The digital space is undergoing a revolution thanks to the new technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency. These twin influences have also significantly impacted the video game industry, with plenty more disruptive and exciting changes to come.
Here’s what you need to know about this unique space, the most popular platforms involved, and the unique opportunities crypto offers in the world of gaming,
How blockchain is revolutionizing the gaming industry
The easiest way to explain the impact of blockchain and crypto on the future of gaming is to take a peek at its past. Consider one of those old-school tabletop board games, a deck of cards, or any physical plaything – or even old video games like NES cartridges or pre-broadband era titles. The assets were your own and were not constantly subject to change.
This is no longer the case with video games. Suppose your favorite weapon gets nerfed in Call of Duty – that’s that, you never get to play with it the way it used to be. The assets involved with the game are not your own. You have a license to use them, with the actual owner maintaining blanket rights on adjusting them as they see fit.
You also don’t have the option to take the toys out of the box and use them for a different playtime. Returning to the board game example, the absurdity of the current industry approach should become obvious: imagine the pieces suddenly shifting, the numbers getting adjusted on the cards from one day to the next from some central hub.
This all-encompassing power of the license holders also includes shutting down the servers and destroying the game for good, as we’ve seen in many cases in the past. Again, to compare, imagine your board game suddenly catching fire in the middle of your living room because someone far away from you said it should.
This is what makes the idea of true ownership (and trackable transactions), the cornerstones of blockchain technology, so consumer-friendly and an excellent fit for the gaming space. It’s no surprise that many such endeavors and partnerships have emerged in the field. This involves entities as wide-ranging as Australian gaming companies and the top crypto casinos in the US.
But what exactly is the blockchain, you ask? To keep it simple, it’s a technology that allows information to be stored in connected blocks, which are then chained together. Each block has its hash, making it nearly impossible to manipulate the original data without majority consent. This makes it a safe and reliable method to track transactions and to protect sensitive information.
Blockchain games take advantage of this technology by offering dedicated marketplaces with traceable transactions and ways to make each digital asset unique, providing other agencies to the players.
Understanding crypto gaming
Crypto gaming (or cryptogaming) serves as the umbrella term for video games that involve some aspect of this technology. Their application can be wide-ranging, regardless of whether the tech is deeply integrated into the title or just an additional (or even optional) tool. Here are some of the biggest trends to keep an eye on:
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
NFTs allow companies and customers to make the endless copycat digital transactions unique and traceable, similar to how serial numbers are used on physical products. Imagine a limited-run edition or anything where the unique nature of your digital in-game item can be seen as an asset. Perhaps a weapon signed by a popular pro player or the first version of a helmet that’s ever been printed.
True ownership of your assets means that they can’t be changed externally by the company that initially created them. All transactions are trackable, and each NFT is a unique and tangible digital item.
In essence, this technology enables trading and transactions to work the same way in the virtual space as offline. As the Pokémon trading card game craze and interest in other collectibles show, it’s a massive phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
This technology has a significant impact on the future of the casino industry as well. The robustness of blockchain technology solves a lot of safety concerns, and the decentralized nature of the technology makes transactions very smooth. It also removes territorial limits without incurring further costs, making it an attractive solution to the industry.
The free-to-play model in traditional games allowed developers to entice many new players by promising a pathway to play without spending a dime. Essentially, you’d offer up your time to grind out the content or spend your money to pay for it.
The option to leave your wallet out of your gaming experience and to decide what and how much you want to purchase has been one of the most impactful monetization trends of the last ten or fifteen years in gaming.
The idea of play-to-earn takes this another step forward, with many titles in the blockchain gaming industry outright offering you a way to earn cryptocurrency through playing, be it tradable items or actual funds deposited to your crypto wallet that is attached to your profile. This is yet another consumer-friendly aspect of the relation between blockchain and gaming.
The most popular crypto gaming platforms
It should be of no surprise that a growing number of dedicated platforms and titles have emerged (and indeed continue to emerge) in the wake of expanding interest in cryptogaming and related activities like bitcoin sports betting. The following ones are some of the most notable ones in the industry at this time:
- Axie Infinity – arguably the most popular title in the gaming industry, Axie Infinity is essentially a pet battler. This game boasts the most valuable NFT collection ever, with over $1 billion in trading volume by July 2021.
- Gods Unchained – one of the pioneering free-to-play card games to utilize blockchain technology, Gods Unchained is framed as the first game of its kind that “pays to play,” offering cards and other resources for players who can then trade back and forth among each other on the game’s dedicated marketplace. The game also offers unique one-of-a-kind cards called Mythics, which only have a single copy printed.
- CryptoKitties – one of the OG games of its kind, CryptoKitties serves as one of the early success stories of the NFT tech, going back as far as 2017, offering a modern take on the Tamagotchi formula for a new generation.
- The Sandbox – precisely what it sounds like, this ecosystem allows you to live out any fantasy by offering you a virtual space and NFT-based digital assets. Like Second Life from a past generation, anything from renting virtual property to in-game game development is possible.
- The Bazaar is another entry in the strategy card game space. The Bazaar is the brainchild of esports org Tempo/Storm head Andrey “reynad” Yanyuk, who recently confirmed that the upcoming title would feature opt-in crypto tech options to manage assets.
- The Six Dragons – styled as the world’s first blockchain-based open-world RPG, the goal of this title is to replicate classic MMO experiences but with a decentralized slate of items to provide the perfect player-run economy.
- Arker: Legend of Ohm – a fantasy role-playing game with MMO elements, Arker is more of a platform than just a single game, offering a wide variety of multiplayer gaming options with NFT tech humming behind its in-game items.
The possibilities offered by blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs in the gaming scene are endless. On a larger scale, they offer a chance to redress the balance of power between publishers and customers – on an individual level, they all provide additional security for transactions and unique opportunities that are not possible in the traditional space.
This means that the futures of gaming and crypto are intertwined, and the story of blockchain and gaming will doubtless continue spectacularly for a very long time.
Sam Lee is a games and technology enthusiast who’s been following the emergence of crypto and blockchain from the very beginning. You can find more of Sam’s writing at Safest Betting Sites’ casino games and betting hubs.