Can Chris Clay recreate the Magic for blockchain gaming?
The former game director for Magic: The Gathering Arena—a digital collectible card game based on the original table-top craze—is joining forces with its next-gen counterpart, Gods Unchained.
And the makers of the crypto collectible card game are hoping Clay can do for Gods Unchained what he did for Magic: The Gathering—capture the attention of those elusive mainstream consumers.
"The amount of deep domain expertise that Chris is bringing to Gods Unchained is insane," Robbie Ferguson, co-founder of Gods Unchained, said in an interview with Decrypt. "He has fully grokked our vision—and the journey ahead of us—and knows how to make that happen."
Ferguson explained in an earlier statement that, to date, blockchain games remain very much a "niche" industry, even if "fun and experimental."
“But now is the time for mainstream adoption," he said. "We need these games to show value.”
As game director of MTG Arena for a little more than two years, Clay oversaw the expansion of the game’s user base to 3 million active players—and an estimated $225 million in yearly gross revenue. In June, Clay unexpectedly resigned from his position at Wizards of the Coast—the company behind Magic: The Gathering—for undisclosed reasons, leaving long-time fans of the franchise scratching their heads.
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A little more than two months later, and those fans now have their answer: “I believe blockchain represents a new frontier for game developers,” Clay said in a statement. “Digital asset ownership on the blockchain lets developers support games and their communities in ways we’ve never seen before in electronic gaming.”
Indeed, such is the unique value proposition of blockchain-based alternatives for the legions of gamers throughout the world—the opportunity to truly own in-game, digital assets in ways that were previously impossible without this technology.
Gods Unchained, backed by Coinbase Ventures, Continue Capital and other heavy-hitting VCs, is essentially a mash-up of Magic: The Gathering and Activision Blizzard’s Hearthstone—with a crypto twist. Players in Gods Unchained are able to freely buy, sell, and trade the digital cards that they purchase—unlike traditional gaming assets, which are merely licensed from, and remain the property of, the studio that created them.
On top of that, crypto collectibles have the added benefit of baked-in provenance—a public, auditable, and fraud-resistant record of the ownership and transaction history of each item. And that presents an opportunity for a new market, according to Clay: “Esports pros, streamers, and artists alike can digitally sign and sell digital items to fans. Blockchain isn’t just for digital currency; it is laying the foundation for a whole new digital economy.”
Ferguson said that the level of confidence that an industry leader like Clay has in Gods Unchained's vision is "hugely validating" for his team. "Disrupting the gaming industry with a pro-consumer, true ownership model is something we're excited to make happen with [Clay]," he said.
Last month, Gods Unchained announced it was finally opening itself up to the public, ending its closed beta, and allowing new players to join the fray for the first time since November. Now, with the addition of a traditional gaming vet like Clay, Gods Unchained may be poised for a major breakthrough—for both games and crypto.