Blockchain technology is disrupting the various dynamics across industries and its disruption effects have touched the global multi-billion-dollar video game industry. Blockchain Gaming is the new trend in the industry with a flooding of blockchain games being already in the market.
The world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is beyond just a store of value and medium of exchange. The integration of crypto and blockchain into online gaming is constantly seeing a push. As the crypto space continues to mature and grow, so does the blockchain gaming niche. However, in order to spark and revolutionize the gaming industry, developers in blockchain gaming must overcome the failures of their predecessors and build solutions to the cost, speed, and scalability concerns that have inhibited past and current developments.
Blockchain gaming promises many benefits for the gaming industry among all benefits the gamers themselves such as true ownership, decentralized games, fair gameplay, acquiring crypto through gameplay (play-to-earn), global leaderboards, censorship resistance, and no infrastructure to manage the developers. There are also applications of blockchain as a game, in itself.
“If you strip out the cryptocurrency element you are left with a ‘normal’ game. I don’t see this approach having a long shelf life. However, it does lead on to a much more exciting application – the use of blockchain to underpin the trading and use of in-game resources and characters. There is a huge market for the sale of characters, weapons and other augmentations in multiplayer and RPGs. Underpinning this market with blockchain could add enhanced transparency and security — making cheating much harder — and also potentially open the door to inter-game trading and transfers,”
“These blockchain implementation varieties lead us neatly onto the most viable use of blockchain – within online gambling. Currently, ‘the house’ has an incredible amount of power. Individual gambling companies provide little to no transparency to their players. Developing blockchain-based gambling games would add some much needed certainty and safety. This is the most likely avenue of development for blockchain in gaming and something we will see fully realized within a very short time frame.”
The video gaming industry worldwide generated US$134.9 billion in 2018. The number is expected to increase at an exponential rate. There are over 2.3 billion gamers worldwide, the figure represents a third of the world’s population.
Unfortunately, the content of the video game industry is oversaturated where quality is substituted with aggressive marketing. Indie developers looking to bring their dream games get unnoticed. Meanwhile, game development is becoming increasingly centralized to the gaming giants in the industry. The video game industry today is dominated by gaming giants that push out increasingly expensive and unrewarding games for the billions of gamers. Small-time and indie developers are crushed by their enterprise counterparts, and their efforts rarely pay off.
In 2018, seven of the top 10 highest-grossing games worldwide were games owned or partially owned by Tencent. Essentially, blockchain can provide solutions to the woes of the gaming industry. Game currencies, items, avatars, gameplay inputs, and even entire games can be propagated on and secured by the blockchain. Proper execution of blockchain into online games suggests players can interact with one another and the games they play in a manner that has never before been possible. It also suggests that developers can formulate new genres of games by emphasizing gameplay elements unique to blockchain gaming.
Benefits for Gamers
Primarily, blockchain gaming empowers players while improving their experience. The following are several of the primary benefits gamers can enjoy through blockchain gaming:-
- Real-World Ownership: Any elements in a game can be placed on a blockchain, whether a rare item or characters and avatars themselves. Any entity in a gaming environment can exist as a crypto asset. Typically, this can manifest as fungible tokens (in the form of game currencies) or non-fungible tokens (in the form of items and avatars) upon an existing blockchain network. A core component of blockchain is the value of sovereign ownership for its users. When avatars or accounts are linked to player wallets, the loot they collect and currency they accumulate can be sent to their wallets as they achieve in-game. In such a system, players do reap what they sow. The developer has no permission to take back anything the player has earned, and even if the game shuts down, the items still belong to the player. They can send it to other wallets and sell for real-world profit. Ownership of their items empowers them to receive a tangible output from their efforts and successes.
- Play-to-Earn Gaming. Pay-to-Win gaming has plagued the experience of the billions of worldwide gamers. It’s no fun to play a game where success above the competition comes with the deepest pockets, independent of whoever carries the highest level of skill. Blockchain gaming turns pay-to-win on its head with its system coined “play-to-earn”. As blockchain gamers maintain real ownership of their items and virtual assets. This includes the ability to sell them on open markets to other players. Blockchain games encapsulate a quality of rewarding players with crypto assets that carry an associated real-world value. In the pay-to-win model, the best or highest-ranked players may be required to spend thousands of dollars on the game. In the play-to-earn model, the best or highest-ranked players may instead see earnings of thousands of dollars.
- Cross-Game Communication. What does a gamer do when they stop playing their favorite game? Either they grew out of it, or the game died out- the community left or the developers decided to pull the plug. Unfortunately, there’s not much they can do beyond finding the next game and starting back from scratch. There is no continuity between different games in the current scope of the industry. With blockchain, this component is also radically disrupted. When games and game assets exist upon a blockchain, they can communicate with any other environment on the same blockchain. If a developer made a sequel to a game, the items from the first could be taken onto the second. Avatars can bounce across multiple games. Quests or events can jump across games. Most importantly, players may never have to start from scratch again. Ideally, they possess a single, universal avatar that follows them as they hop onto different games. Their virtual currencies and items may carry functionality across games.
Benefits for Developers
When applied intuitively, there is a range of benefits for developers to enjoy while building blockchain games:
- Emerging Markets. For every big indie hit, there are tens, hundreds, or thousands of alternative games that just never take off. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to overcome for an independent developer or studio is their ability to stand out and grab the attention of gamers in order to bring in an audience and forge a community around their game. The experimentation of many traditional game studios in blockchain gaming projects confirms the assumption that there will be a breakthrough blockchain game, and there is an ongoing race to be the one who doesn’t. The first major blockchain games that can captivate the attention of the general gaming population will be massive, and the pioneer developers will be well rewarded.
- Cost Reduction. For an industry with as low a payout as game development, the associated costs can be crippling. Even when games do take on an active player base, the burden of publishing, server upkeep, player moderation, and so on can be unaffordable for games that don’t “properly monetize” their players. By building games on blockchain, all of these costs can potentially be outsourced to the miners or validators responsible for propagating the network. Online game publication and propagation can potentially be a zero-cost endeavor
- Value Creation. So many recent game trends have revolved around sucking value from players and “pay-to-win” models that emphasize addiction and spending over actual fun. For good reason, many developers across the board are opposed to this profit model and the parasitic implications it has on the industry as a whole. With blockchain, developers have more creative outlets to earn profits. Blockchain games enable developers to create and forge crypto assets with real, transferable, intrinsic value. Not only does this give players more capacity to profit, but it also gives developers less intrusive profit mechanisms, too. Setting up games to split the profit between developer and player is a much better alternative to draining the player’s bank account.
The intersection of blockchain technology with gaming and cryptocurrencies proves to be promising. The meteoric rise of the multi-billion industry will surely facilitate a new gaming landscape. No doubt, it too has its own hurdles such as scalability issues that prohibit the development of new games. Once the issue is fixed, lookout for blockchain gaming reaching to new heights.