What is Illuvium?  An introduction to the first AAA Quality Play to Earn NFT Game

By Deraji | ILVFi | 19 Aug 2021

Play to earn (P2E) gaming has been on a tremendous run, with Axie Infinity becoming a household name to those in the crypto space.  With a meteoric rise in AXS token price from around $3 in June to an all time high near $80 just a few days ago, people are taking note of this game and token now worth over $4 billion in market cap and ranking in the 30’s for total size of project.  In emerging countries like the Philippines, people have made Axie and grinding Smooth Love Potions (SLP token) a full time job, often exceeding potential income from traditional employment.  For more traditional gamers, the quality and complexity of Axie leaves something to be desired, particularly on the quest/single player aspect of the game.  Also, Axie’s requirement of having a team of three Axies (in game characters created, or “bred” as NFTs), purchased from their marketplace can cost upwards of $1000 to get started, presenting a high barrier to entry to new or curious players.    

Other games have emerged in the P2E space, but have yet to draw the attention of mainstream traditional gamers looking for a quality gaming experience, not just the allure of making money by playing video games.

A potential contender for the traditional gamer crowd has been announced in Illuvium, with nearly daily “leaks” emerging from the project.  Here, I’ll share a quick introduction to this not yet released game, how to get involved, and what to potentially expect in the coming months.

What is Illuvium?

Illuvium is the brainchild of brothers Kieran and Aaron Warwick.  From Australia and brothers of Kain Warwick (founder of Synthetix, SNX), CEO Kieran, a serial entrepreneur, and Lead Game Designer, Aaron, set out to create the world’s first AAA-quality game based in blockchain technology with a P2E element.  With development started around a year ago, Kieran set an ambitious goal of launching a playable game of this quality in about a year, starting from scratch.  While highly ambitious in nature, the reception of their ideas has caught the attention of big name investors, backers, and partners like LD Capital, Delphi Digital, Lotus Capital, and even Chainlink.  With funding raised to create a runway of 3-4 years according to Kieran, they have assembled a team of nearly 100 engineers, artists, and designers to bring their gaming vision to life, with compelling visuals to say they look to be pulling it off.

From a game play side, the proposed game is cross between Pokemon and Team Fight Tactics, with an exploration/collection element, combined with a strategic autobattler.  While elements are still being determined and the game is not yet playable, players are said to start on a planet, explore, collect resources, and encounter creatures known as Illuvials, which they can battle and use shards to capture, and add to their team to battle and capture stronger Illuvials.  These Illuvials have complex synergies and teams can be formed and battle other players in a one-on-one PVP autobattler.  Each of the captured Illuvials is minted as an NFT owned by the player, which can be leveled to increase power, and combined with other Illuvials of the same type to create even stronger Illuvials.


Awesome, When can I play?

Currently the game has not yet been released, with the next major milestone expected to be a longer gameplay trailer, anticipated within the next month.  On the highly active Discord channel, dedicated players can apply to be selected for the closed beta anticipated to launch in September/October timeframe.  Current discussions on a public beta point to a December 2021 launch, though Kieran has stated in interviews that slipping into 2022 is possible, as the team is already on a highly aggressive timeline, and delays would be to the benefit of gameplay quality.


How much does it cost to get started?  How much ILV do I need to buy?

Axie Infinity has biased players that a huge bankroll is needed to start playing in the P2E space.  However, Illuvium is proposed to have a completely free to play version to experience the game.  Kieran recently broke down the proposed mechanism of how a Free to Play player could grind their way up in the game, trading time for value in the form of higher strength Illuvial NFTs.  While no money is required to get started, players can pay a travel fee as well as a “shard curing” fee to battle and trap higher level Illuvials to trade or cash in.

Illuvium’s token, ILV, isn’t required for the game, and the currency of Illuvium will be ETH.  Before gas fees scare potential players away, the game’s exchange will be on the Immutable X sidechain, so there will be zero gas fees for trading Illuvials and other proposed NFTs like weapons and armor.


So what is the ILV token?

The ILV token is actually a governance token for the game, and from the start, the Illuvium team has smartly created a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, to run the game.  Hopeful to avoid the eye of the SEC and regulatory action in the United States, Kieran constantly highlights that while he is the CEO, decision making power lies in the vote of the community in the form of electing a council to govern development decisions.  To avoid ILV whales completely running the DAO, geometric weighting is applied, where the square root of the number of ILV tokens held determines voting power, e.g. 1 ILV = 1 vote, 2 ILV = 1.4 votes, 100 ILV = 10 votes.

Currently, owners of ILV are encouraged to stake their token on Illuvium.io, with two core pools existing, the ILV pool where owners can stake their ILV directly, or the Sushi Liquidity Pool, where owners are encouraged to add liquidity to the ETH/ILV pair on Sushi to ensure liquidity for future ILV trading.  Current rewards as of August 2021 are above 80% APY for the ILV pool, and over 600% for the Sushi LP, with 3 million ILV to be distributed in staking rewards, with 1.8 million distributed over the first year of staking.  I’ll share more in future posts on staking and rewards.

Overall, the intent is for the ILV token to be governance for the Illuvium franchise, with additional games planned in the future, all relying on the Illuvium DAO.  The most unique aspect of the token is the proposed revenue distribution, where all staked token holders will be rewarded with a portion of the game’s revenue, with 100% of all revenue distributed to the DAO.

While not quite AXS’s rise, ILV has recently gone on a 18x rise from under $30 in June to an all time high over $560 on August 13. The tokenomics of the project seem solid, with a total possible supply of 10 million tokens, with a current circulating supply of under 1 million.  The team, and seed tokens begin to unlock in March 2022, and the staking reward tokens require a 12-month vesting period, so those tokens won’t hit the market until mid 2022 as well.


What about higher rarity NFTs?

Similar to Pokemon or other collection games, Illuvium has a system of increasingly rare Illvials, which are holographic, or the even more rare dark holographic versions.  Some images can be seen on Illuvium’s Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/illuviumio) or in the character leaks discussion on Discord (discord.gg/illuvium).  See below for an early video of a dark holo NFT of Rhamphyre. 


What should I expect next from Illuvium?

Right now, all eyes are on the beta test of the main game, though a recent proposal has hit the governance channel, with three passing votes already cast by the five member council.  Illuvium Zero is a proposed mini-game, which will be a city builder style mobile game with resource generation with application to the main Illuvium title.  The proposed timeline indicates that the next major event will be a land sale, with a Dutch Auction of a small portion of the proposed 100,000 plots.  Plots will be divided into tiers of different rarity and resource generation, with the highest tier (Tier 5) lands having unique landmarks, and potentially as hinted by Kieran in an above video, the opportunity to build PVP arenas to be used in future major e-sports tournaments planned for the game.  Bridging the real and virtual world in a true “Ready Player One” fashion, these arenas offer huge promise, and are believed to sell for an incredible 8-figure USD price tag.  Based on the DAO, all revenue generated from the land sale and upcoming series of games will be distributed to those staking the ILV token.

Similar to the main Illuvium title, owning land will not be required to play the mini-game, and a free to play version has also been proposed.  This game is expected to launch on mobile prior to the launch of the main game, with resources generated in the mini game providing real life earning potential and unique game theory on resource sale/withholding pricing.  Current estimates are for the land auction to occur in late October/November 2021.


Overall, Illuvium is a highly compelling entry to the play to earn space, likely being the first offering to draw in the traditional gaming crowd, and not just those chasing crypto income.  Kieran has said Axie isn’t the competition, and long term, the vision is to go after traditional gaming studios with ILV’s unique player ownership DAO, and ownership of the NFTs to challenge traditional models where money spent in game is only to the benefit of the developers.  The next several months should be highly interesting and draw increasing attention from the crypto and gaming worlds to see if the Warwick brothers, their team, and the DAO can pull off their incredibly lofty goals.  


To learn more, I encourage you to check out the Discord channel, read the white paper, or check out the official blog.  

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Crypto curious thinker, amateur economist, geriatric millennial gamer passionate about Illuvium. Happy to share my economic and financial assessment of this unique blockchain NFT Play-to-Earn project. patreon.com/ilvfi


ILVFI focuses on the upcoming P2E game, Illuvium, the first proposed AAA-quality video game based on blockchain technology and NFT ownership. We'll focus on both the game play, as well as the in-game and ILV governance token economics.

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