Web3 Gamer: GTA 6 crypto rumors, Dr Who/Sandbox, Thai tourist NFTs review

Web3 gaming devs square off in car racing Battle of the Titans and Thailand's promising but rubbish NFT scheme for tourists.

by Callan Quinn 8 min June 4, 2023
Web3 Gamer
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Grand Theft Auto VI crypto rumors

Rumors that the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI will incorporate cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens have once again surfaced, sparking speculation among fans.

Posts shared on Twitter suggest that GTA 6 will be a play-to-earn game and that in-game items such as cars and weapons will be NFTs.

GTA creator Rockstar Games is yet to weigh in on whether there’s any truth to these claims, but there seems to be little solid evidence backing the rumors.

The company cracked down on the use of crypto in GTA in November last year and sent cease and desist letters to companies running public servers with blockchain integrations — a blow to several game makers that had built their games on the platform.

A lambo from GTA 5
A Lambo from GTA 5. (Steam/Rockstar Games)

Given that GTA 5 has sold over 180 million copies and generated a staggering $8 billion in revenue since its 2015 release, it seems unlikely that Rockstar would drastically alter the successful formula of the franchise, the latest installment of which is expected next year or in 2025.

Of course, there could be a crypto element, but not necessarily the one crypto bros want. Game Rant suggests that it is more likely for Rockstar Games to use crypto as the butt of its in-game jokes.

Doctor Who, Top Gear join The Sandbox

Sci-fi series Doctor Who and British motoring show Top Gear, both popular BBC franchises, will enter the metaverse via The Sandbox after announcing a collaboration with the virtual world platform.

The partnership with Web3 company Reality+ is set to launch the space later this year.

Nicki Sheard, the president of brands and licensing with BBC Studios, believes that while the metaverse is still in its infancy, it may shape how we consume and experience entertainment in the future.

Dr Who
Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in the hit sci-fi series Doctor Who. (BBC)

“I’m looking forward to seeing how fans interact with our brands in this space. This project forms part of BBC Studios’ broader ambitious plans to grow our brands into new categories, with innovative technology and platforms forming an integral part of this,” she said.

BBC Studios, which is a commercial production company under the BBC umbrella, will join 400 other entertainment brands that The Sandbox has worked with, including Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, Gucci, The Walking Dead and Adidas.

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STEPN integrates Apple Pay for its NFTs

Move-to-earn app STEPN is making it easier to buy NFTs for its game by adding an in-app Apple Pay payment option.

Users will be able to buy SPARK credits using fiat, with ten spark credits being equivalent to 1 USDC, which can then be used to purchase the NFTs.

“It eliminates the need to connect a separate crypto wallet and streamlines the payment process, making it easier than ever for our community to access our offerings,” STEPN said on Medium.

STEPN
STEPN users will be able to pay with Apple Pay. (STEPN)

The catch is that purchasing sneakers with fiat will be more costly, which STEPN attributes to the “taxation” on each in-app purchase.

Onboarding has long been a challenge for the wider adoption of Web3 games, and STEPN is not an exception. Its onboarding process is cumbersome, and users have to buy the sneaker NFTs — working out which one is best for you is a task and a half itself — from a marketplace and transfer it into the in-wallet app.

But the company could have more in the works when it comes to making onboarding easier.

“Our integration with Apple Pay is just the beginning of our vision to make Web3 technology accessible to all,” it added.

Battle of Titans dev competition back for second season

MatchboxDAO is bringing its Battle of Titans Web3 racing game back for a second season this week.

Beginning on June 4, dev teams from over 60 Web3 companies, including Immutable, Starknet and Fantom, will compete in a fully on-chain Mario Kart-style game.

Polygon car
The Polygon dev team’s car. (MatchboxDAO)

Each car is a smart contract that must be programmed to get to the end of the track while factoring in attacking and defending against other players using bananas, shells and shields.

The first edition of the game in January included teams from Ledger, Polygon, Near, Yield Guild Games and more, with a dev team from Uniswap emerging as the winners.

The new season will also add a community component where viewers will be able to vote for their favorite team.

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Captain Tsubasa Web3 game debuts governance token

Captain Tsubasa — Rivals, a football game based on the popular manga Captain Tsubasa, has launched a governance token.

Web3 companies Thirdverse Group and BLOCKSMITH&Co debuted the game in January. Players can train characters from the manga and play against each other in matches.

Game producer Shun Fujiyoshi, who currently heads BLOCKSMITH&Co, said that various mechanisms are in place to maintain the value of utility tokens.

“These measures include in-game consumption points and mechanisms to control price fluctuations caused by speculative trading,” he said in a statement.

Created in 1981 by Yoichi Takahashi, 70 million copies of the original Captain Tsubasa manga have been sold in Japan alone. It has been translated into over 20 languages.

Illuvium raises additional $10M in funding

Crypto venture firm Framework Ventures has invested $10 million in gaming studio Illuvium, which will be used to accelerate the development of the Illuvium Universe.

Australia-based Illuvium said that the new funding would give it a comfortable runway through the launch of the open beta and beyond.

It is planning an upcoming open beta featuring its city builder Zero, open-world monster hunter Overworld and auto battler Arena.

The company previously raised $5m in a Framework Ventures-backed seed round in March 2021. It also made $72 million during an NFT land sale in June last year.

Hot take: Collecting NFTs for a tiny bit of Thai chicken

In this edition, I caught a Web3 project in the wild.

Queueing for tickets to go up the MahaNakhon, Thailand’s tallest skyscraper, a poster off to one side next to a coffee advert and emergency defibrillator caught my attention: Amazing Thailand NFTs season 2. Travel to earn amazing expat NFTs.

NFT advert in Bangkok, Thailand. (Callan Quinn)

Easily persuaded, I downloaded the app.

In mid-April this year, the Tourism Administration of Thailand (TAT) launched the second round of NFTs for an NFT tourism project it’s piloting. Using an app called YAK, tourists can check in at various locations around the country and, in return, receive a travel NFT.

PokemonGo for backpackers and passport stamp addicts sounds appealing. The reality is a bit more frustrating.

Crypto folk won’t like how much personal info you have to put in to get set up. Not just an email, but also your phone number and a one-time passcode.

The app and I disagreed several times as to whether I was within the required radius of the sites I visited. While the MahaNakhon NFT was obtained without fuss, I somehow acquired an NFT for Pattaya City and Phuket, even though I didn’t go to either.

Amazing Thailand NFT. (Amazing Thailand/YAK App)

The idea is that you “earn” while traveling by getting discounts depending on how many NFTs you get. In many cases, getting the offer seems to require buying something else, such as getting two free pieces of chicken if you spend over 1,000 Thai baht ($29) in a restaurant — a tall order in a country where you can have a nice meal for a fifth of that.

In fact, many of the offers didn’t seem to be exclusive to the NFT app at all and were applicable without the app.

Now, apparently — though it didn’t say so on the poster — the game was only supposed to run until the end of April, so maybe all the good offers were gone; I can’t be sure.

But for me, the biggest question was how to get the NFTs out of the app. They seem to be on a native chain of the Thailand-based cryptocurrency platform Bitkub. As far as I could tell, it required creating a Bitkub account to move them, which in turn required a Thai phone number to receive the one-time passcode.

Overall it needed a bit of tweaking, but I liked the concept of being able to collect POAPs for places I’ve visited as a tourist. The discounts were lousy but not really necessary: if you actually got the NFT corresponding to the place you visited, collecting for the sake of collecting would have been enough.

A revamped, global version would be nice, please.

Other stuff

— Gods Unchained unveiled a new roadmap on May 23. Among its plans are some for new game modes, a creator program, a soft launch for mobile and new card sets.

— Blockchain gaming platform Gala Games will launch a Web3 poker platform with PokerGO, with a beta slated for release in June.

— Game retailer GameStop will distribute Telos-based games on its upcoming Web3 gaming launchpad GameStop Playr.

— Gaming metaverse Star Atlas launched the latest version of its showroom on June 1 with new flyable ships, single-player ground racing and an updated dogfighting arena.

— Web3 game publisher Fenix Games is teaming up with platform Immutable to help game studios by “curating, advising and publishing best-in-class live services to Immutable’s ecosystem of games.”

— Nike’s NFTs will start being incorporated into EA Sports games, according to a June 1 statement from the company. No word yet on which titles.

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Callan Quinn

Callan Quinn is a British freelance journalist covering crypto and tech. She has worked as a business journalist in China, the UK, Somaliland and the republic of Georgia. Previously, she was also an NFTs, gaming and metaverse reporter at The Block.