Several industry pundits have explored the concept of blockchain and its link with video games, all asking, “will this new technology change the way we play games?”
As seen in shows like Silicon Valley, nerds love to predict how decentralized technologies such as blockchain will revolutionize how business will be conducted online. But many of these predictions are just that: predictions. However, its application to the world of gaming, is becoming reality.
And it’s not just the gaming experience that’s being influenced. We’ve seen sites such as play to earn tap into the potential for rewarding players with either gaming cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). And that in turn makes blockchain gaming a pretty appealing proposition for many people.
Why does blockchain provide such an advantage?
Blockchain enables gamers to bring over all their progress and possessions within different games to one platform. That means that more and more people will switch servers looking for better items and equipment, giving them a tactical advantage while playing.
Decentralization is important for gamers because every player wants their character to be on the server with the most content. If that’s not the case, they’ll simply quit playing, after all, once there’s nothing else to do or nowhere else to go a game doesn’t hold much appeal.
The same thing happens when new games come out, and you want your friends to move across but there’s understandable reluctance to leave behind everything on an old game. Decentralization provides gamers with less downtime as switching servers becomes quick and easy.
We’ve mentioned the potential for in-game monetization. The concept of in-game items having real value due to blockchain might help with that. As we all know, gamers invest a lot into games they feel passionate about.
Blockchain opens new opportunities for developers who want their gaming communities to become more involved by allowing players to make money from their gaming items.
What is the state of Blockchain gaming?
It’s estimated that there are around 2.3 million people playing games that utilize blockchain technology.
Most Blockchain games are still in test or beta versions, so it might be a while before we see the industry’s first big MMO-RPG running on blockchain. However, some games have received awards for their innovative technology, such as Orbs which was declared ‘Best Blockchain Game 2018’ by Crypto Best Awards.
Some of the most popular games include:
This game was launched in November 2017 by Axiom Zen. It allows players to breed, collect, and trade digital kittens. Each cat is unique and cannot be replicated or destroyed.
Unlike other cryptocurrencies, players can also play on Cryptokitties since they offer games such as Cat-Themed Blackjack.
This game was launched on Feb. 16, 2018, by E11EVEN Entertainment. It allows players to collect digital cards depicting famous figures in the entertainment industry, such as Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) or Snoop Dogg.
These cards are then linked to Etherium wallets, where users send their ETH to make their purchases. Players can then trade them with other users on this decentralized platform.
One of the most popular games at the moment is Etheremon which is basically a decentralized Pokemon. All assets are registered on the public blockchain, and every capture/movement/action is tracked immutably.
This is an older project which has been around since 2014. It was one of the first to explore this type of gameplay – yet it is still relatively unknown compared to the previous three.
All four titles manage to break the barrier between gaming and blockchain, even if most of the users don’t know that they are playing on a blockchain-based game. To date, however, they have only managed to reach small audiences with limited gameplay since the technology is still in an early stage.
What can blockchain achieve?
At the moment, it’s pretty challenging to see something like Destiny or EverQuest running on decentralized applications in the way that Etheremon or Cryptokitties do. That’s because MMOs require much more processing power than simple collectible games.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t be able to play them one day. There are some examples of great multiplayer titles built on blockchain, such as OrbusVR, which received over $50,000 through Kickstarter. It’s also one of the few MMOs (if not the only) built on room scale VR technology. That means that you’re walking inside an alternate reality rather than playing second lifestyle behind a screen.
Another interesting prospect is MyDream Interactive who are creating their own Blockchain Game Development Engine called Phaser Lock Interactive. That then means that other teams won’t need to develop their own blockchain technologies from scratch.
One day we might even see something like ‘Blockchain World Of Warcraft’ built by CCP Games who are partnered with MyDream.
Why is it so hard for MMOs to use blockchain technology?
There are multiple reasons why MMOs are so hard to achieve with blockchain technology, especially in the long term. Right now, two of the key obstacles are:
Another reason is that most of them require massive amounts of processing power that simply don’t exist on current computers or smartphones – which means servers would have to be extremely powerful to hold all the data required for thousands of players online at once.
This also makes scalability a huge problem since you’d need to upgrade your servers every time more and more people join the game (although this is not such a big issue if we’re about VR games).
Admin control of users
Since blockchain is immutable, there’s no way to ‘ban’ any user from the game. That means that pretty much anybody can do whatever they like and send/receive items even if they’re banned. This makes it hard for MMOs to operate since every single one of these actions would have been processed on Ethereum itself – which is not nearly as fast as we’d like it to be (although we might see a solution soon).
But as challenging as they seem right now, we know that solutions will be found. One day, not too far in the future, you’ll be wondering how you ever gamed without blockchain!