- Blockchain Brawlers returns are incredible at the moment, dwarfing damn-near any other P2E game
- Cost of entry is too high for a large playerbase, but current scarcity prohibits that anyway
- It’s very early days and what we currently have isn’t a “game” in almost any sense of the word
- What Blockchain Brawlers has tried to achieve with this initial launch has been a complete success
Blockchain Brawlers, WAX Studio’s first game, has been playable for nearly a week now. I wanted to write about it immediately, but decided to let the dust settle and learn a little more first. Now, I want to talk about the launch, what we currently have, where it’s going, and some of the pros and cons of Blockchain Brawlers.
Full disclosure: Not only is Token Gamer an active guild and block producer for the WAX blockchain, but I (Rob) am one of the 15 or so Blockchain Brawlers ambassadors. That said, I have not been paid for anything to do with Blockchain Brawlers, including this or any other article, I bought my own brawler, ring, and equipment, and I will always offer constructive criticism regardless of my relationship to a game’s developers. In fact, let’s start with the negatives.
Misconceptions and Flaws
The first thing I want to clear up is a common misconception, brought on by the word “game”. At present, Blockchain Brawlers isn’t a game, but it’s a strong foundation for one. It’s important to manage expectations here, as if you’re excited to play a wrestling game — even a browser-based strategy one — you’re going to be disappointed. Once per hour, you click one button, get your rewards, then wait another 59 minutes to go again. That is it. There is crafting, but it’s all gated behind tokens and/or time, so there isn’t much to “do”.
There are no gameplay loops or ways to reduce the time (other than multi-account and more than one brawler) and there really isn’t any gameplay to speak of. There wasn’t meant to be at this stage, but many people have expected a more traditional game. This is due to the community — but also the Blockchain Brawlers team — using the word “gameplay” often, and it’s misleading, even in a world of browser-based P2E clickers.
The second area that could cause contention is the cost of entry. I will come back to the P2E elements later, but the barrier of entry at the moment is ludicrously high, prohibiting most players from being able to get involved. This is by design — there is a scarcity of brawlers, rings, and equipment — but it could leave interested players disheartened when they learn they need to spend thousands of dollars to participate. At the time of writing this on the 5th April 2022, if you wanted to buy the cheapest combination of brawler, ring, and equipment, all common rarity, you would need to spend $11,176.68 in WAX.
This isn’t a permanent state of affairs, and in fact, Rent-a-Brawler is coming this quarter, as announced in their recent roadmap update. However, one could argue the high cost of entry is a necessary starting point for a strong economy and the prices aren’t arbitrary.
Why It’s a Complete Success (So Far)
So, in what way is Blockchain Brawlers a success? Well, the answer is twofold. First is the scope of the initial release in which they were essentially setting up a strong foundation to build upon. Head of WAX Studios, Michael Rubinelli, has even stated that the first release is the worst the game will be — as ought to be the case with all games. But, what are these foundations? The mechanics behind the game (objectives and scope for content), the infrastructure (BNB <> WAX and ETH <> WAX bridges, OKX), the lore and community, and then the tokenomics.
The tokenomics (click here for a breakdown) are a part of the second half of the “twofold” success: the economy. Building a fully functioning economy in a game is tremendously difficult and we have seen many P2E games perish at the hands of a mismanaged financial system. So far, it feels as if Blockchain Brawlers has overcome this in every way and is set to flourish. This will require a comprehensive breakdown in a future review-style article, but I’ll give an overview here from my experience in the lead-up to the release and the first week.
The scarcity of everything useful to the game is central to demand, for one, which is the engine behind any economy; no demand, no need for supply. To not set this delicate and new ecosystem off balance, when Blockchain Brawlers wanted to give some brawlers out to key blockchain gaming influencers, they bought them off the secondary market rather than minting more. That is highly comforting.
Then there is how the $BRWL token works within the game. The first day of Blockchain Brawlers was a bit confusing as it felt as if you were earning hundreds of dollars per day for clicking once per hour, and while the earnings are indeed high, being able to earn in-game is expensive. Not in WAX or fiat, but rather in the $BRWL token you’re earning. A huge portion of what you earn is spent on healing your brawler so he can go back out and fight, and crafting a ring and equipment once they expire after their use limit (350 matches for a common ring, for instance.)
Why is having to spend a significant portion of your earnings good tokenomics? Because a token that has a primary purpose of being traded out for other coins and cashing out, can never become particularly valuable; without lots of important ways to spend it, there’ll be no demand. In Blockchain Brawlers, between crafting and healing, you’ll never run out of uses for your hard-earned (or earned at least) $BRWL tokens. And for those unsettled by the token’s max supply, as came up in the WAX telegram, the max supply is never meant to be reached and the tokens are locked until earned, which will take decades, allegedly.
Finally, the distribution of the token and valuable NFTs is worth attention too. In the Mint One Podcast episode where John and I interviewed Michael Rubinelli, I scoffed at only having a common brawler, ring, and piece of equipment. He corrected me and said it’s not simply the case that legendaries earn the most of everything and common brawlers and equipment are just entry-level. In fact, there are times when you might want to use common and common pairings over legendary and legendary, as you’ll see below.
So, How Much Can You Earn?
This is the question most people care about. With a 5 figure minimum cost of entry, what are people earning?! Each brawl brings you back a set amount of $BRWL and then a chance at the NFT “Gold” which is used for crafting. The floor price for gold at the moment is around $400. I am using common everything (Scotty Wideye, Brass Knuckles, and Normal Ring) and I am easily clearing a few hundred dollars per day. I don’t want to put an exact figure on it because there are many variables like the gold drop chance, but not least the volatility of the $BRWL token price. However, remember it’s more complicated than just earning, too.
You regularly have to heal your brawler (I think the maximum number of fights before a heal is 20) and a full 200 HP heal is 1,000 BRWL, for my commoner at least. Then, once my ring gives out (350 fights for common, 1,400 for rare, 2,800 for legendary) and my brass knuckles fall off (250 fights, which is the same for all equipment) I have to craft new ones at up to 20,000 $BRWL. As you can see above and below, this is expensive stuff.
Nevertheless, the earnings are high — very high. If you ever browse YouTube videos on P2E games, you’ll see that if you can pull $10-50 per day from a game, it attracts players in droves. In Blockchain Brawlers, with $BRWL at around 1:1 with $WAXP (it has been as high as double that), if you only use a common brawler and no equipment, you can make around $300 per day in $BRWL if you have 12 fights out of the maximum 24 in a day.
Now, this is obviously not an accurate earning as you’ll need to heal your fighter, which is 1,000 $BRWL every 20 fights (with the above common/nothing setup). This means you’ll make a profit of 400 $BRWL per lifecycle plus any gold NFTs you find, which would end up close to $100 per day. The NFT gold and the crafting of rings and equipment skew these numbers, but whatever way you assess the earnings, they’re far higher than any P2E game I’ve ever played, certainly for the average player.
For such a simple “game” in its present form, there’s a staggering amount to cover. So much so, there’s a lot I haven’t gone into yet (brawler editions, auctions, belts, the benefits of rare and legendary rings, etc.), but as you might have noticed, even an overview has become rather lengthy.
My synopsis would be that Blockchain Brawlers is currently a fantastic foundation for a P2E game, highlighted by the thoughtful and successful tokenomics and economy. The pitfalls of the project are currently as a result of the loose use of the word “game” (even within the gaping parameters the P2E genre sets) and the extremely high cost of entry, which is that way by design.
The most recent roadmap shows a promising direction that will likely flesh out gameplay to be more in line with the complexity of the game’s mechanics and economy. If WAX Studios can develop more to do — that is, more reason to in-game and for longer — the stage is set for a seminal blockchain game that will have its economy modeled on for years to come.