It’s pretty easy to spot a blockchain game that either is or will be successful. They tend to have tons of player engagement, constantly active servers, and a clear goal or concept. I’ve experienced a few projects like this, but I’m sad to say that the subject of this review, Evaverse, is not one of them.
First, a little background on the game. Evaverse was created and is being built by a new blockchain game development studio called Battlebound. Battlebound was founded in 2021 by Adam Hensel, a former Riot Games employee who previously worked on League of Legends. Like other crypto game development studios, Battlebound is also comprised of former video game industry vets from major studios like Blizzard, NCSoft, and Ubisoft.
At the moment, Battlebound only has Evaverse, though they are also working on an NFT monster collecting game currently known as Project A. Despite being awarded nearly $5 million in seed funding and raising $3 million just recently, the studio’s flagship game seems… dead, and there isn’t much to go on for their second game at this point.
How does Evaverse seem dead? Well, for starters, I was never on a server with more than two other live players, despite playing it at different times across several days. A quick check of the global server situation reveals that there is a similar deal everywhere else, and perhaps even worse. There are some servers that never saw a single player in my time with the game.
That’s never a good sign for a video game and a business model that relies on constant engagement and players being invested enough to spend money on NFTs and other digital goods. If a game doesn’t have enough content to sustain a few hours of play, how can anybody be expected to keep coming back?
Evaverse is still a work in progress, as just about all blockchain games are, but Evaverse’s “Early Access” situation seems particularly egregious. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what Evaverse actually is. Evaverse is being positioned as Battlebound’s metaverse, in that it will be a place where players are supposed to gather, interact, and engage in different styles of games while showing off their NFTs from not just Battlebound games, but other games as well. Battlebound has already forged partnerships that would allow cross-pollination of NFT materials.
Right now, the process of getting into this metaverse is pretty simple. You can visit the main website, which has a bunch of information about the game and what it hopes to be at some point in the future, and then click the “play for free” button which takes you to… Steam. Yes, Evaverse is hosted on Steam, and there doesn’t seem to be a separate client to download as some other games have. This works pretty well, and Steam is going to be much more reliable and safe in the long run, so kudos there.
After you make an account, verify your email, and connect your wallet on the website (an optional step, as the game is wholly free-to-play), you’re off to the races. The bot-filled races. That’s because all there is to do in Evaverse right now seems to be two hoverboard grand prixs and an obstacle course you send your pets through called Cosmic Cup. Neither game mode felt particularly good to play or fun for that matter, but at least bots were automatically used to fill out the races so I was able to try them.
Before you’re able to access any of the games though, you are faced with your literal blank slate of an avatar, which looks a lot like a crash test dummy or an artist’s modeling figure. This avatar would obviously be replaced with an NFT character if you had access to one, but I did not, so that’s what I was left to work with. It’s functional, if a little boring, but that’s pretty much the case with all of Evaverse.
You’re dumped in a sizable open map with multiple areas, and while you might be able to purchase a hoverboard to get around at some point, I took a look at the game’s OpenSea page and all I saw was perhaps several hundred randomly generated character NFTs. The in-game menu has tabs for your character, hoverboards, pets, and more, which I assume will all be NFTs. I wasn’t able to find any kind of in-game store where you would be able to purchase these things.
The game’s whitepaper talks about token supply for its only currency $EVA, but there doesn’t seem to be any functionality for it right now, so why you can even buy it (at .0208 ETH, or roughly $43 as of this writing), or why almost 3,000 people are actually holding it, is a baffling mystery.
But maybe I’m being too hard on Evaverse. After all, it was only released in… August 2021. Over a year and a half ago. Of course these things take time, but why do they have to be so freely available in a clearly, embarrassingly unfinished state?
The Evaverse whitepaper purports the project to be focused on “game first development” with a promise that those who buy into the game’s economy “won’t need to wait years for a fully developed playable game”. If only we could buy into everything with promises, we might all be in a better place.
If you ask me, Evaverse doesn’t have any right to be on Steam, even when you take into consideration the service’s many other Early Access projects. Those games are a one-and-done purchase, whereas you could potentially end up spending hundreds of dollars on Evaverse without getting something that’s actually worth playing in the first place. It’s boring, it’s ugly, it feels bad to play, and I can’t fathom why anyone would spend their precious free time playing this. Oh wait, they aren’t. I was the only person playing it, and it was only for this review. If this is what the blockchain gaming industry has to look forward to, then it might never grow or find its place in the already established video game industry.