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Balthazar Research Report: Sky Frontier

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

Introduction

So, you know how when you see a stunning new anime show where the art style oozes with quality? Well, that’s the feeling we were left with after seeing the gorgeous artwork and the amazing trailer that Sky Frontier Fantasy Battle presented us at a glance.

The following article will lead you to our thoughts on the new NFT MMORPG Hunting game from BIGBANG, Sky Frontier Fantasy Battle.

Throughout this research report, we’ll look at the game itself, the lore and background, and their NFTs. We’ll assess their website and see if there is any information about their choice of blockchain. We’ll also take a look at their team and experience as well as their roadmap going forwards. To conclude the article, you’ll hear our thought on this project with some speculations about the project as well.

Let’s board the airships and fly to the sea of clouds as you read on!

Background


Sky Frontier is an MMORPG fantasy game with NFT assets made for PC and mobile. It has been stated on multiple occasions that Sky Frontier is a Free-To-Play game and that holding a NFT is not a requirement to play the game.

The story is set in a fantasy world that collapsed hundreds of years ago. The laws of physics don’t apply anymore, and they’re forced to adapt to a new life in the skies. It’s called the collapse; the land rose to the skies, and as it did, a deep-sea of clouds formed around the island. Only the survivors from the collapse moved to a floating island where they lived on an airship.

As time goes by, their resources and supplies are getting more and more exhausted, and the people start seeking food and resources. The land, however, isn’t uninhabited; instead, there live giant monsters, called lords (nushi), that roam the different regions, making an already hard life even more challenging for the people.

The story revolves around our hero, a boy who meets a girl. Together they meet other acquaintances, a princess, an airship engineer, etc. Our hero has to set out into the dangerous world, searching for supplies and resources while defeating lords and delving into the world’s mysteries.

Started as a fishing game

In the beginning, Sky Frontier Fantasy Battle was meant to be a fishing game. During development, there were some twists and turns, and the initial fishing game developed into an MMORPG with fishing elements remaining.

As the original foundation of the game was a fishing game, the game is influenced by eye-catching fantasy creatures in different areas, such as in the sea of clouds, volcanoes, and abandoned cities. As an example, you’ll find dragons in volcanic regions.

Game modes

There are three primary game modes that the players can partake in.

Fields (single and multiplayer)

Players can traverse this fantasy world with airships in a single-player or multiplayer experience. As players defeat the many different creatures, they might drop NFTs. While defeating creatures, the player may suddenly meet giant creatures or lords.

If the player in field mode is ever in crisis, they can signal a rescue request, where up to 4 other players can answer the call and drop into the field to fight together. This is similar to a system in Monster Hunter, where single-player players can send a rescue flare to get help from other hunters.

Master’s Hunting Battle (PvE)

Challenge bosses and lords either by yourself or with up to 8 players. Spot the weak points, take aim and defeat the boss. The key to victory is to work together, play your role, play strategically and select the right crew members for the job.

Point Battle (PvP)

Fight other players in tournaments. In tournaments, you set out to the field and fight bosses. The player that has weakened the boss the most at the time limit, wins.

Gameplay

The first thing the player needs to do upon entering Sky Frontier Fantasy Battles fantasy world is choose an airship. Each airship has a boarding slot, and the number of crew members varies depending on the airship selected. As you progress, you’ll gain more crew, which will increase your stats in battle and the number of skills you can use.

The basic flow in Sky Frontier is to get a giant ship with more crew, set sail against bosses and lords, and defeat them.

The game is essentially an auto-battler with manual operations and action elements. The player uses the skills, whereas the targeting of the creatures is automatic. Some skills can be manually targeted.

NFT Game Assets


Based on the webpage there is very little information about the initial two NFT launches that Sky Frontier has had. This is partly because the game is in a very early state and partially because a lot of information is only available in Japanese. We’ve however done our due diligence and found the Japanese pages detailing more information regarding the launches. A third NFT has already been teased.

Based on the information we are able to find it does seem like both launches were quite successful, although primarily in the Japanese market.

1st Sale:

The first sale was publically open for 8 days from February 25th to March 4th 2022. This was an in-game NFT pre-sale.

Contents were as follows:

  • Characters: Alice, Carol, Ignis, Katie, Leyla, Olivia, William, Yashin
  • Ships: Zephyrus, Taiyomaru
  • Weapons: Exocest, Flash Gun, Lightning Catapult, Smash Staff.

Worth noting that Olivia and Leyla were exclusive in this initial sale.

Emission Rate:

2nd Sale:

The second sale was publically open for 5 days from May 25th to May 29th 2022.

Contents were as follows:

  • Characters: Freya
  • Ships: Euros
  • Weapons: Rainbow Half-String, Spike Bow, Dragonet Staff, Hand Energy Gun Type C, Papilio Sword, Ungrance Sword, Saint Staff, Me109 Type General-Purpose Toolbox

Emission Rate:

Land

Currently, there have not been any land sales or information that we could find regarding Land.

Sky Frontier website


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

Screenshot borrowed from Sky Frontiers’ website using desktop: https://sky-frontier.com/index_en.html#1

Desktop

When loading the website, we were introduced to the very detailed background art, including the game’s title, on the top left side of the website. The user could change language; upper right, there was a menu symbol that expanded when clicked, and on the right bottom right side, there were animated arrows to let the visitor know to keep scrolling to see more. If the user were to click on this symbol, they would be automatically sent to the “About” section of the website. When expanding the menu, the user could click into the website’s different sections, such as the PV, About, Games, Story, and more. When scrolling, this menu was permanently linked to the upper right side of the screen, so if the user would like to use the menu instead of scrolling, this would be possible. The menu also contained the games’ Twitter and a link to Pancake Games. This was also included at the very end of the website. However, it’s worth mentioning that when clicking on the Twitter logo, the user would be sent to the official Japanese Twitter profile, the English version of Twitter was not included on their website or promoted on their Twitter.

This game is in its very early infancy. Because of this, the information on this website is highly theoretical. However, we find information that the 1st and 2nd NFT sale has already been closed. When scrolling down on the website, the user can watch a short movie created for this game, where the user gets a first impression of the game or at least the idea of the game. The artwork is highly detailed, the music is fun and adventurous and sound effects such as loading the weapon have been added. The user would also be able to see the floating islands, the flying ship, and which monsters we could expect to see from the game.

The website is very clear and straight to the point. The user can see news and read what the project is about and the different game modes. The text itself is of decent size and is easily readable for the user, and in the background, there are sketches of in-game artwork, which we enjoy. Again, the website explains its idea without any precise information such as stats, classes that might be involved, weapons, etc. However, it’s explained that the player would be able to find NFTs or even craft their own NFTs using items from the game.

At the end of the website, the user can read two messages from the creators, which sets the idea of what they are trying to accomplish from this game. The last sentence from this website is a strong one; “(…)I would like to deliver a new game experience from Japan to the world that makes you want to return to the vast world of the sea of clouds every day” by producer and director Manabu Murakami. This sets expectations as to what kind of game they are creating. If everything goes as planned, the creators will make a game where players can earn and play an RPG Online while having fun and wanting to return the next day.

We believe it’s fair to mention that this project doesn’t have a whitepaper or disclose any partners involved, team, and a roadmap. This gives an understanding of how early the creators are in the process of creating this game.

This website feels like it was made to have one available, and we hope to see a more detailed website in the future from this team. Considering this project is in its very early start phase, we recommend adding the link to their English Twitter account for any English visitors. Nevertheless, we are excited to see what’s to come, especially since this game could set a whole new standard for the P2E arena of games.

Screenshot borrowed from Sky Frontiers’ website using desktop: https://sky-frontier.com/index_en.html#1

Mobile

On the mobile site, the layout is as expected. The creators have managed to include the entire display picture. The user can also change between languages in the upper left part of the website. Nevertheless, the scroll symbol has been kept, which would auto-scroll the user to the “About” part of the mobile site just as on the website. We noticed that the menu was gone from the upper right side until we tried to swipe to the left, discovering that the format was wider than the mobile screen could show. This was especially visible for the video further down the website. When clicking into the menu to test it, it worked perfectly. However, we thought it was a weird design that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent to the user.

The text is a decent size and fits the mobile screen well. Luckily, the widescreen, which the user would have to swipe to see, didn’t cause any error to the mobile site. Therefore, the user could browse and receive complete information without knowing the wider screen available. The artwork also looks friendly and blends well into the text giving it the same feeling as when using a desktop. When we continued to scroll down the mobile site, we could tap to see the comments from the CEO and producer and director. This was also symbolized with + and -, depending on if the comments were already tapped into or not. Lastly, the logo, Twitter, and Pancake Games were linked.

From our point of view, the website nicely fits the mobile screen, for the most part. However, the video part of the website made it clear that the site had been cut off oddly. If the user were to watch the video in a portrait format, they would lose about 30% of the video screen, if not more. The menu also appeared to be lost but could be found by swiping to the left; by doing this, the user would have it revealed, and from that point, it worked as expected.

Screenshot borrowed from Sky Frontiers’ website using mobile: https://sky-frontier.com/index_en.html#1

The verdict

This website has a long way to go before reaching other P2E websites, which we’ve tested already. Judging from a point where the creators are at the very start of this project, the website is straightforward and informs in a very theoretical way, explaining its idea more than facts about how the game will work. However, the creators can present their idea and give the user expectation about whats to come in the future As much as we would love to see their team composition, roadmap, whitepaper, and detailed information about assets merging of items found to create new NFTs, we need to settle for this not being available at this written moment. We remain in our statement, hoping the team will add their English Twitter on their website and the Japanese one.

Blockchain


What chain does the game run on?

Sky Frontier has launched its $GSKY token on Binance Smart Chain (BSC).

BSC runs in parallel with Binance Chain (BC), which, unlike BSC, doesn’t have smart contracts and other nifty features. BC was purposely built for fast decentralized trading and had to sacrifice features like smart contracts to avoid possible congestion. On the other hand, BSC was constructed to deal with more varied tasks and is better suited to handle smart contracts and what we see in NFTs today. BSC is also EVM compatible, which means many of the dApps built for the Ethereum blockchain are easily ported to BSC.

BSC runs a Proof of Staked Authority (PoSA) consensus algorithm, a form of Proof of Stake. To participate in the BSC consensus, you have to stake BNB, the token in the ecosystem, to become a validator. Then, if the validator proposes a valid block, they are rewarded with the transaction fees from the transactions within.

Cross-chain compatibility is also enabled on BSC through the BEP-20 token standard, which is a counterpart to ERC-20 on Ethereum. BSC can then swap tokens with BCs BEP-2 and BEP-8 tokens.

Finally, BSC has a suite of DeFi products allowing assets from several different chains to be used through BSC’s growing DeFi suite.

Our Thoughts on the Chain?

Going for BSC seems to be a trend for anime-style games, as we see many of them on the Binance NFT Launchpad. What Binance can provide in this case is a launchpad for NFTs with a lot of games, although they seem to go for quantity over quality in that regard. This is not saying that Sky Frontier isn’t a quality project, but if they are to launch their NFTs on Binance, they’ll be one of many in a place with differing quality. The project is still in its early phase, and we’re curious to see how this progresses.

Team


Who is on the team?

  • Atsushi Kitagawa – Co-Founder / CEO
    • Established BIGBANG in 2014
  • Masay Aihara – Co-Founder / VP
    • Established BIGBANG in 2014
  • Masaaki Hatamura – Co-Founder / Director
    • Joined BIGBANG through Square Enix
  • Rei Yamashita – CTO / Director
  • Manaby Murakami – Producer / Director

Team assessment

We have to start by prefacing this part with the fact that finding information on the members of Sky Frontier was hard. One reason for this might be because most of the little content that is out there on Sky Frontier is mainly in Japanese and very hard for the Google search engine to find via regular searching.

BIGBANGs website states that the company has 16 employees. However, it only goes somewhat in-depth on their founders. We also tried to find members through LinkedIn. However, we weren’t able to – this might be because LinkedIn isn’t as broadly used in the eastern culture.

The team also has no whitepaper available, so that we couldn’t find any more information there on their team.

Given how little information there was for us to find, we cannot go any further in detail on their team and will have to see what they can achieve going forwards.

Do they have relevant experience?

CEO and Co-Founder Atsushi Kitagawa lists experience from Konami and as a game planner and producer for the mobile game app Mobage Town, while also producing numerous games.

VP and Co-Founder Masay Aihara lists experience as the producer of Konami Net DX, an official mobile website for a large number of members in Konami. It also lists that he launched «the popular card battle game that served as a model for today’s social game battles» however, we cannot confirm this.

From what we can tell, the team at BIGBANG seems to have experience in the mobile gaming industry. They also seem to have a good eye for detail, and their team has produced high-quality content already, from what we can see. The artwork they’ve created is top-notch as well.

Roadmap


Game developers roadmap

As of writing this report, there does not exist a roadmap. We’re highly expecting a roadmap in the very near future and are very eager to see what the more long-term plans are for Sky Frontier.

Guild Facilitation


Delegation: Yes
The Sky Frontier webpage directly talks about the games Lending below the “Lending-Fee” section and so they confirm that the game will have lending functionality. Detailing further they explain how you can set the exact lending fee and hence earn through lending out your NFTs, if you were not to play them yourself.

Socialnomics


Social media followers count

PlatformFollower Count
Twitter EN9,405
Twitter PR/Japanese18,600

Since keeping an eye on the games’ Twitter account, both the English and Japanese versions, we’ve seen the English Twitter account go from 11 000 followers to approx 9 400. A reason for the decrease could be the account managers removing bots or such from their following. The English Twitter account has 12 Tweets in total, making it quite inactive. Then again, this project is clearly in its start phase as mentioned, causing the Team to mainly focus on their Japanese following.

The Japanese Twitter account is only 1,400 followers away from reaching 20,000. This Twitter account is more active than the English version, but there seems to be no clear strategy behind their postings besides casual updates. We noticed that they can post several posts a day, but then go a week or so without posting. To us, it seems like they rather update when there is news to be shared, rather than try to keep a goal of for instance 2 posts a day.

From a tweet posted on the PR account (02.02.2022), mentioning the views on the website, we can see that by far the most engagement is from Japan with 7,522 views and USA in 2nd place with 518. Now, keeping in mind that this game production has been and to some degree still is on the down-low, it still gives us an idea about where the excitement is located.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/SKYFRONTIER_PR/status/1488747162683195394

Speculation and connecting the dots


The information surrounding Sky Frontier isn’t plentiful. However, the information available is very intriguing, leaving us with many questions and a bit to speculate about.

The first thing that stands out to us is the artwork, especially the teaser trailer shown at the start of this article. It’s of such a high quality that we would’ve loved to see this as an animated show. The animation is spot on, and we cannot but think that perhaps there is a connection to an actual anime studio that has been producing this trailer. And if this is the quality we can expect at release, then that, combined with an intriguing story, we can only be excited about what Sky Frontier can show us in the future on this front.

If Sky Frontier can capture the anime essence, we believe it can be a real hit on release. With the exciting story presented in a mysterious world with giant creatures roaming the sea of clouds, this game has the potential to be an MMORPG that makes you interested in following the gameplay and its story, not just the NFT charts.

Although there isn’t too much information about the game so far, the information that is out there is solid. Sky Frontier has a massive job ahead of themselves, and we’re here wondering if they can deliver on the expectations. We’re excited to see what more they reveal as we go along.

One of the teased creatures – a shark-shaped nushi with a mechanized body

Conclusion


Sky Frontier Fantasy Battle isn’t BIGBANGs first game. However, it’s their first big game project to launch on both PC and mobile, and it’s also their first game in the GameFi space. The game has a great vision and aims to be an easy-to-pick-up MMORPG that is fun to play and engaging with high-quality artwork and visuals. We’re excited to see how this game plays out when it releases, especially since this hunting game has a foundation in fishing elements, a genre that is more common in the eastern game market.

Launching on both PC and mobile, we believe that this game has the potential to reach a lot of people. It’s going to be critical that the developers strive to achieve a balanced game in its fun-to-play aspect and the game- and NFT mechanics. The game also needs to have a healthy economy and be easy to pick up yet challenging to master. As an early adopter in the MMORPG genre as an NFT game, it’s crucial that Sky Frontier can help onboard new members interactively and engagingly. We believe that story and the high quality of artwork and, hopefully, anime studio-grade animations and cutscenes will be positively received by all gamers alike and that this game has the potential to bridge the gap between GameFi space and the regular games.

Overall, Sky Frontier Fantasy Battle proves to be an exciting project that we have high hopes for; however, with the lack of information available, we cannot have complete confidence in this project as a whole. Starting in the NFT gaming space with an MMORPG sounds both exciting and dangerous – we hope this developer has what it takes to follow up this game on launch, with many players probably having a lot to say about it. The MMORPG genre is a saturated market, and these games generally require a lot of time. This is no small hurdle to overcome compared to other smaller NFT game projects.

Going forwards, we’re excited to see the path of Sky Frontier unfold before us, and we cannot wait to get more teaser trailers where we get to know more of the world of Sky Frontier.

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