Kieran Warwick’s 2032 plan for Illuvium – Cointelegraph Magazine

Kieran Warwick’s 2032 plan for Illuvium – Cointelegraph Magazine

Kieran Warwick founded the game money-making game Illuvium with his brothers Aaron and Grant — both siblings of Synthetix founder DeFi maverick Kain. He shares his alpha on how to design NFT game mechanics to make playing them both fun and profitable in the long run.

Warwick moved into retail right out of high school, eventually becoming an online shopping entrepreneur. He started his crypto world at Kain’s brother company BlueShyft, which first offered bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange payments over the counter at over a thousand brick-and-mortar retailers across Australia in 2015.

Kieran Warwick rides the Illuvium until 2032.


Years later, with a series of commercial projects, Kain encouraged him to re-enter the field, which led to the creation of Illuvium, a Pokemon-like game for earning NFTs. Unlike games of its era like Axie Infinity, which experienced dramatic gaming inflation, Warwick believes Illuvium will have a decade of staying power. In June 2022, the game raked in $72 million from the sale of 20,000 NFT lands, literally laying the groundwork for the long-term competitive environment Warwick envisions.

Deflation by Design

He explained the Illuvium setup. When players first arrive or “crash” onto the planet, they find that “the society has been established and your job is to be a hunter and go out and hunt creatures called Illuvials.”

Like Pokemon cards, these Illuvials that live in certain areas of the map are limited editions. Like the original Charizard or Pikachuka from 1999, Genesis Illuvials are no longer available. Every time a new set of Illuvials becomes available, they become harder and harder to find and capture, according to a binding curve comparable to the one that governs Bitcoin’s halving, and makes Bitcoin increasingly rare and harder to mine through way to “capture”. “That’s what makes them valuable,” Warwick noted.

Artwork from Illuvium.Source: Twitter

In addition to being limited in “minting” and becoming increasingly difficult to “mine”, Illuvials are also becoming deflationary due to a game mechanic called “fusion”, which involves destroying lower-level characters to create higher-level characters do not.

Three level 1 Illuvials can be fused into a level 2 version, while summoning a level 3 Illuvial requires sacrificing three level 2s, equivalent to nine base creatures permanently removed from circulation.

Warwick was quick to note that the capped and deflationary nature of his Illuvial game work made Illuvium the stark opposite of Axie Infinity, whose native Axie characters were created through a mechanism called breeding, which spawns in the game world an ever-expanding role pool.

An Axie cost hundreds of dollars in mid-2021 — so much so that individual gamers often rent them from owners and split the revenue, but the value has plummeted to almost zero now. This price slump can be explained by the runaway reproduction of more Axies, which also leads to a drop in the possible earnings per Axie.

Warwick isn’t surprised by the decline of Axie Infinity’s gaming economy. “I’ve been calling it that for 18 months,” he said, explaining that he thought the game was doomed from the start because its economics were unsustainable. He asserts that the model attracts many players who work full-time to extract value from the game, with few adding anything.

“A lot of people find these games to be just a blur. We’re not like that – we’ve been here for at least 10 years.”


Warwick, 32, had an interest in business from an early age, believing he wanted to start making money right out of high school in 2007 and decided to skip university in favour of Australian retailer Harvey Norman, eventually becoming a franchisee in charge Open shop.

After leaving in 2012, he founded Audio Invasion with his brother Kain and a mutual friend, a competing retailer of online music and computing products, which recently started mining bitcoin as a hobby. Around the same time, he dabbled in a business selling online tutorials.

“That was the first time I heard about bitcoin—he had hundreds of them,” Warwick recalled, adding that the friend who introduced him to bitcoin tragically passed away in a bicycle accident, and he brought him with him. His private keys go to the grave, just like so many other early adopters encountered untimely death.

When Audio Invasion ran out of money in 2014, Warwick was head of marketing for BlueShyft, the financial payments and retail network he co-founded with brother Kain, billed as the “world’s first” over-the-counter platform. More than 1,000 retail locations across Australia are equipped with iPads that customers can use to buy BTC directly in-store. In short, anyone can walk in with cash and deposit BTC to an address of their choice.In addition to the retail business, the company today also operates bitcoin.cAustraliawhich claims to be the fastest way to buy bitcoin in Australia.

In 2017, Kieran’s brother Kain, who is nine years older than him, founded Synthetix (formerly Havven) – an Ethereum-based DeFi platform. Kieran helped his brother raise money for the project. Around this time, when the price of ETH was in the single digits, Warwick started investing in ETH and other cryptocurrencies.

“I’m a little bit skeptical about crypto — I lost $30,000 in margin trading ETH, and it’s not good for me.”

In 2016, instead of flipping cryptocurrencies, a young Warwick used his taste for burgers to create the Burger Collective, described as “an app for burger lovers,” which offers reviews and discounts to nearby restaurants. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down restaurants for in-person dining, the app had 200,000 users, had initial success, and was about to integrate with DoorDash. “Our products are all about going to the store,” Warwick explained why the company had to go out of business in May 2021 after running out of money.

Just as his burger app started to fail, Kain pressured him to “return to crypto,” even lending him $100,000 to do so. “I ended up making a ton of money — 10 times that in six months,” recalls Warwick. In June 2020, he had the privilege of learning about Axie Infinity, the game money-making game that fascinated him.

“They label it a Pokémon-like game, and I’m a huge Pokémon fan,” he noted of the initial appeal, which led him down the rabbit hole of learning NFTs on which the game is based. Describing himself as a gamer, Warwick believes “this is exactly what the mainstream gaming world has been asking for for decades.”

“What if we made a game similar to AAA Fortnite? That’s exactly what gamers have always wanted!” Warwick believes, before taking a “few weeks” deeper into the technology and possible game features.

Artwork from Illuvium.Source: Twitter

What should I pay attention to when designing a game? Designing game characters seemed like a natural place to start, so Warwick set about trying to convince his more art-loving brother Grant to help with the design. Getting Grant on board, however, was no easy task.

“No man, I’m not going into crypto — it’s all a scam, so I can’t put my reputation at risk,” Kieran recalled his brother’s protest. He eventually relented and agreed to design five characters.

The five designed characters were not made by the game. While Warwick imagined himself capable of raising money and running a business, he knew very little about how to build games—a task that involved more than just art and design.

The answer came from another member of the Warwick family, Aaron. He is an accomplished game designer and the next person to join the team. Aaron brought new ideas, preferring “more teamfight tactics, League of Legends style”.

“As brothers, we just couldn’t agree on game mechanics – we debated for 2-3 days until Aaron designed a beta. That’s where Illuvium came from.”

“We are a game with crypto elements, not gamified crypto. The result of this game DNA is high-quality gameplay that feels no different from the best traditional games,” Warwick explained the resulting first-hand gaming experience.

how to earn

Players can earn money in a variety of ways while playing Illuvium. The first of these is by catching Illuvials in the wilds and then selling them for a profit. The process is not without cost, however, as players must consume in-game “fuel” to gain access to specific areas where Illuvials may be present, and when one is encountered, consume a shard to facilitate capture. With several layers of sharding, the cost increases gradually, and it is statistically impossible to capture high-ranking Illuvial with low-level sharding. “Fuel is what powers Illuvium’s entire economy,” he said.

Tradeable Illuvials are very much like Pokémon. Source: Illuvium

There’s also Illuvium Zero, a “mobile companion game” that Warwick describes as “a city builder with NFT land.” Landowners can obtain fuel related to the Illuvium economy as an indispensable resource needed to play the game effectively. According to Warwick, landowners earn 5% of in-game revenue this way. At the time of writing, the cheapest individual land deals on the in-game market are close to 1,000 USDT.

Ranked Battles are the driver of demand for captured Illuvials, where they can fight to climb the leaderboards and earn ILV governance tokens, 1 million of which are used to reward achievements such as tournaments. In these cases, the DAO that manages the game is only a small part. With a market capitalization of over $100 million, ILV ranks among the top 200 cryptocurrencies. In addition to the governance-focused ILV token (which is functionally equivalent to Axie Infinity’s AXS token in some ways), there is sILV2.

Illuvials fight on a virtual battlefield.

“SILV2 is our in-game currency, but it’s also limited,” explained Warwick, and the tokens are often used to buy the all-important fuel. The “2” in the name is the result of a January 2022 incident in which the currency was exploited by hackers prior to launch.

“Their plan was to wait until the game started and have an unlimited amount of SLV,” Warwick explained, adding that the brothers decided to reboot the token and make victims whole by personally investing about $450,000. However, it was indeed Warwick’s money, because “other people don’t have liquidity yet, but they say they’ll pay me back,” he said.

Warwick has a broader vision for the future of blockchain gaming.

“I think most games will migrate to Web3,” he says confidently, explaining that the new paradigm of “give the power back to the player” has so many advantages that it is necessary due to consumer demand upgrade. Unlike most mainstream games where players typically cannot sell their in-game items or monetize their achievements, Web3 gaming means “consumers have choice.”

“It’s the start of a new cycle where consumers will have power over this 10- to 20-year period.”


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