Welcome to the NFT Gaming Podcast! We're super excited to be back with another episode this week, where we interview Ben Topkins, co-founder of Block Tackle, who is currently working on SkateX, a free-to-play extreme sports MMO video game that uses blockchain. In this podcast interview, we discuss the motivation for the game and how they came up with the idea for the game. We also discuss what it means for a web3 gaming platform like theirs and the future of the industry; where they see themselves going next; and more!
Ben Topkins is a co-founder of Block Tackle. Ben has a lot of experience in video games, starting from his time on 180 games, the Metaverse team, and now Block Tackle. Block Tackle was founded by Ben and Rob Oshima. Topkins and Oshima became connected thanks to their time spent working together at Kabam in the early days of mobile free-to-play gaming. They created the Nerf Strike on Roblox, a Nerf game with more than 30 million people playing the game.
Furthermore, they built a gaming studio on top of Roblox during the pandemic. But given the popularity of NFTs, they resolved against going much further with it, instead opting to start a new gaming studio with a specific interest in developing NFT games.
Block Tackle is on a mission to build the next generation of great games using web3 technology. Their first title, SkateX, is an extreme sports MMO where players pull off tricks, complete quests, or just hang out with their friends and skate around the meta-city they are building. Ongoing skateboard, gear, and clothing NFT drops mean the game is always evolving, and players can fully embrace and truly own their digital identities.
The company is venture-backed and they are poised to build the next generation of world-class blockchain games. The team behind the games is made up of gaming industry veterans from EA, Kabam, Supercell, and more.
SkateX is a 3D skate MMO game, where players skate, grind, and jump their way through an open world. Players can complete quests and challenges, collect boards, customize their presence and compete with other players in a next-gen skate MMO, powered by Solana. The NFT development, NFT mint, SkateX game demo, and game launch are the four parts of the SkateX project's roadmap. SkateX will create and produce 10,000 "artistically designed" skateboards that are "in full 3D."
Ben had this to say about what they are building at SkateX, "We're working on building a destination for extreme sports in the Metaverse. We're starting with skate one because skate is the most popular extreme sport, but also because, culturally, it just felt like a really good fit for most gamers that love skate and for folks who are really already interested in the crypto space and have that experience growing up in the nineties and early 2000's with extreme sports games that we loved and played a ton of, like Tony Hawk, 1080 snowboarding, Kelly Slater, and pro surfer. Our first game is called SkateX. Super accessible arcade style play, uh, the kind of things that are only possible in the metaverse."
Block Tackle wants to expand the web3 community by offering their game in a way that prioritizes quality beyond crypto.
One of the most exciting areas of technology right now is the blockchain gaming industry. Games that can actually spark massive adoption of blockchain technology have still not seen maturity.
The advent of blockchain-based play-to-earn games, or GameFi as it is currently known, is currently largest on Solana, even if the Ethereum blockchain has the community advantage. Solana spends a lot of time and money developing specialized tools and infrastructure to serve the demands of game companies creating games with intricate real-time economies and systems, in contrast to most other blockchains that strive to stay industry-agnostic.
Ben had this to say: "Solana is a good fit for the SkateX game because it is fast, scalable, and secure. There were a few things, I think, early on that drew us to Solana. I mean, one is obviously, a while back, looking at ETH, you look at the gas prices and you think, well, if we're trying to have a game with a ton of transactions, that's just probably not going to work out for us. The other aspect of it was that we just had connections with a bunch of folks who were building really cool stuff in the Solana ecosystem, and by talking to them, they said, Hey, you know, here's some tooling stuff we've figured out. We know there's some cool tooling coming down the pipe. We think that this is going to be a good foundation for building games on. And we started going around to some of those tool makers and, you know, talking to Metaplex about the protocols they were working on, and it seemed like, okay, this could work. This is something we could build a game on."
A growing number of NFT games are accessible on Solana. While some Solana games utilize SOL as their preferred cryptocurrency, some use their own unique tokens. Solana is highly suited for NFT gaming, being the fastest cryptocurrency available and having lower fees than other cryptocurrencies.
Web3 games provides an ecosystem where players and creators can interact and take control of their gameplay by fusing blockchain technology, NFTs, and Defi with virtual gaming. Web3 games will be the future of gaming because they give players more control over their experience and make it easier for them to interact with each other in interesting ways.
Ben had this to say: "There is long-term potential in web3 games for interoperability. That's an area where I think there's still a lot of opportunity for growth, and there needs to be some sort of metaverse standards established such that 3D assets can easily move between different experiences. I think in the long term, what players are really going to care about is that they have ownership. That saying, 'Hey, it's on the blockchain!' will give them that added vote of confidence about what player ownership means in that context, but that the underlying technology maybe won't be that important to them."
SkateX is committed to developing interesting and captivating blockchain games that place high importance on delivering an enjoyable user experience. This strategy is a timely answer to the market's worries that NFT games currently provide poor game experiences while concentrating only on profitability.
Following its major launch, SkateX has received positive feedback from the NFT, gaming, and skating communities. Nearly 40K people follow the project's Twitter account, and the Discord server is humming with activity.
An NFT collection of 1,080 boards called the "SkateX Founders Edition" offers owners advantages in the game. Within minutes, it was sold out. After the skate list mint became live on Magic Eden on April 5th, the game was also the most popular game on the major NFT gaming marketplace, Fractal, in the first week of April.
Ben believes the future of SkateX is bright and they are just getting started with many games, features, and marketplace opportunities that give gamers true ownership already in development.
We've been inspired by Ben's vision and passion for creating games that are fun to play, such as SkateX. We look forward to seeing what his team comes up with next! Thank you for listening to this edition of the NFT gaming podcast. See you next Tuesday.
Learn more about SkateX: https://www.skatex.io/about
Follow SkateX on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PlaySkateX
Join their Discord: https://discord.com/invite/skatex
The NFT Gaming Podcast features developers building the next generation of gaming: play-to-earn NFT games. In this podcast, NFT game founders Jason and Jacob interview key contributors to the NFT gaming movement across a multitude of blockchains. Our goal is to help bring clarity to the topic of NFT gaming, build credibility for new and existing projects, and help gamers across different blockchains find new NFT games to play. Season 2 of the show is proudly sponsored by Revelar. Revelar is the NFT Game Engine, built on Cardano.