Deep Dive Research
14 Jun 2022
Thetan Arena is a blockchain-based MOBA and BattleRoyale game with many thrilling and exclusive gameplay designs and a P2E mechanism. It is developed by the well-known Vietnamese online game mobile startup, WolfFun. At the launch time of Thetan, they had established two games on GooglePlay as Editors’ choice, Tank Raid Online, and Heroes’ Strike, with over 10 million downloads.
The appealing features of Thetan come from free-to-play and the combination of the competitive elements of MOBA (e.g. Dota, League of Legends) and Battle Royale (e.g. Fortnite) games. These properties eliminate the barrier of capital and competitiveness, which are typically lacking in blockchain games.
Thetan Arena was one of the notable P2E games that launched before we entered the bearish season of the crypto market. Recently, Thetan introduced two new models, the first model is fusion where you can combine two (or more) heroes, to mint a new (and supposed to be) better hero, and the second model is staking Hero + 100 THG. In particular, the former model allows many heroes to be fused into a new one that could have a higher tier (e.g. 3 common heroes fusion may get a legendary or epic hero) and players can “refresh” this action in unlimited time until they get the expected hero. In addition, the cost of fusion will decrease depending on the tier of the hero (the low-tier hero fusion will pay more fees than the higher ones). This update solves the staked heroes issue along the way, promising to be desired by players. The latter model is a part of the Special Staking Program of Thetan. There are two staking options in this program: “High Rewards Stake” and “Flexible Stake”. The flexible pool offers an APR of up to 80% for staking THG and players can un-stake at any time. The high reward pool offers a much higher APR (up to 240%). In return, holders are required to put at least a pair of 100 THG and 1 NFT hero into the staking pool. Staking hero NFTs means your NFT is permanently removed from your inventory, in return, you will receive the reward in gTHG and private tickets to participate in the private sale of Thetan’s partner projects.
Based on the on-chain data of Thetan, there are a few interesting insights about that game.
At around April 1, when the hero staking is introduced, the number of transactions for common heroes (NFTs) escalated to 1,571 transactions, a number that is much higher than Epic or Legendary heroes. It makes sense since the staking heroes mean your heroes are gone forever, so people buy common heroes and stake them (plus THG) to get private tickets. However, the volume of transactions was not large enough to cause any notable change in the average price of Thetan heroes. Again, the launch of Thetan fusion causes a small increase in the number of hero transactions without any significant increase in hero prices. We conclude that the demand for heroes during this time was quite weak.
Based on our calculation of how much THC players (hero owners) earned. We calculate the earnings by tracking the wallets of hero owners and how much they cash out not the amount of THC that they earn in-game. Since people can use THC to upgrade their heroes (inside the game) the earnings that we calculate might not be the same as the amount that players earn.
Players earn increasing THC over time, however, the actual earning in the dollar term is falling. The main cause for this fall is the decrease in THC prices. According to the data from tradingview.com, the current price of THC is -99.3% of its ATH. What Thetan and other P2E games can do is create a better mechanism when users have to spend THC to buy weapons, repair weapons, or buy cosmetic items.
Another interesting is the average holding days for each hero type. We hypothesize that the hero staking function causes a change in the behavior of users, in this case how long players hold heroes NFT before selling them to the next owners.
The color is a bit confusing, but the label is correct. Before April 1, people held Legendary heroes for the most extended period (16.11 days). After April 1, players are more likely to hold on to Epic heroes for all most a month. Common heroes always get flipped fast mainly due to the large volume of supply. Combine this charge and the charge where we calculate the cash-out earnings of users (Figure 3). On March 23 and April 1, the amount of THC that was earned and cashed out increased, while the drop in the THC on May 10 could be our technical problem in pulling data from the BSC scan. We can say that the earnings in THC are good, the idea of staking heroes and THG to earn private tickets for other projects is quite catchy. In addition, players may hold on to the heroes for the next Fusion event.
Another metric that we want to look into is DAU and the number of NFT owners. The DAU (Daily Active Users) cannot be calculated based on on-chain data, so we based the DAU on the number of wallets that claimed THC to their wallets on a specific date. We also count the number of distinct NFT owners. We assumed that if the number of NFT owners is larger than the number of DAU, then the game is full of speculators, and thus they don’t contribute value to that game economy. However, many guilds held games NFTs that they lent to scholars so a wallet that owns many NFTs could belong to a big guild.
At the early stage of the game, there are a much higher number of sDAU (supposed DAU) who played and claimed THC. The number tells the same story as when the earnings in USD value were high (Figure 3). During that period, the number of sDAU at the highest point is about 5,000, while the number of NFT owners is just slightly more than 1,000. Thus during that time, value was created and users contribute significantly to the game. However, a weak retention mechanism is a reason why the number of sDAU quickly falls.
One final metric, we calculate the value flow to Thetan treasury from selling and buying heroes activities.
Our takeaway based on the on-chain data analysis is that the remaining players of Thetan are more likely to be the real players, who play the game for fun. The proportion of speculation investors (who buy heroes NFTs expecting NFT prices will go up) is sinking. Maybe this is how GameFi could be sustainable: fewer speculation players, and better usage of in-game assets and currency.