Eyeball Games’ new pool sim aims for blockchain success

Colin Campbell, Wednesday, July 26th, 2023 9:54 am

Pool is one of the most popular games in the world, as well as the basis for many successful video games and simulations. Now it’s coming to Web3 gaming, via Eyeball Pool from Eyeball Games.

According to Eyeball Games’ CEO Jonatan Ivarsson, the new game is being engineered by some of the team behind 8 Ball Pool, which was acquired by MiniClip and went on to become a smash hit, racking up more than a billion downloads and more than 10 million DAUs. Prior to that, the team built a successful pool browser title Gametrust. “They have outdone themselves twice already and third time’s a charm,” said Ivarsson, in an interview with GameDaily.

The new game is being engineered from scratch with an original physics engine, along with back-end and infrastructure partnerships with Polygon and Immutable. “It’s being built from the ground up – not using a third party engine – with a UI that’s appropriate for 2023,” said Ivarsson. “We’re not taking an inferior product and just slapping an earning element on it and calling it a blockchain game.”

NFT operability

So how does a pool game work, with blockchain and NFT operability? Players at certain levels in the game can earn currency, upgrades, and assets that can be used to create playable NFTs in the form of special pool cues that have minor gameplay advantages useful to skilled players. They can also be traded inside the game and on third-party marketplaces.

“They’re not critical weapons by any means,” says Ivarsson. “It’s always a game based on skill. If you’re up against the best player in the world, you can’t change the result just by using slightly better equipment. But if you’re a good player and you meet someone at the same level as yourself, you can put in a better performance.”

“We understand the pool genre very well,” says Ivarsson. “We understand how it works from every angle from gameplay loop rewards to physics to market demographics. That’s a good place to be. Now we’re looking at collectible games, especially in sports, and it’s interesting what’s being introduced. Often, those collectibles can’t be liquidated [by the player] and we firmly believe that there’s a market for collectibles that the player can trade on the chain.”

The free-to-play game features skill-rankings for player-vs-player modes. It will not require NFTs or wallets to play. It is currently going through its early access pacings, with a full launch planned for early next year. In January, Eyeball Pool completed a 30-minute sellout mint of 4,001 genesis NFTs , with another scheduled soon.

Key partnerships

Speaking on the partnerships with Immutable and Polygon, Ivarsson said: “We felt that it’s important to partner with strong and serious vendors that are also very game focused, instead of going for something that is maybe a Swiss army knife for everything that happens on the blockchain. They have a focus on onboarding players and making life easier for them. They’re also helping to spread awareness, so they’re like a publisher in some sense.”

Eyeball Games says that partnering with Immutable and its API-based infrastructure allows the company to “significantly reduce the game’s development time and costs”. The game will make use of Immutable zkEVM, which “enables creators to tap into smart contracts to incorporate advanced trading and game mechanics”.

“There’s power in partnering with a specialized ecosystem for gaming versus one that tries to include all use cases,” Ivarsson said in a recent statement. “Immutable works day and night to improve its gaming ecosystem, developer tooling, and publishing capabilities – the Immutable zkEVM is a testament to this. “

Speaking for Immutable, Andrew Sorokovsky, VP of Global Business Development added: “Immutable Games Studio is constantly striving to push the boundaries and diversity of Web3 games, and the addition of such a popular genre as pool to the Immutable blockchain family is yet another important step toward offering players as much variety as possible,”

Player demographics

Video game pool players skew more male, and older than average players and, according to Ivarsson, are more likely to prefer playing traditional skill-based games like online chess. “It’s that feeling of improvement, and pitting yourself against other players, and proving that you have the ability to win,” he says.

They play in short bursts, and enjoy practice and competition. “Around 65 percent of our players are male, and the average age is in the 30s. These are often not the kind of players who will sit and play an RPG for six hours at a time. It’s not that kind of market. It’s more of a thing when you’re on your commute or you have a few minutes to spare.”

Eyeball is based in Singapore, which is home to other companies operating in Web3 gaming, like Mighty Bears. “We have some good friends here,” says Ivarsson. “Singapore has a lot of advantages. It’s a global financial hub with a lot of stability and talent, so I think it will continue to attract game companies.”

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist.

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