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Digital card battler Gods Unchained, one of the longest-running NFT games on the market, is getting a fresh lease on life in 2023 with a slew of new planned features—and a potentially much broader audience thanks to its debut in the Epic Games Store.
Gods Unchained will be available today in the Epic Games Store, developer Immutable Games Studio shared with Decrypt. The popular PC gaming marketplace boasted 230 million total users as of March, with Epic Games claiming 68 million monthly active users at the time.
Immutable’s NFT-driven collectible card game will thus coexist with Epic’s own Fortnite and other big-budget games on the marketplace, after being available for years through the Gods Unchained website. But it’ll also live alongside other Web3 games that have already launched on the Epic Games Store, including Blankos Block Party and Grit.
Daniel Paez, executive producer of Gods Unchained, told GG that launching on the Epic Games Store not only opens up the NFT card game to potentially millions more players, but also provides them a way to experience the game through a familiar interface. Players have become accustomed to PC gaming hubs like Valve’s Steam, Blizzard’s Battle.net, and Epic’s offering.
“Ever since the game industry moved to consolidated platforms,” Paez said, “players feel a lot more comfortable about the game they're jumping into. Either it reaches a quality bar or it doesn’t contain malware—things like that. So that feeling of familiarity is super important, especially when we’re talking about blockchain games.”
The Epic Games Store version of Gods Unchained will look and feel the same as the version available through the game’s own website, Paez said, which emphasizes the Hearthstone-like gameplay and competition without requiring players to immediately sign up for a wallet or handle crypto assets.
It’s part of what appears to be a significant year of expansion for Gods Unchained, which first launched in 2018 on the Ethereum mainnet and has since migrated to Immutable X, the studio’s own scaling network that enables cheaper and faster transactions.
“Gods Unchained is a rare breed of a blockchain game,” said Paez, “because it’s still around years after it was launched.”
Paez, who previously worked on Hearthstone at Blizzard Entertainment, said that Immutable believes that the core Gods Unchained game is strong—but it’s lacking the additional pieces that make players want to stick around, such as additional modes and content.
That’s a big focus this year for Immutable, and the roadmap ahead includes such plans as launching new game modes in the coming months. Later this year, Immutable will launch a “very large” expansion pack, Paez said, with new cards to shake up the available strategies. The studio also aims to expand the lore around Gods Unchained.
And on top of all of that, Gods Unchained is coming to mobile. Both iOS and Android versions are in the works at partner studio iLogos, and Paez said that an Android testing period earlier this year yielded positive feedback from players across more than 60,000 game sessions.
Like other NFT game and app developers, Immutable has had to face the complexities of app development at a time in which Apple and Google oversee centralized, “walled garden” stores for their respective platforms.
Gods Unchained will dodge the complications of those tech giants’ respective fees on in-app purchases by not having an in-game NFT marketplace on mobile. Instead, the aim is to play within the rules on each platform and give users a more accessible way to get into Gods Unchained, with the hopes that it’ll grow the player base in the process.
“They very much hold the reins on what’s going on,” Paez conceded of Apple and Google.
But when Hearthstone expanded from PC to mobile years back, he said that Blizzard saw a sizable rise in play sessions from PC users who were also now playing on their phones and tablets. And that’s not even including players who encountered it for the first time through the App Store or Play Store. He hopes to see the same with Gods Unchained.
“The more high-quality engagement players get,” he said, “the better the game is doing.”