Does the Future of Gaming Lie in Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain technology has already revolutionised many different sectors. Many investors now look to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum over precious metals like gold and silver, while NFTs have helped to kickstart the world of digital art by making it possible to prove ownership of these assets.
Ever since the bitcoin boom of late 2017, there has been a lot of talk about other areas that could be disrupted by blockchain technology, with real estate, supply chain management, security, and cloud storage some of the most discussed possibilities.
Another sector that could see blockchain technology radically change how it operates is gaming.
Facilitating Better Payments
The way that publishers monetize their games has changed many times over the years. Some of the earliest arcade titles worked on a coin-operated pay-per-play basis where players would insert a coin(s) into a slot to receive a certain number of minutes or lives. They’d then be able to play the game until they used up their allocation and would then be prompted to insert more cash if they wanted to continue the fun.
This was replaced by the traditional purchase model where a player would buy the game from a retailer and take a disc, cartridge, or cassette home to install and play it on their console or PC. This model stuck around to this day, but some developers are beginning to move away from it in favour of the free-to-play approach.
Free-to-play games let users enjoy the game for free but prompt them to buy in-game items such as character customisations, weapon skins, or new levels.
As these payments become more popular, cryptocurrencies could play a key role. Some tokens would provide faster and cheaper transactions and even become the in-game currency.
Facilitating a True Metaverse Gaming Environment
There has been a lot of talk about the metaverse lately and gaming is a big target for those working on metaverse-related products and services. Gaming in the metaverse could help to create a much more realistic and immersive experience than is currently available.
Online casinos and poker rooms are a good example of this. At present, sites like PokerNews list all the leading places to play cards online, many of which offer social functionality alongside their gaming features. However, metaverse gaming could take this to the next level by providing virtual reality environments for players to meet, chat, and play in, much like a brick and mortar venue would.
Blockchain technology could help to facilitate this in several ways. Firstly, players could invite their friends to their own personal metaverse rooms which could be decorated with NFT-tracked items. Secondly, smart contracts could help ensure the games were run fairly, with everyone able to audit how winnings were shared and if the rules were followed.
Adding Value to In-Game Items
At present, these in-game items can only be purchased once and remain in the player’s possession for the life of the game. There’s no way to sell them to anyone else, so they become redundant once the player abandons the game.
Blockchain technology could help to solve this problem. Some publishers, including Ubisoft, are already beginning to experiment with using NFTs to provide a record of ownership of items that are purchased in their games. This would allow them to be resold and for players to verify that they have a genuine limited-edition item. Some industry analysts have even suggested that there could be a lot of demand for digital items that had been verifiably owned by an influencer in the past, creating a new source of income for streamers and esports athletes.