While the GameFi sector has flourished of late, critics have noted that despite the increasing amount of titles being released, when it comes to games offering players unique and captivating gaming experiences, the industry is still lacking.
Web3, blockchain-based games often struggle to offer gamers immersive experiences that match up with those put forth by the more traditional gaming industry. Instead, much of the effort is focused on the economic side of things. The result is that players are often given little more than dressed-up staking protocols.
Aether Games Inc. is dead set on reversing this trend and injecting some life into the gaming side of things. With a team anchored by veterans from the gaming and film industries, Aether is seeking to raise the bar in GameFi by producing titles that give gamers something to sink their teeth into. The project has already released Cards of Ethernity, a collectible card game backed by NFTs, but is in the process of rolling out a series of DeFi games and cinematic offshoots that it believes will position itself as the premier gaming universe in GameFi.
We were able to chat with the Aether Games team to get the full picture on their plans to up the ante in GameFi.
When did the Aether Games project come together? What made you realize that you had something to offer that was missing in the GameFi space?
Aether Games Inc. first came together as a team in June 2021. We created game design documents for Cards of Ethernity and Gates of Ethernity, got our development plan together, assessed our strengths and core capabilities and released our first trailer for Gates of Ethernity, which got over 3M views on Facebook in less than a week. Such quick success empowered us to expand our vision, and soon the Aether Games Universe was born.
What distinguishes Aether Games titles from others in the NFT gaming space?
The biggest difference is noticeable right away: it’s the quality of our true-to-life CGI assets and cinematic production. Up to date, no other Web3 franchise has been able to consistently provide this level of artistic quality. Overall, there are at least three distinguishable features which make Aether Games truly unique. The first one: genuine and honest world-level experts among our advisors, artists and contributors. Many claim to have that, but Aether Games has managed to actually go over-the-top to have world-class individuals driving our vision forward. Second: our focus on cinematography and artistic contribution, while still blending our CGI advances with Web3. Third: our retention-oriented approach, adapted for long-term gaming, from PvP sessions to in-game universe exploration across multiple products and characters within the same IP.
How will you go about growing your audience and reaching gamers outside of blockchain?
As an Esports celebrity manager and a keen gamer myself, I always thought that practically the entire population of gamers exists completely outside of Blockchain, NFTs and Web3. Yet that notion has crumbled as traditional publishers change their policies or discontinue services, making gamers more proactive towards the alternatives, such as GameFi, NFT gaming and other venues. Web3 can cover gamers' basic needs of security and variety, yet, no doubt, gamers are thirsty for high quality visuals and proper immersive experiences.
Thanks to careful planning and the talents of our team, Aether Games has converted this issue into an opportunity. We designed a production pipeline, which starts with assets of the highest cinematographic quality, developed for Aether Series, yet first presented as NFTs and Augmented Reality showcases. This decision immediately differentiated us from everything existing in the NFT space at that given time, bringing fresh users and a good portion of global curiosity. We continued our development further, establishing unparalleled CGI quality as a hallmark of our products.
Getting traditional gamers to experience Web3 is possible when three conditions are met. First — without exception, cutting-edge Web3 games must match and eventually surpass the established standards in classic game development in order to stand out. The first iterations of Web3 games were notoriously primitive, which shaped public opinion and harmed the GameFi industry, causing most users to turn their backs. The second requirement — novelty and resourcefulness. A project has to augment traditional gaming experience with fresh concepts of digital ownership, cross-product compatibility and a captivating universe.
So, yup, in short: we are reaching a global audience through the release of Aether Series on the most popular streaming services: HBO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. From that point, we'll continue to develop our IP, exploring new mediums and formats, such as game franchising, merch, toys and apps.
How big is the team? What’s the split across different functions/departments?
Aether Games Inc. consists of multiple teams: the core team (responsible for operations, planning, collaborations and PR), game development team (building Cards of Ethernity and Gates of Ethernity, facilitating Liveops operations), cinema production team (CGI professionals, directors, choreographers, character designers and art direction), film crew (actors and voice actors, operators, photographers), web development and blockchain dev team (supporting all of our titles, as well as our smart contract services and NFT collections), as well as an additional legal and financial team. There are over 100 people changing Web3 for the better that are part of Aether Games Inc.
Based on our understanding, your team has experience and expertise in CGI, and is well-connected with entertainment industry players like Netflix. Please elaborate on the team’s past CGI experience and what that kind of expertise has added to what you are building.
That's very true. Aether Games Inc is a collaboration of extremely talented people behind globally recognised titles, such as World of Tanks, Smite, Hearthstone, Baldur's Gate 3, League of Legends, Far Cry 6, God of War, Runeterra, Ghost Recon, The Crew 2, Beyond Good & Evil, Raid: Shadow Legends and many more. Even though boasting of "big names" has become something of a cliche in the NFT space, in our case we have an exceptionally accomplished team. The most well known and prominent CGI cinematic pieces produced by our cinema production team are two episodes from Love, Death + Robots — from season one "Beyond the Aquila Rift" and "Snow in the Desert '' from season two.
How can you ensure that your developers & team members will remain committed to this project?
That's a tricky part, as people can come and go for a variety of reasons. Our solution to maintain steady product delivery is multi-layered.
What's mutual between all layers: all of us are like-minded individuals who value workspace ethics, honesty and responsibility, and we share common goals and a passion for games and dark fantasy. On the satellite layer, our tech teams and film crew work hand-in-hand with casting agencies and talent acquisition services, and we are constantly expanding our partnership network.
If applicable, who is on your advisory board? Have you partnered up with any other projects in the industry?
Our Advisory board consists of very well-known people in their respective fields. From the Web3 world, we are guided by Danny Wilson from Illuvium, Kyle Chasse from Master Ventures, Josh Meier at Andromeda Capital, Tom Ngo at Dext Force Ventures, Omar Ghanem at Polkastarter Gaming Guild and many, many more. We’ve been able to forge meaningful partnerships every week — we get in touch and team up with projects and services, who share our vision and capabilities regarding the transformation of web3 gaming into the frontier of digital entertainment. Regarding cinematography, sound design and music production, one of our advisors and very active contributors is Dmitrii Miachin, who's also our direct contact to pretty much everybody in Hollywood and the streaming services mentioned above.
What’s your strategy for deploying on different layer 1 blockchains?
As long as the project is multichain, instead of being cross-chain, there's not really a problem with this. Our games are able to detect NFTs and read information from well-established and connected blockchains. In our strategy, we appeal towards chains with the highest number of monthly active users, plus cater to the interests of our community, including both our users and partners. Eventually, we want to deploy assets and integrate with as many chains as we can get our hands on. But, practically, our most prioritized networks are the classic Erc20 and Bep20, as well as plenty of Layer2 solutions. Our list of contact points and possible expansions grows as we speak. Yet, with the current market conditions, we can't set a certain date for our own TGE and $AEG network launch.
Are Cards of Ethernity and Gates of Ethernity entirely separate games or will they be united in some way?
Both games share the same cinematic universe, characters, 3D Ethernal NFTs, adventurer NFTs, special dynamic cross-game NFTs (Heirlooms), as well as ranking, transparency and staking programs. Additionally, our player ranking and reward system, called Goodwill, as well as the Aether Vault and the already-mentioned Heirlooms unite both games.
Furthermore, up until November 21, we have an exclusive and exciting deal for our community members and Cointelegraph readers. With Founderpack NFTs, users can get instant access to Cards of Ethernity, as well as many other guaranteed perks, such as unique cardbacks, more cards and other founder-level treasures. You can find details on how to get on our Founderpack Whitelist here.
Could you tell us about the progress you guys have made with Gates of Ethernity? What is your roadmap and when do you plan on releasing it?
Even though we had game design documents prepared for both games as early as June, 2021, even at that time it was apparent that Gates of Ethernity is far superior than Cards of Ethernity both in terms of unique mechanics, visuals, production cost and value. Gates of Ethernity has over 90 fully 3D Ethernals planned, plus evolution stages for some of them — that's already way more CGI creatures than cumulatively appeared in all of the Harry Potter films by Warner Brothers. And let me remind you that we are delivering them in hyperrealistic, true-to-life quality. The first samples of our work are already available on OpenSea.
Will there be more titles in the Aether Games universe released in the near future?
At the moment, we are really focused on already mentioned titles, which are:
Cards of Ethernity (CoE) — a free-to-play Collectible Card Game/Trading Card Game with NFTs and P2E mechanics, a crafting system, over 150 cards, 6 fantasy races, 9 elements, a progressive Esports system and multiple staking plans through Heirlooms, Goodwill and the Aether Vault.
Gates of Ethernity (GoE) — a 3D autobattler with variable and highly addictive strategic gameplay where players are challenged to make well-thought-out decisions, evolve their Ethernals and compete with rivals. This game is compatible with the Genesis NFT Collection and features the mentioned staking plans.
Gates of Ethernity AR Viewer is an augmented reality mobile app, compatible with the Gates of Ethernity Genesis NFT collection. The app allows users to experience their highest quality dark fantasy Genesis 3D NFTs within the comfort of their own room.
Aether (Series), as mentioned, is focused on the global recognition of the Aether Games Universe through top streaming services like HBO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
After we deliver on these promises then, sure, we’ll be up for further expansion and the introduction of even bigger things. For example, an MMO RPG could be an intriguing journey to embark on, if that aligns with our goals and what our community wants.
What do you think the most pressing issue is in DeFi gaming?
I'll do my best to keep it brief, yet there are a lot of interconnected issues. To my mind, the most pressing one is, probably, the lack of actually enjoyable games. Great DeFi gaming titles with great visuals and interesting mechanics are just now starting to enter the space. Yet the gaps between gamers’ demand, publishers’ promises and general game supply breeds trust issues. We are combatting this situation by providing access to our game for free, prior to an INO or any other deposits.
Everybody can become a part of our community and get their closed beta test key on our discord or through our dedicated quests.
Who are the most notable backers and supporters of Aether Games?
Our most notable backers are those who have been with us since our earliest days: Illuvium, Master Ventures, Immutable X, Ice Tea Labs and GameFi.org, Polkastarter foundation, Andromeda Capital and many more.
Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you with all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor can this article be considered as investment advice.