Superior, a co-op, third-person, roguelite shooter, developed by Drifter for the Gala Ecosystem, has announced its availability on Steam. Steam’s ban on all things crypto is still in place, but Superior is employing a new strategy: two versions of the game, one Web3 and one Web2.
The issue of Steam’s ban on NFTs and crypto is one I have covered at length in many different ways, and I’m not going to add more footsteps to it for now. Instead, we have a Web3 game being listed on Steam through an unusual and previously unseen method. So, let’s discuss why Superior and Gala have made this decision and its implications.
Superior: A New Dichotomy
Until recently, I believed Superior was a Web3 game through and through — it’s Gala after all. Then, in a Medium post titled, Why Steam and What it Means, the developers explained that while blockchain gaming is growing quickly, Gala believes that Superior is of such high quality that it deserves a bigger audience. So, to do that, Superior will tap into the 120 million active users the Steam platform has. Of course, this isn’t possible with NFTs and crypto in the game — which appeared to be a central mechanic — so, they’ve made an unprecedented move:
To cut to the chase, the Steam edition of Superior does not support NFTs or any other blockchain technology. However, Steam players are permitted to play via co-op with players that are on other platforms, as Superior is currently a full cross-play title. This means that there will not be any direct ownership capabilities within Steam, unless a player chooses to move their account over to the Gala Games launcher (or potentially others) down the road.
In all honesty, this caught me off guard and I feel a little silly for having never considered this move. But, what does this really achieve? There are positive and optimistic, and negative and pessimistic spins you can put on this.
Positivity and Optimism
This move will see more players on Superior than would have been possible otherwise by an unknowable — but likely massive — factor. Once the game has the players, perhaps they will grow curious about owning the items they find and earn, eventually soft-onboarding traditional gamers into the new Web3 ecosystem. If you (a Steam user) and a Web3 player earn lots of loot together and the Web3 player can sell and trade their share, it might seem silly not to capitalize on it too. What’s more, the crossplay between blockchain-enabled and blockchain-disabled versions means that Web3 players have a significantly larger pool of players to team up with.
Negativity and Pessimism
Traditional gamers who are anti-NFTs will abort any interest in Superior as soon as they learn about its other version, loudly boycotting the tech. They may even see it as duplicitous that the developers would split the game in two unless it is made very clear in Steam, and at present, there is no mention. If the argument from Gala is that the game is so good, the anti-NFT players won’t care about the Web3 version, then I’d rather see only the original Web3 version and let the game’s quality do the talking, onboarding players regardless of crypto.
This is going to be a topic I think about for weeks to come; is this dichotomy of Web3 games going to become a trend? My initial, knee-jerk reaction is far closer to the “Positivity and Optimism” section than anything negative. I do think that, as it stands, Steam is unrivaled at getting games in front of players, particularly indie ones — that’s evident. Furthermore, my point about letting the game’s quality do the talking and not making a Web2 version was me playing devil’s advocate; I doubt there is a better way to get players into an unknown game than Steam.
That said, I do have reservations I need to explore. This strategy might be an effective halfway house between Web2 and Web3 games, though I suspect the anti-NFT gamers will hit the roof if they put time into Superior, only to realize it’s published by Gala for a large Web3 ecosystem and stuffed full of NFTs in the “real” version.