The rise of blockchain technology has given way to an interesting new development in the gaming industry. Decentralized games broadly fall into two categories. The first category is a game as we know it, which we play to have fun and where blockchain technology serves as a compelling addition to the game. Examples are Steem Monsters and EOS Knights, both of which are games where blockchain technology is quite invisible. Sure, you can buy and sell in-game assets for cryptocurrencies in a marketplace, but the core gaming experience requires no blockchain knowledge.
The second category is a type of decentralized game that centers around the unique and inherent features of blockchain technology. In particular, around the facts that players can fully own in-game assets and can buy or sell these assets in exchange for cryptocurrencies. As such, many of these games aren’t so much games as much as they are interesting speculative investments. MegaCryptoPolis (MCP) falls into this category. It’s a decentralized city builder game on the Ethereum blockchain with macro and microeconomic layers that are seamlessly integrated with blockchain technology.
Because MCP is a slower strategy game that doesn’t require continuous monitoring, most players don’t check in on a daily basis. That’s why MCP ranks quite low when it comes to Daily Active Users (DAU). However, it’s the #3 Ethereum DGame in terms of weekly USD transaction volumes and it had over 8,000 registered Ethereum wallets in February 2019. Considering most DGames don’t see more than a few hundred players a day, this shows there’s considerable interest in the game.
Opening MegaCryptoPolis for the first time had me impressed. MCP looks great for a mobile-compatible browser game. If you’ve ever played a city builder game (SimCity anyone?) you’ll recognize the scene: a huge map with rivers, forests, deserts, and islands. The difference with other city builder games is that it’ll feel as if you’ve been plonked into a relatively disordered city right from the start, as if you begin mid-game. It’s fascinating nonetheless, with skyscrapers towering over factories or a few residential buildings surrounded by nothing but empty land.
The basic premise of MCP is simple: you and many other players collectively build a megacity. Players can buy “blocks” of land, construct buildings on them, and gain influence points. In return for their influence points, they’ll receive tax money from other players in return, which is distributed every day.
There are different block types in MCP: grass, stone, water, meadow, sand, forest, road, and highway. The grass and meadow blocks are the most versatile: you can buy them, build on them, and they can have resources on them. You can buy a stone block and they can have resources, but you can’t build on them. All the other blocks cannot be bought and are there to make the game’s map more visually interesting.
It should come as no surprise that a category two investment DGame such as MCP requires you to invest a little bit more money than a category one DGame. However, browsing my way through the map and randomly looking at the blocks of land for sale, I thought many of the MCP land plots to be relatively inexpensive, ranging from 0.1 ETH (around $16) to 0.5 ETH ($80). There are definitely a few steals available on the market right now, although much of it will depend on the future success of the game. The cheapest blocks of land today cost 0.05 ETH.
Of course, buying a block of land is only the first step. Except if it has resources (which gives you additional influence if you place a mine on a surrounding block), you’ll need to construct a building on your block of land to start generating influence. There are eight types of buildings available to players:
- Utilities (hospitals, police stations, fire stations)
Residential, commercial, utility buildings do not have any prerequisites and can be built immediately. The other buildings have some requirements before they can be built, which are detailed below. Each building can be leveled up, from level one to level five, with each additional level yielding the player more influence. Four blocks of land with level five buildings on them will allow you to create a mega building, which gives a multiplier to your influence points.
Players can also buy entire districts of land. Similar to blocks of land, buildings are ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning they can be freely sold on MCP or through third-party exchanges. The benefits of owning a district are that the owner will receive a part of the price paid by other players to purchase blocks of land in the district and they can collect tax on the key actions that players make on district blocks.
Every key action in the game requires a player to pay taxes in the form of Ether. Part of these taxes will go to the federal tax budget and part of it will go to the district tax budget. These tax budgets will be distributed to district owners and to the players as determined by their percentage of total influence points. Currently, the global ETH Tax Fund sits at a respectable 99.20 ETH.
Adding a New Layer to MCP
The MCP development team considers the above as the foundation; the underlying layer of immutable assets. It’s the core of MCP gameplay on which they can build more interactive, new concepts. And that’s exactly what they did the 27th of January 2019, when they announced MCP 3D.
MCP 3D is a graphical update, where they move from a slanted 2D perspective to a real 3D perspective. You can already try out a demo and, again, it looks pretty cool. You can zoom in until you’re right in between the buildings. It’s a bit more taxing on your device - you want to make sure you have a reasonable GPU and enough RAM - but you can select between low, medium, and high graphical settings.
Despite the name, MCP 3D is much more than just a graphical update. It will add a microeconomic layer to MCP. Most importantly, MCP 3D will add a new ERC-721 token: citizens. Each citizen has six qualifications: strength, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. They will rank somewhere between zero and ten for each qualification.
A citizen with a qualification above eight ranks as a “Top Manager”, one qualification above nine is a “Professional”, one qualification at ten an “Executive”. Two qualifications at ten is a “Top Executive”. Citizens with three qualifications above eight are labeled as “Genius”. And a citizen with ten out of ten for all qualifications is an “Astronaut”, who are understandably very rare and very valuable to have.
Each building will have a new function too. Residential buildings will generate citizens, office buildings will give citizens a way to earn ether, production buildings will produce resources, and so on… MCP 3D will also introduce pets, which can act as qualification boosters for your citizens and which also serve as ERC-721 tokens.
It’s an ambitious update that will add a ton of new functionality to MCP. In fact, the developers believe this new microeconomic layer may eclipse the macroeconomic layer in terms of overall transaction volume. The release is planned for Q4 2019 and there’s currently a presale going on where you can buy packs of microeconomic assets for prices ranging from 0.035 ETH to 1 ETH.
MCP isn’t a game that you start up and play. It requires thought; even more thought than when you’re playing a regular city builder, because you’re investing money that you can genuinely earn a return on. The best strategy is to first immerse yourself in the details of the game. The white paper and their paper on MCP 3D are a good start, as they’ll explain some of the calculations behind key actions in the game.
It might also be worth joining some of the Facebook groups that have popped up discussing MCP strategies, or ask questions in the game’s Discord channel. This can be a competitive game, but it can be cooperative as well, and you’d do well not to go for it alone.
These are the early days for investment DGames. It’s the gold rush. I’m certain there are DGames out there where crypto assets can be scooped up for no money compared to the return they’ll bring in a few years. However, determining which DGames will see these returns is nigh impossible. All you can do is look at the traction a DGame has today. MCP seems to be at the point where people are both interested and where land prices are still relatively cheap. This isn’t investment advice, but that fact alone makes it worth investigating.
If you're interested in playing MegaCryptoPolis, you can do so in The DGaming Store.