Is Evil Genius Games Doubling Down On NFTs & Blockchain?

Despite public pledges not to use controversial technologies.

Screenshot 2024-06-18 at 16.55.19.png

Evil Genius Games' Dave Scott presents to a panel of judges at a cryptocurrency convention in May 2024

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Evil Genius Games--publisher of the d20 Modern inspired Everyday Heroes TTRPG--was considering use of certain controversial Web3 technologies, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchains. In response to that, EGG published a manifesto on February 6th, 2024, which they called their 'Technology Code of Ethics' in which the company pledged not to use blockchain or cryptocurrencies (along with AI, and other pledges). Indeed, Scott himself told me back in February that the company had decided not to use blockchain technology. For a full background on EGG and recent events, you can read more in The Rise And Fall Of Evil Genius Games.

#2: Evil Genius Games will not use Blockchain or Cryptocurrency technologies in the building or operation of its technology platform.

At the end of 2023 and the start of 2024 numerous employees resigned from Evil Genius Games citing--amongst other things--ethical concerns with the technologies that the company was planning to use, something which Dave Scott made public assurances that they would not do. At the time Scott said: “We made the decision not to do AI in October, and then not to do Web3 in December. But apparently, it wasn't enough to allay any concerns. So after the resignations, we brought the team together to discuss. And we felt a public and permanent statement on this issue would be useful. That's why we drafted the code of ethics after the fact.” In fact, back when I spoke to Scott in February of this year, one of the questions I asked him was why the staff who had recently resigned from EGG did not believe him when he repeated that the company did not intend to use those controversial technologies, and he indicated to me that he didn't know why that was the case.

EGG Pitches At Consensus 2024
However, last week, EGG participated in a pitch competition at an event at Consensus 2024, a convention in Texas run by Coindesk. Consensus describes itself as "the world's largest, longest-running and most influential gathering that brings together all sides of the cryptocurrency, blockchain and Web3 community". EGG's owner Dave Scott pitched a future for their TTRPG offerings which leaned heavily on both blockchains and on non-fungible tokens. Scott introduced the company and told the attendees that "we make turn-based RPGs on chain based on famous Blockbuster movie franchises that we all know and love."

Interestingly, Scott also stated that Jeff Grubb (Dragonlance, d20 Modern) works for the company and describes him as "the father of modern day Dungeons and Dragons"; Grubb made it clear earlier this year that he had no current involvement with Evil Genius Games. In my previous delve into EGG, it turned out that Grubb's participation in Everyday Heroes was that he wrote the foreword in 2023.

I'm not the best person on the staff. Meet Jeff Grub. Jeff Grub is the father of modern day Dungeons and Dragons.

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So how do NFTs fit into this vision? Dave Scott described it as follows:

Imagine a scenario where you could actually buy NFT utilities that are exclusive to these licenses you could actually pilot Gypsy Danger, you can carry Rambo's M60, all of these that have value that can be bought sold and traded but more importantly in the Roblox fashion we're going to allow other people to actually create their own NFTs which can be thrown onto a marketplace where they can buy, sell and trade those adventures as well.

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Scott's pitch can be watched below--in the video the CEO presented an NFT and blockchain powered future for Evil Genius Games' tabletop offerings in front of three judges, who then proceeded to ask him questions about the pitch.

During the Q&A which followed, Scott confirmed that there was no actual NFT technology in place yet, indicating that "we've just started to set up the infrastructure to be able to create the NFT program". He also claimed that the company has made $1.2M in revenue in the last year based on sales of digital products.

When asked about the blockchain components of the setup, Scott described the content creator marketplace.

All the Creator Marketplace components of it, the UGC components of it, the entire utility is on chain. If you've actually played RPGs before there's a character sheet, all the components of the character sheet will have objects on it, all the objects will be NFTs. In addition to that the actual character sheet itself will be minted as an NFT as well so what that means is that if we use your character as an NPC in a future game we'll actually pay you royalties on the character itself. So the whole thing is based off of objects which are have NFT components to it.

He went on to describe some of the more technical aspects of the platform, including the use of a 'wallet-as-a-service' company called Stardust. Stardust's mission statement is to "democratise blockchain technology for developers and players at scale".

What we're really excited about is the idea that we can use blockchain to be able to control the value and to create value around the objects which make up your character, that's going to be a really important component of it so if you actually create for example an adventure on our system that'll be something that you own as the creator from here on out but the experience we're going after is a Web2 experience which means that we don't want to expose the wallet, we're going to be using a company called Stardust be able to create custodial wallets for that reason.



This was part of a competition, which--as it happens--Evil Genius Games won!

To Pledge Or Not To Pledge?
Whether or not one supports the idea of blockchains and NFTs, Evil Genius Games did make a very public pledge not to use blockchains--and reiterated to staff, to me, and on forums that they did not plan to go ahead with that course. This presentation appears to indicate otherwise, with CEO Dave Scott declaring his intentions towards both blockchains and NFTs in a very public venue.

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EGG's technology Code of Ethics, published in February 2024
 

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The screenshot for possible NFTs includes Mad Max and the Matrix, two licenses they don't hold (or at least haven't released anything for). I wonder if that was presented as possibilities for the future or just used to add more fictional clout.
 

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SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
Sadly, no. For a long time to come, there will be people who've newly discovered them, see "$$$!" and start hyping them. The leading edge of awareness has moved past them, but the trailing edge has not yet discovered them.
Interesting. I guess we'll have to see how it works out. These were all the rage but I honestly haven't heard anything in a long time. It really encourages me to have nothing to do with the game. Which is kind of sad because some of their properties are interesting to me.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Commoditizing each individual game element is definitely not a sustainable model. An AL version of this is going to be such a small audience, many who aren't looking for high buy-in; they just want a game to play in!

Even DDB is removing piecemeal/micro transactions, and Hasbro is already in the NFT market, so they would have the best data on this sort of thing. If they know not to do it...
Yeah, it will just make paid DMs on services like Start Playing look more affordable. Though, if they make a competitive version of a TTRPG, maybe. WotC proved that they could get people to pay tons of money on collectible card games by combining the business model of baseball cards with a competitive card game.
 

Squared

Explorer
Yeah, it will just make paid DMs on services like Start Playing look more affordable. Though, if they make a competitive version of a TTRPG, maybe. WotC proved that they could get people to pay tons of money on collectible card games by combining the business model of baseball cards with a competitive card game.
While making an entirely new type of game, not a TTRPG, might be interesting. There might even be a market there. That still does not answer the basic question, Why NFTs? What can you do with NFTs that you cannot do with a database?

MMORPGs already exist and they are run by databases. When someone want to store large amounts of data in a referenceable way, they use databases. The only thing NFTs are really is a decentralized database. But if you have a business and are trying to sell a product then you are already centralized, just accept your role as the central authority and run the database.

The only people that can make use of NFTs would be a fully decentralized community using open source software that for some reason need to track transactions. While not impossible to imagine I don't see how you would monetize such a system.

I have yet to see an example of blockchain being a useful technology outside of scams and money laundering.

^2
 

mamba

Legend
The only thing NFTs are really is a decentralized database. But if you have a business and are trying to sell a product then you are already centralized, just accept your role as the central authority and run the database.

[...]

I have yet to see an example of blockchain being a useful technology outside of scams and money laundering.
Transactions between multiple businesses. Right now every business records their transaction in their system at some point in time, by moving to a decentralized ledger that can be synchronized and you eliminate duplicate entry and entry mistakes that come with that.

And once you think of a transaction as not just an amount of money changing hands and a product being shipped but a contract (like your car insurance...) these transactions can be much more complex than a simple product sale, with the additional risk of errors / misunderstandings during the data entry into two different systems with different fields and logic.
 

Crusadius

Adventurer
The only thing NFTs are really is a decentralized database.
See this is a problem. People hosting copies of the decentralised databases and synchronising them want their cut. It's not done for free. Using your NFT (oops its gone but lets say its not for this story) is not enforceable unless you have a group establishing a monopoly that says "to play DND you must allow NFTs". And then you know trolls with +10 swords will come to a level 1 game.

Web3 is other people wanting me pay them so I can do something I'm already doing for free now. And they just called it web3 because web2+1, and "grifty give me money internet" is a wee bit too obvious.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Transactions between multiple businesses. Right now every business records their transaction in their system at some point in time, by moving to a decentralized ledger that can be synchronized and you eliminate duplicate entry and entry mistakes that come with that.

And once you think of a transaction as not just an amount of money changing hands and a product being shipped but a contract (like your car insurance...) these transactions can be much more complex than a simple product sale, with the additional risk of errors / misunderstandings during the data entry into two different systems with different fields and logic.
I do not see this as a likely use case. Aside from issues inherent to the blockchain there will always proprietary information relating to the transaction that a business will want to keep internal and not share with the entire market. Anything on the blockchain is shared with all participants. A few extra bytes to record a contract locally is trivial considering one is likely to be keeping other data related to the transaction anyway.
 



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