Gods Unchained, which released their beta in 2019, is the world's earliest and most popular NFT-enabled trading card game, built on the Immutable X protocol. Gods Unchained's reputation and existing playerbase meant that the launch of their latest expansion set, Tides of Fate, was highly anticipated.
As lead game designer for "GU", Bryn Welch needed to ensure that the new set was not only thoroughly balance tested, but also fun.
Because his time was spent designing the expansion, Bryn couldn't invest his own time on balance testing. Gods Unchained also lacked a dedicated balance testing team, especially one equipped to test new content at a hyper-competitive level.
Bryn and his team needed a way to reliably test and evaluate each new card for metagame and technical issues, ensuring thorough scrutiny.
Before Superpower, Gods Unchained relied on working with 1-2 contractors.
"We had to organize individuals for testing. Often we had to have a staff member on hand to test with them...which meant that every single person we added sort of came with both organizational and staff's time attached to them."
Adding a new contractor was a linear process, and if there weren't enough to form a pair, a staff member had to assist in balance testing, diverting them from their primary duties.
This approach led to an average iteration time of 6 months (26 weeks) for new expansions. To compensate for limited resources, the GU team released mini-sets. However, to maintain game freshness, they eventually needed to launch a full set of over 140 cards, resulting in 'Tides of Fate'.
We got started immediately and onboarded a team of over 10 testers, later expanded to 14. The testers were chosen for their specific expertise in Gods Unchained, as well as other pro gamers in similar TCGs like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. Testers were also chosen to ensure diverse play styles and backgrounds.
While the GU team focused on specific set areas, Superpower developed a weekly collaboration process for detailed, actionable feedback. As the deadline neared, the GU team doubled the testing hours and testers, and Superpower efficiently handled the increased demand.
We were able to cut down a process that typically took 26 weeks down to 13-weeks by equipping GU with the necessary personnel to effectively review new content with minimal onboarding time.
"Our numbers have gone up, if we look at retention and players, we've had about a 30-40% increase on release of the set Superpower worked on compared to the last one."
The set was received positively, leading to a boost in retention and new players. The set Superpower worked on found a 30-40% lift in retention compared to the previous non-Superpowered set.
In summary, Superpower:
- Shortened iteration cycle from 26 weeks to 13 weeks
- Increased player retention by 30-40%
- Enabled GU to start printing larger expansions as opposed to mini-sets
Bryn now has confidence he'll have a skilled, diverse team of testers ready for any new content. Currently, the Superpower team is engaged in balance testing for the successor to Gods Unchained's Tides of Fate.