Play to Earn Sucks, OR: The Future of Flowerpatch 2.0 (by Huge Lung)

9 min readJun 13, 2022


Summary: I am going to redo our core game economic loop, removing SEED breeding for the forseeable future, and adding new “less-economic” SEED functionality via the in-game items shop and p2p economy. I want to talk about why SEED and Play to Earn in general is a failed experiment, how we can do better, and why

Farm more SEED to breed more FLOWERs to sell more SEED and FLOWERs
Constant inflation and downward pressure is the entire gameplay loop. Nugbase struggles to have a business model because we’re directly competing with players and botters to be able to sell FLOWERs and SEED

General Ideas

First of all, advertising the idea that a person can make money from grinding your game and tokens is incredibly close to a violation of the securities Howey Test — meaning that games advertising Play to Earn may be acting illegally. Nugbase has been careful to never advertise that anyone can derive profit from Flowerpatch — it’s a game product for entertainment only—but I’ll admit we’re close to the line

I think deep down inside, we knew all along that Play to Earn is kind of a well orchestrated scam. I’ll admit that I fell into the hype of it, since there was so much interest — but I never really felt fully comfortable with the concept. Money doesn’t appear out of thin air—you can’t expect video games to be profitable to players as a whole—it’s a zero-sum system where the total amount of money input is the … total amount of money in the system. Therefore, the only way that players can “make money” is by taking it from other players, or new entrants to the economy/speculators. The game has to keep growing or everything falls apart

We’ve seen in practice where this kind of system leads with Axie Infinity. In the best case scenario, there’s a huge amount of bullish speculation on your tokens, and people buy and hold in the hope of high profits, even if they don’t engage in the game economy. This led to a situation where Axies were so expensive that in order to engage with the game, you had to borrow other peoples’ Axies—and so Scholarships were born. You can grind on behalf of the NFT’s owner, and split some of the profit. So now, if you’re following along with the Howey test, bullet #4 has likely been met. Axies are an investment contract, with the expectation of profit, “to be derived from the efforts of others”. As people got more comfortable with this, we saw an incredible influx of bots, scholarship spam on discord, and people in third world countries basically doing mindless clicking on the computer as a job. Is this even really a game anymore? When does the influx of new money end, and when does the entire system collapses violently?

Gameplay vs Tokenomics

Back to Flowerpatch: tying our SEED game token to FLOWERs has caused mass inflation, and has greatly encouraged botters. Additionally, putting so much economic pressure on harvesting leads to game worlds that are just perfectly optimized with fences and flower fields. It’s honestly very impressive to see, but also very lame as a game experience. And this is my overall point: economics-based gameplay always becomes hyper-optimized, at the cost of gameplay and enjoyment. I think Flowerpatch got off track: we wanted to make the best cannabis game, but we’ve sacrificed some of that in favor of trying to catch crypto economic trends

The current, hyper-optimized grid of the Flowerpatch Livity World
It’s like some kind of intense suburbs where nothing is connected

As it currently stands, we know that if we increase the amount of land available, this directly increases inflation, both in terms of SEED and FLOWERs. This is bad, because from a gameplay perspective, we’d want a lot of land and a lot of beauty in the design… this was moreso the case earlier in the project, where the maps would be kind of art showcases

In general, I’ve always believed that simply making the best game is the best and most honest way to be successful. I’d like to return more to those roots, where gameplay is the focus of the project

Our Old Model Was Better, So We’re Going Back To It

It was hype to receive ETH directly to your wallet, instead of SEED. We can now do the same for MATIC

The reason that we developed Polygon SEED in the first place was to avoid the massive fees associated with paying for breeds on Ethereum. At the time, the MATIC token wasn’t particularly widespread, so we thought that managing our own token would create for more flexibility. However, MATIC has matured as a currency, and it’s reasonable that we start taking it (or WETH) as our main breeding currencies. By switching to payments in these currencies, we produce a more compelling product, with less FLOWER inflation, less friction, more fun when someone breeds with you

Additionally, it’s been no secret that SEED has been a financial failure for Nugbase. As I alluded earlier, in the current P2E setup, players and botters actively compete with Nugbase to sell FLOWERs and SEED to players. As a result, Nugbase has only ever lost money on the SEED economy — though not huge amounts, perhaps 10k USD total. It’s always controversial for a game studio to sell their own tokens, so we generally have avoided doing that. Plus, we knew that there weren’t enough buyers to begin with (buying SEED is actually considerably harder than selling it, another problem). Going back to a model where Nugbase earns money with each breed is a much more sustainable situation for the business to be in

So What’s Next For SEED?

SEED Shopkeeper’s Shop

I don’t intend to abandon SEED, I just want to take it out of the core economic loop, and revert it to being what it was supposed to be: our in-game currency. It’s okay to earn tokens, as long as there’s nothing really valuable associated — that’s not Play to Earn anymore, because you’re just earning in-game stuff/cosmetics rather than crypto. So the vision for SEED is:

  • Allow players to purchase non-crypto game items for SEED. For example, bombs will be moved to being a SEED purchase to discourage their widespread availability. There will be other advanced tech, cosmetics, and game benefits available in the SEED shop
  • Enable p2p game item trade via billboards. My vision is that you can make a little sale offer for game items or even FLOWERs/NFTs inside a billboard. Then a player could come along and fulfill the trade using SEED exclusively. This way, SEED has some game utility
  • Limited drops, game events, and merch sales. We could periodically accept SEED to buy our merch, as a form of promotion. We could still use SEED periodically, like auctioning a private island NFT using it. This is up in the air, but we’d continue playing with cool ways that an ERC20 can be made fun in a game context
  • Allow players (probably Dave/Cultist tech tree) to burn FLOWERs for rewards that may include SEED

The Vision for Flowerpatch 2.0

One thing that has been going well is the ramp-up of our physical NFT cards and coins. I’m stoked to say that Fiore has been coming back to us asking for more cards to distribute, and for us to print new variants for their new branded strains. We’re also about to be in the packaging of actual cannabis jars, and these “FLOWER Coins” will go anywhere that there is distribution for our partner brands. “Buy a blue dream eighth and get a free blue dream NFT.” It’s very likely that we’ll see FLOWER cards being given away (or sold!) in 50–100 dispensaries this year

Fiore-branded FLOWER cards being displayed and distributed at Cookies Maywood in LA

Next, I’m still super interested in creating private lands, where a player can own an NFT that represents an entire island. This island would have an access control list, so you could invite friends, or the public. Islands are likely to be of different sizes, and include some cosmetics that are available only there

Private Lands Concept
Some of Stijn’s amazing design / concept work!
Some more of Stijn’s amazing design / concept work!

Constant improvement in user experience, thematics, and factions is really exciting as well:

Landmarks and interactive locations on the maps, which can lead to development of lore and advanced gameplay:

Cities, indoor flowers, and indoor spaces (i.e. buildings you can enter):

Weather and totems that control it, leading to much more dynamic gameplay, with storms, rain, meteors, blessings, etc:

This guy might save your farm from a hurricane

And a feature I’ve wanted for ages: walking koalas that sync and interact on the game maps! This would make the product much better in my opinion. Stuff like roads, bridges, travel, shops, location — became much more important and enjoyable. New challenges present themselves, and new game mechanics can be built around needing to travel

Finally, The Damn Economy

Almost everyone is currently feeling the hardship of a sharp economic downturn. Years of extreme USD inflation, war, the pandemic, and the potential end of a crypto bull run — have come together to really slap us in the face. This, combined with other factors, has led Nugbase to cut half of our staff and tighten our belts

This has been really hard, because the Nugbase team is literally my family and closest friends in this world. The company has always been built on a huge amount of love and mutual respect amongst the founders and staff, with minimal management and power structures. That said, I’m proud to say that there are no hard feelings amongst friends, and several of the people will continue to help out with our ventures as unpaid shareholders. I’m honestly stunned by how kind and generous the teammates we had to drop have been during the process. In about a month, we will do a company retreat with everyone to celebrate our successes over the past year, say aloha for now, and prepare for our next evolutions

That said, I think the reduced Nugbase will still be incredibly effective. We will still have 4 extremely skilled developers continuing work, and much less obligation in terms of contracting. The staff that we have remaining will be able to focus exclusively on Flowerpatch and Redeemable development, which are our core interests and passions. It already feels very good to simplify, and life-affirming to be able to work more on game development again!

In conclusion: Although things are changing, I feel that Flowerpatch is still the strongest brand in all of cannabis crypto. What we’ve built is already astounding, and in many ways leagues ahead of the competition. Our brand partnerships are helping to secure our dominance, and our staff is still very motivated and inspired. In a weird way, I always look forward to a bear cycle, because that’s when a lot of the speculative noise goes away, and real developers make progress. Wishing you warmth and contentment is these trying times… peace and love,

—Huge Lung