GTA owner joins Web3, Bitcoin casino, Sunflower Land review: Web3 Gamer


Grand Theft Auto owner enters Web3 via mobile gaming arm

Fun fact: mobile gaming giant Zynga is owned by Take-Two Interactive, the same company that also owns Rockstar Games, which is behind ultra-popular video game series like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and NBA 2K.

Now Zynga is making its Web3 debut with a new franchise.

Best known for its FarmVille series, Zynga has created an offshoot studio called Zynga Web3 (or ZW3) and announced Sugartown. It’s a cross-media world that will be more like a Web3 gaming platform than a single title. The cute cartoonish animals featured in the teaser video give clues that there might be more than video games in the works.

It looks like a scene from a new Netflix series, so I won’t be surprised to see a cartoon featuring the Sugartown characters.

For now, though, the only thing that’s confirmed is that Sugartown will launch an NFT collection called Oras, and they will be required to participate in upcoming games within the universe. ZW3 said the franchise is working with different communities to allocate allowlists for the NFTs. 

If this platform becomes successful, perhaps it could give the green light for some of those big titles from the same company to jump into Web3?

More play needed in Play-to-Earn — Istanbul Blockchain Week

Why aren’t Web3 games adopted as much as traditional games? That was one of the subjects talked about during a Web3 gaming panel at Istanbul Blockchain Week 2023. The panel mainly focused on Web3 gaming adoption, the problems of Web3 gaming and the developer side of things.

Curator Studios co-founder Uluç Yuca’s answer stood out in particular as I sincerely believe it expressed the thoughts of many traditional gamers – including myself – toward the big problem with Web3 gaming.

He started his speech by asking the audience how many Web3 gamers there were. There were a few hands raised. “And this is a blockchain event!” he commented, then asked how many traditional gamers there were. There was a significant increase in the number of hands raised. He pointed out there are 3 billion traditional gamers in the world and only 15 million Web3 gamers.

15 million was not the (number of) active users in Roblox back in 2015. So what we have right now is just a little private party. That means we did something wrong.”

Here’s what we did wrong, according to Yuca: The Web3 community is always talking about features like third-party trading, ownership, making money and interoperability. But these features have existed since games were around, including in-game items in World of Warcraft, rare items in Dota, auctions in Diablo and those occasions RuneScape’s in-game currency was used as the local market currency when Venezuela’s money was depreciating.

Diablo III Auction House
The in-game player economy was present in Diablo III, launched in 2012. (Diablo Wiki)

So, we focused on features that already exist in various forms and combined them with games that aren’t fun:

We talk about all these value propositions and monetization models. Play-to-Earn, Play-and-Earn, Play-and-Own, Play-and-Have-Coffee, Play-and-Get-Married. It doesn’t really matter because there is no play. There is no product.”

He stressed that he has yet to see a game like Minecraft, or one that does “What Angry Birds did to mobile gaming back in the day.”

Despite the potential brought by Web3 elements, the real question was, “Do we have a game like Roblox (in Web3)?” Unfortunately, we do not.

Bitcoin casino works exactly like what you’d expect

Not many people know this but Satoshi Nakamoto may have been a poker player, with the original 0.1.0 Bitcoin code in 2008 containing scraps of code for an online poker game. 

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With the introduction of Ordinals, it looks like we might be headed back in that direction. Ordinals has enabled the Bitcoin base layer to become home to numerous images, videos and even some basic games, and also laid the groundwork for “DeFi on Bitcoin” protocols such as Trustless Computer (TC) and the related New Bitcoin City (NBC).

Launched in early August, the gaming platform utilizes TC and transitions gameplay to NOS, a layer-2 on Bitcoin, according to core member Punk3700, who says it enhances speed and efficiency, ensuring complex interactions occur off the Bitcoin mainnet.

NOS brings an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to the Bitcoin network, allowing smart contract functionality without taking space on the main Bitcoin chain. Hence, data from games won’t crowd the valuable Bitcoin blockchain real estate.”

As for the gaming platform itself, don’t expect a 3D metaverse with high-fidelity graphics. The website is designed as a pixelated amusement park, with each tent representing a game offering very basic casino games like jackpot and slot.

New Bitcoin City Gameplay
New Bitcoin City has a bunch of casino-like minigames. (New Bitcoin City)

There’s also a graffiti tent where everyone can chip in to add a pixel and then get royalty if someone buys the finished canvas. 

The overall experience felt like what I had with my online poker adventures back in the early 2000s, but that’s apparently not the focus of the devs. “Bitcoin is expanding beyond just a currency and getting a lot of attention,” explained Punk3700, adding: “We want to make Bitcoin as generalized as possible — usable for far more than just a currency.”

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The league is said to promote the win-to-earn trend where gamers earn based on their skills (and maybe luck, considering it’s a casino), and developers promise more to come, with an upcoming “Mega Whales” expected to launch on Sept. 26.

Hot Take: Sunflower Land

Sunflower Land is an online farming game built on Polygon and played via a browser. Gamers are welcomed with some strict rules: one account per player, no bots or automation. It also makes clear that Sunflower Land is a game, not a financial product — although only time will tell which one will be prioritized by players

The core gameplay sees users plant seeds, wait for them to grow, harvest the plants, buy more seeds and so on – similar to old Facebook games such as FarmVille and CityVille. All in-game resources, such as seeds, cooked food and equipment, are NFTs that can be transferred and traded on OpenSea.

Seeds and plants have different in-game values corresponding with the time it takes for them to grow. For example, sunflower seeds grow in 30 seconds and can be sold for 125 coins (equal to 7,500 for 30 minutes), while pumpkin seeds grow in 30 minutes and can be sold for 25,000 coins.

Sunflower Land Gameplay
Gameplay from Sunflower Land (Sunflower Land)

Sunflower Land features a skill tree that allows the player to work faster and get more yields from each produce as they level up. As the player levels up, the waiting time gets longer (up to 36 hours for a single seed), but they also get more space to plant their seeds. The game currently offers two minigames if you’d like to do something in-game while you wait. They are called Greedy Goblin, a minigame where you catch falling gold coins while avoiding the skulls as a goblin, and Chicken Fight, a two-player fighting game where you control chickens.

Sunflower Land Skill Tree
Crops section of the skill tree from Sunflower Land. (Sunflower Land)

Sunflower Land launched its new season called Witches Eve on Aug. 1, which introduced a massive multiplayer online (MMO) world for players to socialize called Pumpkin Plaza. The game also welcomed the addition of Community Islands – where players are provided with tools to build their own games inside Sunflower Land – with the ambition of “becoming the Roblox of Web3 gaming.”

The game works smoothly without any problems – a rare quality for Web3 games these days. The graphics look pretty, though the background music sounded really cheap. I don’t know if it’s going to become the Roblox of Web3, but Sunflower Land definitely has potential with its addictive gameplay loop. I’ll surely be coming back to check my island every once in a while.

More from Web3 gaming space:

– Turn-based RPG Champions Arena has launched on Gala Games.

– Zillion Whales’ mobile RTS game Wild Forest has been announced for Ronin blockchain.

– Mobile NFT game NFL Rivals has launched an in-game marketplace.

– French DJ Agoria and The Sandbox are collaborating to launch an avatar collection.

– Netmarble’s Marblex partnered with Aptos to expand its multichain gaming universe.

– Nexon’s MapleStory Universe tapped Chainlink as its Web3 infrastructure provider.

Erhan Kahraman

Erhan Kahraman

Based in Istanbul, Erhan started his career as a gaming journalist. He now works as a freelance writer and content creator with a focus on cutting-edge technology and video games. He enjoys playing Elden Ring, Street Fighter 6 and Persona 5.

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