Roll1ng Thund3rz has officially been spun out from Zilliqa as a standalone business with the vision of creating a Web3 gaming ecosystem built around high-quality games, player-first development, and unique blockchain features predicated on providing genuine utility.
This is a major move towards scaling up the development and growth of products like WEB3WAR and the Gaming Hub, which are the company’s first steps towards achieving its vision for the future of Web3 gaming.
The Roll1ng Thund3rz team is led by its CTO and co-founder, Valentin Cobelea, who has spearheaded the development of Web3 gaming infrastructure and products at Zilliqa together with an experienced team of veteran developers.
WEB3WAR and the Gaming Hub are the flagship products currently being built at Roll1ng Thund3rz, but the team is just getting started in building towards their vision for a unified Web3 gaming platform.
We spoke to Valentin Cobelea to find out more about the inception of Roll1ng Thund3rz as a standalone company and what to expect going forward.
The vision behind Roll1ng Thund3rz
Spinning out Roll1ng Thund3rz is the next step in the growth of the team behind WEB3WAR, the Gaming Hub, and the various infrastructure that connects high-quality games to the Zilliqa blockchain, Valentin says.
The vision for the company is to deliver a gaming ecosystem that offers all the benefits of blockchain functionality while remaining focussed on the most important component of gaming - creating high-quality, fun games for players to enjoy.
“We are doing for Web3 what Valve did years ago with Steam - we’re building games, the tools for those games, and the hub to unify everything as an ecosystem and manage all of that,” Valentin says.
Like many modern video game marketplace platforms, Roll1ng Thund3rz will be open to third-party developers launching on the Gaming Hub and using their SDKs and other tools to integrate with the Zilliqa blockchain.
Spinning out the company was the necessary next step in its evolution - it has proven the utility of its products and needs to be able to scale independently as it grows its offering and infrastructure.
“This is the natural evolution of the strategy we had from day one. As a gaming company, we need to be properly structured outside the operations of a blockchain company like Zilliqa,” Valentin says.
“It is the next step for our growth as we scale the company and deliver on our vision for a sustainable Web3 gaming ecosystem.”
After incubating within the Zilliqa gaming division and spinning out after successfully demonstrating a viable and exciting use case, Valentin says he can see this model being applied to more projects within other industries.
“Within Zilliqa, we proved ourselves with a good strategy, business model, roadmap, and technical delivery, and then we needed to spin out to continue scaling up. You can see this as a pilot programme for other businesses that can be built up within Zilliqa and deliver on these goals before spinning out as their own business within the Zilliqa ecosystem.”
Valentin will continue to hold his position of Head of Gaming Technology at Zilliqa and the two teams will work closely to ensure blockchain technology is efficiently integrated into Roll1ng Thund3rz products.
The importance of player experience
One of the key ways Roll1ng Thund3rz is different to the number of Web3 gaming projects in the blockchain industry is its approach to game development.
“If you take a look at what’s happened with other so-called Web3 gaming studios, many have failed because they thought primarily about tokenomics and afterwards about the players,” Valentin explains.
“That’s not the way to do games or any kind of entertainment, you need to focus on the product and services and have a strong roadmap for delivery backed by a team with proven knowledge and experience.”
Roll1ng Thund3rz not only has a team of veteran developers with experience at triple-A gaming studios, but it also has a firmly player-first approach to design.
“We are building ‘games on blockchain’. The majority of our work is focussed on the games and player experience,” Valentin says.
The Skill2Earn system is at the core of how blockchain is implemented in the company’s games, with players rewarded based on their in-game skill. This is unlike many models used by other Web3 gaming projects, many of which are focussed on simple play-to-earn models that put more importance on tokenomics than player enjoyment.
Valentin notes that many people misperceive the benefits blockchain can provide to players, but points out that this technology can bring exciting features gamers would enjoy, such as true ownership over in-game items and cross-game content, and the ability to earn rewards for proving their skill.
“We are fighting a reputation in the Web3 space at the moment, in the same way that people doubted the utility of the internet back in the day - until companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon, and others found a way to use it,” he says.
“We have found a way to use blockchain to make gaming a better and more rewarding experience for players.”
For those who may be sceptical of Web3 gaming, Valentin challenges players to try out WEB3WAR and enjoy the experience of a game with blockchain features that puts player experience first.
“Install the Gaming Hub, install WEB3WAR, and try it out. Join the Discord and tell us what you think - we are listening to our players.”
WEB3WAR launch and development plan
Roll1ng Thund3rz will focus on developing games at a rapid pace and building the Gaming Hub into a unified platform populated with high-quality games and allowing players to buy and sell tokens, trade cosmetic skin NFTs, match with friends, and much more.
“All of our games will be multiplayer, free-to-play, with seasonal content and cross-game NFTs that are owned directly by players,” Valentin says.
Cross-game NFTs are a feature close to Valentin’s heart - as a gamer he has always wanted to use cosmetic skins across multiple games and not to have them locked into a single title or ecosystem.
“As we’re using blockchain technology and an integrated wallet, your inventory, skins, and other NFTs can be used across other games on the Gaming Hub. For example, if you have a skin for your weapon in WEB3WAR, in our next game you will be able to use the same weapon skin.”
“We’re planning for all the NFTs that you can earn, trade, or buy in the marketplace to be used in at least two games.”
The 1.0 version of WEB3WAR is set to officially launch on March 31, 2023, but that will just be the first game of many in the pipeline at Roll1ng Thund3rz, and it will continue to receive regular updates and content even as more games are released.
The second game developed by Roll1ng Thund3rz is also on track to be released in beta this year.
“The second game will be unveiled after the official release of WEB3WAR and will be available in some form to players later this year,” Valentin says.
This game will be a multiplayer extraction looter-shooter game with similar gameplay elements to popular Web2 titles like Escape From Tarkov and DayZ. As with WEB3WAR, it will follow a development cycle focussed on gameplay experience and will receive seasonal content updates.
“We will follow the same cycle as WEB3WAR. The second game is now in alpha. We're going to be in beta, then in open beta and everybody can play it as a sandbox game. Then closer to the full release, we will integrate all the blockchain functionality,” Valentin says.
“But while this is happening, we're still going to have seasonal content for WEB3WAR. All the bug fixing and improvements that we do for WEB3WAR will continue on an ongoing basis.”
When asked where he’d like to Roll1ng Thund3rz in five years’ time, Valentin envisioned a complete, unified gaming and entertainment ecosystem that retained its core focus of player experience.
“I’d like to see us have at least 10 games, some of which would be developed by other studios. It would be great to have that level of content and around 200,000 player accounts on the Gaming Hub platform,” he says.
“The console will definitely be in circulation by then, and it would be great to have a marketplace not only for games and NFTs, but also gaming controllers, keyboards, and merchandise. I’d also like to see regular tournaments for both our games like WEB3WAR and third-party titles onboarded onto the Gaming Hub.”