If you're a fan of the classic Wizardry fantasy RPG series, you might be wondering what's happened to the franchise and where it's going next. Well, wonder no more, as a new Wizardry blockchain game has apparently been announced by its current IP holders.
What do we know about the Wizardry blockchain game?
Several major gaming companies are going all in on the blockchain and NFTs, including Korean mobile giant Netmarble and gaming legend Atari. Now, it seems that list can be expanded to include Japanese company Drecom, which acquired the rights to the classic fantasy RPG series Wizardry back in 2020. According to gaming analyst Dr. Serkan Toto on Twitter, Drecom somewhat quietly announced a Wizardry blockchain game recently, so it looks like we now know what the studio is planning to do with the IP.
Dr. Toto says that although the Wizardry blockchain announcement flew under the radar on Western shores, that's where the game is currently being targeted. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is very heavily regulated in Japan, making it difficult for studios to sell blockchain-based games over there. Here, however, the rules are more lax. According to Dr. Toto, Drecom is currently targeting a late 2022-early 2023 release date for the Wizardry blockchain game. We're not yet sure what form it will take; it could offer Wizardry-themed NFTs, or perhaps incorporate some kind of cryptocurrency marketplace. If you're despairing for the state of your beloved RPG IP, don't worry; Dr. Toto says that a "traditional Wizardry mobile game" is also still on the way.
It's a little ironic that the Wizardry blockchain game isn't targeting Japan, given that that's where the franchise currently has its biggest following. It's a dungeon crawler RPG series that started back in 1981, chugging along with a solid following in the west as one of the early RPGs until it effectively crossed the pond, and would eventually continue to find a home there long after its home shores had left it for dead. Many Wizardry spinoffs were released only in Japan, while re-releases like last year's Wizardry: The Five Ordeals aren't even available in the English language. The first Wizardry game to be translated into English for many years was 2020's Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, which didn't exactly set the Western RPG market aflame. It'll be interesting to see if Drecom manages to make any more headway in the West with its new Wizardry blockchain project.
Gaming and the blockchain: a primer
As a nascent technology, the gaming industry is naturally interested in how it can incorporate the blockchain into its efforts. Many companies, like the aforementioned Netmarble and Atari, are going hard on blockchain, but that list also includes Konami (because of course) and Square Enix. Other companies currently looking into "the metaverse" (which is a vague, nebulous term with many different definitions) include Bandai Namco and PUBG: Battlegrounds publisher Krafton, so as you can tell, this is a pretty big area of interest for big gaming studios.
Of course, there's also been a major backlash against the incorporation of cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the blockchain into gaming. Companies such as Plug In Digital and British heavy hitter Team17 were hit with heavy criticism after declaring forays into blockchain tech. Cryptocurrency games are also currently banned on Valve's Steam platform. This isn't likely to be an issue for the upcoming Wizardry blockchain game; it's likely to be a mobile offering given Drecom's focus in that area, so it doesn't need to launch on Steam to get sales. Still, developers and publishers would do well to watch the public reaction to blockchain tech, because it's not going away or getting any quieter. We'll bring you more on that Wizardry blockchain game as soon as we get it.