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In this week's Nami’s Nexus, we break down Dookey Dash’s innovative play-to-mint competition and look at some of its most interesting design aspects
As game developers experiment with different ways of designing their mints, one strategy from 2022 is staging a comeback: Play-to-mint (P2M). We covered the free-to-mint strategy in detail in a previous post, which discusses the concepts of whitelist, first-come-first-serve, and raffle style minting, but P2M presents a slightly different approach. The main objective of P2M really is to separate true players from flippers, engaged but non-playing community members, and opportunistic raffle participants. Games like Duskbreakers, Omega Royale, and more recently Mojo Melee have adopted this strategy, but its revival is mainly attributed to Dookey Dash by Yuga Labs. To find out why, let's get into some of the most innovative aspects of Dookey Dash’s P2M design.
Yuga Labs, known for its popular Profile Picture (PFP) projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC), is yet to launch its game, The Otherside. In an attempt to generate excitement for its NFTs, which would ultimately contribute to The Otherside metaverse and associated games, Yuga Labs created the Dookey Dash competition earlier this year.
Sewer Pass NFTs were airdropped to BAYC/MAYC holders, which granted them access to the Dookey Dash P2M competition, a short-term event based on receiving high scores in a simple, endless runner game themed around toilet humor and the Bored Ape lore. The game was designed to be easy-to-play but challenging-to-score-high and drive enthusiasm around minting a new NFT. In typical Yuga Labs fashion, the actual object to be minted was mostly kept under wraps, but given the reputation of their previous NFTs, it was assumed to be highly valuable. Naturally, this drove interest, transaction volumes and royalties around the NFTs.
The Sewer Pass wasn't Yuga Labs' first transformative airdrop: The Mutant Apes, for instance, were minted by combining BAYC NFTs with an airdropped NFT called a “Serum”, a concept later adopted successfully (at least initially) by DigiDaigaku, which spurred transaction volume and hype.
A new take on skill-based mints
In contrast to previous P2M systems, Yuga Labs introduced some innovative mechanisms in the Sewer Pass design that influenced secondary market trading. As the competition was NFT-gated, Yuga Labs anticipated trading activity around their NFTs. Rather than whitelisting a player’s wallet address for the mint, the Sewer Pass itself was designed to transform into the next NFT form after the competition, instead of minting something new.
This also tied into how high scores were tracked, which was designed to both encourage and discourage certain forms of trading. High scores were linked to both a unique Sewer Pass ID as well as the wallet address that achieved the high score. While players could in theory pass the Sewer Pass NFT around, the high score would not move with it. For a player to claim their high score at the end, they would need to retrieve that specific Sewer Pass NFT. This design made it harder for a holder to simply hire another player to achieve a high score for them - they would need to trust that the player would also perform the conversion at the end and return the resulting NFT.
Different trading opportunities
There was a twist however, in that shortly after the competition ended (and cheaters were weeded out), the high scores of the current holder were imprinted into the Sewer Pass metadata to allow for trading, regardless of who achieved the score. The high score imprinted on the Sewer Pass directly affected the “mint” aspect of the P2M competition in two ways:
The highest score would transform into a special golden key, which was won by a Fortnite Pro and sold for approximately USD 1.6m in ETH.
The other ones would transform into a Power Source NFT of different tiers, depending on their rankings. These NFTs were trading even before their utility was known, but it did not take long before players discovered that they could be transformed into HV-MTL Mech NFTs with unique attributes. These Mech NFTs are related to a "forge workshop", more details of which will be unveiled this month as part of an "It came through the rift" event. Following that, there's another, mysterious "Journey to Evo 2" event in June that will reveal the next stage of transformation for the HV-MTL Mech NFTs.
This process provided a variety of trading opportunities with different levels of speculation involved:
BAYC/MAYCs could be traded to claim Sewer Passes
Sewer Passes could be traded during the competition, or after high scores were locked
Power Sources could be traded before converting into HV-MTL Mechs, and after
Given that Yuga Labs enforced compulsory royalties for its recent NFTs, this translates into a profitable side effect of its P2M competition.
Various events had a significant impact on trading volume and average price and both metrics transferred seamlessly over from one collection to the other on March 15
Feb 8: End of Dookey Dash Gameplay
Feb 15: Dookey Dash reward distribution (an attribute was added to Sewer Passes that allowed them to be traded in for power sources / HV-MTL)
Feb 27: Sale of Dookey Dash NFT key from Mongraal to Adam Weitsman for 1000 ETH
Mar 1: End of Toad Mode Gameplay (a limited-time Dookey Dash event that offered players a chance ‘to lick some toads’ in order to unlock a companion trait to their Power Sources during The Summoning)
Mar 15: Power Source Summoning
A lot of hype
Beyond the royalties, the hype generated by a relatively simple P2M competition was significant. Making the Sewer Pass an expensive and somewhat exclusive gateway to minting restricted the P2M event to web3 whales but also made it an aspirational event for smaller players to watch. Dookey Dash was frequently streamed on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, creating a sense of active participation and encouraging influencers to acquire the Sewer Pass, even if only temporarily.
While the competition was successful at separating game players from simple speculators to some degree, it was more about marketing and hype than aligning with the right player demographic. The P2M approach adopted by Yuga Labs was also notably different from typical P2M competitions as the Dookey Dash gameplay bore little (to zero) relevance to Yuga Labs' future games and was essentially a throwaway game.
Creativity is key
For game developers considering running a P2M competition, it is worthwhile to evaluate what aspects of Yuga Lab’s Sewer Pass design could be copied for their respective use case. Evidently, a Dookey Dash type of P2M competition can be used to build hype and while the mystery of each transformation can bring a lot of speculation and short-term value, this could be desirable for marketing or user acquisition. Unique methods of manipulating trading by tracking scores related or unrelated to a wallet or NFT ID will undoubtedly influence how things move around. Another consideration is whether the competition should be exclusive to NFT holders, open to a whitelist, or open to everyone. Finally, whatever elements are introduced, besides the fact that they have to align with the game and target audience, they should be creative if you really want to capture your audience’s attention.
Thank you for reading this piece of our weekly series “Nami’s Nexus”, where we look to decode web3 gaming and dive into the various intricacies of the industry and beyond. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter to receive more web3 gaming content.