A bright idea
Figure 1: "Pepe the Frog" meme
In Richard Dawkin’s 1976 “The Selfish Gene”,(1) he introduced the concept of the meme. Genes, as structures of human coding, propagate information from one organism to the next. Indeed through natural selection and the “survival of the fittest” concept, the best and most useful genes for that particular environment propagate the fastest, reproducing and becoming widespread at the greatest rate until they are essentially endemic.
The meme works similarly, except it represents an idea rather than genetic coding.(1) Although many aren’t aware of this origin, we can appreciate how that funny image or idea sweeps across our social media, taking Facebook or reddit or whatever platform we are using by storm. Paralleled further, as different genes are favoured in different environments, the meme typically functions best at a particular time, reflecting the contemporary pop culture or events of that time.
Has the time come for an NFT meme? As blockchain technology moves ever forward in its mainstream appeal, alongside a surge in popularity of NFTs within the community in recent months, could the Pepemon craze be here at just the right time? In some regards, it may already have done so, having achieved massive success over the past year. Read on to find out more.
Where does Pepemon come from?
Figure 2: Pepemon
Pepemon is undoubtedly an unapologetic rip-off of Pokémon, crafted with humour and a passion for DeFi. The “Pepe the Frog” meme (Figure 1) is one of the most famous “in-jokes” amongst internet users,(2) and probably known to most in the world of DeFi. By crossing over the concept of collectible cards franchised by the Pokémon universe, and giving them a nice meme-makeover with Pepe the frog, the team at Pepemon were able to create their own digital collectible card game- powered by DeFi and NFTs as in-game assets- featuring some neat original artwork (Figure 2).
“Hello Frens! Imagine a world with all of your favorite degenerate activities like crypto, DeFi staking, NFT farming, Pepe the Frog, and Pokemons. Now imagine a place that combines all of these together, “PeFi” made by frens, for frens, and entirely owned by frens. Meant to be the very best, like no one ever was.”- From the Pepemon medium site.(3)
As with any successful meme, the project has grown exponentially since its conception, and has a current market cap of 3.2 million dollars as of 8 March 2021 (4) (from only 30K last October!),(5) with the price of a Pepeball (discussed later) having more than 10x growth in the last three months.
How does it work?
Tokens are the main token in Pepemon, and are denoted as PPBLZ (Figure 3). PPBLZ can be purchased (primarily through uniswap) which can then be staked to earn PPDEX (Pepedex), which can then be used to purchase Pepemon NFT collectible cards. PPDEX can alternatively be purchased directly, also through uniswap. PPBLZ/PPDEX are purchased directly using Ethereum (ETH).
Figure 3: A Pepeball (PPBLZ)
The relationship between PPBLZ and PPDEX is as follows:
PPDEX is farmed at a rate of about 19 PPDEX per 1 PPBLZ per year* (*based on Ethereum block time).(6)
The owners then burn around 90% of all PPDEX and use the remainder to re-invest in the project; this funds further expansion of the collectible card game.(6)
Staking PPBLZ for PPDEX is probably the most cost-effective way of accumulating more Pepemon NFTs and generate a good annual percentage yield (APY) on your PPDEX. There are other incentives then present to encourage staking and a high yield on your PPBLZ. If you match an equal value in ETH to your PPBLZ, you can farm PPDEX at double the rate.
Figure 4: Staking your PPBLZ
Finally, but not least, Pepemon NFTs can be used to then actually play the game!
The playable aspect of the game itself is described it as: “easy to learn, difficult to master”.(7) As of right now, it has not launched, yet players can begin collecting their NFTs and racking up PPDEX.
The game is turn based, and runs automatically, with players constructing their Pepemon battle decks beforehand. The aim of the game is to reduce the opponents Pepemon health to 0, before your own health is depleted.
Each Pepemon as a unique NFT card and has a set of individual attributes relating to its skills and statistics. A player’s deck can contain 40-60 of any such cards.(7)
Cards are either offensive or defensive, and there are special variants of each of these two. Similar to other games of the genre, statistics refer to things like health points (HP), the type of the Pepemon (water-type/fire-type, as in Pokémon) and the types of attacks the card can perform.(7)
Like with traditional Pokémon, which may evolve from a lesser form- e.g., Charmander to Charizard- Pepemon may enter Pepemon events to evolve into greater NFTs. Where you don’t have the required card for this, you can purchase it.
Each existing collectible Pepemon NFT and a full breakdown of their skills/stats can be found on the pepemon.world website.
Figure 5: Pepechu! Look familiar?
The game is set to expand to mobile platform in the not-too-distant future,(8)in order to take advantage of this growing market.
Purchasing a Pepemon NFT
To aid you in your pursuit to becoming the best Pepemon player, and for bragging rights, players may purchase Pepemon NFTs. These are purchased using farmed (or directly purchased) PPDEX, which can be used to claim either individual Pepemon or purchase packs of cards. An additional in-game currency is in the mix, which will utilise PPDEX.(7)
These cards can then be bought/sold on marketplaces, such as Opensea, due to their NFT status. Indeed, if an event was running for a card evolution that you didn’t have, a quick search on Opensea could let you find and purchase the card, which you could then stake on the event (Figure 6).
Figure 6: A search for “Pepemon” on Opensea
An NFT subscription service for Pepemon is expected to launch in the coming months, so players can continually avail of new collectibles and novel artwork, keeping the experience novel and entertaining.(9)
Should you buy in to Pepemon?
There are two things to consider here.
Firstly, do you approve of the Pepemon meme, believe in the future of NFTs and their further implementation? If so, on the basis of principle, purchasing some PPBLZ will undoubtedly help the game developers and the gaming NFT market blossom, as well as engaging with the game and enjoying its features.
Aside from this, from a pure investment focussed standpoint, there are several reasons to consider Pepemon. It is still in its very early stages, and a low total supply of Pepeballs ensures as popularity continues to skyrocket, upward price momentum follows.(10) Looking at the price of Pepeballs and the worth of Pepemon NFTs over the previous few months gives further reason to invest, with a strong, upward trend. From a value-based level, the meme aspect of Pepemon and its appeal may help it grow faster, capturing the spirit of the DeFi community in its humorous design- the artwork has already received excellent feedback, with strong demand.
The integration of NFTs into gaming is extremely exciting, and as Pepemon continues to grow, propagating across the DeFi community, it presents an early opportunity not to be missed.
Dawkins R. The selfish gene: Oxford university press; 2016.