Cryptocurrency — the next big thing that everyone’s being talked up by a select few for the past decade now. Why is it then that crypto myths and the wrong perceptions regarding it are more often spoken about than the realities and benefits that it can bring?
Cryptocurrency and its underlying technology, the blockchain, can change almost every industry fundamentally. The Gaming industry is not an exception, more than that, it has a wider reach in order to communicate the usefulness of crypto to the masses.
So far, there are two applications of crypto in the gaming industry. Crypto games and crypto in games. Confused? Keep reading, we are about to eat a giant mushroom.
There are many games that let players take the first steps into the world of crypto with a familiar interface. Familiarity is important because when it comes to crypto, one of the main reasons people hesitate and get discouraged from the very beginning is that the whole concept looks alien and complicated. Remember our blogger Stepan’s first steps and how he missed the moon-express last year?
Games can help overcome this feeling, just show the basics of crypto and let the players gradually get used to the concepts like wallets, orders, mining, etc…
Also, crypto can replace many shortcomings of in-game economies but we will get there, soon.
Three key facts about gaming
We can proceed to check the crypto games once we establish some basic facts.
Fact one: Gaming industry is way bigger than the movie industry, thus it has more exposure.
According to Statista, the global box office revenue in 2017 was around $40 billion, while the gaming revenue was at a whopping $116 billion. And these are rookie numbers compared to the next five year projections.
Fact two: Gaming is a global phenomenon.
According to the statistics, there are about 2.5 billion gamers. Gaming allows more than two billion players to obtain virtual experiences and a spectrum of emotions.
Fact three: Gaming is a much bigger thing than a toy for kids.
Just search for TED talks with the keyword “gaming”. There are brilliant people talking about many different applications of gaming. There are cosplays, events, festivals, everything you can imagine.
Here we are, praising gaming, yet no single mention of crypto. Just bear with us a little more, as we are about to correct that.
But, there is one more thing
Yes, there are more than two billion gamers. But, cryptocurrency-related gamers or let’s call them cryptogamers, are just a fraction of them.
Here is a table we pulled from DappRadar showing the top six crypto games and their daily traffic. As you can see, they are less than 2,000 players.
This means that cryptogames are still at the very early stages. Games are designed to ease players to own a wallet, to transfer assets in the form of a game. There are few players mainly because there are few games worth the effort. If the whole concept is to mine crypto while playing or earn fractions of an altcoin by playing otherwise not so interesting games, gamers will turn it down. I don’t even recall the times Fortnite or Minecraft had those kinds of figures of active players at a given time, let alone per day.
What is the reason for such a small community of cryptogamers? What is limiting the cryptogames? Earlier Satoshi FM founder Anton Merkurov gave his view on this question by saying that the problem is “they (other blockchains) have solved some issues related to stability, scalability, and speed of transactions, but statistically, they still don’t account for much… ethereum must be 100 times bigger and faster.”
Concepts of the top six cryptogames (games which have the highest player traffic) are very similar to last years' hit Cryptokitties, a virtual cat collectible game.
Basically, players are expected to buy their dragons, land, cuties, kitties, monsters or whatever the main character of the game needs to do or have in order to reach eternal salvation. These games also implement mining so players can earn small amounts of crypto from the in-game assets, as well as from trading with other players.
Before starting the game, players need to have either the Metamask installed on their browsers or use MyEtherWallet in order to execute transactions. Once that is set, players need to pay for their dragons and any other transaction fees of the game in ETH. Unfortunately, how much a player should invest (time and money) into the game in order to earn 1 BTC is a somewhat unknown information, since it is quite relative.
It’s possible to make a profit in these games through several means; players can sell their rare dragons/kitties/cuties to other players, there are auctions where in-game assets are sold to the highest bidder.
A little different example is 0xUniverse, an interplanetary exploration and management game. Here, if a player is very lucky when they shoot their rocket (which is built by accumulated in-game assets) from their home planet (which in the beginning players are selecting to pay for) they can reach a random planet which can be worth anywhere around 4 ETH.
So one way is to be extremely lucky. Another one is to keep your in-game assets and wait for the actual cryptocurrency price to rise. So back in November 2017 making a profit in cryptokitties was not as hard as it is now.
Clearly, these are experimental games and probably none of them will hit the mainstream but will be remembered as milestones of the gaming history. Who remembers Lemmings and the Snake? We most certainly do, but it’s not like we would ditch the latest FIFA or CoD for it, and yet we are grateful for those times.
So what can become mainstream? Crypto in Games
Microtransactions. In many games, there are virtual items: it could be a weapon, a new outfit or a brand new house. Gamers are either buying or trading these things already in masses basically with tools attached to their fiat money. Crypto can introduce new horizons to this concept. When a gamer buys an item with an in-game currency, that is final. What if they could do it with crypto and later just cash in on their assets when they decide to move over to a penthouse in New York, online and perhaps in real life? That would bring an additional value to any game and substantial profit its developers - win & win.
If developers implement similar options, crypto will not just be a PR tool to benefit from the hype of the era for a game which soon no one will remember, but it can reach the masses, gamers will play their games in a safer, immutable environment and their in-game assets will be more valuable.
TRON, the company behind the TRX cryptocurrency, is a bit ahead of the herd in this perspective. They are already in partnership with Game.com and TRX is a tool which can be implemented in games right now.
Spicing things up with Blockchain
This brings us to the boss level; that is the technology behind crypto.
Decentralized games, which are run in many locations, would allow players to keep playing even if they travel to a distant continent. AAA games, which is the big producer of top titles which gamers could spend years waiting for. Blockchain can be used in making, distributing and playing these games. Some companies already require players to have an account at their club, to earn some virtual in-game additions and their points, which can be used to buy more content or discounts. Why not do it properly then if we already have half the system in place?
What’s the catch for developers then?
Developers who prefer crypto over fiat and implement blockchain can create their own in-game coins. This would bring a lot of advertisement options, loyalty from gamers, liquid economy, which is unhackable, transparent in the core and gaining value over time.
They can even turn almost every major update / downloadable content and a unique item into in-game ICOs. Gamers will fund it, own shares of it, play it and make a profit after. It’s now a triple-win scenario if correct blockchain and coin have been selected for the development.
Do not think developers don’t know that, or just neglecting the crypto revolution. Gaming industry relies on innovation heavily; and for the industry, the next level has five fundamental parts:
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Cloud-based Gaming, Artificial Intelligence in Gaming and Blockchain in Gaming.
So the real question is definitely not “Will crypto and blockchain ever change the gaming industry?”, the question is “when?” since it is just a matter of time.
There is downloadable contents, collectibles, fan arts, special editions, global game tournaments, a lot of game-related franchises which can benefit… if crypto finds its place among gamers. Developers need to bring something new and unique to the table with DLT and crypto integration. Institutional investors are the obvious target of the sector, however, the mass adoption will come from the people, who like to play.
Aren’t gamers used to inserting coin to continue anyway? My reflex to do just that certainly has not gone away anywhere, has yours?