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JULY SPOTLIGHTSupervillain Labs Rises:
An Interview With Co-CEO Joseph Lee

Last fall, news broke that NPIXEL's Web3 gaming division, METAPIXEL, was abruptly disbanded. This sudden announcement came just before the highly anticipated official launch of "Gran Saga: Unlimited," leaving global fans disappointed.

However, not long after, some exciting news surfaced. The key members of METAPIXEL had reunited to establish a new game studio. Now known as ‘Supervillain Labs,’ they are set to release their first game, ‘Supervillain Idle RPG,’ this July.

We visited Supervillain Labs' office to meet with Co-CEO Joseph Lee. His face was full of confidence and enthusiasm.


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“We're the villains breaking the perceptions of Web2 and Web3 games.”


Q: Can you briefly introduce yourself?

A: My name is Joseph Lee, and I am the Co-CEO of Supervillain Labs.


Q: Can you give us a brief introduction to Supervillain Labs?

A: Supervillain Labs is a game studio founded with the vision of creating games that are in tune with the times and bringing users closer to the gaming experience. Currently, our team of about 35 members is focused on developing fun games utilizing blockchain technology.


Q: What inspired the name "Supervillain Labs”?

A: The name was inspired by our intention to challenge the existing perceptions of both the Web2 and Web3 gaming markets. People often have fixed ideas like "This is how Web2 games should be" or "This is what Web3 gams are like,” but we don't necessarily fit into either category.

We wanted to break the norms. This approach felt somewhat villainous, and we thought, "If we're going to be villains, why not be the ultimate villain?" That’s how “Supervillain Labs” was born.


Q. Why did you decide to start a new company after METAPIXEL disbanded?

A: It's difficult to single out just one reason, but the biggest factor was probably a sense of unfinished business. We had a dedicated fanbase who believed in our vision and enjoyed our games at METAPIXEL, but we never got to deliver the final product. That left us feeling very unfulfilled.

We truly believed that we could create a successful game using the approach we had developed, and we felt that we had to give it another shot. So, we decided to come together and make it happen.


Q: How have things changed compared to your time at METAPIXEL?

A: The most significant change has been in our perception. When we first entered the Web3 gaming market a few years ago, we were confined to the idea that we needed to maintain existing market practices with just a few tweaks.

Now, we design our approach more in line with what gamers want, view blockchain more deeply as a technology, and view Web3 not just in terms of blockchain or tokenomics but as a zeitgeist. Reuniting with former colleagues has allowed us to mature technically and in our understanding of blockchain and Web3 gaming.




“We hope ‘Supervillain Idle RPG’ becomes a game that gamers from all backgrounds can enjoy.”


Q: Let’s talk about your games. Can you give a brief introduction to your first game, 'Supervillain Idle RPG'?

A: First of all, 'Supervillain Idle RPG' is a working title, and we'll be announcing the official name soon. It’s essentially a “blockchain-enhanced mobile Idle RPG.”

Internally, we think of it as an “RPG for smart but lazy people.” The Idle RPG genre is quite crowded, so simply calling it an Idle RPG doesn’t really stand out. That’s why we came up with this catchphrase to better convey what our game is about.

The game’s concept centers on villains and their sidekicks forming a deck and embarking on a journey to become a supervillain. In a broad sense, it’s similar to the Idle RPGs we enjoy, but it seamlessly incorporates blockchain elements.




Q: When is the release date, and which regions will it be available in?

A: We’re planning to start community testing in early July at the IVS Crypto Kyoto event. We’ll be inviting game influencers and guilds we’re collaborating with to experience and share our game in person. Players will also get a chance to play it. Additionally, we'll select some of our community members to participate in online testing.

The official global soft launch is set for the end of July. For now, it looks like South Korea will be excluded from the initial release.


Q: Do you have plans to launch in South Korea as well?

A: It’s something we’re considering. We're situated somewhere between traditional games and typical Web3 games. We don't issue game tokens, and there are no elements where players earn gaming tokens from us through gameplay. Besides typical token farming, users can trade their gaming asset among players to earn based on the game item economy. So, when asked if it should be considered as P2E or P2A game, the answer is “No.” It's more of a game that uses blockchain technology to manage data and connect it with users.

While I don't think launching in Korea is entirely off the table, we are currently in a grey area. We will need to comply with government guidelines and regulations for the release. If necessary, we might need to adjust or remove certain features.


Q: Is your game more casual or hardcore?

A: Initially, it feels like a light, casual game. However, given the nature of RPGs, it can become more hardcore as players compete with each other. That said, we're aiming to gradually shift this competition towards being more community-based.


Q: When you say competition is 'community-based,' what do you mean specifically?

A: This ties into our vision of closely connecting game content with the user community. For instance, fans could naturally join guilds operated by influencers and enjoy the game together. This is just one example, but we're focusing on building communities. Instead of individual competition, we envision communities competing against each other.

Of course, we can't implement all features right from the start, so we'll begin with light individual competition. Gradually, we plan to evolve this into community-based competition. Throughout this process, we'll continuously communicate with the community to make decisions.


Q: You recently held an NFT minting event. When you say your game incorporates blockchain elements, are you referring to NFTs?

A: Not just NFTs. This ties back to the change in perception I mentioned earlier. Previously, Web3 games required connecting wallets, signing transactions during gameplay, and minting NFTs to use.

However, we made it possible in our game to log in with social login, which generates an Aptos address based on the object, and items accumulate in the inventory through Aptos' on-chain database. While on-chain technology is integrated, it doesn't disrupt the familiar gaming experience for players, so they don’t even realize it’s on-chain technology.

For example, the ‘Ambassador Badge’ we distributed in our first campaign will be used for community voting. Instead of having to connect NFTs the way it used to be done, voting will be conducted seamlessly through a user-friendly UI. We aim to apply blockchain as a technology and present it in a way that makes sense to gamers, rather than putting it at the forefront.


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Q: Which area did you most focus on in game design?

A: The primary focus is on maintaining a sustainable balance within the game, supported by an item-based game economy. Balancing these two aspects is crucial.

Currently, the 'Sidekick' NFT collection is traded on Aptos, and NFT-savvy users often wonder about the supply and the benefits of owning multiple items. However, game items cannot have a fixed supply because their availability needs to increase with the number of new users. Therefore, instead of controlling the total supply of all items, we choose to limit the total number of top-tier items that everyone strives to obtain.

As the game service evolves, we will adjust the quantity and tiers of items based on the overall balance. During this process, we will leverage the transparency of on-chain data to show how many items have been issued and who owns them through a dashboard. By providing this level of transparency, we aim to create a game economy that users can predict.




Q: Is blockchain essential for designing a predictable economy?

A: It helps lower costs. If we were to open up our game database, we'd need to create a lot of new infrastructure. But our items are already running on-chain. It's much more efficient for anyone to access on-chain data rather than us having to build a whole new system to disclose data ourselves.

There’s also the advantage of the blockchain’s irreversible nature. South Korean game companies are required by regulations to disclose item drop rates, yet controversies persist. If we were to make our database public without using blockchain, the question remains, "Will users really trust it?" From this perspective, using blockchain reduces social costs and builds greater trust.


Q: As you know, Web3 still isn’t mobile friendly. How do you plan to address this issue for your service?

A: We determined that mobile accessibility was essential to make our game easily approachable for traditional gamers. Since we’re also targeting traditional gamers, we wanted to make sure that on-chain elements wouldn’t become obstacles.

This is why we wanted to eliminate the need for traditional wallet experiences in the game. Previously, logging in with a wallet significantly hindered mobile accessibility. In our game, once a player signs up and starts playing, any 'Sidekicks' they earn will appear as NFTs in their inventory. This is because we create the user's account inventory as an on-chain account.

At this stage, we don't plan to offer a marketplace, so certain community features like trading will be supported on the web. However, we won't completely separate mobile and web experiences. Users will primarily access the game through mobile, but if they want to engage with Web3 elements, they can do so on the web. We plan to support both platforms.


Q: How will the trading system evolve?

A: Trading game items on traditional NFT marketplaces can be quite inconvenient. Unlike conventional in-game item marketplaces where item prices are fixed and bulk purchases are possible, on NFT marketplaces, you have to find and buy each NFT individually.

If trading system or smart contracts of NFT marketplaces were provided at the API level, we’d like to enable trading through Discord channels, fan communities, or even traditional web markets like Amazon. If our game and Discord account information are linked through the same Google account, trading could be seamlessly integrated into platforms like Discord.

Of course, we can't implement all these features at once, so it will be done in stages.


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Q: Which items will be issued as NFTs?

A: We plan to issue 'Sidekick' and 'Supervillain' as NFTs. The 'Sidekick' boosts the abilities of the 'Villain' character, so it’s not essential for gameplay but will be desirable for players aiming to reach the top ranks.

We'll adjust the balance based on MAU and set price caps to ensure the items are traded at fair values. Once all items are issued, players will be able to acquire them through exchanges.


Q: What do you think gives ‘Supervillain Idle RPG’ its competitive edge?

A: I believe the answer lies in the question, “Why should Web3 technology be applied to games?” While there have been various attempts in the market, such as TCGs where you buy NFTs to build a deck, or MMORPGs where you purchase gear and access passes, integrating blockchain elements without compromising the mainstream gaming experience is still a challenge for everyone. The combination of casual features of ‘Supervillain Idle RPG’ and the value provided by its in-game economy is what sets it apart from other Idle RPGs.

Although it's a Web3 game, the overall player experience won't be drastically different from other games. However, players will experience the preservation of social costs they invest in the game. The Web3 technology we provide in the background will give users a sense of participating in a game-centric network and allow for community-based decision-making.


Q: You’ve recently held various events. How successful were they?

A: In early February, we held our first event where we distributed villain characters and badges, attracting around 60,000 participants. Notably, 40% of these participants came from regions known for traditional game revenue, in addition to the Southeast Asia where Web3 games are already popular. This showed us that there is interest from countries where traditional games thrive.

Following that, we held an event where we distributed 'Sidekick Capsules.' Instead of directly distributing them ourselves, we delegated this task to influencers and gamer communities to handle it autonomously. This aligns with our perspective on Web3, which focuses on "how communities can interact with content." As a result, we achieved the highest daily transaction volume on the Aptos chain during the event.

One particularly impressive outcome was that the rarest Sidekick was traded for about 130 Aptos, roughly $2,300 at the time. This was before the game had even launched, prompting us to think carefully about maintaining game item prices. It's important that game item prices are neither too low, making them worthless, nor too high, creating a barrier to entry.

To maintain the value of the Sidekicks, we later held a 'Sidekick Fusion' event where players could combine two Sidekicks to upgrade them. When we ran this event in May, we maintained the highest daily transaction volume on the Aptos chain for an entire week.


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Q: How was the feedback from FGT and internal testing?

A: Our investors keep asking, "When is the next build coming out?" after testing it, so we take that as a good sign that the initial impressions are positive. Internally, we're also having fun playing the game and sharing feedback to improve its quality.


Q: What are your hopes for ‘Supervillain Idle RPG’ post-launch?

A: We hope it becomes an idle RPG that various gamers can enjoy. Ideally, it would be seen as a game that offers an expanded experience through the use of blockchain technology, appealing even to traditional gamers.


Next project: An MMORPG capturing the engagement of short-form content


Q: Let’s talk about your next project. Is there anything you can share beyond the fact that it's an MMORPG?

A: It will be a bit different from traditional MMORPGs. We're aiming to create a game that offers the same kind of enjoyment as short-form content and integrates social elements. Although it’s an MMORPG, it will be designed to be "easy to learn, hard to master."

MMORPGs combine the expansive worlds of MMOs with the character development of RPGs. Our previous project focused more on the RPG aspect due to the existing systems and IP elements that needed to be preserved. This resemblance to traditional RPGs meant it took longer for players to truly enjoy the game.

For this new project, we plan to emphasize the MMO aspects more. Traditional MMORPGs often require a significant amount of time to reach a level where players feel satisfied. To address this, we are designing the game to provide frequent bursts of satisfaction and feedback in shorter cycles.

Instead of confining players to traditional class systems, the gameplay will evolve based on the abilities and weapons they collect and their proficiency with them. We believe it's important for players to be able to define their own concepts, which will allow the game to be presented in a short-form content style. In this way, it will be somewhat similar to the RPG aspects found in Roblox.



Q: When is the expected release date?

A: Our first reveal will be at the 'Aptos Experience,' where we will have a booth set up for people to try out the game. Following this event, we plan to conduct tests every three to four months.

It's challenging to provide an exact release date, but internally, we're aiming for either the end of next year or the year after that.


“We chose Aptos, and we have no regrets about that decision.”


Q: You’ve teamed up with Aptos again. I assume you received offers from various mainnets when founding Supervillain Labs. What made you choose Aptos again this time?

A: As you mentioned, we've been with Aptos since the METAPIXEL days. We were the first to choose Aptos back then, and our belief in their capabilities remains strong.

Games require real-time processing of large volumes of data. Therefore, if you plan to do more than just issue NFTs, you need to be able to upload and process the massive amounts of data generated by online games on-chain in real-time. These capabilities are essential to build user trust based on the data on the chain. Given this need, we believed that a high TPS, fast finality, and parallel processing capabilities were crucial, making alternative Layer 1 solutions more viable than EVM chains with lower TPS. That's why we chose Aptos, and we have no regrets about that decision.

Aptos is fundamentally designed to handle large volumes of data. It's also well-suited for integrating complex game item economies and databases. Even in an on-chain game, gamers have certain expectations. For example, when a player collects an item, it should immediately appear in their inventory. If the finality isn't instant, this becomes impossible. Even if handled through rollups, issues like reorgs can lead to discrepancies where an item might appear processed on the front end but doesn’t actually exist in the wallet. These non-negotiable aspects make Aptos particularly suitable.

During our initial collaboration with Aptos, we needed to align their robust technical stack with our specific needs for game development. However, Aptos's mission of achieving mass adoption, encapsulated in their identity "The People," matched our goals perfectly.

We've always emphasized that certain standards are necessary for blockchain games to be enjoyable by the general public, and these technical elements are crucial for any game company, not just ours. Our discussions have significantly contributed to the current standards. Thanks to this, our second collaboration allows us to leverage what we built together previously even more effectively.


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Q: Can you give specific examples of the standards developed with Aptos?

A: Initially, the Aptos chain did not support object structures. We pointed out that supporting object structures would be a significant advantage for game development. For greater flexibility and scalability in development, an object model was essential. Aptos took this into account and proposed "Token as Objects (AIP-11),” even including our development team as co-authors. Thanks to this, we can now build more flexible structures like on-chain game account inventories.

Another example is the "Fee Payer" model, which various teams now offer as a solution. Initially, there was a considerable gap in perspectives. We believed that requiring signatures and gas fees for every game activity would deter user experience, while Aptos emphasized the importance of "data sovereignty," where users should verify and confirm every action. We found a middle ground between user experience and the spirit of Web3 by proposing an AIP for the Fee Payer model.

Standards for NFTs used in games followed a similar trajectory. When there was no clear standard at the chain level, NFT data from our game often wouldn't display correctly on NFT marketplaces. We emphasized the importance of standardizing these issues and collaborated extensively to address them.

One of our key criteria for choosing a chain partner was that they should be a team with whom we could create standards together. Aptos fit this criterion perfectly.


Q: From a business perspective, how has the collaboration with Aptos been?

A: It has been positive because Aptos's business goals align closely with ours. Other chains often had a strong perception of what Web3 "should" be. In contrast, Aptos shared our view that Web3 is merely a technology and that widespread adoption would come when on-chain technology can enhance existing experiences without disrupting everyday activities.

When we insisted on approaches from the traditional gaming market, they were willing to understand, even if it meant some initial disagreements. They became a great partner, collaborating with us to find the best solutions.


Supervillain Labs pursues coexistence with the community through Web3


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Q: You were skeptical about issuing tokens when you were at METAPIXEL. Do you still hold the same stance?

A: To be precise, I am skeptical about issuing tokens before there is a sufficient fanbase and community that could demand them. So, if you ask whether my overarching stance is the same, the answer is yes. Given that no P2E game has yet proven its sustainability, it's hard to avoid the criticisms of being a Ponzi scheme.

However, when considering how game companies and communities can coexist in the new Web3 era, I acknowledge that there may come a time when tokens become necessary. But it won't be in the form of simple reward-based tokenomics. Therefore, at this stage, if you ask whether Supervillain Labs' games need a token, my answer would be no.


Q: Most users who play Web3 games are mainly interested in tokens. How do you plan to motivate users without issuing tokens?

A: I don't believe users are solely driven by tokens. Instead, they are more interested in how they can preserve the value they create through their efforts put into the game and how they will be rewarded for their contributions to the ecosystem's growth. Therefore, Web3 games should not just be about providing token rewards; they should offer solutions to these issues.

The most important thing is to create great game content. Secondly, it’s essential to create an environment that recognizes the time and effort users invest. This begins with preserving the value of in-game assets that users acquire. Our first step is to offer a predictable and transparent item economy and build user-to-user trading activities based on it.

Next is rewarding the contributions of users who create network effects as part of a community. We plan to address this through a program based on game revenue rather than tokens. This isn't just about rewarding marketing partners; the community will evaluate the contributions of various community members (gamers, moderators, content creators, etc.) and reward them based on the revenue generated by the game.


Q: You place a lot of emphasis on community. How do you plan to build it?

A: Traditionally, games were kept a secret until a big marketing reveal just before launch. This approach made it difficult to build a community during the development process, except in a few cases.

So, we're taking a different approach by sharing our development process and turning it into content. We even turn team conflicts into content. By showing the team's atmosphere, our thought process in creating the game, and what the final product looks like, we believe we can attract people who resonate with this kind of content. We also reach out to influencers and communities they like.

We're not just aiming to increase followers or subscribers; we want these people to start playing the game as part of an interconnected community from the beginning. We believe this creates a virtuous cycle. You'll continue to see us share the process of making the game and updating content.


Q: Lastly, could you share your future plans and a message for the fans waiting for the release of ‘Supervillain Idle RPG’?

A: There’s so much I wanted to share, but I regret that some parts are still being refined, so I couldn't say everything I wanted to.

At Supervillain Labs, our goal is to create a great product and environment that answers the question: "How should a game, in collaboration with its community, be perfected as a service in the new era of Web3?" We have many diverse and exciting plans, so please stay tuned.

Our first project, ‘Supervillain Idle RPG,’ will be launched at the end of July. We've worked hard with our team, and we hope that gamers of all kinds will find it easy and fun to play. We aim to create a game that can grow and evolve with the community over a long time. Thank you for your support!