Untamed Isles, a monster-catching MMORPG with “play-to-earn” mechanics, has been placed on indefinite hold after the crypto crash caused developer Phat Loot Studios to run out of funds. Kickstarter backers also won’t receive a refund for the same reason.
Announced in a Kickstarter last August, Untamed Isles is a Pokemon-like MMORPG. Like Temtem, the game takes a more “adult” approach to the genre, adding in online multiplayer functionality and more grown-up avatars. Unlike Pokemon, however, there are no specific species of monsters to catch. Instead, monsters are procedurally created with a number of different body parts and unique personalities, all of which offer different perks and aesthetics.
The game seems solid enough on its own without the need for crypto shenanigans, but buried in the middle of the Kickstarter description is a “play-to-earn” section that sheepishly admits you can tokenize any monster or item and sell it as an NFT on an online marketplace. Phat Loot says Untamed Isles is “game-first, crypto-second” and there’s no requirement to engage with blockchain integration from players.
While Untamed Isles the game might not have leaned too hard into the metaverse, Phat Loot the studio unfortunately did. In a statement, studio head Josh Grant admitted Phat Loot relied on backing from crypto investors, and the recent crypto crash has caused those investors to bolt.
“Since we started the journey in 2020, the economic landscape has changed dramatically both generally and specifically for cryptocurrency, and we are not confident in the current market. We ran out of financial resources and we can’t carry on the development at this moment,” wrote Grant.
“We leaned into the crypto market and expanded rapidly off the back of the positive interest. When the crash came, we ended up heavily exposed with too short of a runway. The game remains game-first, crypto-second in design, but crypto funds have become, and remain, essential in getting us to the release.”
Grant added that none of the funding was used to play in the cryptocurrency markets and everything they received was poured into the game’s development. But without any new sources of income, Phat Loot has been forced to “hibernate development on this project.”
Kickstarter backers can’t receive a refund as there’s simply no money left to return. As Eurogamer reports, backers are furious as many of them were entirely unaware of Untamed Isles crypto mechanics.
Untamed Isles was initially scheduled to launch into early access on October 6 on Steam. That launch is now on an indefinite hold, but even if it weren’t, Valve’s ban on NFT games would have put Untamed Isles in a precarious position.