Gaming NFTs: How Coase is Building a Blockchain-Powered Collectible Card Game

Gaming-NFTs

“Gaming is the first application, but it’s not the last,” Coase Co-Founder Kathleen Breitman tells Jumpstart.

When it launched in 1993, ‘Magic: The Gathering’ was the first of its kind as a collectible card game. In the years that followed, it became pretty much a template for all other collectible card games that have since emerged. And since its pioneering launch, the collectible card game industry has exploded into an asset class worth billions of dollars.

A few weeks earlier, one of Pokémon’s most valuable trading cards — a first edition shadowless Base Set Charizard — auctioned for US$300,000. The card had a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade of 10, one of the highest numerical ratings a card can get from the PSA.

The auction reflects just a fraction of this industry’s value. In January this year, for instance, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 9 sold for a staggering $5.2 million to become the most valuable trading card ever to be sold.

Moreover, last year was historic for ‘Magic: The Gathering.’ It earned $581.2 million in revenue in what was its best-selling year ever. The digital collectible card game arena is also heating up with Hearthstone, the most popular game in this space so far, facing up to competition.

A new challenger entering the field is Emergents, a blockchain-based card game developed by Coase. Jumpstart caught up with Co-founder Kathleen Breitman at Collision 2021 to get a behind-the-scenes look at what Coase is building.

Why Coase is using blockchain to build a collectible card game

Named after British economist and Nobel laureate Ronald Coase, the company developed Emergents as a digital collectible card game integrated with a blockchain. But the company, Breitman notes, is not a gaming company — it’s actually focused on digital transactions.

“Gaming is like the first application, but it’s not the last,” Breitman says. “If we do our jobs right, what Coase will do is eventually build software that lowers transaction costs on the internet writ large… The overarching thesis is making commerce on the web easier and better for people.”

Coase is starting with collectible card games, which is backed by a massive secondary market where cards are traded between players. This is what enabled the trading of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, the shadowless Base Set Charizard, and many other cards that have become assets.

Breitman identified collectible card games as a suitable early application for her thesis because the digitalization of these games has not been very successful. As the philosophy paper notes, for instance, Magic: The Gathering’s online version has a complicated interface that can make trading a cumbersome affair.

What Coase aims to do is build a convenient online marketplace that can serve the needs of the gaming economy, and improve upon current approaches to digitalizing this economy. Blockchain acts as a building block for them to do that.

“A lot of times, [the gaming economy struggles] with the same tensions that traditional economies struggle with,” Breitman says. “…if you think about cryptocurrencies as something that can improve traditional finance, it makes sense to try to test out some of those theses in a gaming economy to prove them at a scale, before endeavoring to do something in the ‘real world.’”

Developing Emergents using blockchain is Coase’s way of testing out its blockchain-based trading model in the gaming economy as a kind of simulation.

The tradability of these cards creates a thriving economy for Coase to test out its blockchain thesis. The fact that each card is unique further makes it more suited to the tokenization model. These cards act as “fully tradable digital objects” with a “well-functioning smooth and efficient marketplace,” the philosophy paper points out.

It’s not the first to do this. A philosophy paper by Coase highlights several other competitors in this field, including Gods Unchained, Baeond, and Skyweaver, which offer their own use-cases for blockchain in trading cards.

The recent boom in NFTs only further validates her theory that, “collectibles will transition better to digital using a blockchain than traditional approaches.” Breitman’s previous venture, cryptocurrency Tezos launched in 2018, provides the blockchain protocol on which Emergents is built.

What’s in the pipeline for Emergents

Coase’s main approach to monetizing Emergents is by selling the cards. However, instead of selling them in a pack, as is done in the traditional collectible card game industry, the company plans to auction each card individually.

This, Breitman explains, removes the friction of having to buy an entire deck just for the probability of getting one or two cards that you actually want for your deck.

“What you would want in an entirely rational world is for the information to be free, and for people to just buy the cards that they want and just sell the cards that they don’t want anymore,” Breitman says.

“There’s a lot of friction introduced to this process, because basically, there was no way for Richard Garfield to do that with the original physical Magic model,” Breitman goes on. “But with the internet, obviously you can sell, you can buy, and look up as many cards as you want.”

To sell the cards, the company has entered into a licensing agreement with Interpop, a collectible products platform built on Tezos, and focused on pop culture-based NFTs. Brian David-Marshall, seasoned comic book and gaming executive, and a founding member at Coase, heads Interpop. Other members at Coase, including Breitman, also feature on Interpop’s team.

Breitman reveals that Emergents will also have a digital marketplace for trading, although players will be free to trade outside the marketplace if they wished to. The marketplace will use bonding curve contracts (where supply determines price), so the rarer the card, the costlier it will be.

Further, Coase will publish a software development kit for Emergents so that players can modify the rules of playing if they wished to do so.

Apart from Breitman and David-Marshall, the Coase team also features Zvi Mowshowitz, a member of Magic: The Gathering’s Hall of Fame, and Alan Comer, who has developed AI and rules engines for franchises such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering’s online edition. Emergents is set to release later this year.

Header image by Wayne Low on Unsplash

SHARE THIS STORY

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

RELATED POSTS

Elon Musk Buy Next

What Is Elon Musk Going to Buy Next?

There are moments in our lives—perhaps we are in the shower or struggling to sleep at 2 A.M.—when we think about all the ways we could influence the world. We find solutions to crypto volatility, world hunger and our neighbor’s ultra-dry plants.

5 Technologies

5 Technologies That Are on Stage in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine So Far

On February 21, 2022, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, declared the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Arousing international outcry, this ignited the ultimate invasion of Russia on Ukraine three days later. While Ukrainians are still defying Putin’s covetous ambitions, new technologies have been floating on the surface to take advantage of each other.

Technology Joy Ghose

Technology Pioneers – Interview With Joy Ghose of FreeD Group

Over the past 15 years, the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of FreeD Group Limited, Joy Ghose, has accumulated plenty of experience in the travel and technology industry. Before joining FreeD Group, Ghose was involved in sales, marketing and management roles at companies like Merlin Entertainments and The Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Creamy Mattes and Beyond Reviewing GoPlay Cosmtics’ Custom Lipstick Maker

To Creamy Mattes and Beyond: Reviewing GoPlay Cosmtics’ Custom Lipstick Maker

While researching for our piece on personal color analysis, I came across the LIPSKIT, a custom lipstick-making tool created by GoPlay Cosmetics. GoPlay Cosmetics is a DIY (do-it-yourself) make-up brand that is looking to prioritize sustainability in the make-up industry without compromising the variety of your lipstick collection.

Ledger vs Trezor

Ledger vs Trezor: Where Should You Store Your Crypto Holdings?

As lucrative as the cryptocurrency world is, it comes with a high risk of losing your crypto because of hacks. To make sure that your crypto holdings stay safe with you, you must carefully choose effective storage solutions for them. One of the ways to keep your crypto secure is by holding it in a hardware wallet.

4 best companion robots to consider in 2022

Alone No More: 4 Best Companion Robots to Consider in 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic and the isolation that accompanied it has given many of us a healthy appreciation for good company. Over the long periods of self-isolation and quarantine, we have come to the realization that company can also come in many non-human forms, like pets, plants and… Roombas?