The gaming industry has the potential to build on blockchain and allow players to earn money. This is attractive to developers as they could increase their fanbase and broaden the community. However, there are challenges in terms of scalability and functionality.
So we invited 3 key industry leaders in our Virtual Meetup #3 on Wednesday, June 10 @ 10AM EST to discuss how blockchain can be applied and developed in the gaming industry.
Held monthly, CoinGecko’s Virtual Meetup is our live online community event where we explore different key topics in the crypto sphere and invite industry leaders to share their two satoshis.
In our discussion, we touched on the use of NFTs in blockchain games, which type of audience should developers target, whether interoperability between games is realistic, and what developers should consider when building games on blockchain.
1. How did our guests get into blockchain?
Our guests were drawn to blockchain for different reasons. Roham first ventured into bitcoin in 2013. Prior to CryptoKitties, Roham’s previous company, Axiom Zen, was building on top of Bitcoin as early as 2014. It wasn’t until 2017 when a new wave of apps built on Ethereum that he released CryptoKitties.
Aleksander’s love has always been games. Prior to Axie, he was a professional e-sports competitor. His first introduction to blockchain games was Cryptokitties.
Sandeep wanted to work on the scalability aspect as he found that developers had difficulty building on top of certain platforms. So he and his team at Matic Network created a new way of building a game via the Layer 2 platform, which has been adopted by many third-party developers. Sandeep and his team seem to be set on their mission of providing scalability on Ethereum.
2. The current state of blockchain games
Truth be told, the technology is still at its infancy but that could change within the next year. Aleksander tried to scale Axie with Loom Network but it didn’t work out as well as he hoped. He believed that the hunger for profit won’t carry a project very far and instead developers need to have an intrinsic motivation or a real passion for the game itself.
Furthermore, developers also need to have a more holistic approach and provide better scalability solutions.
“Providing better scalability solutions is the way forward as well as having a higher level of understanding of the why behind decentralization,” said Roham.
Sandeep added that with the improved technology, it’s now a good time for developers to build experiences with a decentralized model in mind. And if the overall architecture is elegant and robust, it could potentially work.
3. Who will be the audience of blockchain games — gamers or crypto natives?
Aleksander believes that we need to expand the crypto bubble because we can’t grow inside our niche. So we have to find a way to get gamers on board the blockchain experience.
Sandeep suggested creating a fun-to-play game first and gradually move the players into the blockchain space by showing them the benefits such as earning money or assets.
“The two important things to consider are the functionality of digital asset and the social context,” added Roham.
He has seen a 386% increase in conversion when speaking about the benefits rather than the technology. In reality, users are more interested in the benefits of blockchain, such as the buy & sell aspect and real money trading on the marketplace, rather than the fact that it's decentralized.
Ultimately, different value propositions should be targeted to different groups of people at different parts of their journey.
4. Why don't game companies build the game first and then build on the blockchain?
Roham thinks that it's because the current way that developers build the game works. Adding an open economy element would break the current design as it can't be retrofitted into most existing economies. So creators need to think from the ground-up and build new kinds of experiences to give value to the existing community.
“If you have a venture funding to back you up, you can tap into ecosystems that will emerge in terms of infrastructure and scaling”, added Aleksander. “Alternatively, you can go to the pre-sale route where you start selling NFTs and assets.”
However, the latter would require a different mindset from the beginning. It also depends on the economy of the game company and the scale that it wants to achieve.
5. Would the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) concept work in blockchain games?
“NFT is a perfect vehicle of digital identity,” said Aleksander. “In Axie, NFTs are used as work tokens with a play-to-earn concept.”
Sandeep believes that it’s a fundamental concept that will stay, as it is unique, rare and truly belongs to someone. He also suspects that there will be more NFTs than currencies as we see more and more things being converted into the form of NFTs, which will eventually be modelled onto a blockchain.
“In the blockchain world, almost everything is fungible,” explained Roham. “If everything becomes tokenized, they will all become NFTs.”
Suffice to say, all of our guests believe that NFTs will be more common than currencies once this can be applied further.
6. On the challenge of interoperability between games
Interoperability is not as straightforward as we may think. The challenge with multiverse is the game design. It wouldn’t make sense to bring in a certain feature of a game, such as the use of a weapon, to a different game that doesn’t use a similar weapon.
The solution to this, as Roham pointed out, is two-fold:
Extensibility i.e. building on top of an existing product or recreate potential product from scratch.
Think bigger than games. If someone has their own identity and assets as well as access to decentralized marketplaces, then they could switch to different platforms seamlessly.
Aleksander added that there needs to be an entity inside the game that balances the assets and determines the worth of something. But Sandeep argued that it’s impossible to have every possible asset listed on the standards as gaming involves a lot of imagination.
Interoperability between games seems to be a challenge that would require a longer time to solve.
7. Advice for developers looking to build games on Blockchain
Aleksander: You have to make a decision on how integrated you want your community to be. Once you give people assets or are selling assets, you have a responsibility towards them. Create a strategy around the community and make sure that if you're selling NFTs, keep doing the same thing so that people don't get upset.
Sandeep: Focus on building up a good game and the blockchain side of things can be added.
Roham: Respect the community. And when building ecosystems, treat the early players as ambassadors and community leaders because they are the ones who will help you build on the ecosystem.
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