I’m part of a team that is currently building a proof of concept decentralized gaming project. There aren’t a lot of projects like that because, believe it or not, it’s quite tricky to decentralize a project completely. It’s a good idea then to research similar projects to learn from their experiences.
One completely decentralized and successful project that stands out is the Loot Project.
Why should you read my research? Well, the main reason is – the Loot Project is kind of hard to get into. Not for the lack of data. There’s actually too much data. Each time you think you finally have a grasp – there’s a new rabbit hole of additional information to read through. More on that later.
Disclaimer: this research is not made to crap on the Loot Project. My conclusions might seem negative but they are subjective and don’t mean that Loot is/was not a success.
Big thank you to GrandMarquis from Game7 for helping me with this research. Presentation slides used below are by @TimshelXYZ, who is also the founder of The Genesis Project for Loot.
⭐What is the Loot Project?
The Loot Project is a decentralized project for developers, writers, artists to create content around the loot bag NFTs. “A collaborative media movement” – it’s not a game, it’s for anyone and everyone.
From the NFT description on OpenSea: “Loot is randomized adventurer gear generated and stored on chain. Stats, images, and other functionality are intentionally omitted for others to interpret. Feel free to use Loot in any way you want.”
However, the loot bags turned out to also contain lore and core principles inside the smart contract:
Here is a great video about the Loot Project if you want to know more details about how Loot came to be.
⭐How does the Loot Project work?
The main UI for the project is their Discord server. There are weekly Discord town hall calls where folks discuss loot related news and can showcase their work. There are a lot of people joining Loot’s Discord to this day but not a lot of activity as far as I could see.
To start building you need to buy a loot bag. To gain access to some of the Discord channels, you have to have bought loot.
The loot bags were free to mint at the start. Right now the floor price is ~0.4 ETH so as a result it’s quite a gated community where you don’t have access to some things if you don’t pay up. That is strictly my impression.
To combat that entry barrier, mLoot was created. MLoot is free to mint (you only pay gas on the Ethereum blockchain) but the access permissions are less for it as I understand. And obviously transaction fees on Ethereum can be quite pricey.
There’s no Roadmap. There wasn’t a landing page at the beginning. You’re free to create what you want and post about it.
There was a Loot DAO proposal but it didn’t go through.
There are a few active projects that are considered canon and are listed on the Loot Project’s website.
Some of them are art NFTs (Loot Explorers, Rings, etc.), some are games (the Crypt, Hyperloop, etc.). Some are similar to game asset providers: Crypts and Caverns (generative dungeons – on-chain maps on Ethereum); Banners (scaffolding for lore – family banners); Loot Realms (a collection of on-chain realms) – Bibliotheca DAO came out of it and they are now building on-chain games. There’s also a coin, $AGLD – a gold token for loot holders.
Some projects create additional utility for the loot bag holders, some are things in the loot ecosystem that you can purchase.
Basically, it seems like most projects that became successful through Loot went out to build other things outside Loot. Banners are writing a community-made book, Bibliotheca DAO are making other games, and so on.
⭐The Loot Project Downsides:
- Accumulated too much information over time – hard to navigate for newcomers. This is what I mentioned at the beginning – the amount of information is overwhelming. Big part of it is also ideological and not instructional in nature.
- Lack of real utility for the assets in engaging, persistent game worlds.
- Less engaging for content creators because there’s no centralized game/project. If the community created lore is not attached to anything – people don’t tend to come back.
- High entry barrier – loot price, limited quantity and liquidity of assets.
- If the Loot creator was more involved with the project (Twitter/Discord posts, roadmap updates, etc.) it might have been more engaging.
- It’s really hard to create centralized sources of information (what projects are canon, etc.) or centralized authority (like a DAO decision making entity) without salaries. And so:
- Not enough clarity in the ecosystem – no reputation system to know who is trustworthy.
- High gas for everything because of Ethereum blockchain.
⭐The Advantages of the Loot Project:
- Permissionless. You can build your project to interact with loot in whatever way you imagine without needing to seek permission. Free building blocks.
- Permissionless nature allows for innovation.
- Existing community for anything related to Loot. Loot was able to garner much interest post launch. Many projects were just built around giving free additional utility to loot bag holders. Building where the players are has inherent advantages for users.
- Easy marketing. You can also plug your project into any of the other derivative projects, and UA is built in since you can offer access or privileges to those holding any number of assets across these projects.
- Intuitive lore. The descriptions within each loot bag suggest a fantasy/medieval lore that has a long history in gaming and fiction.
- Opportunity. Anyone can participate and contribute but only the best ideas rise to the top.
It’s important for a decentralized project to stay cohesive and have some sort of centralized core that doesn’t become bloated and confusing. So more direction and input from the creators might be needed.
Instead of a decentralized project Loot seems to have become a launch pad for an array of different projects and companies.
Moderation is a challenge. Especially with AI generated content that can be generated in huge quantities. So maybe AI-based moderation is needed.
The initial promise of a complete decentralization was a huge success in the short term after launch. It sparked a tremendous amount of speculation in asset prices. However, that came at the expense of public goods funding, leading to a loss of community-driven progress. Basically it was hard to bootstrap builders. Although the creator ended up donating the remainder of the loot bags, and other leading projects chipped in to create a foundation. Loot also was part of a GitCoin Grants round later on to help with the funding.
So for our own decentralized gaming project I figured if we don’t offer funding and an existing community, it makes sense to lean heavily on two things:
- Great solutions for game development – decentralization and open source might go great together.
- Opportunity for developers to jump in and build inside a shared universe (might end up launching a few successful projects or creating an ecosystem).
Would like to know more about our project? Join our Discord where we post all the latest updates.
If you want to dig into the loot bags’ implementation on the blockchain or even join the Loot Project’s ecosystem, here are loot’s main smart contracts:
The original Loot contract (OG Loot) – 0xFF9C1b15B16263C61d017ee9F65C50e4AE0113D7
On GitHub: https://gist.github.com/JofArnold/1227316f9a094a9b9bc17274e557a6a7
“More Loot” (mLoot) refers to the additional Loot collection released on 9.4.2021 that added another 1.5M+ mintable mLoot bags to the ecosystem.
~126k have been minted, and 1M+ are still unminted
Synthetic Loot (sLoot) refers to the fact that any Ethereum wallet has a Loot bag tied to it which cannot be minted or sold, but can be used “synthetically” in games.
This has not yet been used by any Lootverse projects, but it remains an intriguing idea.
Thank you for reading! Do you have your own experience with Loot? Did I get something completely wrong? Tell me about it on Discord, I’d love to know~