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Breakpoint 2023: Pivoting in Bear Market - From P2E to Real Users

A dive into the transition from Play-to-Earn models to focusing on genuine user engagement in the gaming industry, during the bear market.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


The gaming industry experienced significant hype with the advent of Play-to-Earn (P2E) models, particularly within the blockchain space. However, this approach often led to unsustainable growth and a lack of genuine user engagement. Erwin, speaking at Breakpoint 2023, sheds light on the essential pivot from P2E games to a user-oriented focus amidst the bear market. As the first-ever game launched on Solana, they raised $4.5 million and gained a vast user base quickly. Yet, amidst market shift, they've had to reassess their strategies, focusing on developing real games that users love, transitioning to mobile gaming, and redefining marketing approaches.

Key Points:

From Play-to-Earn to Meaningful User Experiences

Initially, the gaming industry on blockchain rushed to capitalize on the Play-to-Earn (P2E) trend, which led to unsustainable models and games that didn't quite resonate as authentic gaming experiences. Erwin's game, which aimed to gamify yield farming, encountered challenges in balancing integration, user experience, and creating an all-in-one DeFi game. With the bear market providing some reprieve and quiet, the developers chose to shift their focus to creating genuinely engaging and enjoyable games, steering clear of the P2E hype.

Embracing Mobile Gaming's Potential

The pivot to mobile gaming signifies a strategic move to create more accessible and user-retentive games. The mobile platform is seen as an ideal medium for onboarding new users, and delivering quality gaming experiences. The development team comes with an impressive background, having previously released a mobile game with over 20 million downloads. The emphasis on mobile not only aligns with user behavior but also sets a new standard for quicker time-to-market compared to AAA titles.

Facts + Figures

  • Erwin's team was the first to launch a game on Solana in 2021.
  • They raised $4.5 million and peaked with a 10% share of the entire Solana user base.
  • 200,000 unique players were active on their game during their peak time.
  • They experienced a major influx that resulted in FTX's crash due to heavy trading of their native token, DFL.
  • The bear market in 2022 prompted a strategic shift towards building games that prioritize real user engagement and fun.
  • Erwin introduced Knight Studios, their new gaming studio.
  • DFL and Mobile is their upcoming product, aiming to blend DeFi activities with farming game mechanics, available on both Android and iOS.
  • They also planned to release additional title IPs, including casual and hyper-casual games.
  • The mobile gaming strategy comes after recognizing the challenges and long development times associated with AAA titles.
  • They've recognized Solana Saga phone users as a target audience well-suited for initial game testing and feedback.
  • The team's previous mobile game has witness reed over 20 million downloads.
  • A new marketing strategy aims to leverage content, such as short funny videos, TikTok, YouTube shorts, and even toys and action figures to engage users.

Top quotes

  • "We were actually the first ever game to launch on Solana."
  • "Our game, our user base, kind of tanked because of the bear market."
  • "The bear market brings you time to think."
  • "Let's just build the games that we always want to build."
  • "Knight Studios is actually building the DFL and, but we also have some new kind of games, new title IPs that are coming."
  • "It's the best way to make retail fall in love with crypto."
  • "The mobile is the thing that we believe is the number one priority for us."
  • "The future of gaming does not really take much time as like triple-A games."
  • "Building games takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of resources."
  • "We decided to re-imagine the marketing as well."

Questions Answered

What was the original focus of the game launched by Erwin's team on Solana?

The original focus of the game was to gamify yield farming and DeFi activities, which meant creating a farming game where players could engage in crypto-native activities such as trading and portfolio management in a gamified context.

Why is pivoting from P2E to real users important?

Pivoting from Play-to-Earn to genuine user engagement is important because it focuses on creating sustainable and enjoyable gaming experiences rather than relying on the unsustainable hype of earning models. It emphasizes user satisfaction and longevity in the market.

Why has mobile gaming become a priority for Erwin's team?

Mobile gaming has become a priority due to its ease of access, potential for higher user retention, and the ability to onboard customers more effectively. The team has experience creating successful mobile games and sees it as a faster and more effective way to deliver gaming experiences compared to AAA games.

What are some of the new titles being developed by Knight Studios?

Knight Studios is developing new titles that include DFL and Mobile, a game blending farming and DeFi, as well as other hyper-casual and casual games for both mobile and web platforms.

How is the new marketing strategy different from the traditional approach?

The new marketing strategy moves away from traditional PR, influencers, and paid promotions. Instead, it focuses on content creation, leveraging platforms like TikTok and YouTube for shorts, and creating physical toys and action figures to engage and attract users.