Yield Guild Games: One Year On and Looking to the Future
In late 2020, at the time of YGG’s inception, nobody in the media was talking about play-to-earn. We were a small community focused on Axie Infinity, investing a lot of time and money to build the play-to-earn narrative. From day one, YGG wanted to bring play-to-earn to the masses. We produced the documentary “Play-to-Earn: NFT Gaming in the Philippines” in partnership with Emfarsis and Delphi Digital, and we spoke to every media outlet globally that was willing to listen so we could tell them about a new concept that was changing lives.
By July 2021, when the YGG token was launched, the burgeoning play-to-earn category — and its heartwarming stories of success — was already a worldwide phenomenon. That was a year ago, and today, it is a different story with many in our industry transitioning from play-to-earn to play-and-earn. And while we agree that play should be fun, our community still believes in a future where gamers are rewarded for the time and effort that they invest into games, their communities and their ecosystems. Where other guilds are looking to pivot, or shut their doors as they stare down a bear market and face mounting pressure from the media, YGG is looking for more ways to deliver on that original promise to our community.
Despite the current bear market and the critics, there are many in Web3 who have put their heads down to focus on building — and we will be there right by their side. The next 12 months will be a time of building and exploration, for YGG and for the entire blockchain gaming industry.
Product Development and Exploration
The focus on ensuring that the right people are in the right seats really kicked off late last year with the appointment of Colin Goltra as Global Chief Operating Officer. Goltra is a nine-year veteran of the crypto ecosystem who most recently served as Director of Southeast Asia for Binance, where he oversaw 11 Asia-Pacific markets, and has also held Crypto Leadership roles at Coins.ph during its most rapid period of scaling. Since joining YGG in November 2021, Goltra has been building a team capable of turning YGG into a world-class Web3 product and operations organization.
Jen Yu was recently hired as Head of Design after holding creative leadership roles in San Francisco’s Bay Area for more than 10 years, while KnightAV was promoted from Head of Software Development to Head of Product Development. KnightAV is a long-serving YGG community member, YGG team leader, and head of the YGGSPL subDAO, with proven capability in integrating our community’s needs into the guild’s product development lifecycle. In addition to these leadership positions, Colin, Jen and KnightAV have added some key hires within their various verticals.
YGG has also added experienced contributors and managers in Software Development, Product Management and Product Design, and has a roadmap of additional hires across these functions despite a period of widespread layoffs in the broader crypto ecosystem. We are looking forward to reporting on the output of their efforts — and this powerful new engine within the guild — over the coming weeks and months.
“Now more than ever, we see an opportunity to bring on world-class builders to help us write the destiny of the play-to-earn ecosystem. Historically, the best projects have been those that could survive the harsh crypto winters and build enduring protocols and communities through discipline and without the distractions of public hype,” said Goltra.
YGG’s community is the epicenter of the guild. KnightAV and Jen have started with the core belief that we need to build products and services that better facilitate the actions and interactions of our community. We acknowledge that scholarships have been a powerful vehicle for YGG’s growth but that there are many other passionate cohorts within our community that the guild must also be building for.
So far, the first season of the Guild Advancement Program (GAP) has just finished, the achievement NFTs have been distributed and the YGG tokens are soon to be released. GAP Season 2 will be expanded to include more quests across a broader range of games and community activities so that more people can apply their time and skill to earn custom NFTs and YGG token rewards.
We’ve reimagined the YGG Reward Vaults from our original visions to better align with our core community. The focus for our Reward Vaults will be to ensure that guild members who hold the YGG token are able to further their play-to-earn journey, access the best new games and projects in the space, and establish stronger links with YGG partners. More information about this will be released in the week ahead.
In esports, our players have made us proud every time they represented YGG in both local and international tournaments such as Axie Infinity Retreat (AIR) in Las Vegas, the Lunacian Scholarship League Esports events, and Galaxy Cup, among others. YGG Esports offers a variety of opportunities for YGG guild members to hone their skills in the competitive gaming space through YGG Elite, YGG’s premiere roster of esports players, as well as YGG Rising Stars, which is the prospect pool of YGG competitive players. Led by Mike Ovecka, who previously worked in esports programs at Blizzard Entertainment, YGG Esports has plans to host more tournaments with game partners, while also creating educational content to engage fans and further develop the esports scene within the wider blockchain gaming community.
The Evolving Play-to-Earn Landscape
AK’s original scholarship model was a stroke of genius. The 70:20:10 model for games delivered an amazing amount of value to an underserved community — YGG scholars alone have earned over US$10 million from the time they invested into Axie thanks to the scholarship model. The scholarship model allowed new entrants to join the movement where they otherwise could not afford to get started, and from a guild perspective, these scholars were some of our most engaged and passionate community members. Our focus on delivering value to scholars has positioned YGG and its ecosystem of regional subDAO partners as clear leaders in this space with nearly 30,000 scholars around the world having benefited from the program in May 2022.
Today, developers are experimenting with new business models in play-to-earn as well as different breeding and depreciation mechanics. This is an exciting time of innovation and YGG remains best positioned to capitalize on these games and virtual economies as they launch, evolve and grow. This may also create new possibilities for subDAOs, micro-guilds and managers. Ultimately, our goal remains the same as we look to facilitate opportunities for guild members to earn rewards, especially as the model continues to adapt and mature along the way.
As the play-to-earn gaming space evolves, YGG is supporting its partners in their quest to reach a wider audience and establish a deeper connection with the world’s best gamers. Since inception, the YGG core team has been sharing their expertise with emerging games in the interest of designing better features for players and guilds.
During this bear market, we will also be introducing more direct feedback loops for our game partners to be able to get faster access to feedback from the guild and other players within our community as they trial these early-stage games. We will continue to explore new business models and methods of collaboration with our partners, so we can implement more diverse ways for our community to be rewarded for their time and effort.
“It is incumbent upon the YGG team and community to be adaptive to new models as the space evolves and this will be a time of great learning and experimentation in the play-to-earn gaming space. Yield Guild is a member network of players and Metaverse actors of every kind, and we are actively seeking new ways to build for and track these cohorts. We are excited that our community is ready to come on that journey with the team,” said Goltra.
The next 12 months will be a time for YGG to be exploring, testing, learning and building. We stand together with our partners and our community while that happens. Play-to-earn will emerge stronger than ever as we welcome the next wave of new users into our world. Members of the YGG guild and our broader community are invited to join us and work with us as we support those who are building the digital future.
It would not be possible to finalize such a post without acknowledging the amazing support our community has shown since we began our journey in November 2020 and since our token launch in mid 2021. Going forward, we are doubling down on our plans to be the world’s leading play-to-earn gaming guild with a rich, global tapestry of community members being rewarded in a manner that is meaningful to them.