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Balthazar Research Report: The Encore We’ve Been Waiting For

Written by Nicholas Korsgård, Chief Gaming Officer, Kim Bjerkeli and Sigurd Thomassen, Game Strategists, Balthazar Alpha Team, and Heidi Anette Laugsand Johansen.

Introduction

In our ever-lasting search for the next big GameFi game and the first game with true esports potential in the blockchain space, we’ve recently stumbled upon Encore, which we believe might be the one to take GameFi and blockchain-based gaming to the next level.

This research report will dive deep into the Encore metaverse, how we perceive its upcoming AAA-rated shooter game, and how the team intends to include NFTs into the mainstream game space. In addition, we will share some of our thoughts on community building and how we see the road ahead for Encore. Grab your popcorn. You don’t want to miss this.

Background

Encore is the world’s first shooter-based metaverse with NFT assets, built on Unreal Engine 5. The game creates a next-gen metaverse by combining the best of traditional gaming with the new world of crypto and NFTs.

Encore allows you to play its AAA-rates shooter game, which is built with realistic graphics from Unreal Engine 5, and create in-game content to showcase in your own “hub” in the metaverse while owning in-game assets as NFTs. In addition, you will be able to buy and sell the NFTs through its native marketplace and earn rewards from selling ad spaces and getting passive income from your in-game real estate and land.

The central aspect of this metaverse is the free-to-play, competitive, third-person shooter game. The game will be launched as an alpha in Q4 2022, where the first round of content will be single-player missions. Shortly after, in 2023, the multiplayer game modes will be launched, going from alpha to beta, allowing for user-generated content.

Encore is built on Unreal Engine 5, the world’s most advanced, real-time 3D creation tool for photorealistic visuals and experiences. By doing this, the Encore team demonstrates that they mean serious business. In addition, it focuses on a PC platform with potential cross-platform expansion to mobile, PlayStation, and Xbox. However, we believe the main focus will be on PC, as introducing NFTs on Console will be a bigger hurdle than on PC.

From the images we’ve received through its Discord channel, we can see the immense detail that Unreal Engine allows for. Although the photorealism, as we can see in the picture below, might not be as evident in the game due to the high resource requirements of rendering in real-time, it will certainly be the quality of the NFTs they intend to release.

Little is told about how the gameplay will be, but we can envision something like Fortnite, where you run around in third-person in a battle-royale style game mode. This, of course, would be the PVP matchmaking aspect of the game. But, at the same time, the PVE mode would be more like a single-player or cooperative story mode where you can experience its in-depth storyline with an intense, detailed plot.

The picture below tells us something about the overarching story and setting of the metaverse. And from clues we’ve found in some leaked character dossiers, we can see that they’re building up to alternative futures, different timelines, and eras. It might all converge in the Encore metaverse to fight for the space-time continuum.

In addition to a deep storyline, the team states that they are working on world-class in-game cinematics. As old-school gamers ourselves, who’ve enjoyed dozens of well-built PVE campaigns in different games through the years, we really appreciate the focus on cinematics. After completing a challenging chapter of the game, it adds so much to the story’s presentation, which is something that players would look forward to.

Encore is also building out what they call the HUB system. The HUB would be a player’s individual plot of land in the metaverse, and users would be able to build out their own content in these areas. Some of the things a player can do in their HUB:

  • Invite friends over and hang out.
  • Meet up before matches.
  • Create in-game content.
  • Play mini-games.
  • Collect and exhibit NFTs.

You can also enter the GLOBAL HUB from your own personal HUB. That’s the entry point to the rest of the metaverse. The picture below shows what a personal HUB might look like, and what you see is an actual in-game HUB.

Bottom line, Encore is a shooter game, and with that comes a wide range of weapons for both long and short-range combat. From its Discord channel, we’ve got a first look at some of the weapons that will be featured in the game. Again, the level of detail that Unreal Engine 5 brings is really telling here.

NFTs

The game will feature NFTs and other crypto features. However, players will have the opportunity to play the game without any interaction with crypto or NFTs. If you want to buy NFTs and care about that part of the game, then you’ll be able to purchase a wide selection of character skins as NFTs. Imagine Fortnite without any battle pass. You would only play as the generic characters provided in the game, but you still get access to many cool skins, which are limited to that specific season if you get a battle pass.

Now, this is just speculation, but in our opinion, it would be an excellent way to deal with the “play-to-win” mechanic – which was mentioned by the team in their Discord – where you can’t buy yourself an advantage in the game. Still, you can get yourself some status and schwag by putting some dollars on the table.

Almost everything in the game can be achieved through playing. Players are only paying for unique cosmetics and time-saving features.

Encore Discord

Socials

Aside from core gameplay, there will be gamified social activities in the metaverse. We imagine some players who aren’t as interested in either casual or hardcore gameplay but instead want to create content and purely enjoy the social aspect of hanging out in the metaverse. We’ve seen examples of this for over a decade with games like Second Life.

Encore Website

We compared Encore’s desktop version of its website to its mobile site to see how it measures up and if there were any changes that Encore could make to the site to improve it. Follow along to see our verdict. In this testing, we used a Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Desktop

Our first impression when opening the website was good, to say the least. The Encore website is thorough, looks professional, and follows a black and red theme with subtle glitching effects. The images and GIFs used are of high quality and represent the potential quality of this game.

The topics are engraved with a “glitching effect” using “red boxes,” a short video, and some text explaining the game to the reader. There is a menu to look at HUB, NFTs, community, teams, careers, its Discord server and Twitter in a toned-down way. Even though the website has some effects, such as the glitching and animations, there is no practical disruption caused by these. Website interruptions are something we’ve seen in some other games such as Mobland, where you’re forced to sit through a short video before entering.

The roadmap is easy to find, but we notice that no investors or backers are announced on this website.

https://www.encore.game/

Phone usability

The mobile site appears similar to the desktop version when using a phone without scrolling. However, the navigation menu is hidden behind a menu toggle, and the Discord and Twitter details are listed vertically instead of horizontally.

The videos used on this website don’t appear as great on the mobile site. The quality of the videos and pictures is still impressive, but the changes made because of the device switch are not. The images and videos are cropped, and one of the pictures appears to have been removed. We suspect it’s just out of frame. We’ve added a screenshot below to exemplify this. On the other hand, the text is a good size which fits the format, and the roadmap section has kept the swipe function, which works well.

Screenshot by Samsung Galaxy S10+, borrowed from the Encore website. Encore. game

Verdict

The Encore website works well on PC and is professional and thorough. We enjoy the website effects on the pc—both the videos and the glitches. Unfortunately, when using a phone, these effects don’t come off as great, especially the part which is cropped in such a way that makes the picture disappear entirely. Even the videos are trimmed, so the user can’t see the entire window. In addition, this leads to the glitching effect looking unfinished. We believe that with some editing, this website using a phone could have an insane upgrade that matches the potential of this game.

At this written moment, Encore hasn’t promoted any of its investors. However, we are aware that Encore is in its infancy, so maybe they’re still in the process of raising capital right now. It might be worth looking into for anyone interested.

Blockchain

What chain does the game run on?

As of now, there is no information on which blockchain the Encore metaverse will be built on. However, from its roadmap, we can see that on the platform side, they plan to have multiple blockchain integrations within Q2 2022. Therefore, we suspect that blockchains like Polygon, Avalanche, Immutable X, and Tezos could be realistic candidates for integrating their NFTs.

Our thoughts regarding Encore NFTs

The team has stated that non-transferrable in-game assets are so last century and that blockchain has enabled ownership of any in-game assets such as NFTs. The fact that they take this stance and let their players do whatever they want with their in-game purchases speaks volumes. We believe this is a modern approach from game developers and that more people should follow in Encore’s footsteps.

They build a game with AAA quality and don’t force NFTs or crypto down the player’s throats. However, for those interested, it opens up the possibility of reselling rare acquisitions, dull skins or buying new armor from someone else. In addition, the NFTs will be part of the in-game economy, enabling NFT staking, farming, and more. There’s still no news on tokenomics, but they have promised to publish this soon.

Team

Who is on the team

Founders

  • Alex Perevosnikov – Co-Founder & CEO
  • Alisa Akifeva – Co-Founder & CMO
  • Noman Rashid – Co-Founder & CRO
  • Farhan Zamir – Co-Founder & CBDO

Other notable members

  • Elena Kuznetsova – Art Manager, Lead 3D Artist
  • Julia Bolbas – Head of HR
  • Mikhail Vashchenko – Lead Game Designer
  • Iliya Filipyonok – Cinematic Director
  • Vadim Alexeev – Project Manager
  • Eugene Bezgin – Motion Designer
  • Timofei Panin – 3D Artist
  • Othman Elbahraoui – Realtime Environment Artist
  • Irina Oreshok – Rigger & Animator
  • Evgeny Ermak – Operations Manager
  • Elizaveta Ivanova – 3D Artist
  • Mod Ratchata – 3D Artist
  • Anna Useinova – 3D Artist
  • Natallia Narkevich – HR Assistant

Team assessment

Encore has a solid lineup of combined experience on the team. According to their roadmap, the core team was formed in 2019 with the idea of the Encore metaverse. We believe they have strong foundations to build their vision of the metaverse with their three years of experience as a team while continuously adding top talent leadership and building development and art teams throughout 2020 and 2021. They currently have ten positions open for new talent in art, management, production, animation, and development at the time of writing.

Do they have relevant experience?

According to his LinkedIn profile, Encore’s CEO Alex Perevosnikov has been developing games in Unreal Engine since 2014. Looking at the rest of the team’s background, we see that the core team has a solid foundation from a wide area of expertise.

Much like our report on Dogamí, we have found that both of these games have teams with solid gaming-related skills and experience. While many projects are rushing to release half-built “crypto-projects” cloaked as a game, projects like Dogamí and also now Encore show how it should be done, in our opinion. It is better to spend time and focus on creating good content instead of rushing in on the NFT hype just to become a fad.

Who are their backers?

We can’t seem to find any backers of this project, but digging into their LinkedIn, we find clues of features that allow the collaborations with global brands. The example below shows the in-game characters dressed in fashionable clothes and accessories. And they’ve stated that in the Encore metaverse, players will be able to go to any branded store based in the Global Hub and style their character. We suspect there could be collaborations with partners like Nike and other big brands.

Is it “Kanye” we see on the vest in the center of the image below? This again brings us back to the NFT aspect. If a player gets bored of its look, they can sell their clothes to someone else and get something new. Encore says that this is what it means to play and invest.

Roadmap

Game developers roadmap

Our thoughts on the roadmap

The roadmap for 2022 and beyond is short and concise. We can expect 2022 to be a big year for Encore and expect their first launch of NFTs in the form of character skins, weapons, and real estate. This should hopefully take place in Q2. As well as NFT drops, they will integrate multiple blockchains and reveal more about their characters in the form of art.

In Q3, they intend to introduce the HUB system for individual players and the global one. This will bring forth multiplayer interaction. In Q4, they will launch their alpha version of the game, where the single-player missions will be the focus, and players will get some more functionality to the HUBs.

From 2023 and beyond, we will see the game going from alpha to beta, and more multiplayer modes and matchmaking be introduced. This is also the time when user-generated content will be implemented. We assume Encore will stick to a perpetual beta release and continuously deliver new content like several other games. They will never fully release a finished game but constantly evolve and challenge new up-and-coming games with this strategy.

There is a more in-depth roadmap on the Encore web page. Their web page dates back to 2019 and shows far they’ve come and what they have been up to.

Speculations and connecting the dots

The Encore team seems to have been in “stealth mode” for quite some time. Though they’ve been active on LinkedIn and Twitter, they haven’t focused on marketing themselves. They only recently showed up on our radar, and since then, they’ve focused on doing all of their community interactions through Discord. In our opinion, staying silent while building out the core game and fundamental infrastructure is wise. We’ve seen many projects go out and hype their project from day one, noting “discussing game opportunities” in their roadmaps, only to have nothing of substance and then see their communities die from disappointment.

They recently posted the first in-game character screenshot on LinkedIn, which you can see above. Encore honestly delivers on our already built-up expectations, so trust us on this. We are paying VERY close attention to what Encore is doing.

We think the Encore team has waited until now with the branding and community building because only recently they have passed a crucial point in their project where they actually have something substantial to show for. We see the increased effort on Discord to engage the community and reveal more and more of their characters and game lore. With other successful projects, especially in the NFT world, we see that taking their time to build a following, interacting with their future players, and giving away tiny drops of information at the time to keep building expectation and hype has been a recipe for success.

Socialnomics

Social media followers count

Twitter: 5,587

Discord: 1,640

LinkedIn: 404

As with everything we research, we look into what we call the “Socialnomics” of a project. Encore has relatively low follower counts for their social media, with under 6,000 followers on Twitter and 1,640 on Discord, for example, most likely due to the game being in pre-alpha and the team focusing on development rather than marketing.

There is also a Twitter account for one of the characters in the game called Maya. It will be interesting to see what she’ll show us in the time ahead.

There is little to investigate because the team just recently lifted the skirts of “stealth mode” and started marketing themselves. Most of the interaction is happening on their Discord, as they recently wiped their Twitter account clean. Since they went live, this is most likely to have a “clean slate” from now on.

Conclusion


Encore has us more excited than any other unreleased game that we have published reports on so far, and we firmly believe it will remain at the very top of our shortlist of games to pay attention to in the coming months.

From what we can see and understand based on our research, Encore really has the potential to be the game that kick-starts proper esports-enabled GameFi games. In addition, we see a huge opportunity to bridge the gap for gamers who love the current era shooters like Fortnite and the likes over to the blockchain-based game ecosystem, in other words enabling main-stream adoption of GameFi.

In our report, we’ve seen the idea of a metaverse containing a AAA shooter game for third-person view and how it intends to have a social platform built-in as well, through “HUBs.” We shared our thoughts on their plans to introduce NFTs to mainstream gamers by focusing on a high-quality game where the NFT and crypto interaction is optional. In addition to this, we’ve taken a look at the team behind Encore, their plans for the future through the roadmap and shared some speculations regarding the game, the team, and how they build their community going forward before finally looking into the pure statistics of their social media, which indicates that this ball has just started rolling.

We’re extremely excited to see this game launch and how it develops. We’ll end with this awesome cinematic teaser they just recently posted on Twitter:

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