How RuneScape & The Red Village Will Shape the Future of the Blockchain

Play-and-Earn game The Red Village has just raised $6.5m and partnered with one of the top game studios globally to build the first dark-fantasy RPG on the blockchain.

The Red Village
8 min readJun 3, 2022

Darkened skies, host to blackened crows,
Broken bodies hang’d from ropes below,
And everywhere a blood-red afterglow…

When The Red Village first wrote about Play-and-Earn gaming (as opposed to Play-2-Earn) back at the start of 2022, there were some vocal opponents and a lot of natural scepticism. Slowly, the narrative has shifted; now, you’d be hard pressed to find founders that don’t declare themselves proponents of the Play-and-Earn phenomenon. Which is great; but the reality is many will fall short, and many more don’t grasp the seismic shift required to take blockchain-gaming from the fringes of pop-culture and alternative asset classes to the mainstream.

Here’s how The Red Village is going to do just that.

The Red Village Story Thus Far

At The Red Village (TRV), we built in stealth beginning early 2021, launched socials in September, sold out 5,000 NFTs in 10 minutes in November, and sold another 6,000 NFTs in 30 seconds in January 2022, raising 1,100 ETH in total. On the secondary markets, TRV has traded over 3,000 ETH.

As the first dark-fantasy project on the blockchain (think Diablo, Skyrim, The Witcher, or Elden Ring), TRV has found a (huge) niche; gamers and blockchain enthusiasts who want to experience graphics, stories, lore, and community akin to that which they’d find in a traditional game. We believe in actually delivering working products, and the alpha of our Tournament game-mode went live in March, 2022 to great acclaim from our thriving, supportive community. Since then, we’ve run over 200 8-player Tournaments a day. Hundreds of thousands of USD have been won, and our community is easily amongst the most active and engaged you’ll find in the space. After a successful alpha, The Red Village: Beta went live in May, 2022.

But our Tournament mode is just the beginning of our journey. While it is still a beta, and there are dramatic upgrades planned to gameplay, animations, and as-of-yet unreleased modes such as 1v1 and Seasons, The Red Village has its sights set on far loftier goals.

The Problem with Play-2-Earn (P2E) Games

The last 12 months have shown us a fundamental issue with P2E gaming; in-game economies are being overrun by extractive elements of the community. Players who, true to the moniker, are ‘playing to earn’. There is nothing wrong with playing-to-earn as a pursuit; in fact, this class of players provides a fundamental foundation for a functional economy and in some ways is the backbone of blockchain gaming. These game loops matter.

But the problem is, without players who are willing to put money into a game-economy without a guarantee of receiving it back (at a multiple), there is more outflow than inflow, and token price inevitably suffers as a result. Of course, it is more complex than that, but this issue is at the core.

The solution to this problem is clear; build ecosystems that also attract players with disposable income, players who are comfortable with some discretionary spending. Players who will buy things because they like them, that invest in the ecosystem because they find it satisfying, and who play the game to socialise, as much as for the enjoyment of the gameplay itself. But how do you attract these kind of participants? The answer is clear; you build good games, and even better communities.

The Video Game Industry & RuneScape

The video game industry is one of the largest and most profitable sectors of the entertainment industry more broadly. With more than 2 billion gamers in the world, and revenue approaching $200bn USD per annum (with a CAGR of 8%+), it dominates even Hollywood when it comes to market size. And it’s only growing, with established sectors in North America and Europe now joined by rapidly expanding player bases in regions such as South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Some of the most popular game franchises in history have been fantasy or dark-fantasy; Diablo. The Witcher. Skyrim. Elden Ring. God of War. The list goes on. And, of course, includes RuneScape. No gamer who grew up in the 90s and 2000s managed to escape the thrill of logging into a server and beginning their second life in Lumbridge, before summoning the courage to venture into the lawless ‘Wilderness’. So iconic and ingrained is the title that it is still live, over 20 years since its release. Not just alive, in fact, but thriving; with over 16m registered players, and hundreds of thousands active daily.

RuneScape ruled.

And it was this title that provided the initial inspiration for The Red Village. The mission statement, dreamt up while watching the RuneScape documentary on YouTube in late 2019; ‘to bring the feeling you got playing RuneScape to the blockchain.’ To recreate the thrill of entering the wilderness, of trading in the Varrock marketplace, or wearing a party hat. Easier said than done, but it’s the goal.

Enter Animoca Brands, GameFi Ventures Fund, and Blowfish Studios.

The Way Forward: The Wilderness and Beyond

Building on the blockchain is hard. Really hard. It’s the reason there are so few playable games that exist, and even less that are any good. One of the best examples of a real, AAA-level blockchain game is undoubtedly Phantom Galaxies, the open world space-sim with a cult following, built on Polygon.

A reduced-quality GIF of Phantom Galaxies — you get the idea… The Red Village: Darklands is going to be really good.

When we at TRV started exploring game studios and their capabilities in the search for a long-term partner, there was a clear leader globally; Blowfish Studios (a subsidiary of Animoca Brands). As game developers for Phantom Galaxies, amongst a myriad of other titles, they are the whole package; consummate experts adept at building top class games and worlds, equipped with the specific knowledge and infrastructure required to bring AAA games to the blockchain, and part of the world-beating Animoca Brands portfolio. When we first connected, there was obvious energy and excitement in the room at the prospect of building the first ever dark-fantasy game on the blockchain, and helping to bridge the world of traditional games with the metaverse.

Over the last few months, the relationship has gone from strength to strength, and the vision has become clearer and clearer.

The Red Village is dark, fantastical world. It is bloody, brutal, and dangerous. It is a game that will appeal to traditional gamers. Looting, raiding, tackling monsters (PvE) and other players (PvP) in the Darklands beyond the village walls will provide epic scenery, engaging gameplay, and, importantly, a real challenge for gamers. The opportunity to socialise in-game will capitalise on the giant trend of social-gaming and speaks to the core of web3 and the metaverse; a place where people come to relax, hang-out, and engage with friends in a hyper-digital realm while having fun at the same time.

And, of course, there may be opportunity to earn active income through activities such as completing quests, creating assets, trading, mining, farming, defending, fishing and so on, which will engage play-to-earn players, guilds, and dedicated users looking to graft. It is possible that others may be able to earn from killing others in the Darklands (à la the RuneScape wilderness), and of course passive revenue may be generated for landowners who earn when people do things such as die on their land, harvest resources on it, or seek refuge upon it, amongst many, many other activities.

***These in-game activities, game modes, game type, and earning mechanisms are being discussed as we speak, so nothing is firm yet, and of course it’s all subject to change as development continues.***

But the overarching drive is to make the game fun, first and foremost — this will, in turn, drive sustainability in the in-game economy.

The Social-Gaming Economy

The goal for The Red Village is to bridge traditional gamers with the blockchain. This means getting traction in two different worlds, and taking the best parts of P2E to create a sustainable economy that has true longevity. Our view here at TRV is that leading with a game-first, fun-first approach, creating a metaverse experience that has true socialising capacity, enthralling gameplay, and wickedly strong lore and community, will be the catalyst for onboarding the rest of the world into crypto-games.

The Red Village won’t look like anything else on the blockchain. Building with Blowfish Studios, we will deliver real, high quality, gameplay, animations and experiences, and will usher in a new era of gaming as the rest of the world opens to the power and inevitability of web3. It is these truly innovative, well-designed, and deep games that will capture the imagination of the traditional market — and we are poised to be at the front of the line when these gamers enter the space.

The Red Village: Darklands — Concept Art.

Raising the Temperature: The Future is Red

Partnering with the strongest blockchain projects in the world, and having the backing of some of the most well-respected and well-connected companies in the space, The Red Village is poised to become a giant of web3 gaming.

Our significantly over-subscribed $6.5m seed round, lead by Animoca Brands — the global leader in gamification, blockchain, and metaverse projects — and GameFi Ventures Fund, and our partnership with Blowfish Studios has given us capacity and ability, beyond almost any other blockchain gaming project that exists, to truly execute on our vision.

Couple this with other huge value-add and strategic investors in The Red Village, including Kucoin Ventures, JellyC, Sfermion, Polygon Studios, Metavest, SL2 Capital, Dweb3 Capital, Spark Capital, Fundamental Labs, OIG Capital, MEXC Global, LucidBlue Ventures, IQ Protocol, Prometeus Labs, Rendezvous Equity, Paribu Ventures, CGU, DuckDAO, Pylon Labs, Vendetta Capital, as well as several well-known angel investors, and a powerful narrative begins to emerge.

These investors have been and are involved with some of the largest and most well-established blockchain games, metaverses, and ecosystems in existence, including The Sandbox, Decentraland, Bigtime, Atari, Cross the Ages, Galaxy Fight Club, Splinterlands, Star Atlas, SolChicks, Axie Infinity, Plutonians, and Sidus Heroes, amongst many, many more.

The investors join our already long list of partnerships and advisors including The Sandbox, Decentraland, Phantom Galaxies, BYOPills, Metakey, Skvllpvnkz, Human Park, ZED RUN, The Juice Team, and PELLAR.

With a team like ours, the future is certainly bloody.

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The Red Village

Dark-fantasy Play-and-Earn Blockchain Game. A Multiplayer Bloodsport Fighting Tournament with NFT Champions and an immersive ecosystem