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Founder of Words With Friends introduces Wildcard NFT game on Polygon

Founder of Words With Friends introduces Wildcard NFT game on Polygon

Paul Bettner tells Decrypt in an exclusive interview how Web3 technology makes his “ultimate video game spectator sport” work.

Paul Bettner has been working on his Web3 game Wildcard for more than five years. He co-created the hit mobile game Words With Friends and helped make the classic Age of Empires series. Now, he’s finally ready to inform everyone about it.

On February 23, an event called “Melee on the Meteor” will be the first public test of Wildcard. Bettner says that the game was made with viewers in mind. It is a competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game like League of Legends and Dota 2.

Player-vs.-player (PvP) gameplay, virtual non-fantasy trading cards (NFT), real-time strategy (RTS) elements, and Web3 integration through the Ethereum scaling network Polygon are all part of Wildcard. “Melee on the Meteor” will take place in a virtual place called Frostburn Arena. People can watch two characters fight on a large scale from inside the in-game 3D arena and even get NFT rewards in the process.

“We really want an experience where the competitor can literally share rewards with their fans live during the stream, and Web3 is the technology that lets us do that,” Bettner told Decrypt.

The first public Wildcard exhibition will pit two community testers against each other, with viewers able to win POAP-style NFT collectible airdrops and access to the game’s first NFT card collection.

Bettner raised $46 million in 2022 through his company Playful Studios. Paradigm led the round, and Griffin Gaming Partners and VC fund manager Sabrina Hahn also took part. After a lot of work with the community and development, Wildcard is now ready for its first big moments.

The game’s whitepaper, dubbed the “Wildpaper Lite,” details Bettner and team’s ambitious vision for the upcoming game. Bettner believes that esports is massively important to gaming, and that gamers watch others play video games nearly as much as they play games themselves.

The NFT Struggle for Balance

Bettner himself has transitioned from a crypto skeptic to a Web3 advocate; nevertheless, this does not imply that everything in Wildcard will be an NFT.

“We’re allergic to pay-to-win, as a developer,” Bettner told Decrypt in an interview, referring to his attitude on enabling players to purchase NFTs that provide an easy way to the top of a game’s leaderboards.

“Our game is about collecting, and you use your collection to play,” Bettner said. “That’s what provides for us the ability to have a game that both has valuable, collectible cards but it isn’t pay-to-win.”

“There’s not a card in Magic: The Gathering, really, that is pay-to-win. Those cards change, the meta evolves, and they have to always be walking this fine line of creating rareness and cards that are desirable but not creating a pay-to-win economy,” he added.

Livestreaming Restrictions

Bettner noted that Wildcard was created to create a more direct connection between players and viewers, with direct NFT airdrops for connecting with players’ material and watching them play. He is very aware of the importance of livestreaming platforms such as Twitch to both players and game developers, but he wishes to tackle several issues that Twitch cannot (or will not) handle.

“It was a little difficult, because those platforms have a specific way that they think about their audience,” Bettner said. “They think about monetizing their audience.”

Bettner stated that the Wildcard team got “frustrated” with Twitch and YouTube’s “limited” ability to provide a more immersive and satisfying experience for game viewers.

“A platform like Twitch, their capacity to deliver that is kind of limited,” Bettner said. “The real magic can happen in a video game where that moment can come to life where that fan can see themselves.”

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