Surf Labs, the developers of Unicorn Party (UP), founded by industry veterans in gaming, ad-tech and crypto, propose the transformation of UP into a standalone real-money (Fiat + Crypto) skill-based arcade. This initiative aims to enhance the game’s accessibility to players unfamiliar with web3 and expand the influence of the Crypto Unicorns IP.
In July 2021, the LG team unveiled their ambitious ecosystem roadmap in collaboration with several second-party game developers, including us. The initial strategy was to utilize these efforts as a platform for ideation and experimentation. The overarching vision was to cultivate a dynamic third-party ecosystem, attracting skilled developers to the CU DAO, eager to capitalize on the CU IP. Our journey with the inaugural batch of developers has been enlightening.
Surf Labs is incredibly excited about the opportunity to move UP to an external game, which will grant us increased independence and responsibility. We have strong belief that venturing into this new territory will establish CU as the trailblazers with a strong, high mass market appeal presence and act as a powerful attractor, inspiring numerous developers to explore fresh avenues of creativity utilizing the Crypto Unicorns intellectual property.
For an in-depth understanding of the product and the associated opportunities, kindly refer to the pitch deck.
In essence, the CU DAO will assume the role of publisher for Unicornparty.com and its corresponding mobile titles.
The operational framework is straightforward:
- All expenses (Development & Marketing) are recouped 100% prior to any profit share.
- Once recoup is achieved Surf Labs and the CU DAO will split the profit 50/50 for new games, and [NEW] 70/30 (favoring CU DAO) for Bumper Corn and Mob Run.
These publishing terms are designed to optimally motivate Surf Labs. Their profitability is directly proportional to the game’s success. Their mission is to produce a title that is not only profitable but also scalable. Failing to do so will result in no earnings.
- November 2023 -
- Bumper Corn and Mob Run Apple App Store and Google Play Store submission with improvements
- December 2023 -
- UnicornParty.com launch (Web & APK, and Apple app store submission) with Unicorn Bingo including;
- RBW and fiat payments
- Player incentive economy with bonus cash and soft to hard currency conversion rooms
- RBW Token and Crypto Unicorn NFT holder benefits
- UnicornParty.com launch (Web & APK, and Apple app store submission) with Unicorn Bingo including;
- January 2023 -
- Bumper Corns hard currency relaunch under UnicornParty.com (web + mobile APK + app store submission)
- February 2024 -
- Mob Run hard currency relaunch under UnicornParty.com (web + mobile APK + app store submission)
- March 2024 -
- Unicorn Solitaire launch and introduction of multi cryptocurrency (allow use of e.g. Ethereum, Matic, other major currencies)
- Q2 2024 -
- Two more game launches (e.g. 21, Pool, or Trivia) and further meta features around events, leaderboards
Throughout the partnership, all game, marketing and revenue data will be accessible real-time by CU DAO alongside Surf Labs team members for both on-chain and off-chain data sources. This will be done via proven 3rd party reporting platforms and will be auditable by CU DAO on demand.
Per LG’s note in the prior proposal - by introducing various cost-saving strategies, we can manage the monthly expense of $50k without increasing the quarterly withdrawals from the DAO treasury. Consequently, the quarterly expenditures will remain unchanged.
We are requesting a launch marketing budget of $200k which we believe will be enough to validate early ROI and scale potential and start bringing in a considerable baseline of players to overcome the initial payer liquidity threshold. This budget will be spent transparently and under the supervision of LG teams. After this initial period, we will know what is required to scale further profitably and will work out marketing budgets periodically with a clear view on ROI.
This proposal presents a strategic opportunity to elevate UP while expanding the overall reach of the Crypto Unicorns IP. With a clear financial structure and a vision to inspire more developers, this initiative can be a win-win situation for both Surf Labs and the CU DAO. With the support and funding from the Game DAO, we believe this initiative can achieve both commercial success and industry recognition.
- Who is Surf Labs and what is the relationship with Coda?
- Surf Labs are the team behind Unicorn Party. We’ve been working with LG since the early days of the thought process. We’re a team of 15 people, composing of mainly engineers, product managers and a couple of marketing folks. We’re growing and expect to be around 20 by end of the year. Our product and engineering people have their roots in Peak Games (acq’d by Zynga for $1.9B), Dream Games (makers of Royal Match, currently #3 US iOS top grossing) and GJG (flagship title Zen Match acq’d by Moon Active for $150m). Our team have a very strong background in casual products. We’re confident we can build the games and infrastructure we outlined in the deck.
- I’m one of the founders of Coda which is the company I ran actively during early parts of UP discussions, but as it happens in startup life (similar to how Beyond Games became Laguna Games), in our effort to survive the crash last year and the ongoing bear market, we decided to make changes to the team, restructure and rebrand as Surf Labs. We delivered BC and are ready to deliver MR and if we can agree on this proposal, we’d like to deliver UnicornParty.com too. Coda is focused on web2 and is a publisher, Surf is focused on web2/web3 crossover and is a B2B service/tech provider.
- Prior to Coda, I started an ad network called Mobilike, acquired by Opera which later rebranded to AdColony and ultimately got sold for $400MM. I served as COO of the 500 people company in the period prior to the sale. I’ve been in tech and gaming since the early 2000’s, in crypto since 2014, investor, advisor, board member in over 20 companies and funds.
- Marketing transparency and track record
- As mentioned above, my previous business experience is largely in mobile performance marketing where I founded/led/sold businesses at a very large scale and am confident we can run any budget with efficiency or stop burning quickly if we don’t get what we want out of any marketing activity.
- At Coda, we’ve run marketing for 20 games we launched and these games have eventually been acquired by larger companies. We’ve generated over 100 million installs in the company’s lifetime and generated over $40m in revenues. The performance of the business can be tracked on tools like AppAnnie or SensorTower for those who have access. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any free tool that can show you historical performance on mobile games.
- We’ve worked with Facebook, Google, Unity and other tech and distribution partners like these to scale and measure these campaigns the same way Laguna Games does for CU. We will provide direct access to marketing data and work in close partnership with LG teams to ensure no money is spent without their knowledge and blessing. We’re happy to formalize these commitments contractually as it would be customary in any such relationship.
- State of Mob Run
- Mob Run is ready and has been prepared for launch in August. Here’s a video from the latest internal play tests. However, together with LG, we decided not to launch until we’re ready for the App Store as we are concerned with player liquidity. These games survive and grow if there are enough real currency players, and for that to happen we need to improve user experience, introduce the right incentive and conversion loops and most importantly, have scalable distribution. That’s why we’ve decided to put it on the App Store alongside UX improvements and that is scheduled for November.
- Both MR and BC are full feature, playable games and we believe they are both very fun. But without further investment into monetization and conversion features, it will be difficult to scale beyond the core CU community. This is why we believe we should expand the partnership and include them in there so they also benefit from added features that will motivate more players to convert to paying players. This is how we can ultimately scale these games and the CU IP to 10’s and 100’s of thousands of players.
- Why Web2 / Fiat / App Store / Other Games?
- The underlying reasoning behind expansion into web2 with use of fiat, via the Apple App Store, with more accessible and simple games is ultimately the same. We want as many people to be able to come and play games that utilize and add value to the CU ecosystem and IP. We believe the web3 community is strong and very valuable to kickstart UP and that strength is precisely why we think we can successfully go after web2 market share as we’ll have better unit economics in web3. But it will be at a limited scale without web2 users. To attract them, we need to allow use of credit cards, distribute our games on the app store and provide games that are very easy to play and very easy to learn. The new phase of UP is designed with these goals in mind.
- Bingo, Solitaire and other such games are asynchronous - meaning we won’t need as many online players as BC/MR to create a great experience for players in the early days. They are also highly retentive games with a very large player base globally. Our goal is to fish where the fish are, ideally in the largest ponds possible so that we don’t run into liquidity problems.
- Each credit card transaction will ultimately translate to more buy pressure on RBW, and more people spending time with CU IP that will allow for opportunities to upsell them into deeper experiences in the CU universe which will also create demand for CU NFT’s.
- Deal terms
- There have been questions and comments around the deal terms, risk/reward profile and specifically revenue share on Mob Run and Bumper Corn.
- Having been on either side of similar deals in the past, a certain amount of developer funding and marketing commitment from a publisher (in this case CU DAO) is very common. The difference here is that we’re taking more responsibility than a developer would in a classic developer-publisher relationship. We will also put our manpower and know-how behind the marketing operations to give UP the best chance possible.
- We cover only ⅓ of our costs with the fee, so we’re taking a meaningful financial risk here, as well as a big opportunity cost by dedicating our entire team to this project. We are willing and keen on doing this as we believe in this strategy and believe there is upside. We will only see profits if the games scale and after all costs are paid. CU is incurring financial cost, we’re incurring financial and opportunity cost. A 50/50 for new games is a fair approach here in our view and we’re aligned on this with LG.
- On existing games BC and MR, we heard your feedback and want to offer a change to the DAO’s favor by moving the revenue share to 70/30 (CU taking the majority). I hope this is seen as both a sign of our goodwill and our conviction that the project will do well.
- This means we will continue working on improving and operating the games, -not entirely but mostly- at our own cost until the games pay back CU’s new investment entirely and start returning a profit.