Wildcard: A Must Watch Game for Dreamhack Atlanta 2023

Wildcard is a hybrid of MOBA, real-time strategy, and collectible card game where players compete surrounded by live, interactive fans and spectators. Envisioned and developed by husband and wife team Paul Bettner and Katy Drake Bettner, Wildcard stands as a revolutionary fusion of gaming genres, aiming not just to engage players but to immerse an entire community within its universe. 

Built upon a crucial foundation of “fun first”, Wildcard invites fans and spectators to also become an integral part of the experience. Paul and Katy’s inclusive vision for the game and overall focus on entertainment shapes Wildcard into a vibrant ecosystem that transcends traditional gaming boundaries and opens up new avenues for fun in digital spaces.

Paul’s background as a game developer (behind titles like Words With Friends and Lucky’s Tale) combined with Katy’s extensive experience in traditional storytelling gives the duo a unique perspective on gaming. The couple’s compelling synergy and deep connection also form a strong base that has already helped Wildcard build a thriving community.

“In terms of the companies I’ve started, it’s always been with my family, looking back,” says Bettner. “My brother and I came up with NewToy (Words with Friends) in one room while Kate tried to keep our young family occupied and happy just outside the door. She has always been there as a partner in everything, but Wildcard represents the chance to take full advantage of her production background, strategic acumen, and vision for an entertainment ecosystem while we serve as Co-CEOs.”

Together, they have assembled a world-class team of game industry veterans with decades of triple-A, console, and mobile development experience, working alongside highly sought-after storytellers and IP creators from massive media franchises such as Star Wars, and DC Comics. As Bettner sees it, Wildcard is part of the next generation of interactive entertainment, products, and experiences that will consistently combine best-in-class gameplay and rich story elements, together with an enthralling spectator experience and an engaged, dedicated community of fans.

“Looking back, the IPs that were the most popular and evergreen have come from, historically, film, TV, and books. Now, we know that the most beloved IP can come from games as well. We started this company together, my wife and I, to see that happen,” Bettner explains.

At its core, Wildcard represents the concept of “a connected, empowered community of competitors and content creators, brought together in real-time with their fans and live spectators,” Bettner says. What sets Wildcard apart is its integration of the audience directly into the game—an arena where spectators actively participate in all the fun, together with the competitors down on the field. 

Bettner explains, “Wildcard is like the ultimate spectator sport. It’s Pokemon come to life. The competitors take the field, summoning teams of companions and doing battle against their opponents. Well, it’s a bit less like a traditional Pokemon game, which is more turn-based. It’s more like the Pokemon movies or anime, with over-the-top, real-time action. And it all happens in a stadium where people tuning in to watch are part of the game, showing up in the stands to cheer on their favorite players and teams.”

Wildcard competitors each form their unique strategy, collecting and curating their one-of-a-kind deck of companion summons, champion abilities, and bespoke customizations as they prepare for battle. Once in the arena, champions summon their wits, courage, and creature companions, together with their real-time skills and abilities, to push for the win. This spectacle takes place in one of Wildcard’s immersive arenas, featuring vivid, dazzling effects and intense, over-the-top action – all against the backdrop of the thundering crowds.

The team’s aspirations for Wildcard’s arenas extend beyond the signature gameplay –  envisioning Wildcard’s venues as a hub for community gatherings and live events, fostering connections among players, content creators, and fans. 

Accessibility is a key focus for Wildcard, with the vision to engage a wide audience across a broad range of platforms. This includes experiences that can be enjoyed on less powerful hardware and mobile devices, while aligning with the broader strategy to embrace an international audience, acknowledging that Wildcard’s success hinges on catering to diverse gaming preferences and demographics.

Wildcard has built a large and incredibly engaged Discord community to help foster this goal of creating fun for all. With weekly events that bring the community together including Work ‘n Chill streams and AMAs with employees, playtesting, lore readings, Town Halls, and game nights, Wildcard has created a living ecosystem across Discord and social media that actively encourages participation and rewards engagement. 

In 2023, Wildcard launched its native platform and protocol called the Wildfile, a soulbound digital asset that records and rewards a user’s journey throughout the Wildcard Universe. The Wildfile permanently stores player and fan engagement on the blockchain and offers a powerful set of smart-contract-based tools designed for people to build true affiliate value within the Wildcard ecosystem, and more importantly, with each other.

“The Wildfile is a permanent record of interaction and affiliation,” says Bettner. “We know that there are many different ways to be ‘a player’ in our ecosystem, and we have a historical love of taking a risk on cutting-edge technologies to expand the people who call themselves gamers. When you use your Wildfile to interact with Wildcard, whether via a playtest on Discord, a community gathering, a lore quiz, or a community game night, that activity becomes part of your record on-chain.”

“Sports are a communal experience,’ Bettner explains. “Web3 technology enables us to take that to a new level, bringing competitors and their fans together in real-time. For instance, at a recent exhibition, we were able to create a live giveaway from a competitor to their audience member. Mirroring that moment we are all familiar with in baseball, where a player signs the foul ball caught by their biggest fan. Wildfiles allow that experience to come to life in our arenas. That digital asset, an artifact, goes directly from the creator or streamer’s wallet to their fan’s wallet via the Wildfile integration.”

“Web3 platforms present a tremendous opportunity to build entertainment that can include, empower, and connect millions of players,” said Bettner. “With Wildcard, we’re focused on fun first, building a next-generation ‘spectator sport’ to welcome the entire community of competitors, collectors, sponsors, and fans to play together.”

Bettner explains that for Wildcard, the integration of blockchain technology is all about building a protocol that makes these connections possible. “Blockchain technology allows us to rapidly deploy new protocols that facilitate affiliation, between Wildcard and our players, between, for instance, that fan who is just connecting in on Twitch and the streamer who is in game playing, or a group of friends who want to form a team or club, between teams who want to organize a tournament next weekend. We can support true affiliation for those relationships,” he says. “Far beyond simple NFTs and tokens, this has everything to do with the underlying power of this technology, what a blockchain is, and how smart contracts can facilitate connection. That’s what I’m excited about.”

While the opportunity to explore the integration of blockchain technology benefits the overall ecosystem of Wildcard, the focus remains on delivering a truly exceptional game that captivates millions of players, transcending the mere novelty of technology or ownership of digital assets.

Bettner reiterates the ultimate goal of the game is to create an enthralling and evergreen player experience, explaining that the Wildcard team is paying close attention as they continue to build and refine the game, “Watching the fun that people are already having. This is just so important. I have to point this out because it’s not an incentive-first strategy. It’s a fun-first strategy where that record of what people are doing and the recognition of that comes first, and the rewards come after we’ve provided the fun.” 

In essence, Wildcard isn’t just a game—it’s a vibrant, evolving community, a spectacle that invites everyone to become a part of its world, both in and out of the game. The team’s unwavering commitment is not only to create a groundbreaking game that’s as fun to play as it is to watch but also to foster a broadly engaging experience for players and fans that transcends the traditional boundaries of gaming.



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