The first “Bored Ape” NFT game costs $2,300+ for three weeks of play
Owners of Yuga Labs' infamous "Bored Ape" non-fungible tokens (and related crypto tokens) get free access to a simple endless runner/tunnel racing game called Dookey Dash today. But some members of the "exclusive" Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) are already selling a chance to play the time-limited game for thousands of dollars on the secondary market.
Listings on the OpenSea exchange show a current floor price of 1.49 ETH (about $2,293) for a "Sewer Pass" NFT that grants access to Dookey Dash until February 8. In less than 24 hours, the exchange has seen 8,394 ETH (about $12.8 million) in Sewer Pass transactions, with some passes selling for as much as 5.75 ETH (about $8,770).
While wash trading and/or crypto laundering could be driving some of those those Sewer Pass transactions, some players are clearly clamoring for access to Dookey Dash and are willing to spend to get it. But that demand isn't being driven by any sort of novel or transcendent gameplay experience that Yuga Labs is offering. Instead, NFT speculators are trying to use the game to get in on the ground floor of what they hope will be the next artificially scarce, high-demand digital asset.
Avoid obstacles for high score
As seen in an extremely scatological trailer released this week, Dookey Dash resembles a slightly modernized version of everyone's least favorite level from Earthworm Jim. Players fly through a sewer tunnel from an over-the-shoulder perspective, dodging obstacles and collecting items to score points, much as you do in countless free-to-play mobile and web games.
In an extensive FAQ, Yuga Labs describes Dookey Dash as a "skill-based mint." That means a player's highest score in Dookey Dash is tied to the player's Sewer Pass NFT (one Sewer Pass allows as many attempts as a player can tolerate before the February 8 deadline arrives). Sewer Pass holders will then be able to trade their pass for a mysterious "Power Source" NFT during "The Summoning," which starts on February 15.
The quality of those Power Sources will apparently be tied to each Sewer Pass' relative position on the game's final leaderboard, with rarer "traits" being associated with higher scores. The player at the very top of the leaderboard will be the only one to get the "Ultimate Power Source," whatever that means.
Yuga Labs promises it has "anti-cheat checks" in place to ensure that human players are generating those high scores, and it says it will review game sessions that "raise red flags." But players who want to get a legal advantage in the game can get a score boost with a higher tier of Sewer Pass (generated by better tiers of Bored Ape and/or associated digital pets). Players can also spend their crypto ApeCoin on a "powershart pack" (yes, that's the actual name) for time-limited boosters, putting money directly into Yuga Labs' pockets in the process.
Let the speculation begin
Dookey Dash's structure makes the game a bit different from previous play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity. There, gaming skill was less important than simply spending time using your rare Axies to farm digital resources in exceedinly simple turn-based battles. The structure led to players in developing countries making subsistence wages in the game (à la World of Warcraft gold farmers) before the game's economy predictably collapsed over a lack of interest in the game.
Here, the value of the Power Sources that Dookey Dash players can earn is tied to their supposed role in Yuga Labs' still amorphous "Otherside" metaverse project, which raised $450 million in seed funding last March. As the company says in a FAQ, Power Sources can be "utilized in the future mini-game sets to reach the Evo 2 stage and beyond"—again, whatever that means.
For speculators, though, the eventual function of a Power Source is barely important. What is important is that these NFTs have a strictly limited supply; only a few thousand Sewer Passes will be made available to existing BAYC members, and the Power Sources derived from the best Dookey Dash scores will be rarer still.
That scarcity doesn't make any of these NFTs intrinsically valuable, of course. But speculators are essentially betting that these NFTs (or future NFTs generated from the current ones) will eventually be in demand among Otherside users who will value whatever function they do have in Yuga's metaverse (if and when it releases). And even if that intrinsic, gameplay-based demand for these NFTs never actually materializes, speculators can still hope to sell to other speculators (greater fools, if you will) who believe in that future value proposition.
Who knows—maybe the Ultimate Power Source earned by the best Dookey Dash player will eventually become NFT gaming's version of Magic: The Gathering's Black Lotus, a rare card that can sell for close to a million dollars. For now, though, thousands of dollars seems like a lot of money to spend on a few weeks with yet another endless runner.
Listing image by Yuga Labs