The NFT space has been moving at the speed of light recently, but to date almost all the big headlines and projects have been Ethereum-based.
However, that may now be about to change. OpenSea has now integrated a number of Solana projects on its marketplace as part of a beta test, while several high-profile Solana projects have begun to get serious hype – perhaps no more so than Okay Bears, which has a 93 SOL floor at time of writing ($8,000).
The Ethereum vs Solana debate took centre stage over the weekend, of course, as the much-publicised Otherside metaverse land mint by Yuga Labs, the creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club, clogged up Ethereum and caused gas fees to rocket into the four figures. Solana, for its part, went down shortly after. Yuga Labs then asserted that they would need to launch their own chain to continue to scale, in a statement on Twitter that was met with a lot of derision from enthusiasts, who claim they simply planned the drop poorly and failed to optimise the contract.
We're sorry for turning off the lights on Ethereum for a while. It seems abundantly clear that ApeCoin will need to migrate to its own chain in order to properly scale. We'd like to encourage the DAO to start thinking in this direction.— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) May 1, 2022
Amongst all this debate and change, we got the opportunity to interview MonkeyLeague Head of Marketing, Oren Langberg. MonkeyLeague is an NFT gaming project on Solana, who were chosen as one of the Solana projects to be part of the OpenSea beta test.
Invezz (IZ):Firstly, can you give a little background on MonkeyLeague, to those who may be uninitiated with the project?
Oren Langberg, Head of Marketing at MonkeyLeague: MonkeyLeague is the first game release of UnCaged, a studio pioneering the next era of high production value, play-first Web3 games with sustainable economies. Backed by an expert team with tons of experience in both Web3 and gaming, MonkeyLeague combines high-production-value, multiplayer gaming with Solana blockchain, NFTs, and decentralized finance to deliver a fast, turn-based, play-and-earn soccer game that’s easy to learn yet hard to master.
At the intersection of FIFA Street and Chess, players build their ultimate teams of 4 Monkey NFT players, which they own, that fill the positions of Striker, Midfielder, Defender, and Goalie. Monkey NFTs are born with 32 total traits, including Appearance, Game Skills, and Game Perks. Each Monkey has a starting stat level for each Game Skill – Accuracy, Control, Defense, and Passing – and a max potential they can reach. Skill stats are improved through scoring goals, daily missions, and winning matches.
Matches go for 10-12 rounds with each team getting a couple turns in each round. In a turn, a player can dribble to another quadrant, pass to a teammate, shoot the ball, steal, tackle and more. For most actions taken, the opposing team challenges that move. For example, if the Striker takes a Power Shot on goal, its Skill levels are put up against the Goalie’s Skill levels.
Monkey NFT players can’t be played endlessly. Just like in real life they get tired and injured. Taking care of your players with Nutritional items to boost their Stamina and MedCare items to boost their Health Points will be key.
MonkeyLeague is centered around league play. Meaning, players are grouped into differently levelled leagues with other players of the same skill range. Score goals, win matches, and league up to climb the ranks and earn higher status and more rewards!
Invezz (IZ):What separates MonkeyLeague from other esports NFT games?
OL: The team behind MonkeyLeague is unparalleled in Web3. Our game studio is one of the few that has everything in-house and one of less that have a seasoned team in both Web3 and in gaming. With over 100 years of combined experience designing and developing high production value games with sustainable economies, MonkeyLeague is creating immersive gaming experiences that will last a lifetime. The near AAA quality production value is unmatched in the current Web3 gaming space and MonkeyLeague is revolutionizing a realignment of focus to emphasize a play-first gaming experience on Web3 rather than a play-to-earn or play-to-win.
We are on a mission to make Web3 gaming adopted by the masses. In part that comes from the production value and level of entertainment we will deliver. But it also comes from creating a game ecosystem that appeals to the masses and a wide range of players – from hardcore to casual. In MonkeyLeague, there will be multiple ways for players to engage and earn. Players will be able to earn Actively by completing missions and winning matches and Passively by being a Spectator and rooting for the winning team, or owning a Stadium and hosting matches, tournaments, or even events!
IZ: Getting selected as part of the OpenSea Solana beta is really exciting. Do you know why MonkeyLeague was chosen, and how many other projects are part of the beta?
OL: It is extremely exciting! We were super humbled, and at the same time not surprised, that we were selected. There is no question MonkeyLeague Gen Zero NFTs are one of the most popular NFTs on Solana. Our initial NFT drops had nearly 100k participants with thousands selling out in seconds. Our NFTs not only have extreme collectible visual value but tremendous utility value as well. Not sure on the exact number but it was a handful.
IZ: OpenSea listing Solana NFT collections is obviously big news, but how do you think this will affect Solana going forward?
OL: Solana is doing great work all around in creating a robust ecosystem, especially for gaming and NFTs. Onboarding OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace on the planet, is a huge step into expanding the audience and users of Solana.
IZ: What are your thoughts on Solana as a whole regarding NFTs – how do you think it compares to Ethereum, and why did you choose it for your project?
OL: Not only is Solana doing awesome work and creating a stacked ecosystem but moreover, their blockchain is fast and gas fees are near non-existent, which all makes it very attractive and friendly for gaming studios like ours. We love and work closely with the Solana team and look forward to what’s to come.
IZ: How do you think the OpenSea integration with Solana will affect Solana-only NFT marketplaces, such as Magic Eden and Solanart? Do you think these could lose a lot of volume, or even become obsolete, if/when OpenSea fully embraces Solana?
OL: I am sure it takes away some while also bringing new audiences into Solana and hence Magic Eden as well eventually. Also, a certain level of competition is healthy for the ecosystem and a natural step forward. Magic Eden is a great partner of MonkeyLeague and we know the team well. They are constantly innovating and putting the community first.
IZ: Do the much-publicised outages on Solana give you cause for concern?
OL: Not at all. We know Solana’s capabilities and issues can happen. What’s important is they are super proactive in solving them and improving.
IZ: I’ve never bought a Monkey before – but if I do, where do you recommend I should go? OpenSea or one of the Solana platforms?
OL: The most important is to do your research. Remember, there are 32 traits including Appearance, Game Skills, and Game Perks. If the visual Appearance and rarity is most important to you then look for a Monkey that, first and foremost, you connect with visually but also has a higher Alpha score.
Alpha score represents the probability that a Monkey with all of that Monkey’s traits would be generated from the total population. So, the higher the Alpha score the more unique that Monkey is. If you’re in it for the game, then look for an above average Alpha score but more importantly high Max Potential Game Skill stats. These give you an indication of what level you can achieve through improving your Monkey in the game.
Lastly, compare Game Perks percentages. Game Perks are action boosters in the game (i.e. extra boost on a pass or shot on goal). To form your team and build your dynasty, recruit Monkeys that will fill each of the positions on the field.
IZ: I enjoy Solana myself and have got involved with some other collections – most notably SOLPunks, who have a really warm community. How is the MonkeyLeague community?
OL: Wow, the MonkeyLeague community is the blood that keeps everything pumping! We have a massive and extremely passionate community. From day one, we set forth to be a community-first “project”. In an industry shrouded in mistrust, malicious acts, and a lack of transparency it has always been a core principle of ours to be super communicative, open, transparent and to speak to our community at the same eye level. In the end, we are all in this together and have the same vision and goals.
IZ: What are your future goals for MonkeyLeague?
OL: Although we have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, this is only the beginning for MonkeyLeague and our studio, UnCaged. In the immediate future and shortly after the Player vs Environment game mode launches, multiplayer, Player vs Player, will launch with leagues starting to form and expand and tournaments becoming a big element.
Our long-term goals are that MonkeyLeague sets a new standard for Web3 gaming and constantly pushes the boundaries over what’s possible. Our mission is to create AAA quality Web3 games with sustainable economies and mass adoption that last a lifetime – gaming experiences that allow for a wide range of players and player types can engage and have fun!
MonkeyLeague is just the first esports franchise for UnCaged with much more to come!
IZ: How do you think NFTs, and MonkeyLeague specifically, will fare in a prolonged bear market? Do you think there could be flight to quality, with risk-on assets all seeing enormous drops across the space, including NFTs?
OL: I think if there will be a prolonged bear market, that it will just speed up a natural process of the industry as a whole, evolving to where there is a “survival of the fittest” effect. Gone are the days where anyone can create an NFT and create a sustainable collection or project, or where a couple people in their mom’s garage can create a low-quality game, just to cash in on a play-to-earn and NFT waves.
NFTs will need real creator and utility value and games will need to check some boxes. The industry will evolve to become more mature, and our studio is pioneering super high quality, play-first Web3 games, with MonkeyLeague at the forefront. NFTs and Web3 gaming isn’t going anywhere.