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Long-running Web3 gaming startup Ultra is set to launch its Ultra Games marketplace later this month, and the store will arrive with a rare twist: the ability for users to resell digital games that they’ve purchased, via a secondary marketplace.
Set to launch on April 25, Ultra Games is built on top of the startup’s own Ultra layer-1 network—a fork of the EOS blockchain—which has been in development since 2018. Since then, the Ultra gaming ecosystem has gradually expanded with products like the Ultra Wallet, upcoming Ultra Arena esports platform, and Uniq Marketplace for NFTs.
The new digital PC gaming store will launch with about 60 or 70 titles, the company told Decrypt, including Web3 games like Cards of Ethernity, Cross the Ages, and MARS4. But it will also feature traditional “Web2” games without NFT or token elements, including Lords of the Fallen, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series, and the Syberia game series.
And interestingly, Ultra Games will let players resell purchased games via the Uniq Marketplace thanks to tokenized license rights. Although game publishers can opt out of this program, Ultra Co-CEO Nicolas Gilot told Decrypt that he believes there is a compelling reason for game studios to enable the secondary sale of games.
"Game publishers have the opportunity to leverage [the secondary marketplace]," Gilot said, explaining that studios can set an initial no-resale period (such as for three months after launch), determine a minimum resale price point, and choose the royalty percentage that it automatically receives.
“You can really tweak the entire lifecycle of your games,” he added.
Robot Cache, a blockchain startup co-founded by veteran game developer Brian Fargo, has also experimented with a digital games resale model via its own IRON token. The Robot Cache marketplace lists some of the very same games that Ultra Games will offer players.
Ultra Games is giving publishers the freedom to experiment with this new model, but there is one notable limitation: the publisher’s royalty fee cannot be over 70% of the resale price.
"If the gamer doesn't get much [for selling a game], why would he care?" Gilot told Decrypt. “It's a question for each developer. For example, if it's Rockstar [Games] for Red Dead Redemption 3, then they wouldn't do the same percentage as an indie developer that's making a game at half the price."
Gilot said that game developers and publishers will have further freedom to experiment with their business models compared to traditional digital game stores—like Steam, which prohibits Web3 games. With games being tokenized, the proof-of-ownership feature could be used by publishers or partners to give out discounts, unique in-game items, and more.
Ultra Games will be accessible to non-Web3 natives, meaning users can sign up with an email and phone number. Crypto elements (such as your wallet address) are hidden beneath a Web2-friendly interface, but that information is accessible to users if desired. Ultra Games also doesn’t charge users network gas fees for transactions.
Furthermore, Gilot said that Ultra Games is designed to support NFT initiatives from publishers and developers. They’ll be able to launch digital collectibles called “Uniqs” that can be traded in a similar manner to the tokenized game licenses.
"You can create some cool business models around it. Instead of being against people reselling, they can embrace it and actually benefit from it at the same time," Gilot said. "You are providing a better end solution for gamers and earning from that—and not just leaving money on the table for hackers or whatnot."
Digital collectibles and assets are already firmly established in popular Web2 games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), which has seen individual item sales for over $100,000 each. However, such assets are typically confined to a particular game or platform, while user-owned NFT assets open up the possibility of cross-game interoperability.
"Technology-wise, [a cross-game collectible] is totally feasible. That works really well if you're the same game developer in multiple games," Gilot told Decrypt, but he admitted that it’s “going to be extremely tricky” to navigate cross-game compatibility between multiple game makers.
Ultra Games is putting these features and capabilities out into the world later this month, but the true measure of success will be whether game developers embrace them—and if players take interest.
Gilot believes that Ultra's game industry partners—which includes gaming giant Ubisoft, the crypto-focused Atari, and Web3 metaverse game The Sandbox—plus the unique monetization options will entice studios to take part.