Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Ordz Games unveils blockchain-based gaming handheld BitBoy

Ordz Games unveiled BitBoy, a handheld retro gaming device reminiscent of a Game Boy. But this one will let players earn Bitcoin while playing on a blockchain network.

The Hong Kong-based company will launch the first Gamefi + DEPIN Device (with DEPIN meaning a decentralized physical infrastructure network) sometime this year, the founder said.

Ordz Games is unveiling the handheld gaming device, BitBoy One, at the Hong Kong Web3 Gaming Expo this weekend, followed by a launch event at Paris Blockchain Week. Customers will likely be able to preorder in mid-April.

The BitBoy is expected to cost around $500, but the exact price is pending. I haven’t seen the prototype and there is a lot to be wary about. But it’s an interesting idea aimed at crypto bros and other folks who are enthusiastic now that Bitcoin’s price is soaring again.

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The BitBoy may cost around $500.

Inspired by the first-generation Nintendo Game Boy from 1989, the BitBoy name itself is a portmanteau of “Bitcoin” and “Game Boy.” It was started by a first-time entrepreneur who goes by “z3th.” I talked with him in an interview. z3th said that he started getting into crypto in 2017 and started the company in 2021.

It features a sleek translucent orange design, and the goal is to create Web3 gaming to the new age of DEPIN, offering a unique blend of nostalgia, innovation, and community. Players can earn Bitcoin through retro-style play-to-earn games, diving back into their childhoods.

“This device is very deep rooted inside of Bitcoin,” s3th said. “So the whole design language, the naming, is Bitcoin,” he said. “It’s all going to come with a 3D rendering of the physical device, which will be in an ordinal.”

The NFT for BitBoy is a digital collectible and it is part of a limited edition, and it is part of the device.

“Crypto is a very intangible thing. I don’t think anyone has done a hardware gaming device for crypto before,” he said. “There are hardware wallets, crypto credit cards and Solana had a mobile phone. But we are a tangible crypto hardware device for gaming,” s3th said.

Through BitBoy’s native applications connected to the Bitcoin blockchain, users can play a wide variety of video games that are forever inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain as “ordinals.”

Um. A BitBoy on the moon?

Ordinals are a way to create Bitcoin NFTs by attaching data such as images, videos, and more to an individual satoshi (the smallest form of Bitcoin currency) on the base Bitcoin blockchain. Launched on Bitcoin mainnet by developer Casey Rodarmor on January 20, 2023, ordinal NFTs are a new way to create NFTs on Bitcoin. Combining this digital asset, an ordinal, with the hardware seemed like a cool idea to z3th.

Choices range from HTML games to on-chain emulators and ROM. Of course, Ordz Games is probably going to have to figure out a legal strategy when it comes to dealing with Nintendo, which may not like the emulator/ROM feature.

“Emulation is an issue. I think most of the legal battle is with current selling devices by by these gaming companies. I don’t think they spend too much on paying attention to their past hardware which is not selling or even not supported anymore,” z3th said when I asked him about the legal risk.

Legally speaking, you have to own a copy of the game to play the ROM, s3th said.

BitBoy is also capable of playing any retro game released before the PlayStation 1 era via off-chain emulation, which is tracked and synced with the cloud to be rewarded with tokens and NFTs.

Challenge your friends with its built-in multiplayer support via Bluetooth. Play two- or four-player retro games, or even MMORPGs through WiFi connectivity, opening up entirely new worlds of possibilities for community and competition.

But the company said the BitBoy is much more than an old-school gaming fanatic’s dream handheld — it’s also a fully functional hardware wallet, supporting popular Bitcoin wallet apps such as Xverse, Unisat, and Oyl wallets. Users can then manage wallets from inside the BitBoy to earn, collect, trade and swap directly from the device.

BitBoy also serves as a mining machine powering a Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Network (DEPIN), where users can earn points and farm airdrops by simply having the device running. You aren’t likely to get that much Bitcoin through a device with this amount of computing power. But it’s a nice thought, and it would probably get crypto fans excited.

“The mining power of the physical device is very, very weak. It will take years to mine,” z3th said. “You’re not going to make real money from it. But it’s for fun.”

The device also comes with NFC compatibility for future trading card games. The device will support physical-digital crossover experiences, like scanning trading cards to play within the device, seamlessly blending the physical and digital gaming worlds.

BitBoy is a device that exists both physically and virtually – every device comes bundled with a one-to-one 3D rendering of the physical device in the form of ordinal inscriptions, which can be viewed inside a VR headset like the Apple Vision Pro, and will be playable on the project’s website.

Origins and ordinals

Play games. Earn Bitcoin is Ordz Games’ motto.

“I played games as a kid. I played Chinese games and Nintendo games,” z3th said. “A lot of this had to do with COVID. I’m based in Asia and it was very bad over here. During lockdown, I played games and I started getting into retro gaming. I collected Game Gear and retro gaming devices.”

In early 2023, he learned about Bitcoin ordinals.

“It meant you can put NFTs on Bitcoin now. Bitcoin is so much bigger than Ethereum. It’s definitely a huge opportunity. So we decided let’s just go all in,” he said. “People found you can do a video game on an ordinal. Someone inscribed Doom on it.”

He started thinking of the kind of games that could be put on the Bitcoin blockchain, and it was clear that they had to be lightweight in memory — less than four megabytes. That meant the games had to be retro titles that didn’t consumer much memory.

“It tires in with Bitcoin culture, as Bitcoin is the oldest chain with the smallest block size. We started inscribing games on Bitcoin,” z3th said.

Then fungible tokens, dubbed brc-20, came out on Bitcoin.

“That was the starting point for all of these games last year,” he said. “We have what we call a playable PFP.”

z3th said he was glad that the company has made it through a three-year bear cycle for Bitcoin and the market has come back now in advance of the Bitcoin “halving.”

“I like to experiment,” he said.

Big plans

All of that led to the idea to make a handheld retro gaming device that could have the collectible features of modern cryptocurrency. The team decided to design its own game machine from the ground up. Now the prototypes are ready, z3th said.

Of course, there is a lot about this to be wary about. We don’t know the backers. We haven’t seen the specs. So this is a company that still has to prove a lot of things about itself.

Yesterday, the company posted on Twitter its BitBoy imagery on the Bitcoin chain with the sixth largest ordinal inscription ever at 3.93 megabytes. The company is introducing it today via a sneak peak in Hong Kong at the Web3 Gaming Expo and it will show off more in April 11 during Paris Blockchain Week.

The device has a translucent orange color to match the color of Bitcoin. The DEPIN part is like a hardware device that is part of a blockchain network.

“Our tagline is play games, earn Bitcoin,” z3th said. “The incentive to play is going to come in the form of Bitcoin.”

The hope is to get the devices in the hands of people by the end of the year, with larger batches going out next year.

z3th said the company has 15 people. It has raised funding round, he said, but the amount isn’t being disclosed. The device will likely be manufactured in China.

“We are not in the bleeding edge of hardware. We’re not doing the most advanced mobile phone. On the market, we’re not trying to compete with the most competitive segment within hardware,” z3th said. “I would say a retro gaming device is in a blue ocean. It’s not super competitive. And no one has brought this hardware to Web3. We have found an interesting niche to mix together.”

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