Roughly 24hrs ago, Big Time, a blockchain-powered MMO, launched its token on select CEXs. After what can be described as a series of surprising events, the token price has increased by more than 370%.
There are a couple of things I want to cover, including why I believe this could very well spell the end of Big Time, but I’ll start with why the token is pumping.
BIGTIME first launched on a select few relatively small exchanges, the largest being OKX. OKX is by no means a small CEX, but its user base is concentrated enough that many fans of the project were unable to buy in before the pump started. This inevitably caused some FOMO.
That said, speculators didn’t have to wait long before Coinbase listed the token. Prices have continued to rise ever since.
Before touching on some of the game-related concerns, it is important to point out that it is incredibly hard to find any reliable sources on what BIGTIME tokenomics looks like. There is no vesting schedule, no mention of allocations, and no concrete info on the current circulating supply (will update when we have this info). All we know is that so far, approximately 5% of the total supply has been airdropped to players and is being actively traded on the open market.
With a total supply of 5B tokens and no idea when new tokens will be minted, this is an extremely risky asset to be trading right now.
I can’t fault the team for trying to leverage this airdrop to bring attention to their recently released “pre-season” beta launch – it certainly worked. However, it has also set expectations too high for something that was never supposed to be a P2E game. The token price could be propped up by limiting the circulating supply for a time, but it will inevitably dump this early into the game’s lifecycle, and the reputational damage is going to be hard to come back from. This will soon illustrate the risks associated with launching a fungible token too early in a game’s development cycle before there are enough players to absorb the sudden increase in supply.
A much more damning consequence of the BIGTIME token launch is the light it shines on cracks in the game’s design.
BigTime is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) with RPG elements. All that really means is that the game is designed for players to farm resources, join groups with other players, fight monsters, and loot more resources. Resources are then used to increase the power of your character or craft cosmetic items. The only currently known utility for BIGTIME token is in the process of crafting cosmetics that can then be sold to other players.
Earning real-world currency from MMO gold farming or character sales has always been possible but is filled with enough friction and objectively low ROIs that rarely does the number of players participating in this economic loop surpass a fraction of the total player base. The fact that blockchain-based assets drastically reduce this friction is why open economies are so much harder to manage. When faced with the option to kill in-game boars in order to earn enough gold to upgrade a piece of armor or to do the same amount of work for an almost instant cash payout, if all else remains equal, most rational players would choose the latter. This is almost exactly what has happened in Big Time. Long-time players are now in a position where they have the potential to earn so much that playing the game for fun is no longer a consideration.
For example, one player said that they received 12k tokens ($3.3k at the time of writing) after playing for only 6 months. Some are now on track to make $200 a day, and others say that after playing for 1 year and spending $4k on in-game items like land and hourglass NFTs (need to earn BIGTIME tokens), they can now earn $2k a day semi-passively. Needless to say, this is unsustainable.
To make matters worse, this economic game loop is quickly becoming inaccessible to new players. The prices for NFTs needed to be eligible for BIGTIME rewards, such as the “Luna Time Warden” NFT, have increased as much as 200%.
For as long as the game lacks a sizable active player base that actually wants to buy in-game items from the marketplace, EVERY player is either going to insta-dump their token earnings on the unsuspecting open market or hold, thinking the number will continue to go up and then sell. This will soon have considerable knock-on effects that result in a disgruntled Web3 player base (due to the fact that the team will be forced to change the tokenomics or the reward mechanisms) and a disapproving (Western) Web2 player base.
I honestly hope Big Time can make it back from this, but with the game far from being polished and now entirely made up of speculators, it will be a long road ahead.