The Epic Store saw the launch of its first NFT game today, Blankos Block Party (opens in new tab), a sort of Roblox-like creation game powered by everyone's favorite tech snake oil, Web3 and the blockchain.
First, an acknowledgement—we featured Blankos Block Party at The PC Gaming Show in 2020, a time when the idea of blockchain-based gaming was still in its unassuming infancy, as opposed to its current scammy, speculative, recovering-from-the-recent-crypto-crash adolescence.
Our writeup (opens in new tab) at the time contains dark portents of what was to come. "With some Blankos being seasonal or limited edition, there's a certain rarity to certain characters. It follows the same logic of collecting physical designer toys in that sense," PC Gamer wrote that year. If only we had known.
There are definitely some appealing fundamentals to Blankos. After all, Roblox is a megahit with some neat ideas: What if someone made something like it that didn't look, you know, like that. The "Social Multiplayer Party Game" has a robust-looking level editor, one that reminds me of Fortnite Creative or Little Big Planet and could, under the right circumstances, foster a similar environment of user creativity.
Blankos has the look of a pleasant and charming multiplayer playground, but I find it hard to see it as anything other than another example of a highly negative gaming trend, one the formerly quite bullish Ubisoft recently distanced itself from (opens in new tab). A quick search of the game's name on YouTube fails to yield examples of cool community projects, but rather a litany of guides on how to earn money while playing it.
Steam took a hardline stance against blockchain games, while the Epic Store has left the door open to NFTs (opens in new tab). Time will tell if Epic will reap the rewards with some Web3 megahits. According to WorthPlaying, Blankos developer Mythical Games claimed it reached one million player accounts in December 2021, but its footprint on YouTube and Twitch seems fairly light, with just 41 concurrent viewers on the latter platform at the time of writing.
But maybe my skepticism is unfounded, especially when Blankos has such killer apps as the Minny B (opens in new tab) winged donkey-looking skin made in collaboration with Burberry. It's only $900 too, an absolute bargain.