Here, Nicolas Gilot shares insight into Ultra’s milestones and roadmap. He also discusses regulatory challenges and, entry barrier problems in NFT games. Moreover, Gilot also sheds light on how Ultra Games is different from Steam and Epic Games Store. Finally, whether upcoming next-gen should pivot away from using words like ‘web3’, ‘blockchain’, and ‘NFT’? Gilot answers the question with conviction.
PlaytoEarnGames: Could you highlight some milestones achieved by Ultra Games in 2022 and 2023, and share your expectations for 2024 in general?
Nicolas Gilot: So, we have been around for not many years, we have built a lot of foundational technology. That was really what we worked on in the initial years, we started in 2018, and it is 2023, it is to get the idea for the community of how long we have been working. If you compare Ultra to different projects in the blockchain space, usually Ultra does the vertical whether it's layer 1 doing the SDK, the NFT standard, the application ecosystem, the various apps within the ecosystem, and even the content within the ecosystem.
At Ultra we can impact any layer of the whole vertical which means we can modify the whole protocol. That is the power we have at Ultra compared to other projects that we are able to basically optimize any part of the vertical to provide the best possible experience. At the end of the day when you join Ultra, you don’t need to worry about blockchain or anything, you just need to register and you get access to web3 games and web2 games.
Nicolas Gilot: After building on the foundational technologies and a whole stack of it, we are going towards launching the products. So we launched our marketplace, and this year we launched the game store, and still optimizing it and launching Ultra Arenas a tournament platform. We just launched a Chrome extension. So basically, the foundation is done thanks to the initial years, and now we can build a product very fast because all the foundation is done by Ultra already. So what you can see in the upcoming year, you will have exquisite games, a battle arena, optimization of our various products, and partners launching their products on Ultra.
What are your thoughts on regulations in different countries and their potential impact on Ultra Games? How do you navigate regulatory challenges?
So, how we see it is that we can see some pioneering countries that want to take the lead and take the opportunity, and at the same time you see the powerplay by the large countries as they will lose business. For example, Hong Kong is very pro-crypto. It happened in the past as well when everybody was doing business in Hong Kong, at some point it turned to Switzerland, then it moved to different regions like Estonia, then Portugal. It is just shifting around and people trying to get opportunities. And I think people will be forced to embrace it. Because at some point the regulation will help to guide people, as long as you are in the regulation it is good. However, lack of clarity is a high risk, if you don't have clarity anything can happen.
We saw that recently with Binance Coinbase and other cryptos that are affected. Once the regulation is in place then it will be much easier, at least you will know what you need to do and how to be compliant. This is something we do at Ultra where we try to be compliant by taking advice all the time and how to do things to make sure we remain compliant as we can be.
Can you discuss any upcoming web3 games that Ultra Games plans to launch?
We want to release games that add value and give back to the players. When they think about buying the game they buy it from Ultra because there is something additional for them. On Ultra your game is tokenized, which means that you get special access to the community, to the game developers, or you can participate in tournaments of the game, or you can get all the access to the game as you are one of the early contributors. So, we are actually bringing more value for the same amount of money that you pay on other platforms.
Further, we have exclusive games, sports games, FPS games, and AAA quality games, and the idea that they can leverage our entire ecosystem. Say for example for the FPS, you can play the game, you can play the tournament of that game, you can have an influencer talking about the game, you can be airdropping weapons, people participating in the game and earning because they are spending their energy and time. So, the idea is smooth gaming where you don’t necessarily have crypto shove in your face or anything complex. You just play the game and you enjoy it with an added benefit when you earn something. So, it is about the players, we make it seamless for them and give them an advantage.
Regarding web3 games with higher entry barriers, where players may need to purchase NFTs or OP Card NFTs for an enhanced gaming experience, what is your perspective on striking a balance between inclusivity and offering unique benefits to players?
How it should be from my perspective is that you really want no friction while onboarding players. If you are among early gamers and contribute to the game then yes you have more advantages and you get more value. But you should never as a player should get a power advantage in a sense, it can be a progress advantage like you can progress faster in the game. The more you spend time the more you are supposed to be advancing the game.
As for the seamless aspect, you don’t want to gate the game itself, you can gate the beta access but not the entire game. Because you want to test the game and we want people for that. Whether you airdrop and welcome people to participate in the beta or you generate more visibility for the game in front of your community by giving them a cool NFT. And further down the line when you are playing the game you will receive x, y, and z. So, there are ways to incentivize people to play the game early and contribute early.
It is harder to do without the blockchain elements for example when a gamer starts contributing early in the game and decides to leave or hand it over to someone else for monetary value or something else. So there is always a sense where the gamer will know that I am not wasting my time sort of mindset. Gaming is not about generating money, it is about having fun but at the same time if having fun brings you additional value then why not.
As for taking your in-game stuff from one game to another, that doesn't work, I mean Blizzard can do it as they have super talented developers and own several super games but otherwise the dream of teleporting from one game to another, I don’t share that vision. But what I share is that my vision is really about having whatever time you spend should bring value to you and to other people. Basically, you get to have that advantage for the energy you spent in the game.
With the recent announcement by Epic Games Store to host 20 NFT games, how does Ultra Games position itself in relation to Epic Games Store, considering its significant daily active user base?
In terms of seamless experience, I don’t think Epic Games is bringing anything. The only thing it brings is that you buy the game, download it, and play, that is something we already have. But the fact that they have a wide user base is attractive for game developers, it totally makes sense. It does not solve the problem, though they have solved the user base problem still they are marginal when we compare them to Steam. Moreover, they don’t really bring in value, there is nothing new that game developers can do. For value, you need to pull the seamless experience which requires a lot of work in blockchain integration, and they are not doing that. Epic Games is not an ecosystem rather it is just a game store.
Ultra is working with a very different mindset, we want to deliver a full fledge experience to players. Like, if they want to watch Twitch, you can do it inside of Ultra. If they want to participate in esports they can do it while remaining in the Ultra ecosystem. This is the mindset we have, to make a one-stop solution for gamers and all other actors interacting in this space. Epic Games has a two-pronged approach, Unreal Engine for developing games and then the game store which is making games available to people.
What strategies does Ultra Games employ to attract and retain developers and players? How do you ensure a thriving ecosystem within the platform?
For the game developers we provide them with a lot of value than any other game store like Steam or Epic. The only value Steam and Epic have for the game developers is that you can reach a massive audience which is cool. But at the same time, there are hundreds of other games reaching the same audience on Steam, so, the chance that you are visible is not much. At Ultra we really take it project by project, we get involved in the game and push them, we try to do airdrops for them, we help them scale, we try to basically help game developers succeed. At other stores, they give you access but you are on your own to succeed and compete with everybody else at the same time.
For the players, we offer unique content that you won’t find elsewhere. The fact that it is an ecosystem, it has many angles that help drive traction for us. We can organize tournaments with our partners, which will drive players. Additionally, it can be an airdrop from a new game which can be done using an influencer. It can be an exclusive discount on the game only available at Ultra. We really have a lot of different ways to attract users, so that really is the strength of the ecosystem aspect. We are not fighting alone against Steam or Epic, we are actually bringing in the whole ecosystem that can support and leverage each other to bring more value to all.
Ultimately, it brings more value to us as well because we have more and more users, content, and spotlight, and become a de facto solution provider. On Ultra game developers will have a lot of control in their hands, using that they can attract a lot of users and won’t just sit and pray that their game works.
How do you view the marketing strategies employed by web3 games? Do you believe there will be a shift where next-gen games may not necessarily identify as web3 games, but rather simply as video games? Or do you think it is important for them to explain to players what to expect from the web3 aspect?
I think web3 game developers should not do that because it does not matter in the end. What matters is the question that why this game is great. What experience do you have in it? I don’t see why mentioning technology will be unhelpful for bringing people. People don’t buy Mario because that is a 2D platformer game, nobody cares, gamers only care that it is Mario, I wanna play Mario because Mario is really cool.
Most people don’t even know the game developers behind popular games like Street Fighter, most people don’t know and don’t care. They really care about what they are gonna be doing with the game. It is more about the value, and the gameplay experience rather than technology, at least not for the mass market. As for the B2B style, yes, we can talk about the technology as well but for end users and consumers, it is not necessary.
Ultra Games Interview FAQ
Q1: Who is Nicolas Gilot, and what is his role at Ultra Games?
Nicolas Gilot is the co-CEO of Ultra Games. He plays a crucial role in shaping the company's strategy, development, and direction within the gaming industry.
Q2: What is the history of Ultra Games, and when was it founded?
Ultra Games was founded in 2018, and it has been working diligently on foundational technology for several years to create a unique gaming ecosystem.
Q3: What are some of the significant milestones achieved by Ultra Games in 2022 and 2023?
In 2022 and 2023, Ultra Games achieved several milestones, including the launch of their marketplace, game store, Ultra Arenas tournament platform, and a Chrome extension. These developments laid the foundation for their gaming ecosystem.
Q4: Can you provide more details about the games available on Ultra Games' platform?
Ultra Games aims to offer a variety of games, including sports, FPS (First-Person Shooter), and AAA-quality games. While specific titles may not be mentioned in the interview, the platform intends to host exclusive and high-quality games for players.
Q5: How does Ultra Games address regulatory challenges in different countries?
Ultra Games acknowledges that regulatory challenges exist in various countries. They aim to navigate these challenges by keeping abreast of evolving regulations and seeking compliance advice to ensure that they operate within legal boundaries.
Q6: What is the approach of Ultra Games to web3 gaming, and how does it differ from other platforms like Steam and Epic Games Store?
Ultra Games sets itself apart from platforms like Steam and Epic Games Store by offering a comprehensive gaming ecosystem. It integrates features such as Twitch streaming, esports participation, and exclusive discounts, creating a one-stop solution for gamers.
Q7: Can you explain the concept of "Play-to-Earn" games mentioned in the interview?
"Play-to-Earn" games refer to games where players can earn rewards or incentives while playing. These rewards could include in-game items, tokens, or other digital assets. While specific titles are not mentioned, Ultra Games aims to offer games that provide additional value to players through these mechanisms.
Q8: How does Ultra Games balance entry barriers and inclusivity for players, especially in games that involve purchasing NFTs or OP Card NFTs?
Ultra Games aims to minimize friction for new players while still offering advantages to early contributors. Players are encouraged to participate early in games, which may provide progress advantages without creating power imbalances. The focus is on ensuring a seamless gaming experience.
Q9: How does Ultra Games plan to attract and retain both game developers and players?
Ultra Games offers game developers more support and value compared to traditional game stores. They get actively involved in projects, assist with scaling, and provide various incentives. For players, Ultra offers unique content, tournaments, and exclusive discounts, making the platform attractive and engaging.
Q10: What is the perspective of Ultra Games on marketing strategies for web3 games?
Ultra Games believes that web3 game developers should prioritize highlighting the gameplay experience and value over emphasizing the underlying technology. The mass market tends to care more about the quality of the game and the overall experience rather than the technology behind it.
Q11: Will the next-gen games described in the interview identify as web3 games, or will they simply be labeled as video games?
According to Nicolas Gilot, next-gen games should focus on being great games rather than emphasizing the web3 or blockchain aspect. For the mass market, the technology behind the game may not be a significant selling point. However, in B2B contexts, discussing technology may be more relevant.
This FAQ provides detailed information on key aspects of the Ultra Games interview, including the company's history, milestones, approach to gaming, regulatory challenges, and their perspective on web3 gaming and marketing strategies.
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