Back in the 90s, there was a small home cook restaurant just outside the offices of Nintendo in Kyoto, Japan. An elderly Japanese woman would cook one dish a day and serve it out of the first floor of her house to the Nintendo staff who walked over there. Those were some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
I was lucky enough to enjoy many lunches at that home cook restaurant with legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. But I’ll never forget the time when he shared with me one of the secrets to Nintendo’s massive success.
“We program almost nothing internally,” I recall Miyamoto saying, “We focus on what is important: design, gameplay and art. We can give the game to program to a number of companies.”
At the time, this was the exact opposite of what every other game company was doing. Everyone else would bring programming internally and outsource the art. Miyamoto didn’t think this was a good idea because building a franchise requires fantastic imagery, stories and gameplay, which are creative endeavors. Just about anyone can learn to program – there’s a defined language and set of rules that must be followed. It’s much harder to be creative.
No one else was thinking this way at the time. Then again, no one else was coming up with blockbusters like Mario and Zelda.
This type of thinking ran all throughout Nintendo, actually. The console maker also doesn’t have any manufacturing – it’s all outsourced and always has been. Like programming, the belief is that there are lots of factories that can make hardware – but very few companies can create novel concepts.
The big secret to Nintendo’s ongoing success is that it knows the difference between what is a commodity (something that can be easily replaced) and what is unique (Shigeru Miyamoto 😀). Nintendo focuses its time and resources on higher-level visionary stuff like hardware and game design. The company then builds and maintains relationships with the manufacturers and coders that can execute on that vision.
I’ve taken this lesson to heart as we begin to create the Unioverse.
The Unioverse will be a lot of things: A series of games, a platform for creativity, an innovative use of blockchain… But at its heart, the Unioverse is an awesome story. That’s why after launching the company the first team we put together was the writing and art team. Not marketing. Not biz dev. It was (and is) all about the narrative and character development. If no one cares about our story or connects with our characters, all the games and books and comics in the world won’t matter.
That’s why we brought on a murderer’s row of writers and artists including:
After all of that work and worldbuilding we’re basically handing everything, the story, the characters and all the other assets that bring the Unioverse to life over to other game developers and fans. This will let other game devs and our community focus on what their unique talents are. Indie game studios don’t have to spend money and time on art and can dive right into creating unique game loops and mechanics.
And those developers who do take advantage of our resources? Well, they’ll eat their competitors’ lunch.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these videos showing off some early Unioverse character development tests must be worth, well, let’s not put a number on it and just say a lot.
Up until now you’ve seen killer Unioverse concept art, gotten glimpses at some of our characters like Reyu, and claimed thousands of our gorgeous NFTs Collectibles. But one thing you haven’t seen is the Unioverse in action.
Now would be a good a time as any to remind you that while the Unioverse takes advantage of NFT technology – we are not just a pfp. The Unioverse is a game-first, community-owned franchise. Your unique Unioverse character NFT is not only how you will look when you play Unioverse games, it also gives you access to every Unioverse game.
These are AAA-quality characters we are building. They are fully-rendered, properly rigged, brilliantly lit, shaded and textured character models – and they are all game ready.
Not only does this mean anyone who holds one of our hero NFTs holds a gorgeous 3D character, it also means that any game developer looking to lower costs (we offer them up, royalty-free!) and decrease time to market can easily plug any Unioverse character into just about any type of game with confidence.
But we also want to be transparent with the Unioverse Community, to show that we are hard at work building something that is truly groundbreaking and amazing. We are a community-owned franchise, which means anyone will be able to download these character models to make their own animations, or art or comic or whatever.
So today we are launching the Unioverse Developer Log video series. In this ongonig series, we’ll give you a sneak-peek every step of the way as we bring these characters to life.
Some things to remember:
Enjoy this footage, and be on the lookout for more Developer Logs coming out soon!
NOTE: Your browser must accept our cookies in order to view the videos. You can also view them directly on the Unioverse YouTube Channel.
Nope. The Unioverse is not a Metaverse. End of blog post.
Well. That was quick. Who said writing is hard?
All kidding aside, the answer to that question, like so many aspects of the Unioverse, is both straightforward and more nuanced.
The Unioverse is not a Metaverse, but someone could build a very Metaverse-y experience on top of the Unioverse.
Allow me to explain.
The biggest difference between the Unioverse and a Metaverse is you.
Metaverses are about you. Whether you enjoy them as a digital twin of yourself with the same approximate hairstyle, face and body, or a more fantastical avatar with wings or horns or whatever that more fully represents you, the point remains the same. YOU are the person walking around and talking, emoting, dancing, whatever-ing with others in a virtual world.
But in the Unioverse, you play as one of our heroes. Among the many things the Unioverse is, at its heart is a gripping, expansive sci-fi story filled with a galaxy-spanning cast of characters. Just as you hop over turtles as Mario or blast the Covenant as Master Chief – in the Unioverse, you play as one of the heroes we create.
But any Unioverse hero you play will be uniquely yours. Because these hero characters are NFTs, and through our rarity model, no one else in the Unioverse will look exactly like you. Each hero character will have different traits (color, lighting, etc.) and some level of rarity (common, rare, legendary, etc.).
These heroes aren’t just about looks, though. Unioverse hero characters are your ticket to every Unioverse game that gets made.
When you think of a Metaverse today, you might think of Second Life, PlayStation HOME or games like Roblox and Fortnite.
Your mileage may vary with these different experiences, but consider this:
The Unioverse, on the other hand, is a distributed, community-owned franchise. That means there is no singular Unioverse experience. There will be hundreds of different games set in the Unioverse and they will all be different from one another. Any developer is free to create whatever kind of game they want: battle royale shooters like Fortnite, League of Legends-style MOBA games, or even racing games a la Mario Kart.
We don’t dictate what games get made, but you’ll be able to interact and play any of them, thanks to your hero character NFT. Developers are free to make whatever game they want, but it must work with our Unioverse heroes.
So instead of a massive, one-size-fits-all Metaverse, you’ll have hundreds and eventually thousands of different meta-experiences.
Which leads us to the nuanced part of this blog post.
Because we don’t tell developers what they can build in the Unioverse, an enterprising studio might create its own, traditional metaverse-like experience in the Unioverse.
For instance, a developer could create their own massively multiplayer RPG complete with quests across Unioverse planets. On a much smaller scale, someone could create their own version of a Mos Eisley-style cantina in the Unioverse where hero characters hang out. And, since anyone will be able to download the music we provide and remix it, Unioverse DJs (never say never!) could perform concerts.
The point is, that we are not building the Unioverse to be a monolithic, meta-experience. We are building it to knock down barriers and unleash creativity around the world and potentially be a place where a thousand metaverses bloom.
And that is the end of this blog post.
We launched the Unioverse last week and the feedback has been phenomenal. Because the Unioverse is an entirely new concept in franchise entertainment, we’ve also been getting a ton of questions on our Discord (which you should join!) and on Twitter.
So we thought it would be a good idea to collect some of these frequently asked questions (<- see what we did there?) and provide some answers!
The Unioverse is the first franchise from Random Games, a venture-backed games studio Co-Founded by Tony Harman (GTA, Donkey Kong Country, Crackdown) and Wyeth Ridgway (South Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, MLB). We’re going to re-invent franchise entertainment through a combination of insanely great storytelling, innovative blockchain technology and a more open intellectual property system. Our first franchise will be the Unioverse.
The Unioverse is many things:
But most importantly, the Unioverse is a “community-owned” franchise. That means all the AAA-quality art, character models, music and more that we create are made available to other game developers and our community royalty-free. Anyone can download our assets to make their own creations (comics, board games, T-shirts, etc.). Even better, those creations can be sold and we won’t take a dime.
No catch! After working in the games industry for decades we recognize:
We generate revenue by selling NFT hero characters. All revenue generated goes directly back into the franchise through expanded story, more assets and a Game Developer fund that will pay developers to make more games.
That’s not really a question, but we get it. The gaming community thus far has been burned by predatory NFT projects posing as games and giant corporations tacking on NFTs to existing franchises as a blatant cash grab. Random Games is using NFTs in the Unioverse in a thoughtful, limited way, and incorporating them from the ground up.
Our NFT pitch is simple: In order to play a Unioverse game, you need to own a Unioverse character avatar NFT. That’s it. Owning a Unioverse NFT will give you access to all Unioverse games. Now, other developers making Unioverse games may add other crypto elements to their games — but that’s up to them.
We will start out using Ethereum and Polygon, however we are blockchain agnostic. You will see us embrace Solana, Avalanche or any other prominent technologies that emerge.
Awesome! We’d love to hear from you. Check out the developers channel on our Discord, or head over to the Developers tab on this website and sign up for developer information. We’ll keep you updated as we have more news and announcements.
Developers working on Unioverse games will get access to our Unreal and Unity SDKs as well as our full library of assets (character models, environments, etc.). Plus you’ll get direct access to our talented team to get tips and tricks on game design and implementation.
If your game is great, we will pay you to make it.
Nope. No matter who you are, where you are, or how big your team, everyone will have access to our assets and SDK. And if you’re game is good, we’ll help fund it!
Heck yeah! You’ll be able to download our art and use our story however you want! Download the official image of one of our characters and print a T-shirt. Write your own short story. Animate a short film. Just make something and share it with the world!
Nope. Make whatever game you want (FPS, strategy, MOBA, etc.) and use whatever business model you want (freemium, premium, free-to-play, play-to-earn, subscription). It doesn’t matter to us.
Again. All these assets are royalty-free and if you sell your game, you keep all the money. The only requirement is that your game uses our Unioverse character avatars.
We will have more news on that in the future. The best way to learn all about the Unioverse is to be active on our Discord, follow us on Twitter and go sign up for our newsletter using the form below.
Our first series of NFTs will actually be Unioverse collectibles and we’ll have more to say about them in the coming weeks. Not only will these look amazing, they will also help you unlock higher status and various rewards in our community. NFT collectibles will launch soon, so be sure to stay active on our Discord.
We will have more information about the availability of our hero characters in the coming months. Not to sound like a broken record, but the best way to learn about those is to be active on our Discord, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter using the form below.
We will be publishing both of those things soon. Stay tuned.
I think that’s it. We’re excited to build the Unioverse franchise with our community. Be active on our Discord, connect with other folks from around the world and be ready for a revolution in entertainment.
When I was 23 years old, I literally walked through the doors of the Nintendo of America in Redmond, Washington and said I would do anything in the building to get into the videogames business. I had no experience other than playing videogames for 15 years and a business degree.
Fortunately, someone in that lobby heard me and gave me a chance. I made the most of that opportunity and eventually ran development and acquisition for Nintendo for nine years, where I learned directly from legends like Shigeru Miyamoto. From there I was able to head up other independent studios to launch hit franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown.
But almost no one today can start like I did by just walking into a company building and asking for a job. Most people don’t live near a videogame studio, and even if they did, security wouldn’t even let them in the door.
This is actually a pretty apt metaphor for the entertainment business at large. Big media companies have all the resources to make a game, or comic or movie — but they wall themselves off from the vast, eager talent pool that’s hungry for its shot. No matter how creative you are, or how amazingly talented your work, if you aren’t in the right place at the right time or don’t know the right people, those doors are shut.
Or at least they were.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we are busting those doors wide open for everyone with the official launch of the Unioverse.
The Unioverse is a massive, sci-fi game-first franchise. The story is being developed by a team of world-class writers and artists who have written for and expanded the narrative worlds of huge entertainment properties of Star Wars, Marvel, Call of Duty, The Walking Dead and more.
Unlike those titles, however, the Unioverse is what we are calling a “community-owned” franchise. This means that you, whoever you are, wherever you are, will have access to the same art, models, music and more that we use, to create whatever you want.
There are so many talented people in the world and I am continually blown away by the user-generated content I see in games. Modded characters, map levels, fan art – there is amazing stuff being created every day. The Unioverse will be a place that not only encourages its community to create, but also provides the tools to do so!
The same art, character models, music and more that we use to make Unioverse games will be made available – royalty-free! – to you (and anyone who wants to use them). These are AAA-quality assets made by some of the best writers, artists and developers in the industry, and you’ll be able to download them (again, for free!) and use them to make whatever you want.
I think of it this way. I could sit and come up with an idea for a T-shirt, and it would turn out pretty cool. But if I turned to the Unioverse community and said “design a cool T-shirt,” they would come up with loads of amazing ideas way more awesome than mine.
Even better? Those creators can then sell those Unioverse shirts (or comics or games) and keep all the money! Let’s see you try and do that in the Marvel universe.
As I said before, I got lucky at the start of my career and have been fortunate to work with some of the best minds in videogames. And now I want to return the favor and share what I’ve learned with the next generation of aspiring creatives.
Along with empowering the Unioverse community with industry-leading tools and assets, I want to teach you how to best use them. Collectively our team has decades of experience producing, writing and developing hit games, TV shows, books and more. The Unioverse community will have opportunities to talk with our team to learn the best tips, tricks and strategies for not just producing stellar content, but taking it to the next professional level.
As a part of the Unioverse community, you’ll also be connected with other creators just like yourself from around the world that you can learn from and collaborate with on projects.
I believe the Unioverse and its community-driven approach is the future of franchise entertainment. There are just too many talented people waiting to show the world what they can do, and they deserve a chance. I can’t wait to see what people create in our world when they come through our doors.
Join our Unioverse Discord channel to get first looks at the games as they progress, exclusive access to our team, and support from a community of like-minded creators.
“When I grow up, I want to design loot boxes!” said no kid – ever. We got into the videogames business because we wanted to make great games, but over the years, actually making games has taken a backseat to gaming the audience.
The entire games industry is broken and in dire need of a new approach. Thankfully, we believe we’ve created a better way in our new games franchise, the Unioverse.
First, let’s look at what brought us to our current broken system. Over the past decade, game development has been crushed under the weight of three macro-trends:
A developer needs to consider all these factors and bake them into their game before development even begins. That’s all time spent figuring out monetization loops instead of refining gameplay.
And all that is only if a developer creates a game based on original IP. If you want to make a game with an existing popular property, there is often a minimum paid guarantee costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (not to mention a cut of revenues going forward).
But, suppose you get through all that, and you make a game and it’s great – congratulations! Now you most likely have to make your game free (see above), pay to acquire users (see above again) and then pay platforms like Apple and Google to host your game (see above one last time).
Under this current model, we estimate that for every $1 a gamer spends, less than $0.20 gets to the game developer. Let that sink in for a moment. Game development is riskier than ever, developers make less per game, and even great games fail because they don’t figure out how to “trick” people into spending money.
The good news is – it doesn’t have to be like this, and our new gaming franchise the Unioverse is a vision for revolutionizing the industry.
Think of the Unioverse like a “Roblox for Game Developers,” where we provide the content, audience, and a way to monetize; you provide the amazing games. The Unioverse empowers game developers in a number of significant ways, including:
Our goal for the Unioverse is that at least 90 cents of every dollar a gamer spends goes back to growing the franchise or to the game developer building games – not to user acquisition companies or platforms like Apple and Google.
The only way crypto games will win over the mainstream gamer audience is by providing an overwhelming value proposition. Despite the current public perception, NFTs are a great mechanism to make videogames better for everyone involved.
Sure, the use of NFTs and blockchain in games has been marred by too much hype and too many scams. Those setbacks, however, will ultimately prove useful because they will help gamers recognize when there is a legitimate use case that actually benefits them.
NFTs underpin the Unioverse, our forthcoming gaming franchise currently under development by the creators of Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown, All Points Bulletin and more. Our pitch is simple: To play our games you need a Unioverse character avatar. That’s it.
Game developers who want to partner with us can use our Unity and Unreal SDKs, and just need to ensure that our Unioverse avatars work in their games. They don’t have to introduce or build out any other blockchain functionality (but are free to do so, if they like).
We will take revenues from NFT avatar sales and put them back into the Unioverse ecosystem through further development of Unioverse assets that developers can use royalty-free, and by directly paying developers to make games through our Game Developer Fund.
By opening up the Unioverse as a platform for developers, using blockchain in a straightforward manner, and allowing developers to keep the revenues they earn, we will revolutionize the games industry and hopefully fix the way future franchises are created.