Speaking as a Game Developer:
Does Gaming Really Need Blockchain?
The short answer? No. We at AlterVerse have just developed a blockchain-enabled video game, so you may have expected a different answer, but that’s the truth. Gaming does not need blockchain.
In fact, there are a lot of great features that gaming doesn’t need. Games did just fine before online multiplayer was available, or before the quicksave option became popular — do games need those things to be successful? Not necessarily.
There’s no denying that blockchain technology has been shoehorned into projects where it’s not really needed. People have tried to decentralize forests and put them on the blockchain to charge passersby for breathing the air generated by trees. Companies have seen their stock skyrocket 500% just by adding the word “blockchain” to their name.
The hype is real — but is the tech real too?
The first ever blockchain network was Bitcoin, a form of digital money that couldn’t be copied, couldn’t be printed off at will by some unseen network owner, and was controlled by nobody in particular.
Blockchain allows people to store information or assets like cryptocurrencies on a highly-secure network that never deletes the record of transactions. A blockchain network is a distributed ledger that stores information on multiple servers or “nodes” instead of just one.
To alter the information on the ledger, all the nodes have to authorize the change. If the servers are publicly operated, anyone can read the record of information and verify that everything is above board, and because each node has to OK any changes, it’s more secure than traditional systems which have a central point of failure.
So what can blockchain do for gaming?
Blockchain in Gaming
Two things that blockchain is really good at — creating digital assets that can’t be duplicated, and creating decentralized ecosystems where nobody is really in charge and everyone gets a fair say.
Those two aspects of blockchain can actually take on and disrupt a number of gaming mechanics, like:
- In-Game Currency
- Staking Real Money
- True Ownership of Digital Assets
Hang on — games already have in-game currency, right? Why bother upgrading it to cryptocurrency?
Well, in-game currency is completely controlled by the video game company. It could, theoretically, be deleted at will, or duplicated. The value could suddenly be completely changed by altering the supply.
Cryptocurrency can be used as an in-game currency that is truly in the hands of the players. Major online games like EVE and World of Warcraft have had numerous controversies over the developers eliminating entire in-game currencies or creating inflation by making too much of the currency at one time.
When gamers rely on the trust of the game developer to control the economy responsibly, it doesn’t always work out well — blockchain, for the first time, will allow real economies with real money to be operated solely by gamers with no authority figure controlling everything from behind the scenes. That’s a big deal, and it leads into our next point.
High Stakes: Winning Real Money in Games
The Esports industry is now worth approximately $900 million. Competitive gaming is hugely popular, and the concept of decentralized game economies using real money is even more exciting for the fact that users can stake cryptocurrency on a game and win money depending on the outcome.
The first AlterVerse game, Disruption, will allow gamers to participate in group attacks on interstellar battleships in (optional) virtual reality and raid the entire treasury upon success, earning rewards that can be spent on in-game digital assets, and that’s just one example of how blockchain can enable and enhance staking.
Different games can leverage cryptocurrency in different ways to allow for betting, trading, transaction escrow, quest or item insurance, and many other complex economic solutions that weren’t as sophisticated in the past, or even possible.
True Ownership of Digital Assets
The third feature enabled by blockchain in gaming is the creation of digital assets. Yes, that can mean cryptocurrency, but it can also mean physical items like weapons or clothing. Much like Bitcoin, these assets can not be duplicated or deleted, meaning blockchain allows gamers to own unique items with real value that can be bought, sold, or traded.
The first experiment with digital assets in a blockchain video game was probably Crypto Kitties which ended up with a digital asset being sold for $170,000, something that would never happen with an in-game item that could simply be deleted or altered by the game company. Because the buyer was the true owner of the digital asset, not the company, a real market could be created for the assets.
What’s more, these items can potentially be moved from one game to another — AlterVerse, for example, will comprise of 17 different games which users can explore interchangeably, bringing items from one game to another.
A study by World Asset eXchange shows that “62% of gamers feel having the flexibility to transfer virtual items from game to game would make spending money on those items more worth it,” making this yet another pain point addressed by blockchain.
For many, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Blockchain is a new, complex technology and the promises to revolutionize every industry from gaming to global exports can seem like a drastic change.
Here’s the thing — by implementing blockchain in gaming, we’re not really trying to “fix” everything. In-game currencies would be improved if they were decentralized, but they’re not broken. In-game items that can’t be brought into other games aren’t broken either — but they could be better.
Like, way better. Blockchain gives us the chance to tackle areas of gaming that can be improved to create fun, new, creative, innovative features that nobody has been able to create before.
We think that’s really cool, and we’re all for it!
No, that doesn’t mean that blockchain will magically make a video game good on its own.
At AlterVerse, we’re creating a rich gaming and building multiverse environment comprised of multiple worlds that can be enjoyed by players who can host their own servers, captain their own battleships, create their own worlds and invite their friends to explore (in virtual reality, if they like).
Other games are implementing blockchain solutions but the good games won’t rely on blockchain either. Gaming doesn’t need blockchain — but it’s definitely going to create a more decentralized, optimized, and interesting gaming experience, and that’s something to be excited about.
You can learn more about AlterVerse and Disruption by visiting the AlterVerse website or following us on Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, Discord, or join our brand new Reddit community. AlterVerse is currently seeking seed funding to launch exciting new gaming projects.
Add AlterVerse to your Steam wishlist here!
Written by Conor Maloney,
Dec 08, 2018.