Pixelmon Has New Leadership. Can It Overcome the Rug Pull Allegations?

The Alpha:

When Pixelmon first launched in February 2022 with a 10,005-piece collection of pixellated character NFTs, the NFT community quickly grew excited at the prospect of what seemed like a Web3-focused competitor to Pokémon.All that excitement swiftly turned into scorn the moment the Pixelmon team revealed what the game they were building would look like.Due to each NFT’s hefty 3 ETH price tag, the NFT community went on to call Pixelmon a “$70 million rug pull.”Pixelmon has announced the hiring of a new leadership team to help correct its course, according to an announcement initially reported by Coinbold.

Why it matters

Notably, Pixelmon hyped itself up in early 2022 by branding itself as a triple A gaming experience featuring voxel art set in a Pokémon-esque world. The announcement alone gave gamers all over Web3 reasons enough to invest in the project, despite how little information there was at the time on the game’s development. All 8,079 publicly available Pixelmon NFTs sold out within an hour of its mint’s launch — raking in 23,055 ETH. At the time, this was valued at more than $70 million.

The catch? Buyers at the time had no idea what the NFT characters they purchased would look like in the game. When self-styled crypto sleuth ZachXBT posted a set of screenshots of how Pixelmons would actually look, the project’s investors were in for a rude awakening. Sales for the project immediately dipped, and so did each Pixelmon’s value on the open market. There were even allegations that Pixelmon founder Martin van Blerk used funds from the Pixelmon treasury to go on what can only be described as a blue-chip NFT shopping spree.

With all this surrounding the project, its future was in jeopardy to say to least. However, despite the way Pixelmon’s mint deterred collectors, several investors in the space thought the hype of the initial mint would be worth stoking once more. Following the acquisition of a 60 percent controlling stake in Pixelmon, Web3 VC LiquidX is set to take on a fully operational role in all of Pixelmon’s existing departments.

Aside from that, a new — and much clearer — roadmap for Pixelmon’s future has been established. According to a press release, the game is set to launch a playable alpha version in Q1 2023, with a full release planned for some time in late 2023.

What’s next

Along with a clear release date, Pixelmon’s new leadership team has directly spoken about the game’s future as a title in the blockchain gaming space. There was no mention of play-to-earn or play-and-earn mechanics in the planned release. Instead, Pixelmon’s new top brass are pushing the planned title toward a play-to-own model.

“I firmly believe that over time we will be able to build Pixelmon into one of the strongest IPs in the gaming and web3 spaces, spanning across an ecosystem of entertainment-related assets. These assets will be interconnected and interoperable thanks to NFT technology. Gamers will be able to port characters, abilities and skins across the ecosystem, and NFT holders will be able to benefit from the performance of all assets,” said Pixelmon’s new CEO Giulio Xiloyannis in a press release.

Aditionally, Pixelmon is getting ready to launch a brand-new collection of Pixelmons to go with its upcoming revamped game. Reportedly, the Generation 1 Pixelmon NFTs will “encompass 68 genesis playable species and over 130 unique evolutions,” according to the press release. Early adopters are also promised exclusive access to own in-game land, which is set to be sold as NFTs.

Hopefully, Pixelmon will back up these bold claims and assuage the doubters. Flipping a script this burned would be a massive feat not only in Web3, but across the entire gaming industry. Another Pokémon-inspired title called Temtem took four years to develop, with an incredible span of nearly two years in early access. Should Pixelmon achieve its aims, and land a successful launch in 2023 with its new leadership at the helm, others in the Web3 space would definitely need to take note, if they want to take on the titans of Web2 gaming.

But the opposite, less fortuitous result is more likely than not for Pixelmon. After all, it initially overpromised and underdelivered following a catastrophic mint and game reveal earlier in 2022, and this will lead many to suspect Monday’s bold claims are just history repeating itself. When the game’s new iteration releases its playable alpha in Q1 2023, we’ll know how things turned out. With a timetable of six months maximum, Pixelmon’s new developers will need to call in a miracle. To make amends with everyone who poured tremendous amounts of their hard-earned money into the original drop and continued to hold, the new Pixelmon can’t just be another Poké-clone. It needs to be a Poké-killer.

But wait, there’s more:

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Editorial note: An earlier version of this article lacked a clarity of tone that accurately represented the stakes of Pixelmon, considering its previous reputation in the Web3 space. This has been corrected to reflect a complete context.

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