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Balthazar Research Report: Nitro League – Futuristic Racing meets P2E gaming

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

Introduction

Nitro League has caught the attention of Alpha Team. This upcoming decentralized NFT game brings a futuristic racing experience into the metaverse. In this research report, we will be dissecting all the information we could find about Nitro League, primarily based on their webpage, whitepaper, and social media channels. You can expect an in-depth analysis of Nitro Leagues gameplay, features, tokenomics, socialnomics, and a whole lot more.
Let’s get this show on the road!

7/10 – Good

Background


Nitro League is an upcoming decentralized racing game metaverse where the players can earn tokens by racing cars competitively or exploring other in-game activities more casually.

Lore

Nitro League is set in the year 3050, in a future Earth enjoying a far more optimistic quality of life to what we’re used to. There was never an apocalyptic event, and rather than turning humanity, technology has continued to progress our lives. Civilization’s focus has been on nature and the preservation of our planet. As a result, even in urban areas the earth is covered in greenery, and animal life is flourishing. 

Public transport and vehicles are not only autonomous, but most are flying. While all peoples need not stress about the necessities of life, such as food, water, power and education. In Nitro League’s vision of the future, people only work to support their hobbies come 3050. And nothing is aspired to in this utopia more than being a race driver.
Indeed, disputes between countries are no longer settled by war and conflict, but rather through car racing. It is a proxy for all issues and everything is settled on the race track. Which means that drivers can earn a status, power, wealth and glory unheard of in the current age.

Drivers

To be fair, conflict in the year 3050 is a little more straightforward than it is nowadays. There are only six countries after all, better known as “The Supreme Six.” These six nations have existed in relative harmony for centuries, understanding and tolerant of their differences.

But not everyone can be a race driver, so within each country there is a clan structure you, as the player, will need to navigate. 
Residents are divided into clans governed by “Nitro Elders.” You have to be a member of a clan to race in the Nitro League. Within the clans, there is a hierarchy based on each racer’s Reputation Points (RP). A player can move to a different nation or change to another clan at any time. Still, by doing so, the racer will lose the country or clan-specific attribute bonuses and access to their respective locations.

Winning a race earns you RP, but when you’re not performing well, you may lose a chunk of your accumulated RP. By ranking up in the Nitro League, a player will move up through the different tiers. But there’s incentive to keep racing regularly. If you stop playing the game for a while, there will be a decay in your RP, which will lead to the demotion of your rank over time.

Cars

Nitro League’s vehicles absolutely look like they could only exist in a far distant future. They’re not just built for racing, but are – of course – NFTs that can be traded via the marketplaces. Nitro League cars can currently be found on Terra Virtua, which is a new NFT marketplace.

Those with a keen eye will note that the aesthetic of each vehicle is inspired by the different eras of human history, starting from the year 2020 up to the year 3050. A car’s value is defined by its rarity, of which there are five types:; common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary. 
Common cars are cheaper and deliver less performance than higher rarities. This rarity system is something we see in most P2E games and is something the Nitro League team has identified can cause a problem. Albeit a problem worth solving. Tying performance to rarity means rich players can buy better NFTs and progress through the game faster than less fortunate players. A structure often called “play-to-win.”

In multiplayer, it also makes for an unfair gaming experience as even skilled players can’t compete against expensive overpowered items. As such, it’s warming to know the Nitro League team is aware of the problem. It will be interesting to see how they solve it as they’ve already implemented a rarity system, which gives higher rarity classes stat advantages and implicitly higher value and cost. Perhaps it will come down to matchmaking and dynamic difficulty.

https://www.nitroleague.com/marketplace.html

Classes

Apart from the rarity of cars, there are also different classes or types. There are six in total, and each class is derived from the unique talent and technology offered by one of the six nations. The attributes that matter on the race track are reputation, speed, acceleration, handling and durability. The six classes have a variation of these attributes.
Alpha Class – Produced during the years 2000-2020. This class includes 4-wheeled vehicles in the street, sports, rally and drag types. Original in design, these cars were the inspiration for all models to follow for years to come.

Beta Class – Produced during the years 2021-2050. This also includes 4-wheel vehicles in the street, sports, rally, and drag types. While similar to the Alpha Class vehicles, they’re designed to be safer, stronger, and long-lasting.

Gamma Class – Produced during the years 2500-3050. There are 2 or 3-wheel vehicles that fall into rocket, bike, and bullet styles. These are made for adventurous journeys and constant exploration.

Omega Class – Produced since the year 3000. These include hover vehicles built in the style of street, sport and muscle variants. This class has the fastest vehicles the world has ever seen.

Delta Class – Produced since the year 2020, but inspired by Formula One. Delta vehicles transition across 4, 3 and 2-wheels, as well as hover cars.

Sigma Class – Produced in the year 3000. This includes 4-wheel vehicles across the street, sports, rally, muscle, and drag types. However, unlike other classes, there is a focus here on the most technologically advanced vehicles in circulation.

Fusion Cloning (aka Breeding)

As with most P2E games today, Nitro League also has a breeding mechanic called Fusion Cloning. This works to create more playable cars that will enable more players to get into the game over time. Cloning will be one of the most sought-after activities in the game, as it will see new vehicle NFTs minted that will have stats more valuable than the genesis cars.
This is a bit unusual, as usually the genesis NFTs are the more valuable, but not in Nitro League.
To produce a fusion clone, the player must have two genesis cars and a whole list of things required to start breeding. This process will result in the two original cars being downgraded to level 1, but the yield is a new car whose basic attributes are higher than the two parent cars.

The requirements for cloning is as follows:

  • Required number of blueprint cards (rewards for winning races and other activities).
  • Required XP and RP level.
  • Two cars with Max Upgrade Level (blueprint will state which two cars can be fused).
  • Car cloning pod. It can be unlocked in the garage.
  • Robot – needed to operate the cloning pod.
  • Credits – the soft currency you win in races and other activities.
  • Nitro Tokens – the hard currency used by the game.
  • Time – cloning can take up to a few days.

As we can see, the list is quite extensive, and the details of exactly how much of each resource is needed are yet to be revealed.

Upgrades

No racing game is complete without some level of car customisation. In Nitro League, cars can be upgraded in three different ways. The first is a part upgrade, as the cars are made up of eight different performance parts.

  • Engine
  • Spoiler
  • Tires or Hover Disks
  • Breaks
  • Booster Kit
  • Hood
  • Air Intake
  • Exhaust

Each of these items can be upgraded to give a bonus to some of the car’s attributes. Cars with higher-performing parts will have a higher chance of winning races. These parts are NFT assets that can be traded or sold separately and, in some cases, come bundled with a car.

The second form of an upgrade is decorations. Car decorations will grant a reputation bonus to the car, as well as visual styling and personalization. Cool-looking cars with fancy decorations will have a higher chance of resale value in the marketplace. As with the parts, decorations are also NFTs.
Finally, the third upgrade comes in the form of power-ups. These are consumable items that work as boosters and can only be used once per race. A racer can own several boosters but only equip two in every race.

Racing

There are three different racing modes in Nitro League.

  • Free-to-Play – Where you practice your skills and get recognized as a racer.
  • Solo Events – Play-to-Earn as an independent racer.
  • Team Events – Play-to-Earn as a team while earning greater rewards.

There are only time trials in Free-to-Play mode, which is a single-player activity. The objective here is to beat other players’ high scores on the racetrack. This kind of race does not consume fuel and only has a random chance of winning a small number of credits or everyday rewards like base colors or boosters. The winner is decided by the player with the fastest lap-time at the top of the leaderboard. At the end of the race, the players will see what they could have earned if it was a “Pay-to-Play” event. The best players in the event will also get Reputation Points, whereas the low-ranking players would lose Reputation Points.

In Solo Events, there are both time trials and head-to-head modes. The time trials are very similar to those in Free-to-Play mode, except that these races consume fuel and require a car suited for the event. While not stated in the whitepaper, we can only assume that “consuming fuel” means it’s an asset you will need to buy to play. So it will cost you to enter.
At least there are also small rewards like credits and base colors, and boosters. However, at the end of the event, the top-ranked players will have a chance of winning Nitro tokens, larger amounts of credits, fuel, blueprints for specific cars, car parts, boosters, and XP.

In the head-to-head mode, the players try to beat each other in a multiplayer racing event. Results will, as always, be displayed on the leaderboard. This race consumes fuel and requires a suitable car. Depending on the racer’s position at the end of the race, they will either gain or lose RP. The sum of all RP gained or lost in the event depends on the player’s score on the leaderboard. The rewards from this kind of race are the same as in time trials.
Finally, we have the Team Events, which is the same as the Solo Events, except that teams will be racing in both modes instead of individual racers. In time trials, one needs at least 15 team members to participate for the team to be ranked. The score is settled through the average of the fastest times accomplished by each team member.

Garage

https://www.nitroleague.com/whitepaper.html#gp-garage
The garage is a high-tech laboratory that will double as the player’s personal space or lobby. It is equipped with robotic machinery and high-tech digital controls. Much of a player’s time will be spent in the garage tinkering away. Several activities will be available here, such as mini-games, car upgrades, store access, social activities, notifications and an asset showcase. Below is a list of things to do there.

  • Manage your cars and car upgrades (parts, decorations, boosters).
  • Store assets (parts, fuel, etc.) in inventory.
  • Manage your NFT car collection in the garage parking lot, the size of which you can upgrade to add more space.
  • A display of NFTs other than cars. Such as car parts.
  • Acquire a robot companion that can help out with various tasks.
  • Access information on racers, cars, clubs, leaderboards, and achievements through futuristic monitors.
  • Invite friends over to your garage, and hang out before a race.
  • Upgrade your garage for even more space and parking lots.

DAO

As with most P2E NFT projects, the team’s vision is to make the Nitro metaverse truly decentralized. Holders of the Nitro token will be able to participate in the DAO’s economic decisions by staking their tokens. Over time, how the team will delegate more responsibility to the community and let go of centralized power remains to be seen, but this is a challenge every team in P2E gaming is faced with and a challenge in the crypto space in general.

Genesis Release

The first vehicles to get sold as NFTs are what the team calls the “Genesis cars.” This is a batch of 5000 NFTs released by the Nitro factory. 4200 of these will be sold on the Terra Virtua marketplace. Genesis car holders will get early access to the game’s beta version and access to premium loot box rewards. What is done with the leftover 800 cars? That’s mapped out below.

  • Genesis Sale – 4,200
  • Presale rewards & giveaways – 100
  • In-game contests – 100
  • Influencers – 600

The team has allocated 600 car NFTs to influencers, which seems like an excellent way to get marketing for the game when things get close to launch.

Tokenomics

Nitro League’s token is called NITRO, and it is a fixed supply ERC20 token. It powers the progress of the player through Nitro League. The total supply of the NITRO token is 1,000,000,000. The initial market cap of the token is $2,600,000, and the fully diluted market cap is $60,000,000. The public sale allocation is set to $2,000,000.
In the picture below, we can see the token allocation.

The vesting schedule is laid out in the list below.

  • Seed – 0% at TGE, 1-month cliff, monthly unlock for 12 months.
  • Private Sale – 0% at TGE, 1-month cliff, monthly unlock for 12 months.
  • Public Sale – 100% unlock at TGE.
  • Treasury – Locked for one month, weekly release for 24 months.
  • Ecosystem – Locked for one month, weekly release for 24 months.
  • Team – Locked for 12 months, weekly release for 24 months.
  • Marketing – Locked for six months, weekly release for 12 months.
  • Advisors – Locked for six months, weekly release for 24 months.

The Nitro League website

Having a website with good usability is an important aspect of any project. A poorly made website won’t make the users stay; a good website, on the other hand, can create trust between the user and the business with which the website is concerned. As such, we’ve had a close look at the Nitro League website. For checking the website’s phone compatibility, we are using a Samsung Galaxy S10+.

The picture was taken from the Nitro League website using PC. https://www.nitroleague.com/

Personal computer

When entering the Nitro League website on PC, the first impression is that it feels pretty well made. The creators even added the market cap and volume of the game`. In addition, both the NFT marketplace for the game and the website are easily distinguished.

When scrolling down the website, we are introduced to the six main sections; Story, features, arena, game, races, and earn. Each scroll is animated, which we enjoyed until we wanted to scroll back up to the headline. This process was time-consuming. There is also a possibility to click on each aspect, for instance, the ‘story,’ and then the site will automatically scroll. Even though it’s an excellent website visually, we wondered why they would remove the scrollbar. The scroll-animation also becomes more of a handicap as you stay on the site for a longer time.

Even though the different sections of the website, whitepaper, and the marketplace are easily found, we wish there would be more information in general. To end on a positive note, we did enjoy the art and pictures which have been added to the website.

Phone usability

We were pleasantly surprised to discover the website felt better on mobile. Our concern was that the website might seem messy using a phone because of the way each section is implemented and the reliance on pictures. In reality, the creators have managed to find a perfect balance. The issue with the scroll-animation mentioned when testing on PC is non-existent using a phone. Our research paper concerning ‘DEFY’ highlighted that most of the play-to-earn audience relies on phone use since the players are mainly located in developing countries. Therefore, having good usability on the phone is a huge plus for us in the Balthazar Alpha Team.

Screenshot captured by the Samsung Galaxy S10+ when opening the website.

Summary of the website testing

While both websites achieved their purpose, we did find it a struggle using the desktop version of the website. Practical effects such as removing the scrollbar and adding animations were a nice touch until we wanted to scroll up and have a deeper read. We felt like these cool effects were more like handicaps when using the website practically.

The phone website had good usability, and we were happy to see how well it worked. Especially keeping in mind where most of the play-to-earn users are located. The issues in the PC-version are non-existent in the phone version, which makes for smooth transitions between the sections and overall scrolling. We were also surprised at how nice the pictures and art complemented the text in the mobile site.

Overall if we could have one wish, it would be more information. We would love to read more about Nitro League, but there is simply limited information available on the website.

Blockchain


What chain does the game run on?

We can’t seem to find an official statement on which blockchain the game builds its token economy. The Nitro League token, $NITRO, is built on an ERC-20 contract on Ethereum at the very least. A logical assumption looking into their IDO launch partners would be that they’re building on the Polygon network, more specifically, the Polygen launchpad. It also seems that they leveraged Copper to launch their token.

Polygon

https://polygon.technology/
Ethereum is the second-largest blockchain globally and the number one blockchain development platform of choice. However, it has its limitations regarding low throughput, poor user experience, and no sovereignty. What this means for the consumer is high gas fees, delayed PoW finality, and shared throughput on the blockchain, which could be a clogging risk. 

Several projects have been exploring Ethereum-compatible blockchains as a way to counter these limitations while still taking advantage of Ethereum’s ecosystem. Before Polygon, there were no specialized frameworks to build such blockchains or protocols to connect them. Polygon sets out to be a protocol and framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. It takes the best of Ethereum and other sovereign blockchains into an attractive feature set, listed below.

  • ETH Compatibility – Industry dominance, established tech stack, tools, languages, standards, enterprise adoption.
  • Scalability – Dedicated blockchains, scalable consensus algorithms, custom WebAssembly execution environments.
  • Security – Modular “security as a service,” provided either by Ethereum or by a pool of professional validators.
  • Sovereignty – Dedicated throughput and resources, fully customizable tech stack, sovereign governance.
  • Interoperability – Native support for arbitrary message passing, bridges to external systems.
  • User Experience – Comparable to “Web2”, “zero-gas” transactions, instant transaction finality.
  • Developer Experience – Equivalent to Ethereum, no protocol level knowledge required, no token deposits, fees, or permissions.
  • Modularity – High customizability, extensibility and upgradeability, short time-to-market, community collaboration.

In short, Polygon is a decentralized Ethereum platform that enables developers to build scalable user-friendly dApps with low transaction costs without ever sacrificing security.
Over 7000 dApps have taken advantage of Polygon’s scaling solution. And they are committed to fostering the growth of Web3 applications by providing the required infrastructure.
In the image below, taken from the Polygen webpage, we see the improvements in the energy consumption of a transaction on the Polygon network compared to Ethereum.

Our thoughts on the chain

Polygon seems to have become the go-to layer-2 solution on Ethereum. And we’ve seen it be used in several P2E games. We believe it’s so popular because of the average transaction time of just 2.3 seconds and the overall network throughput of 10,000 TPS (transactions per second). This is currently unbeaten on Ethereum-compatible solutions. In comparison, Ethereum takes about 15 seconds to do the same type of transaction and consumes significantly more power.

Another point is that Ethereum is a safe place to build because of its enormous ecosystem and widespread adoption. It is not necessarily risky to build out P2E games on other blockchains like Solana or Tezos, but going for an Ethereum based solution could be a way of “playing it safe.” However, it is not without risk, as only recently, on the 11th of March 2022, Polygon suffered from an extended service outage after an upgrade. The network was down for over 11 hours, which caused a lot of ripples in the crypto world, as the network couldn’t produce new blocks. This cost the community and consumers a lot of money.

Another reason to build on Polygon could be the easy access to funding and VCs through the Polygen launchpad. Most launchpads today have little to no transparency, making them open for abuse. There is a gatekeeper approach, where great projects miss out on funds if the launchpads don’t “get it.” The manual processes make the whole system inefficient, and some launchpads would most likely prioritize their own interests over those of the projects and investors.

Polygen is a project-focused launchpad and aims to give it the ability to experiment and innovate without being forced to accommodate the platform’s demands or deal with its shortcomings. Polygon’s platform is decentralized and aims to do for launchpads and projects what Uniswap did for tokens. Their solution is 100% decentralized and based on having fair access and a fair price, while being pro-project and pro-investor.

Is the chain opened or closed?

Polygon is secured by a permissionless or open set of Proof of Stake validators and checkpoints submitted to the Ethereum blockchain.

Team


Who is on the team?

https://www.nitroleague.com/team.html

Team assessment and experience

The Nitro League team seems to cover a wide range of expertise amassing many years of experience. Digging into their LinkedIn, we can see that these are heavy-hitters in their field and have been doing it for a while.

Every team member we can find has been in a similar position before. The CEO has a rich background in marketing and content, and she spent the past seven years in several leadership positions in a tech company called “The ENTERTAINER.” The CTO, Haseeb Khan, has almost two decades of experience as a leader in technology. He began as a developer in the early 2000s, which evolved into tech-lead positions. Eventually he co-founded Tkxel, where he was also a director and VP of innovation and technology.

While doing this, he has also managed to become one of the top Ruby on Rails developers with over 37,000 hours logged and a 5-star feedback rating on Upwork. There is no doubt that the Nitro League’s tech stack is in the right hands. Digging deeper, we find that several other team members come from a background in Tkxel, Haseeb’s company, so the team dynamic and access to talent seem not to be an issue.

Who are their backers?

Roadmap


Game developers roadmap

Q2 |2022

Q3 |2022

Alpha teams thoughts on the roadmap

Nitro League’s roadmap is abstract. It doesn’t go very in-depth, but each quarter covers three main parts. It mainly focuses on the game itself and doesn’t have much regarding tokens or the economic side of things. We can only see the plans up towards Q3 of 2022, so there are basically just two quarters left of the roadmap, so it will be interesting to see when they update it. From the roadmap, we can expect the first game mode in Q2, which could be anywhere between April and June 2022.

Whitepaper


Link to the whitepaper: https://www.nitroleague.com/whitepaper.html#overview

Alpha teams general thoughts on the whitepaper

The whitepaper is not up to date and is lacking in information when compared to other P2E projects. The section on tokenomics is all of one line of text, but we’ve managed to find that information on their homepage instead. There is little to see on which technology stack or blockchain they’re building on. But looking into their IDO partners, we suspect Polygon as mentioned above.
The team part only contains three members, whereas the homepage offers up a few more. The information might be out there, but we’ve found when researching up-and-coming P2E projects that we first go to the whitepaper, where we find most of the data.

At least Nitro League conveys a lot of the gameplay through the whitepaper, which we appreciate. It is easy to grasp what the game is and aims to be, even though the lore could use some more work and the DAO part is very shallow. Even if the whitepaper may be lacking, it is most likely because the team has their focus on what’s important: the product.

Growth implications

We often look for implications that can occur in the growth of a project. Nitro League seems to have a solid technical competence, so on the development side, we’re not worried about how they will be able to handle large numbers of users. Regarding marketing, they’ve also focused heavily on influencer power when doing the Genesis release. This will help propel the reach and onboarding to the project.

Socialnomics

Social media follower count
Nitro League has a pretty decent following over their social media platforms, a testament to their marketing team. There is a heavy focus on showcasing art and video content across all media channels, with the exciting addition of TikTok shorts about the game and token. It is evident that Nitro League has a strong focus on building their community and showcasing their metaverse, on which we think they are doing an excellent job.

We’re quite impressed overall with the social power Nitro League is gathering. We are very much looking forward to seeing what they will be posting and showcasing in the future.

Conclusion


While there’s been some misses, overall our research into Nitro League is full of hits. How could you not like a futuristic car-racing game set in the year 3050?
We’ve had a look at the lore of the game, the classes, and aspects of the game like cloning, upgrades, and the game modes of the games. We’ve seen that a user can try the game for free and even practice in the free-to-play model. Continuing, we looked at the website’s usability both using a PC and a phone. We were pleasantly surprised to discover how well this website works on a phone. While the game seems appealing, there was no information regarding which blockchain would be used. In general, we wish more information was available on the whitepaper and website.

Both the CEO and CTO have many years of experience under their sleeve. Judging from the Nitro League Team’s LinkedIn, we don’t have concerns about Nitro League’s tech stack and merits. Based on their socialnomics, this game also has a big following, which gives us an idea of potential players’ interest in the game.
Nitro League is definitely a game on our short-list of high potential upcoming P2E NFT games, and we are very eager to pull it from the garage and line up on the grid.

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