We all know the latest trend is AI. We are getting our AI mixed up in everything, from images that your aunt uses to promote her retirement party on Facebook to the launch of the latest model of fridge to music, video and, of course, games. But so far, while we have seen our fair share of AI-based voices and AI images, we haven’t seen an entire multiplayer game based on AI. Well, fret not, leave it to several royal families of Europe to do it.
Spearheaded by Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, the Monaco-based grandson of the last king of Italy (whose family was exiled after running away like scared little rabbits following the armistice with the Allied forces), the project is as stinky as last month’s dirty socks. Called The RoyaLand, this dubious idea for a MMORPG seems to want to recreate a metaverse, which we Italians have a certain fondness for, but with gameplay mechanics which allow players to… uh, conquer kingdoms?
The other royal families involved are those of Russia, Yugoslavia (a country that has not existed under that denomination since 2003), Lesotho, Albania, Bulgaria and France. The company managing the project is actually a holding based in Bermuda, a country that is recognized as a tax haven, since it does not impose taxes on profits, dividends or capital gains. Not like royals should pay taxes anyway, right?
The website itself does not even feature a single image of gameplay, video or a player model, just a smorgasbord of AI-generated images. Of course, one of the main features of the gameplay will be allowing players to earn “in-game reward currency, build virtual land, and own their online assets”. Basically, this means that you will get to spend real money in exchange for virtual money, NFTs and all that.
The game is even described as featuring an actual working society that will be “egalitarian, with a strong sense of community and cooperation”. Well, considering it is a project entirely being built by royal families, we can’t help but notice the sweet irony.
The project had been going on for a while, according to several posts on X from Filiberto himself, apparently starting in August 2022. In late October 2022, Filiberto (or whoever runs his account) also retweeted several ultra-dated memes about RoyaLand and, in an earlier September post, also invited his followers to like and retweet to “get a free NFT”.
Emanuele Filiberto himself is kind of a celebrity in Italy, even though he only set foot in the country in 2002, after his family’s exile ended. He has tried to get into politics several times, with disastrous results. In 2008, he managed to get around 0,4% of votes, he would try again later, but still wasn’t elected. Together with his father, Vittorio Emanuele, has also tried to ask for damages from the Italian state, along with the family jewels. So far, neither of these attempts have succeeded. Despite calling himself "royal highness", on his personal website as well, it doesn’t seem that his titles were ever officially recognized. At least, not outside his family.
In a series of video interviews around the launch of the project, Filiberto talks about how his love for gaming started “with Atari”, then moving on to Pac-Man and later to Fifa and Call of Duty. Despite this, he doesn’t mention having played any actual MMORPGs, nor why the idea to create an entire new game in a quite crowded genre would be better coming from him rather than, y’know, an actual established gaming studio.
The launch video goes all the way, even featuring a sort of AI-generated version of Emanuele Filiberto himself, complete with AI-generated voice and a vaguely human face. This version not only comes off as totally superfluous (they got the guy there!), but their sort of S-AI-voy seems to speak using a Windows 98 Logitech headset.
While it might be too early to write off this RoyaLand project as an actual tax write-off, we would say that all signs definitely point to this being little more than a scam. While it is doubtful if the project will even get past the project stage, Italians have already been busy dubbing RoyaLand as being “vaporwave”. Or, also, “they [the Savoy family] will probably run away before it is even finished, like last time” and, lastly, “I wonder if it’s possible to open fire on plebeians”.
While we might never see much from this project, I think the gift of Emanuele S-AI-voy speaking to us through a peaking microphone has already made back all the work they did on this. Live long, o beautiful Italian metaverse, never cease to amaze us.