“Navigating the Web3 space as a guild is tough, this article should help provide some guidance.”
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that everything in this article is my subjective opinion on Web3 gaming guilds and scholarships. This information should not be taken as financial advice in any capacity. Always do your own research before making investment decisions.
- The Present State of Guilds
- The “Current” Relationship Between Guilds & Scholars
- The Evolution of Guilds
- Businesses vs Brands
- Adding Value = Future-Proofing Your Guild
- The Essence of Entertainment
- There’s Always Room For Casuals
- What Does This Mean For Scholars?
- Scholarships ➡ Sponsorships
- Advice For Current Scholars
- Final Thoughts
- To BUIDL? Or Not To BUIDL?
- Next Steps For Guild Leaders
- Author(s) & Contact Info
Many of you reading this probably know who I am but for those who don’t: My name is Max, I’m known as Guru in the NFT Space and I’m the founder of MTTM. I was not planning to create a guild when I first started playing Axie in early 2021; however, slowly and surely MTTM manifested itself as a guild of amazing people wanting to do incredible things for the space. Over the last year I’ve learned so much as a guild leader, content creator, scholarship manager, and professional advisor for blockchain games, so I want to share some insight on what I believe the future holds, and how to best position ourselves for it. I believe Zyori did a good job explaining his outlook on how scholarships will change, so if you haven’t read his blog yet, I highly recommend it. I’m going to be focusing more on the evolution of Guilds as I feel that’s an area many of my followers are interested in, but I will share my thoughts on scholarships as well.
The Present State of Guilds
If I suddenly asked you to name a blockchain gaming guild, what would you say? I’m guessing names like YGG, Merit Circle, Guildfi, or other large-scale guilds might come to mind. Big financial entities similar to hedge funds are what most people consider to be “Guilds”. These groups are usually backed by institutional money and heavily invest in projects early with the expectation to profit. Professional consulting, effective marketing, a large user base, and strong financial backing are some of the major points of value that these large groups bring to a project.
Guilds come in many shapes and sizes though, such as our very own MTTM, the recently announced QU3ST, and METAT8 for example. These groups are also more than capable of providing professional services and financial backing but do not usually have the same leverage or exposure as the largest “commercial” guilds. This causes smaller guilds to require uniqueness in order to stand out; whether it be via their branding, tools they develop, content creation, or other distinguishing features. The biggest takeaway here is how those features add value to the ecosystems they’re involved in rather than extracting value as a means to profit. This value balance is a key component in how the future of guilds, both big and small, will be shaped.
The “Current” Relationship Between Guilds & Scholars
Let’s talk about how guilds and scholars currently interact, or better put “transact” with one another. The primary relationship guilds have with their scholars can be compared to an entry-level employee working in a company: There is an initial onboarding period where the guild is more involved, then the scholar is left to do their daily grind and get paid out on regular intervals. Besides performance updates, getting notified if they miss a day of “work”, or a request to upgrade their team, the relationship is very transactional for the most part. This is not always the case, however, as there are guilds that do engage more with their scholars and community, whether it be through live streaming, Twitter threads, or casual discord communication, but even that seldom goes beyond a friendly employee relationship.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the way guilds and scholars currently work, but it’s extremely limited and results in little to no value being added to either party, nor the gaming ecosystem itself. Zyori says in his blogpost; “The end game of play to earn is not for all of us to be sitting around, alone in our rooms playing Axie by ourselves and staring at crypto price charts. The end goal has to be something larger and more universal,” and I completely agree with his statement. The opportunity presented for both guilds and scholars is much greater than a simple transactional relationship, and eventually, I predict that a more valuable partnership may even be required if a guild wants to be successful in the future of blockchain gaming. More on this topic later.
The Evolution of Guilds
Businesses vs Brands
Is your guild just a business? Or is it a brand? To help you understand the difference, I want to share a quote I heard years ago; “A business is the operational entity within an industry, and it stays within its realm of business. A brand is what happens when that business grows and becomes so large that it actually serves a greater purpose; stretching farther than its industry. The brand is the bigger picture.”
Here’s a nice definition of what a “Brand” is for more context 👇
Starting to understand? When your guild becomes a brand, its very essence can be felt and understood beyond simply how it makes money, it has intrinsic value. The reason this is important is because blockchain gaming has proven in its recent history that only playing to earn is unsustainable and will not be the major focus for games in the future. There will come a time, if not already here, where guilds require more than just employees doing their jobs in order to be successful. This is even more apparent for smaller guilds that do not run on a large enough scale to justify extremely small profit margins.
Adding Value = Future-Proofing Your Guild
As I mentioned in the first section, guilds that add value to the ecosystem will naturally establish themselves as strong brands and become more resilient to failure because they can survive without relying on extraction alone. This creates a necessary evolution for guilds that even the biggest institutional entities will have to follow to some degree, but what does that look like? In his blogpost, Zyori talks about using the scholarship system as a true educational platform and not only identifying scholars with above-average abilities but also developing them professionally as contributors to the blockchain gaming space. This is one of the verticals that MTTM and I are planning to focus on, but let me share my reasoning so you can determine if this is applicable to you and your guild.
Before establishing myself in the blockchain industry, I ran my own consulting firm that specialized in organizational strategy, management consulting, and executive recruitment. The reason I mention this is because I’ve had a lot of hands-on experience with recruitment and let me tell you, it is not easy to find and onboard the right people. Companies will spend 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of dollars to bring the right people in, and even more money to train them. Talent will always be in high demand, and if you can develop that talent rather than having to look for it, you’ll have an edge when it comes to expanding your guild into a professional organization.
Now to be completely clear, although I do think professional development (PD for short) is a great idea for larger guilds that can facilitate the process; MTTM happens to be one of the guilds doing this, I also think it may be unrealistic for a majority of guilds in the space due to their size and capabilities. There is a big difference between “education” and “guidance”, and for most guilds, providing quality PD is a huge task that requires lots of responsibility and financial backing that they do not have. Thankfully, there are many options for guilds to establish their brands and create value.
The Essence of Entertainment
I want to preface this section by saying that I do believe all guilds have a responsibility to guide their community on the necessary aspects of Web3, but how far that goes depends on the direction of the guild itself. My good friend Spike is a well-known figure in the NFT gaming space and part of the Metagoons guild which focuses on entertainment and gaming primarily. They excel in making content, hosting events, and bringing together creators to put on some wild shows, for Goons, content is king. There is also Metat8 (MT8) which I mentioned before; a guild well known for its leaderboard topping eSports players and influential takes on Axie Infinity. Both of these guilds excel in their fields, and although I’m sure they help provide guidance to their members, their true value is not in PD, but more in entertainment.
If we took scholarships completely out of the picture, I don’t think MT8 or Goons would transition into an educational platform, it just doesn’t fit their branding. For these types of guilds, I can see them becoming more like traditional eSports-Lifestyle brands, and rather than having scholarships, providing sponsorship opportunities for high performing players and/or content creators. As blockchain games release new updates, shift meta, or see a lot of dynamic competition at the top of the leaderboard, players will benefit greatly by having a professional guild backing them. This is not a new concept thankfully, most of the systems for running a guild this way can be learned from studying traditional eSports brands, but the most important thing to understand is how difficult it is to run a profitable “eSports-Lifestyle” guild. Here’s a good article from Digiday that goes into more detail on how eSports orgs make money.
There’s Always Room For Casuals
The final point I want to touch on when it comes to options for guilds is the feasibility of just going the casual route. Maybe you don’t want to take on the responsibility of creating a professional organization or eSports brand. Maybe you just want to play games with your old Runescape buddies that you’ve known for decades who pitched you on an awesome NFT game. Is there a place for casual guilds in the future of blockchain games? Yes! 100% there is! I not only think it’s possible but necessary for casual guilds and groups to exist, if anything they need to be the majority if we want to see blockchain gaming really succeed.
Casual guilds are hard to predict at this point; they could be completely casual with low financial commitments and expectations, or groups that are just starting out small and may choose to scale in the future. I don’t think scholarships will be as common, so we may see entire guilds filled with players just having fun and working towards personal achievements. I’m actually excited to see how casual guilds end up fitting into the ecosystem as wider adoption happens.
What Does This Mean For Scholars?
As it currently stands, most blockchain gamers are scholars, so how do these changes affect them? Will scholars still be needed? Will earnings be worth it? Well, in an ideal environment; scholars will be able to enjoy the games they play while earning in less predictable ways. What I mean by this is that earnings need to be less tokenized, and instead be more gamified with a balance of luck, grinding, and performance determining the outcome. If there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s that while blockchain games continue to require somewhat of an investment to get started, scholars and scholarships will be in demand.
Scholarships ➡ Sponsorships
I actually think many scholarships will transition to more of a sponsorship program with varying levels of requirements for applicants. It might even become common for competitive players to shop around for sponsorships that help them perform best, setting their rates accordingly. I predict that people will start documenting their gaming experience so they can create a player profile to help them progress or move into new games. This is something I’ve already spoken with countless developers about, and although not perfect yet, the technology is coming.
Advice For Current Scholars
One thing current scholars should be thinking about is their future in the space. Being accepted into a scholarship is only the beginning of your opportunity with a guild. We’ve had scholars grow to become leading figures in MTTM, helping with guild operations, event hosting, business development, and more. I’ve also had plenty of scholars use our community network in MTTM to help them progress their own Web3 careers and take up important positions in other projects. If you’re a scholar right now and you happen to be part of a guild that you feel confident in and passionate about, try to prove yourself to the leadership team and make a place for yourself in the future of that guild.
To BUIDL? Or Not To BUIDL?
You know that cliché saying we hear all the time that goes a little something like, “we’re early!” Well as cliché as it may be, it very accurately describes the situation we’re all in. However, while most use the statement as motivation to BUIDL and 💎🙏 to make that paper, it has a more realistic meaning that needs to be understood. We are still very early in the blockchain gaming industry, which means we have countless lessons to learn, problems to solve, and changes to adapt to as individuals and organizations (Guilds). The future ahead for current guilds is not going to be easy, and if you or your team are not prepared to take on the challenge of establishing your brand, developing your members, and creating a substantial name for yourselves as contributors to the space, you may want to reconsider your position.
I’m not trying to scare anyone away, I’m just being realistic; I worked as an independent contractor and startup advisor in the Amazon scene during the 2015-2018 boom and I see a lot of similarities to our current market. Over half the money printing Amazon stores at the time underestimated the challenge of transitioning into a fully branded entity that can exist even after the hype cycle settled down. I mentioned above that casual guilds will be in high demand as the industry takes shape, so there is no shame in deciding to lower your risk and take a more casual approach to being a pioneer of the blockchain gaming revolution.
Next Steps For Guild Leaders
Now, for those of you hungry to take on the challenge of building a guild that will stand the test of time and become a vital contributor to the space, I have some advice. Treat this as a startup, because that’s exactly what it is! If you haven’t built a business before, then you should take some time to write out and organize everything, such as:
- Write out a complete business plan for your guild. Gino Wickman taught me a lot about making business plans; I recommend looking into the EOS (Entrepreneur Operating System) and VTO (Vision Traction Organizer) to get started.
- Get your finances in order by using an effective accounting process. Go get Quickbooks or consult with a real accountant, you can’t be just using excel or sheets for everything. Also, be sure to make a budget and stick to it as best you can, don’t overlook your finances!
- Give your brand some serious thought. The visual aspects of your brand are important, and if you’re just running on pre-generated logos and media assets from Canva or some other Webapp, it’s not going to cut it. There are tons of brand specialists out there, and more YouTube videos than you’d ever need to help you design a brand image, so get it done 👊
- Last but certainly not least, make sure you’re networking. There’s a reason people say your network is your net worth, and it’s because you’ll inevitably need help when building a business, or even yourself for that matter. If you’re not good at or comfortable with networking, you have some work to do, I recommend reading “Fanatical Prospecting” by Jeb Blount or “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi as they are some of my favorite networking/prospecting books.
Okay, I think that’s enough information for one article! We covered the current state of guilds and scholarships, what the evolution of guilds into brands and businesses might look like, and even some advice for scholars. I hope you enjoyed reading through this piece and found some of what I’ve written valuable to you and your journey in Web3. If you’re interested in learning more about guilds, blockchain gaming, or Web3 in general, be sure to follow me on Twitter and join the MTTM discord to stay connected! Thank you all for reading, until next time ✌