Mysten Labs Game Product Director How can Sui asset ownership improve the gaming experience?

Author: Sui Network

Recently, we interviewed Bill Allred, the Game Product Director of Mysten Labs, to explore why Sui is very suitable for games.

He shared his views on the key innovations of Sui and the value it brings to game developers. The key innovations of Sui help developers turn their imagined games into reality.

Below is the interview content:

Q1, Can you talk about what qualities of certain games are particularly attractive to players?

A: Game designers often mention a framework called Bartle’s Taxonomy. This paper has been published for many years and it describes four types of players. This is a good starting point for thinking about what makes a game interesting or attracts players to play. The four types of players are Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, and the fourth category called Killer in the paper. The term “Killer” is a bit too radical, so sometimes people refer to it as Competitive.

Achievers are mainly motivated by progress. They compete with themselves and the game world with the aim of achieving success and improving their character’s level. Explorers are mainly motivated by exploring the game world, so they spend a lot of time wanting to explore all the content the game offers. They tend to prefer open-world games or those that have no fixed paths and are more open. Socializers prefer to interact with other players, and many casual games fall into this category, but you will also see some competitive games with social coordination falling into this category. The last category is those who just want to win and want to defeat other players.

Obviously, games and players are both complex, so no game or player fully fits into any of these four categories. But most games, especially those with a large audience, have various modes or gameplay that cater to these different types of players and have clever ways of allowing interaction between different player types.

Q2, What are the benefits and challenges of applying blockchain technology to games? Does it help improve the ability to design for these four roles?

A: I think the infrastructure is not specific to a particular role, but the infrastructure actually applies to this category of products, which includes games. The earliest form of games was people buying physical game cartridges from stores. They would play the game, and when they were done, they could exchange game cartridges with friends or sell them in stores to get a partial refund to buy new games. After consuming all the game content, they could still profit from the game, which is part of the game and an important component of the player’s social experience.

Then, the gaming industry gradually shifted towards digital downloads and free play. We often talk about the free-to-play model on mobile devices, but in fact, free-to-play has been around for a long time. It is not just a business model, but also a distribution model. This model allows players to try out the game and then charge them when they want to consume more content, which is a good model for digital content distribution. Therefore, in the past few years, free-to-play has become the main game business model. Game companies offer games for free and then charge for specific digital assets and experiences within the game.

When other conditions are the same, having digital assets is better than not having them. In my opinion, this is actually very simple. I got involved in the game industry at Zynga. We observed that people had a very interesting experience when playing simple casual games. They purchased digital assets to express their personality, interact with friends, and enhance their game experience when choosing game structures. But every game has a lifecycle. When the game lifecycle ends, players actually have nothing to prove their efforts, and they cannot retain the digital assets they have acquired. I think blockchain infrastructure is just an evolution of the free-to-play business model. It adopts the same model of offering digital content for free and charging for other digital content, and improves this model by adding the benefits of property rights and asset ownership.

There are also potential benefits for developers. Any game that reaches a certain level of economic activity will generate its own gray market. The in-game asset market is a market that developers cannot directly control. Blockchain can allow developers to participate in economic activities that occur outside of the games they create. This is an interesting way for developers to redefine the value exchange between them and players.

Q3, Are there any other features you would like to emphasize to improve user experience and/or developer experience?

A: If we divide the development of blockchain into several main stages, Sui can be called the next generation of blockchain. Bitcoin invented the concept of digital currency, and before Bitcoin, there were various problems with sending money online. The basic innovation of Bitcoin is to solve the double-spending problem and other core cryptographic problems, which is an amazing invention! Ethereum then appeared and popularized the concept of “how nice it would be if software programs could hold money like users?” So, if Bitcoin allows users to hold money, then Ethereum popularized smart contracts, which allow programs to hold money. This opens up a whole new world of applications for blockchain. And for Sui, its concept is “what would happen if assets were the primary building blocks of the blockchain, not just currency or accounts?”

We have seen the exchange of digital assets become a major use case for blockchain, but these chains were not designed for non-fungible assets. Sui is designed from scratch with a priority on asset exchange. In Sui, everything is object-oriented. It is built for modern applications such as games with complex assets and multi-level relationships. In Sui, an object can own other objects. For example, in a game with hero characters, the hero character has an inventory and owns other digital assets specific to the character. Sui can accurately model these data hierarchies, which other blockchains cannot do. Therefore, it provides developers an opportunity to express the applications they want to build without bypassing the fundamental limitations of the blockchain.

Q4. What do you think of the market’s view on Web3 games? What is the future direction of development?

A: I believe that a great game is a great game, regardless of the infrastructure it is built on. When you pick up your phone and open your favorite game, you don’t think about whether the game is hosted on AWS or Google Cloud. For players, it really shouldn’t make a difference, and it never has historically. Therefore, I don’t distinguish between Web3 games and games built on other infrastructures. All I care about is creating a great entertainment experience in the gaming category. Moreover, I believe that in the current scenario and future direction, some of the best game developers are entering this field. Game developers who have built impressive large-scale games on other platforms choose to build games on blockchain infrastructure for their own reasons, as they see the ability to deliver the experience they envision to players.

I think there have indeed been some misguided beginnings in the Web3 gaming world, demonstrating an excessive financialization of games. Players don’t come to games to work; they come to games to escape reality, to immerse themselves in another world, to become a different character. It is ultimately a form of entertainment that competes with other forms of entertainment. So, what really matters is building great games, and the infrastructure is just a technological implementation that provides this experience.

Q5. Will the behavior or psychology of players change in Web3 games, especially when they own assets in the game?

A: This is one of the assumptions that blockchain infrastructure makes games better. Especially for mobile developers, they have faced real difficulties in the past few years because there have been fundamental changes in mobile platform’s ad tracking technology. These changes have indeed hindered their ability to target players who meet certain criteria. For many free mobile games, the cost of acquiring users has become unsustainable. One benefit of blockchain for players is giving them a stronger sense of ownership, which may result in higher engagement and/or longer retention rates. From a developer’s perspective, this affects your business model. It increases the lifetime value of players, thereby changing the economic model of user engagement.

The core assumption is that players will have different ways to participate in assets they truly own, making it an extension of their true selves in the game world. This changes their behavior and the essence of participating in the game experience. It feels more like a community where you have ownership and belonging, rather than just being a visitor.

Q6, There are many new concepts in blockchain infrastructure, such as opening wallets or signing transactions, which may become barriers for new users to enter. How does Sui help developers build user services for those who just want to play a great game without dealing with Web3 technology details?

A: Sui’s design allows for new onboarding processes for Web3 applications. From creating wallets through social logins (such as using Google ID or Facebook ID), to very simple sponsored transactions that allow one account to pay gas fees on behalf of another account. For example, developers can sponsor the first few transactions for users and allow them to potentially skip tedious processes like KYC on exchanges and converting fiat to game tokens. Some of us have gone through this process and know how difficult it can be. Sui provides developers with tools to abstract complexity for users.

Q7, What is your long-term vision for games on Sui?

A: My long-term vision is for every player in the world to have their digital assets securely stored on Sui.

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