Epic Games is making good on its promise to allow blockchain game developers to release their games on the Epic Games Store. The first of these titles will be Grit, a Western-themed Battle Royale from blockchain game developer Gala Games.
Gala Games announced the news at Galaverse, a three-day company-hosted event in Malta, Spain with an $8,000 price tag (for event entry and hotel, just to be clear). Future Grit players attending Galaverse also received a rare loot chest tied to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) that will be usable in the game upon launch.
"This is the moment that it's all going to start to change," a Gala Games representative said while sharing the news at Galaverse. "Now everybody's going to figure out...'why would you play any game where you don't own what you buy in the game?'"
Interestingly, Grit (which is created by Team Grit, a separate company from Gala Games) was set to debut on Steam Early Access earlier in 2022, until its launch was suddenly delayed. A few weeks later, Gala Games announced that it was "entering a partnership" with Grit's developers.
That timeline would imply that Grit wasn't built from the ground-up with blockchain monetization in mind. In October 2021, Valve informed developers that blockchain games would no longer be welcome on Steam (developers were free to keep their games on Steam if they removed blockchain components. Developers like SpacePirate Games chose to leave Steam rather than abandon NFTs).
Later that same day, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced that the Epic Games Store would fill the blockchain vacuum left by Valve, "provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group." Sweeney also clarified that Epic has no plans to use blockchain technology in its games at this time.
Sweeney also tweeted that the world of cryptocurrency is "currently tangled up with an intractable mix of scams, interesting decentralized tech foundations, and other scams."
Gala Games' decentralized blockchain network does not appear to be free from the environmental criticisms that developers and climate advocates have made of blockchain technology. The Gala network uses proof-of-work, proof-of-stake, and proof-of-storage algorithms to secure the value of the Gala token.
Proof-of-work algorithms are associated with higher energy usage and CO2 output, though Gala Games says that it is "100 percent committed to becoming and remaining carbon negative." It is currently attempting to do so through a partnership with tree-planting organization One Tree Planted.
It also claims that the Gala Games Node Ecosystem and its upcoming Project Gyri are "all designed to be the most environmentally friendly blockchain ecosystem on the planet," though details on how it intends to do that are not located on its website.
A scan of blockchain-adjacent news organizations does show that Gala Games users have been victims of the rampant thefts and hacks that have plagued the NFT world. Gala Games has reportedly not responded to users who've asked it to return their digital property.
Will Grit find success on the Epic Games Store, and convince audiences about the power of in-game ownership? No one can answer that, but Gala Games is likely excited about the fact that Epic Games Store users spent a total of $840 million on the platform in 2021, a 20 percent increase over the prior year.
However if we're going to talk about Battle Royale games on the Epic Games Store...Grit has some real stiff competition in the form of Fortnite, the Epic Games-produced Battle Royale title that's still raking in millions every year. This will be a decent test of a core business prospect of blockchain games: that they can attract an audience who would not play video games without the incentive of a market for secondhand digital goods.