Author: DEREK LAU; Translation: Leia
Does gaming really need blockchain?
Blockchain technology has brought a paradigm shift for game developers and players. But is it really necessary?
What is something that can only be accomplished with blockchain technology that cannot be achieved without it?
- Introduction to Zero Knowledge Processing Unit (ZPU): A versatile and programmable hardware accelerator
- The Evolution of Superchains: From Cosmos to OP Stack
- I went to Africa and now I believe that the opportunities for blockchain are in the Indo-Pacific region.
Can the benefits of blockchain really outweigh its drawbacks, such as poor user experience and slow transaction speed?
These are the problems that our industry is still striving to solve, and there is no clear model yet that can effectively coordinate game design, business models, and player motivations. That’s why this field is both exciting and challenging.
Next, this article will share why blockchain can help games and some counter-arguments about this issue, and finally, my personal opinion on it.
It is strongly recommended that you think deeply about this issue yourself. A strong belief in blockchain is crucial, otherwise you may be better off making a free game or console game without digital assets.
Opportunities and Challenges Brought by Web3
A. Opportunities for Players
The benefits that Web3 brings to players and game developers are different and it is necessary to distinguish between the two. First, let’s take a look at the main advantages for players:
1. Ownership increases player motivation
In the traditional game model, players often spend a lot of money to purchase in-game items, but they cannot truly own these items. However, blockchain can allow them to own, trade, resell, and even transfer items between different games.
Here’s a common question:
Imagine two identical games: one allows players to resell their skins and the other doesn’t. Which game do players prefer?
1. In physical card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon, players already enjoy the fun of trading and collecting. Blockchain card games like Gods Unchained and Skyweaver bring the same experience online, with less transactional friction and provable card authenticity.
2. Just as players have experienced the fun of accumulating in-game wealth and reputation through strategic gameplay in large-scale multiplayer online games like Albion Online and Runescape, Web3 allows players to reap more rewards in terms of reputation and wealth accumulation, as seen in games like Embersword and Mirandus that are building this experience.
3. Players have formed strong emotional dependencies on their characters, especially in role-playing games like Genshin Impact or Fate Grand Order. True ownership and customization can deepen this emotional dependency, which is what games like Guild of Guardians and Stella Fantasy are advancing.
4. Players are enthusiastic about “game records,” and now they can “own” a part of them, such as the gun or deck of cards that won the world championship.
5. Players enjoy achieving milestones in games, such as winning medals or top rewards. Transforming these achievements into permanent collectibles allows them to leave their mark even if the game’s database is shut down.
2. Decentralization promotes the emergence of game content and gameplay
Decentralization allows creators and players to build content on top of games without worrying about being shut down. This lack of fear of being shut down is important because it greatly reduces the risks of investing in the ecosystem. The lower the risk, the more experimentation can be done in the game’s ecosystem to create value and provide players with a better experience.
(1) Tokentrove and Aqua are both markets built by third-party developers that provide a better user experience than the original developer’s Immutable X Marketplace. This also allows them to provide a better experience for traders when operating their businesses.
(2) Games like Sandbox are entirely based on user-generated content (“UGC”) and seek to replicate the experiences of Fortnite creators or Warcraft III map editors, while providing rewards for creators and players. Its core concept is to provide better incentives to give creators more rewards, ultimately providing better game experiences for players.
(3) On-chain game teams like Playmint and Proof of Play are trying to build autonomous worlds where developers can contribute to the way the game operates, creating new gameplay and better player experiences.
(2) The website GUDecks creates a list of the meta-decks for Gods Unchained and provides analysis. This third-party developer earns six-figure revenue from the 10% commission it receives from all sales.
(3) Guild of Guardians has a similar referral reward mechanism (10% of the referred person’s spending as the reward for the referrer). In this case, the referral mechanism is on-chain, so anyone in the world can use it. Some people have earned around $500,000 in income through this referral mechanism.
3. Promoting community
So far, Web3 has demonstrated its ability to cultivate evangelists through the community. This is because Web3 projects usually start building communities early and develop together with the community. In addition, community members often have NFTs, which give them a sense of ownership and pride in their favorite games, and are willing to support the games.
Examples are as follows:
(1) Bored Ape Yacht Club has built a huge community, making it one of the most well-known NFT projects. Community members have developed various activities inspired by the brand, such as offline gatherings, fast food shops, yacht parties, and music videos.
(2) Other games such as Illuvium, Guild of Guardians, and Axie Infinity have established a core group of loyal supporters who are emotionally and economically invested in the game, hoping to see the project succeed. This group actively speaks out on social media, expressing their views on what the game should do, and ultimately becoming advocates for the game.
Despite the aforementioned advantages, there are still criticisms of the application of blockchain in games. These challenges are not trivial and it is currently uncertain whether they can all be resolved.
C . Player Challenges
1. Does not solve any actual player problems
Critics argue that blockchain does not solve any actual player problems. They believe that players usually do not care whether they own digital assets and trust developers to manage the in-game item economy. In addition, they believe that if the game can still be shut down, ownership and portability are meaningless, which means that interoperability has no value.
Although blockchain has the potential to have a significant impact on the gaming industry, there are still many obstacles that need to be overcome.
Currently, there is no consensus on what a viable “model” for the gaming industry looks like and whether or not there is one that exists.
Personally, I believe that blockchain has tremendous potential in the gaming space because it can bring “tradability” from the real world into the digital entertainment space. However, achieving this requires thoughtful innovation and a strategic focus on creating unique gaming experiences rather than simply copying existing game designs. Doing so is necessary in order to make the additional friction for investors, publishers, studios, and players valuable.