Valentin Cobelea, Head of Gaming Technology at Zilliqa, recently joined Buidlbee for a Twitter Spaces AMA to speak about the state of Web3 gaming and his player-first approach to building games on blockchain.
Valentin heads up the team behind WEB3WAR, a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter secured by the Zilliqa network, as well as the Gaming Hub, a platform and marketplace for Web3 games with integrated blockchain features that is designed to be as accessible to everyday gamers as possible.
The discussion touched on several topics related to Web3 gaming, from the utility of in-game tokens and NFTs to how games with blockchain features should focus on attracting gamers as well as cryptocurrency fans.
Illuvium Co-Founder Kieran Warwick also joined the AMA session and gave insight into his work on Web3 games and updated listeners on their product roadmap for Web3 games built on Ethereum.
During the AMA, Valentin shared his philosophy of Web3 game development and outlined a roadmap for the exciting games he is building, each of which features integrated tokens and NFTs that are secured by Zilliqa.
Check out the highlights from Valentin’s appearance on the Buidlbee AMA session below.
Prioritising players and fun
Valentin’s vision for Web3 gaming is simple - players and fun come first. Blockchain integration offers unique, exciting features and cross-game functionality, but he explained the quality of the game and player experience must be the foundation for this experience.
"I have been working in software and hardware over the past 22-23 years and previously had companies working on embedded software solutions. I joined a triple-A game development studio and worked on a triple-A franchise,” Valentin said.
“I then created my own gaming studio, and after that experience I decided to join forces with Zilliqa to start creating games on blockchain. The way I build games on blockchain is to build with gamers and players in mind - the fun comes first."
He added that the vision for WEB3WAR, the Gaming Hub, and the many other games in the team’s development pipeline is to create an accessible ecosystem for gamers to easily access high-quality games that offer unique blockchain features.
"From one perspective, we're doing what Valve was doing years ago with Steam, where they had a platform with Half-Life and the Counter-Strike mod. In our case, we have the Gaming Hub and our first game is WEB3WAR,” Valentin said.
"We have the player and the gameplay as our primary focus. We're all fighting a difficult reputation around the space, but teams with products like ours will be able to change the way consumers think about Web3 as an ecosystem for developing products."
WEB3WAR and development roadmap
WEB3WAR has been in beta for some time now as new features are added, gameplay and graphics are refined, and blockchain integration is developed.
During the AMA, Valentin revealed the date for the official public launch of WEB3WAR, which will include a number of blockchain-based features. He also teased another upcoming title which will be compatible with the NFTs players earn in WEB3WAR.
"This year, on the 31st of March, WEB3WAR will go live.”
“We have a second game in the prototype stage which will be ready to go after the full release of WEB3WAR,” Valentin added.
“Later on this year, the second game will go live with cross-game NFTs. Both games are multiplayer and are running very well."
"I want the launch of WEB3WAR to go extremely well so we can develop the foundation for future games and integrate the Gaming Hub with the tools and the ability to add all our other games and those from other studios to the same ecosystem,” he said.
The vision for the Gaming Hub extends beyond a single game like WEB3WAR to creating a player-centric ecosystem with cross-game NFTs and a range of titles that offer exciting content.
"We're making free-to-play multiplayer games with seasonal content and skill-to-earn in their DNA. I do care about the blockchain and crypto enthusiasts, but my main focus is on gamers and the fun for the players,” Valentin said.
When asked about the development of the gaming console, Valentin noted it was important to first create an ecosystem and platform with exciting and complete games before starting to ship hardware.
"If you look at Microsoft, Sony, and other companies, before launching any type of console they have all done the same thing - they prepared games as content and a software platform to run on that specific console,” he said.
“Our team's focus right now is to deliver games, tools for developers including our own to create games, and the Gaming Hub which will run on multiple platforms. Content comes first - you can't deliver an empty room without any furniture."
"We're focussing on developing the Gaming Hub, which you can think of as similar to Steam, and the games that will be running on there. After that, the console launch will come naturally because all the content and software will be in place," he added.
A better model for gaming
Valentin’s approach to Web3 gaming is not the play-to-earn model we’ve seen used by other projects - he believes gameplay and fun is the most important factor in a game’s success, not incentivising gameplay through tokenomics alone.
The solution used by WEB3WAR and other multiplayer games the team is working on is ‘Skill2Earn’, which rewards players for their in-game performance and encourages active player engagement.
"I'm not working on play-to-earn games, I'm building ‘Skill2Earn’ games,” Valentin said.
“For example, WEB3WAR is about being a skilled first-person shooter player. If you are good you are going to be well rewarded. If you are a casual player you will be rewarded as much as other casual players.”
The concept of cross-game NFTs is also an exciting one for Valentin, who perceives this as a new and better way for players to enjoy their in-game items.
“NFTs from one game will be able to be used in other games on the Gaming Hub. This is the way gaming should have worked from the '80s - you buy a game, you have your skins, then you get another game and you can use the same skins there as well."
"Let's say you get a nice NFT skin for your weapon in WEB3WAR, then you go into our second game, which is also a shooter, and you'll have it there as well. I think [cross-game NFTs] are big, and they set us apart from traditional triple-A studios," Valentin said.
"For me as a player looking at the games I'm developing now, I want to have fun and to be able to use a skin as an NFT across multiple games. That's a big reason that I said it's time for me personally as a player to upgrade the way I think about gaming."
Valentin added that building on the Zilliqa blockchain not only delivers a secure and scalable foundation for Web3 games, but also allows the team to benefit from the Zilliqa team’s expertise and partnerships.
“All the games we're building on Zilliqa have strong support from the Zilliqa blockchain team, who have a lot of years of experience,” he said.
"With the esport partnerships that Zilliqa has, it will be easier for us to attract the consumers I care most about - players."
To find out more about WEB3WAR and start playing for free, visit the official website.