WAR FIELD: An interview with Darius Udrys
We spoke to WAR FIELD about their future plans and delay with token withdrawals
WAR FIELD is the first online, cryptocurrency-driven, multiplayer first person shooter. That’s… a mouthful. For now, it’s a browser based game with quite decent graphics (desktop version coming soon), centralized gameplay, and tokenized economy, where players stake their crypto on their shooting skills. Killers take their opponents’ crypto. It’s as simple as that, and as addictive as it sounds. Since its launch in June, it’s made a mantra out of its core (“and”, Gameunculus adds, “maybe only?”) selling point: in this crypto game, “the stakes are real”. Ok.
Well, for some of the thousands of players that signed up for the airdrop, started playing, and bought more tokens, stakes are starting to feel too real. The team closed their June token sale early, after selling 1.8 billion GLDR – which is not yet listed on any exchange – and have spent all of October dealing meekly with angry gamers over Telegram. The channel is pretty much entirely complaints about problems with the KYC form and unanswered withdrawal requests, with some players saying they’ve waited weeks to receive the GLDR they’ve earned. Admins say the tech team is manually reviewing each withdrawal request to prevent fraud (such as bots abusing the airdrop campaign). This, plus some setbacks in the KYC process, would explain the weeks of delay, which have made players extremely antsy pansty.
We spoke to Darius Udrys, brand and development advisor for WAR FIELD, and Jason Bateman look-alike. He also stars in this ad for WAR FIELD! That’s him right there!
We talk about crypto game genres, the future role of blockchain in AAA gaming studios, upcoming plans for WAR FIELD, and of course – the whole delay debacle.
About crypto games
Q: What were, in your opinion, the best or most important crypto games ever released?
A: Well, the best known is Crypto Kitties. I think it was a nice test drive of what cryptocurrencies can bring to gaming. But we don’t see a lot of crypto games right now that would be particularly appealing. There’s a lot of experimentation going on, a lot of ideas to use cryptocurrencies in games, but from our experience – the conferences we’ve attended, and the projects we’ve seen – very few of them are like WAR FIELD, in the sense of it being a game that already works and that you can already play, and use the crypto-economy in the game.
Q: Have you played any of the other hybrid centralized-tokenized games out there?
A: We’ve been so focused on developing WAR FIELD that I personally don’t play the other games.
Q: And do you play WAR FIELD?
A: I do! And actually I was never a first person shooter kind of guy, I never got into that genre – but since WAR FIELD came out I’ve been playing and I’ve been learning, and it’s quite exciting.
Q: So you definitely don’t play other crypto games besides WAR FIELD?
A: No, I personally do not.
Q: Which genre of crypto game would you like to play the most?
A: I personally like flying and driving games – moving in a 3D space with a spacecraft or aircraft, or a car… But what appeals to me about WAR FIELD, more than other crypto games, is that you actually stake something real on your gameplay, so it heightens the tension, makes it more exciting than if you’re just shooting away, fragging opponents… it feels so much more serious, because you might lose some GLDR. We will apply the same principle to other games as we go forward.
Q: I would say in other crypto games you do also stake crypto; you might spend some ETH to battle another character, for example. But I could agree that what makes WAR FIELD different is that you rarely get to experience the gameplay so organically tied to your crypto loss or gain…
A: Yes, our game is the most exciting, from what I’ve seen out there. It’s very immediate – you’re running around shooting, and you can see your GLDR accruing to your account or slipping away, according to how you’re doing.
Q: What do you think (or hope) the crypto games industry will look like a year from now?
A: We hope the industry will see the value of combining cryptocurrency economies with gaming. That’s what we want to demonstrate, and that’s what’s already happening with the thousands of players that are enjoying WAR FIELD. And we hope that our cryptocurrency will also demonstrate to players that it can maintain its value, that it can be useful in the game both as a means of staking on gameplay, and of trading in-game goods.
Q: Do you think major players like Activision will fully embrace the blockchain? In what ways?
A: Probably, eventually. We think it’ll take a while; it’s kind of like the relation between traditional banking and the new fintech sector: traditional players probably want to wait (because they can afford to take their time) and see which technologies and approaches work and which don’t, before they start cherry-picking what’s useful to them and incorporating some of it into their own offerings.
Q: It seems unlikely that traditional game studios would choose to put their entire gameplay up on a blockchain. Do you think they’ll prefer the centralized gameplay + tokenized economy model that WAR FIELD uses?
A: I would imagine so. Like I said, the relationship will probably be similar to that between traditional banks and innovations like blockchain applications. The banks still maintain certain centralized control, but want to incorporate the functionalities that are useful to them when it comes to customer experience. Moving that metaphor over to gaming, if the big players see an advantage in allowing a cryptocurrency to be utilized inside their games, they’ll probably do that. Though not wholesale, as you say.
About WAR FIELD
Q: Why did the team make a shooter game, as opposed to another genre?
A: Shooter games are the most popular. About 30% of the market are shooter games. There’s a whole slew of scientific studies suggesting that these games promote stress release, that they improve hand eye coordination, all kinds of interesting benefits that I remember explaining to my parents when they wanted to restrict my gaming laughs. It’s interesting, a lot of people have a very sedentary job where they don’t get much excitement, and they come home stressed … and there’s a need in all of us to feel excitement. That’s why we seek entertainment, we watch action movies where things explode and there are car chases and all of that – because we need a little bit of that adrenaline to course through our system. And we don’t want this to manifest itself in socially pernicious ways; so a way to channel that into something harmless is to play shooter games.
Q: What don't you like about WAR FIELD? What could be improved?
A: We’ve just released a new battleground, Container Land, in response to comments from some of our players who found the previous battleground, the Mystery Ship, too large. Players were hiding and lurking, and sneaking… personally, I actually prefer that, but we know now our players prefer something more confined, so that they’re more likely to run into each other. In Container Land, you immediately bump into other people and either you get them or they get you. It’s not as strategic, but more instinctual. In upcoming battlegrounds we’ll have both types, we’ll have variety.
Q: Do you have any idea how much money players are making on your game?
A: Well that’s very hard to calculate, because our token, the GOLDER (GLDR) has not been listed on exchanges yet, so it has not been assigned any particular monetary value by traders. We see circulation of GLDR in the tens of thousands, but I don’t have the data in front of me on who has won how many. We have about 4,500 requests for withdrawals, so clearly people are interested in the possibility of trading the token outside the game and cashing in. We won’t know until we list on an exchange though, which we’ll do in November.
Q: How much money did you raise through GLDR sales?
A: We raised the crypto-denominated equivalent of our hard cap, which was US $12m. As you can imagine, the value of that crypto is fluctuating and has fallen since summer.
Q: What exchanges are you going to be listed on?
A: Management would prefer to keep that confidential until we actually finalize the deal. But it will be a major cryptocurrency exchange, with sufficient volumes. Very well known.
Q: Are you planning to take WAR FIELD onto other blockchains?
A: We’re looking at some of the other ones. EOS is interesting to examine, but for now it’s just Ethereum.
Q: Would that just be for scalability reasons?
A: And also for variety. It depends where things go, how Ethereum does, as EOS wants to give them a run for their money. There are some advantages to each, you know.
Q: What are some advantages that EOS has over Ethereum?
A: Well it seems EOS has more functionality at potentially less cost; and that’s the main problem, always trying to do things at minimum cost and maximum efficiency.
Q: Costs as in transaction costs for players?
A: It may be that, yes. Depends on how things pan out. EOS is still in relatively early stages of development.
Q: Your roadmap states Feb 15th 2019 as the release date for WAR FIELD on the Apple store and Google Play. Why that specific date? Do you already have agreements with Apple and Google?
A: Well our understanding is that you simply need to meet the criteria that they’ve set; specific agreements, to our understanding, are not necessary. What we will probably do is release light versions of the game, that don’t involve the full scale of the GOLDER crypto economy. Just to show people how it works and get them interested enough to come over to the main platform.
Q: WAR FIELD is the first project on the Golder platform. Are there concrete plans and designs for future games? Is there a tentative release date for your second game?
A: We don’t have a date for that yet, we’re working on perfecting WAR FIELD still, introducing additional battlegrounds, tweaking the game itself so that it runs properly. But the next thing we’d like to do is probably a demolition derby, or a tank game, something that involves driving.
Q: But you haven’t started development on that yet…
A: It has begun already, we just don’t have a release date for these things yet. We need to get some WAR FIELD related things out the door before we move on to the next game. We’re also very keen on involving independent game developers; we have an offer for them to use the Golder platform, so they can test their games, and even raise funds for them. So, we’re putting out the call at every event we attend, for developers to show us their games and see if we could integrate them to the platform.
Q: So have you signed anybody yet?
A: Not yet, but we’re working with a chess game that may involve independent developers. Some people like to play chess for money, so there’s an opportunity there.
Q: Our team was present at the Minsk Crypto Games Conference last week, and we noticed there was an empty WAR FIELD table. Could you guys not make it?
A: We were there, but we were mostly working the floors, networking. We didn’t camp out. This was a smaller conference, more of a networking opportunity. We visited with a lot of developers, saw what they were doing, whether we could integrate them – and we also checked out a lot of similar attempts to create cryptocurrency platforms. It’s always good to see what other people are doing. In this case, we came back feeling like we were ahead of the game, because we already have actual gaming content that functions on the platform. Many other platforms are still just ideas for platforms, really.
Q: Your roadmap says you will release a downloadable version with new battlegrounds on October 28th. Today’s the 31st – what’s your new deadline?
A: We’re going to come close to the original deadline. I’ve just talked to development, they say it should come out this week.
Below-the-belt questions: the delay
Q: We’d like to discuss the issue that you’ve been dealing with this month: many users have reported having to wait weeks for their withdrawal requests to go through. Others still have commented that their accounts seem to have been shut down, possibly mistaken for fraudulent accounts, or on charges of violating your use policy. And some people have tried and failed to use your KYC system to reopen their accounts.
A: Yes, we had some issues with the KYC and fraud detection process. As with any operations that involve large amounts of money, we need to know our customers. The procedures that we have to go through to accomplish this are sometimes not the easiest, technically speaking. So we had one solution that didn’t work, we switched to another solution, and now we’re ironing out the remaining challenges. So, apologies for that, but we think we’re really close to having a well-functioning system.
Q: You’re doing the whole KYC process manually, correct? Checking that people’ IDs match with their pictures, the works…
A: No, not quite – we’re checking manually whether airdrop requests are legitimate. As you may know, you can deploy bots and things to scoop up airdrops. We want to make sure that those getting tokens are people getting them properly, not bots. That’s the manual part. We don’t have an AI system that can do that. As for the KYC part, we have a third party provider that’s administering that. So they have their own processes that are also sometimes a bit cumbersome.
Q: Do you have an estimate of how many bots, frauds or abuses were found?
A: There were quite a few. And some of it is interpretative, so we always put the word out that if you feel you’ve been unfairly flagged, you can always reach out to us. There are explanations that are plausible.
Q: So do you think most of the delay can be explained by the complications of manually checking over each case?
A: That and switching KYC processes midstream. And these will dissipate as we go forward, because we had a lot of people participating in the airdrop, and a lot of things to look through. But once we’re through with the bulk of them, things should speed up.
Q: According to your website, you’ve sold 1.8 billion GLDR, and you told me earlier you’ve received over 4,500 withdrawal requests, right?
A: That is correct. And we have to check all of those, but as I said, we’re trying to automate as much as possible. We want to make sure things were legitimately acquired.
Q: And do you know how many users have successfully managed to withdraw GLDR? If any?
A: More than a thousand have already been withdrawn, and we’ve got another few thousand in the pipeline.
Q: Can the players corroborate this, just to feel some reassurance that they will get their tokens if they haven’t already?
A: Yes, everyone can monitor these transactions on Etherscan.
Q: Why do you need to distribute withdrawals in batches every ten days?
A: For efficiency purposes.This is temporary during the initial review process. Later, it will be automatic and more immediate.
Q: What steps are involved in the process of manually checking the withdrawal requests?
A: We look at the pattern of token accrual for indications that someone used automated methods to take unfair advantage of the airdrops before we confirm a withdrawal. You can recognize those attempts, I’m told, but it takes a while to go through all of them.
Well, there you have it, villagers. Are you putting your pitchforks away or just getting them sharpened? WAR FIELD has plans for its future and is asking us to sit tight just a little bit longer. Dare to trust? Or are you fearing there’s a sniper waiting for you around the corner, ready to take your GLDR?
P.S. After the interview, we contacted Darius again to ask if any GLDR were sent to players after the KYC implementation. He answered that they've been sending tokens daily, and gave us the Etherscan link (find it above). Let's monitor the situation together!