MobileGo aims to facilitate peer-to-peer matchplay and decentralized tournaments for millions of competitive gamers worldwide. Although the project is one and a half years old, it has surged in popularity over the last few weeks, with MobileGo’s token (MGO) quintupling in value to enter the top 100 in market cap size on CoinMarketCap. So what is MobileGo? Why is its token increasing in value while every other cryptocurrency seems to be crashing? Read on to find out.

Blockchain and Gaming?

If I were to pick one industry where blockchain technology is most likely to have the biggest impact, I’d pick gaming. Here are a few reasons why: The items that players gather as they game are entirely their own and cannot be taken away or modified by a third party. Items have underlying value and can be traded directly and securely between two players and even between players of different games. In fact, entire profiles and characters can be packaged up and sold, and games can keep on existing as long as the community supports it, even if the developer decides to pull the plug.

I can go on. Suffice to say that a decentralized and immutable ledger can give concrete and immediate benefits to almost any game. Additionally, gaming is already a mastodon of an industry at an estimated $138 billion this year, and is growing at double-digit numbers each year. Nearly 2.3 billion people of the approximate 7.7 billion people that walk planet Earth are gamers.

An increasingly large slice of the gaming industry is eSports: organized competitive gaming between pro players, watched by millions of viewers on streaming platforms such as Twitch. eSports analytics firm Newzoo estimated that revenue of the eSports industry could exceed $800 million in 2018.

Pro players like Faker (League of Legends) or KuroKy (Dota 2) rake in millions of dollars in prize money and are becoming real celebrities. Each consecutive year, big developers give more money to fund prize pools for gaming tournaments. Point in case: game developer Epic providing $100 million for Fortnite tournaments, more than doubling Dota 2’s record-breaking $38 million of 2017.

Fortnite pro players after the $100 million announcement

What Does This Have to do With MobileGo?

Although the growth of the gaming industry and its eSports tranche is exciting, not much will change for the average gamer. The millions of dollars that developers spend on prize pools goes almost exclusively to professional gamers. For developers, this makes sense. After all, gaming is increasingly a spectator sport, and big tournaments attract a lot of viewers, who in turn spend money on their game.

But why can’t regular gamers have a slice of the pie? That’s what MobileGo envisions. They’re looking to create a platform where gamers are rewarded not just for winning tournaments, but also for in-game activities (e.g. planting the bomb in Counter-Strike: GO, destroying turrets in League of Legends, …) or simply for playing a game for a certain period of time (like a loyalty reward). The tokens that players are rewarded can also be used as a payment method to buy in-game items or even other games. How cool is that: fund your gaming by gaming!

Additionally, the MobileGo development team wants to eventually niche down on mobile gaming and wants to create an app store specifically for gamers and developers. Currently, developers have to share 30% of their revenue if they submit their app to Google Play or the Apple Store, and they have to wait sixty days before they receive their money.

Additionally, both Google Play and the Apple Store see well over a thousand new app releases each day, which means that a few apps become incredibly popular and top the charts for weeks, while the vast majority of apps never get noticed.

MobileGo wants to create a gaming app store that will only ask for 10% of the developers’ revenue and that will pay them out much faster. They also intend to work together with developers to make sure their games gain exposure on their platform.

MobileGo’s tokens will allow gamers to set up their own decentralized tournaments quickly and easily, making it easier for gamers to get a bunch of people together and play games competitively. Centralized tournaments organized by developers to promote their game and encourage player participation will also be allowed on MobileGo’s platform.

MobileGo’s ICO

MobileGo did its Initial Coin Offering in May 2017 and raised $53 million, which was the second-largest ICO at the time. MGO was issued both on the Ethereum and on the Waves blockchain, so the team could take advantages of the benefits of both blockchains. However, the team has recently come back on that decision and is moving all Waves MGO tokens over to the Ethereum blockchain.

MGO performance since its ICO: mostly downwards, with a noticeable revival the last few months

Unfortunately, investors in the MGO ICO who held on to their coins for too long have lost most of their money. The price rocketed to a high of $2.55 in June last year before plummeting to $0.26, a revival to $1.89, and then a slow but steady decline to around $0.09. However, positive developments in the last few months have seen MGO climb its way out of the well. As of today, it sits at $0.46 and ranks #72 in market cap size.

Here’s the Bad News First

There’s a reason why MGO fell from $2.55 all the way down to $0.09. It’s not just been the awful crypto market of 2018. MobileGo is a complex project to untangle, and the person in the center of the tangles is MobileGo’s Russian CEO Sergey Sholom.

Sholom was a professional Quake gamer in the early 2000s. He founded Datcroft Games in 2004, a gaming development company that focuses on developing games for mobiles, tablets, and browsers. The company is still active and is set to release its latest game Pixel Wars. Sholom still holds a prominent position in the company.

But he’s also the founder and CEO of GNation and GameCredits (respectively). GNation seems to be the parent company of both GameCredits and MobileGo, and wants to become the number one blockchain gaming ecosystem of the world.

GameCredits (GAME) wants to become the currency used to trade virtual items and in-game content in a decentralized virtual marketplace. This seems to overlap significantly with what MobileGo wants to do, and it’s not entirely clear from both projects’ websites (or from extensive Googling) what the difference is between both. As it stands, GAME is hovering at $0.065 a coin (from $6 at the beginning of this year) and doesn’t seem to have any traction at all. It seems MobileGo is usurping GameCredits more than it is simply serving a different purpose.

But while the lack of transparency is a cause for concern, it’s not altogether uncommon for crypto projects to be ambiguous or unclear about their intentions as they define their projects. However, the biggest cause of concern for many investors, and the main reason behind the decline of MGO, was the delay in its roadmap. Much that was promised by the end of Q4 2017 has yet to see the light a year later, and there is still uncertainty whether something will actually materialize.

Finally, on the 30th of July this year, one of the main developers working for GameCredits/MobileGo did an AMA on Reddit that showcased the inner turmoil and lack of direction at the two companies. The price of both MGO and GAME plunged afterwards.

And Now the Good News

While you might think there couldn’t be much good news left after the above, there actually is. First of all, I’d like to say that it’s easy for people on the Internet to shout ‘scam!’ from the peripheries. Each project should be looked at with care and with the assumption that most people genuinely want their project to succeed.

I believe this is the case for MGO too, and there have been a significant number of signs that show the people from MobileGo have pulled themselves together and are working hard to make it work. It’s also the reason why the MGO token quintupled in price, from $0.09 to $0.46 in a market where nearly every other cryptocurrency has seen its value drop by multiple double-digits.

First of all, there was a management reshuffle in August this year. Since then, there has been a surge of activity on all possible social media channels. Immediately, a number of significant decisions were made. The team has become much more communicative and willing to answer questions from their community. They’ve moved away from the Waves blockchain and developed smart contracts to transfer Waves MGO tokens to Ethereum MGO tokens on a 1:1 basis. They did a successful Chinese MGO airdrop and are due to do a global one over the next few days.

They announced a partnership with Unity, one of the biggest game engines of the world, and a partnership with Xsolla. Particularly the Xsolla partnership was seen as an important step forward. Xsolla is a suite of payment, billing, distribution, and marketing tools used by gaming bigshots such as Valve, Twitch, PUBG, and Ubisoft. MGO will be the first-ever altcoin that gamers will be able to pay with. Considering the number of gamers that play games using Xsolla’s services, this is a considerable achievement.

They also started releasing product. They rolled out GShare, which is software that unlocks your spare computing power and converts it to GN Gold that you can use to buy in-game items. They also released a beta version of their own gaming platform, where you can play five HTML5 games and win MGO tokens or GN Gold  if you rank in the top four.

I tried playing on their platform and, to my happy surprise, found out that it was the smoothest onboarding process I’ve ever seen in a crypto game. I was playing that fruit-slicing game in less than a minute, and actually ended up nearly winning a few coins because of it.

Slice all the fruit, don’t slice the bombs

All five games are free-to-play and versions of well-known browser and mobile games. They are immediately playable and fun. The added element of competition and the fact that you could, with a bit of effort, win coins with actual value, made it all the more exciting.

There are ongoing tournaments on the platform that carry on for a certain amount of time. You can jump in whenever you want and play. After a tournament has ended, everything resets and you can play again. So you’ll have tournaments where opponents were much better than you, and tournaments where you could quite easily earn some coins.

The MobileGo team has come out with a renewed roadmap, and, considering they’ve now hit some of their milestones, have much more credibility for the things they have planned in the future. In March 2019, they’re looking to launch the gaming app store where you can purchase games, in-game items and other virtual goods. And in April of next year, they will allow users to spend GN gold gathered from GShare to be donated to charity projects.

Finally, MGO has been added to big and reputable crypto exchanges such as Bitfinex and Ethfinex and seems to have an increasing amount of support from Chinese gaming communities.

Personally, the launch of their gaming platform was the most reassuring evidence that MobileGo seems to have picked up some pace again. I’ve played a few decentralized apps (DApps), and while the HTML5 browser games on MobileGo’s platform aren’t DApps in the pure sense of the word, it was a relief to simply be able to play without having to worry about MetaMask or buying altcoins from exchanges.

Judging from the quintupling of the MGO token price, it seems there’s a renewed interest from investors, but only time will tell whether MobileGo will be able to convince the more skeptical. I feel they cannot afford many missteps. But they’ve shown consistent and promising progress. Let’s hope they can keep on walking the tightrope as successfully as they have been doing the last few months while holding their eyes set on the vision of democratized gaming.