Etheremon: interview with co-founder Jarvis Nguyen
Gameunculus has a chat with the co-founder of the #1 game right now!
Avid readers of our blog (or just anybody who follows the cryptogaming world with the tiniest shred of attention) will know that Etheremon is consistently among the top 5 games. And has been for a long time, too. What's their deal? Gameunculus kidnapped Etheremon co-founder Jarvis Nguyen for half an hour to extract some secret intel. Topics discussed include milk tea, Pokemon's copyright, and how the bear market is trying to maul us all.
As usual, Gameunculus tries to throw the interviewee off guard at the beginning of the session with some trivial questions:
Q: What app do you use the most on your phone?
A: Normally Discord, Reddit or Twitter. We have quite a big gaming community around Etheremon, so most of the time I'll be chatting with our users on one of these apps.
Q: What food do you get delivered most to the office?
A: We often order pizza or chicken. And every Friday afternoon we get milk tea delivered as well!
Pizza and chicken sound good. Milk tea? Sure, let's push the western definition of fast food beyond its limits.
Q: What do you have hanging on the walls of the Etheremon office right now?
A: The Etheremon logo, and lots of posters.
Q: What kind of posters?
A: Like an image with the slogan "If you never try, you never know."
Q: If you could take a free holiday for the entire team anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Japan. 40% of Etheremon's users are Japanese, so we're pretty close with the Japanese players, and we'd be happy to meet them in person.
Q: Any Japanese speakers in the team?
Q: Why do you think Etheremon is so popular in Japan?
A: I think because of our artwork; the mons look like Pokemon, which is very popular in Japan.
They do? We hadn't noticed.
Crypto and crypto gaming
Q: How did you first get into crypto games and what were you doing before?
A: Before crypto games, I was working at Garena, the biggest game publisher in Southeast Asia. I worked on some quite famous games, such as Arena of Valor and League of Legends. It was at this job that I saw the limitations and main disadvantage of the current gaming system: everything focuses on the game publishers' revenue and profit. I wanted to be able to share the real value of a game with the players, and blockchain was perfect for this. That's why we came up with Etheremon.
Q: How did you first discover crypto? What was your initial impression of the crypto world?
A: Just like anybody else, I had heard a lot about Bitcoin. My first impression was just that the technology was so awesome. No one controls the network, it truly belongs to the people. I still don't have any BTC by the way!
Q: What's your favorite crypto game besides Etheremon?
A: CryptoKitties. The first and most famous one. CryptoKitties was actually what inspired us to start... but we also wanted to integrate gameplay into our games. So, they inspired us, but we wanted to do more than them.
I'm sure if CryptoKitties were here to defend itself it would protest, "well, we integrated gameplay in the end, didn't we?". Buuuuut they're not.
Q: Speaking of integrating gameplay; what do you think about games with crypto economies and centralized gameplay?
A: I think off-chain solutions can in fact improve game performance... but it violates the definition of a decentralized system. So, I think a better solution is to use a side-chain, where you can store the data and run logic.
Q: And you do that with Etheremon?
A: Yes, we do. At the moment we're working with Ziliqa, a pretty big Singaporean blockchain company. We're currently testing the performance of a new game on their chain. But nothing is confirmed now, we're just on a testing stage!
He seems too happy about this. Time to wack him with the depression stick.
Q: In your opinion, how does the bear market affect crypto games?
A: Yeah, it's pretty down now (laughs). Well, all dapps are based on cryptocurrencies, so the problem with the bear market is that it makes people lose interest in dapps in general – and this includes Etheremon. I think most people joining crypto just want to profit immediately from the cryptocurrencies; they don't really appreciate the concept of decentralization, so they find no reason to stay interested when the coin market is down. Luckily for us, we have a sizable amount of players who always support us – so, a big thank you to Etheremon players! Still, the bear market will affect us in some way... we are a company after all, and we rely on fiat for our operational expenses.
Q: Do you think Etheremon players are incentivized more by the money they can make or by the fun they can have?
A: I think both. At the moment the market is down, but we still have a good number of daily active users that are playing just for fun. Our community is very active, they're on Discord every day, and it's really fun.
Now, about Pokemon...
Q: How do you deal with your game's undeniable resemblance to the all time classic, Pokemon? Did you have to take any legal precautions going in?
A: It's true, our game is inspired in Pokemon. But Etheremon is not Pokemon; we have our own storyline, our own unique characters. We did have our lawyer check everything pertinent to the copyright, to make sure we won't get in any legal issues. They can't sue us.
Q: What about Cubego; did you check you wouldn't get into trouble with Minecraft or Lego?
A: ...well, it's just building with cubes. It's a pretty simple idea, I don't think they own the rights to it.
Q: Your roadmap says you'll be collaborating with Decentraland to integrate mons into their VR world by 2019. Is this still the plan?
Q: And there's supposed to be an initial version by the end of 2018...
A: Yeah, we actually published a demo. We're going to release the beta version soon, but I cannot confirm the date for now.
Q: You've stated on the website that in the future, EMONT will become the only in-game currency on Etheremon.
A: That's correct, that's what we want. At the moment though, there are no uses for EMONT besides Etheremon, and we still keep most of the tokens. So, for the time coming, there's no point in retreating ETH from the game. Once people get more EMONT and the volume and liquidity have picked up, we'll use EMONT as the main token. Anyway, we have integrated with Kyber Network, so players can play Etheremon using most ERC-20 tokens.
Kyber is an on-chain liquidity protocol designed by Kyber Network, one of Etheremon's many partners since September. Etheremon, you polyamorous dog!
Q: Are you currently doing anything to get more EMONT out, so that you can make it the only in-game currency?
A: Well, we purposefully keep most of the tokens right now because we have big plans for later. Etheremon is more than just a game. We want to do more with it, add more games to the blockchain ecosystem, have a greater community. And when that happens, we want EMONT to be the currency of that community.
... and back to crypto gaming
Q: Etheremon came out in December 2017, so it's one of the OG crypto games. How do you feel that the crypto space has changed since December 2017?
A: Oh, good question. It has changed a lot. We have hundreds of games out there, but only the top 20 or 30 are good. It's just like ICOs. I think we still need quite some time for decentralized games to become good.
Q: What do you think would need to happen for you to say "Yeah, the crypto industry has matured"
A: Blockchain is quite new, so many things need to improve together. For example, at the moment Etheremon uses the Ethereum network, but Ethereum is quite slow, and since each action in the game requires people to make a transaction, they can't play that much, and we don't want this. So we still have things to improve both with blockchain technology and in educating users.
Q: Are you guys open to new token standards?
A: Yeah, we'll try anything and see what is better.
Q: Are you planning on adding other or more competitive values from the Pokemon metagame, like EVs and IVs, into Etheremon?
A: We're always open to changing the game; we always listen to our players and respond to what they want or need. Something to keep in mind though, is that, because we're dealing with blockchain, we can't make the logic so complicated. It would increase the transaction fee too much. We keep the logic simple, but we listen to our players.
Q: Are you planning to list EMONT on more exchanges?
A: It's on Radar for now... but since the volume isn't high yet, like we said before, there's no point listing it somewhere else. Not necessary.
Q: Blockchain Cuties recently became the first game to support two chains (EOS and Ethereum). Would you consider moving onto another blockchain with Etheremon in the future?
A: Yeah, sure. But we think it's better to focus on one chain and one community at a time, before moving on to another.
Q: What is something about Etheremon that you'd still like to improve?
A: There's a lot of things. At the moment, Etheremon is just a card game. We want to improve the gameplay, integrate VR with Decentraland, so we can bring our players to a different level. We want Etheremon to be more than just a game, like I said earlier. We're at the top at the moment, so we want to contribute something to blockchain gaming in general. There are some problems with traditional gaming, and blockchain games have to solve these problems. And I want Etheremon to be the pioneer.
That was enough info for Gameunculus. He let Jarvis escape the bunker. He now roams free, back at the Etheremon main offices, where he can sip all the milk teat he wants, while him and the team work hard on making gaming great again.
What do you think about Etheremon? Do they deserve to be #1? Leave us your thoughts in our telegram chat