Immutable X, the layer-2 scaling solution for NFTs on Ethereum, has announced a collaboration with game publisher Bazooka Tango to convert the board-based tactical collectible card game Shardbound into a blockchain-based game.
Shardbound will be one of the early games hosted on the newly announced Immutable zkEVM network that utilizes Polygon’s open-source zkEVM technology. This move allows the game’s NFT transactions to be carried out on a network compatible with Ethereum, where purchases can be combined for faster processing and with lower fees.
According to a statement, Immutable will be more involved in the development of Shardbound compared to its other games on the network. It will be the first external game on Immutable’s network, offering “end-to-end Web3 gaming strategy and execution.”
VP of game partnerships at Immutable Jennifer Poulson said the team had evaluated hundreds of games and conducted playtesting on a similar number before deciding to revive Shardbound.
Poulson explained that Shardbound is a good fit for Web3 integration because it’s a digital card-based game, allowing for NFTs where players can own the assets they use. She also praised the quality of the game as a Web3 title, saying that it was “beautiful and well-made.”
Poulson, who has prior experience working at Riot Games and Bandai Namco, said Shardbound was a game that immediately caught the team’s attention during their extensive testing. “We could see that there was a ton of care that went into developing it,” she added.
Speaking to Decrypt, Bo Daly, founder and CEO of Bazooka Tango, has been tracking the progress of Shardbound since its infancy and is excited to collaborate on a revamped version of the game that includes Web3 features.
Daly, who has previously worked on popular games such as Vainglory and Red Dead Redemption, said that Shardbound is a highly strategic game ideal for competitive play. He added that the game is designed with “streaming and community in mind” and has a vast world with countless stories.
“It’s a game that we think is deeply strategic, it’s great for competition, and really kind of built with streaming and community in mind.”
Bo Daly, founder and CEO of Bazooka Tango
Shardbound’s financial challenges
According to Daly, Spiritwalk Games, the team behind Shardbound, faced financial challenges like many other indie games. The game was initially funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign but was only partially released as an “Early Access” version.
The studio reportedly shut down due to financial constraints, and specific components of the fantasy game were released in an unfinished state.
Daly also mentioned that there were incomplete artworks in several areas. He speculated that “there was maybe a little bit of a business problem.”
The original version of Shardbound was made available on the Steam platform, where NFT games are not allowed. Despite receiving positive feedback and a 76 percent favorable user rating on Steam, many now consider the game a “dead game” due to the small number of active players.
Steam DB data show that Shardbound achieved a peak of 750 concurrent players six years ago. After that, however, the game’s initial surge of interest declined rapidly, and currently, it only has one active player per week.
When questioned about Shardbound’s inability to sustain its player base, Daly suggested the game had hundreds of thousands of registered accounts.
“Steam hasn’t necessarily made really clear guidelines about what they’re willing to do.”
Jennifer Poulson, VP of game partnerships at Immutable
Daly revealed that his team had not yet decided which platforms the updated Web3 version of Shardbound would be accessible on, but they were eager to take advantage of the existing PC gaming audience of the original game.
The developers working on the new version of Shardbound want to avoid making the game feel like a first-generation blockchain game and instead aim to appeal to a broader audience of mainstream gamers who may not be familiar with blockchain technology.