Decentralized technologies such as blockchain networks, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are quickly becoming an inseparable part of the internet, media and gaming sectors. But as new doors open and possibilities unlocked, innovations like Web3 and the metaverse may just become another set of overhyped buzzwords with nothing underneath.
This is especially true for the global game industry. It has relied on proven frameworks and solutions for decades – disrupting them is no trivial task. As countless game developers integrate NFTs and “blockchain elements” into their projects, the very first question that comes to mind is, “Are they really necessary?”
While many game makers want to keep up with the times and jump on the latest hype train as soon as possible, the truth is that NFTs and blockchain in games go way beyond just checking another box on a list of features. For blockchain games to go mainstream, NFTs need to stay under the hood rather than being pushed as an over-hyped selling point.
Not for profit
Adding decentralized elements like NFTs shouldn’t be the ultimate solution that will magically make a game popular and profitable.
Another misguided idea is that each Blockchain assets definitely need to grow in price over time, giving players hopes – and often false ones – that their in-game investments will pay off.
The purpose of blockchain in a game, on the other hand, is not for the value of its assets to grow, but rather it allows users to own their digital assets and sell them to other people – be it for profit or loss. In fact, as demonstrated by several popular blockchain games, economic models where “all players always profit” are completely untenable.
The concept of trading in-game items is not new at all, but blockchain can take it to a new level.
For example, Steam, the world’s largest digital game store, opened its Community Market nearly a decade ago, allowing players to trade and exchange items from games such as Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and others.
However, the offering has numerous limitations, including the inability to withdraw real funds from the Steam platform. Besides, players don’t really do own the items they buy there, and if Steam itself goes down for some reason, players would likely lose those in-game assets.
This is exactly what NFTs can to repair.
Power to the player
Players and developers alike need to break with the mindset of “buying NFTs means asset appreciation or guaranteed profit.” Instead, they should focus on other benefits that decentralized technologies bring.
For example, by integrating in-game items like NFTs, developers can enable players to take real possession of their stuff, be it cosmetics, actual gear in the universe, profile features like avatars or anything else.
Because unlike Steam, that at least supports some kind of in-game item trading, most major publishers and developers don’t even allow that. For example, if you paid for cosmetic items in Overwatch or Fortnite, those items are now tied to your account forever until the end of time with almost no (legal) ways to recoup even some of the money you spent. . This is especially true because most game companies’ user agreements clearly and unilaterally prohibit players from trading items or even entire accounts.
Interoperable and tradable
Conversely, NFTs give players much more – though not unlimited – legal rights to their in-game items, including the ability to sell them as property. In addition, legitimate decentralized trading platforms can significantly reduce the risks associated with buying and selling game-related items in “grey” markets, such as those for account trading, key resale, or in game currency trading (also known as gold farming).
Moreover, blockchain provides an option to make these items interoperable and tradable between different games and even networks. Of course, this requires some extra work, integration and a lot of collaboration, but it is much easier to implement via NFTs and blockchain.
Essentially, decentralized blockchains allow operators to allow their players to exchange in-game items for real money between each other in a safe and legal manner – eliminating the need for often monopolistic intermediaries or setting up expensive systems to meet complex and legal requirements. cumbersome legal requirements.
This, in turn, can help create a much more “engaged” ecosystem where users can fully participate in gaming economies without feeling “extorted”. This is why developers should think about adding blockchain and NFTs to their games, rather than for novelty or speculative hype.
David Kim is the head of publishing at WAX Studios, a digital asset exchange.