent and unchangeable—you can see the probabilities for the different cards and qualities and have a full guarantee we can’t change them,” responded co-founder Robbie Ferguson.

“The games themselves run in Unity on centralised servers, as it’s essentially impossible to run the logic of a game as complex as Gods Unchained fully decentralized (not to mention tremendously expensive),” he continued.

How will ‘blockchain provenance’ impact gaming and the esports industry in particular?

“The champion of an esports event will not only be the victory and enjoy the prize money, but the items they used know they were used by the champion. They can digitally sign in game assets and then sell them onto fans,” said Clay.

“Not only can you copy a championship winning deck of cards, you can now own the actual championship winning deck. Provenance brings a level of collectibility that we haven’t seen before in games, and lead to unexpected surprises when you see that the card you bought was previously owned by one of your favorite personalities. I can’t wait to see what streamers, content creators, and e-sports stars and teams do with it.”

What solutions are you planning to help attract gamers who are not currently cryptocollectable enthusiasts and are intimidated by the technology hurdle?

Chris Clay responded, saying:

“As with any new technology adoption comes in waves, and we’re looking to facilitate the next wave of adoption around blockchain by removing the technical hurdles to interact with it. By enabling debit and credit card purchases we can streamline the acquisition of NTFs [non-fungible tokens], and allow gamers to enjoy the game first.”

He continued:

“When they’re ready to engage with the trading economy we’ll be there guiding them along the path to marketplaces and being there to help remove any concerns they have. I also believe that the technology will allow the community itself to create digital game stores and the like to give players a true choice on where they want to shop and trade.”

Gods Unchained is currently in balancing beta and is open for public play. The game is expected to fully launch in October of 2019.

Filed Under: , Adoption, Ethereum, Interview
Scott Dudley

Scott has worked as a software developer, designer, and community organizer for the gaming and web industries since the 90s. He's a fan of open-source, open data, and decentralization. In his spare time, he likes to tinker with Solidity and smart contracts. When not thinking about technology, he might be found snowboarding, volunteering, or building art for the Burning Man festival.

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