The trend of using blockchain in games is picking up and has broken free from the boundaries of simple theory and experimentation. The first thing that comes to mind are Cryptokitties that overloaded the Ethereum network and spawned digital cats worth $100 000. This is just the tip of the iceberg and the true potential is remains pretty much untapped: games place number 4 in popularity among the biggest ICO projects, trailing only data storage, finance and, naturally, infrastructural blockchain projects.
However, can blockchain serve as a true game changer for this industry and introduce something the established game market has not yet seen? Yes.
The very existence of cryptocollectible-based games with unique creatures or items the price on which can grow thousand-fold just from their sheer uniqueness sets an interesting precedent. In traditional online games unique items can also be on the expensive side, but even the rarest item can be owned by multiple players, giving the rest an opportunity to earn the unique item rather than buy it. Blockchain allows to create a genuinely unique monster or item that nobody else will have. Elite, deficit goods have always been valued throughout the entire human history, and this is exactly what crypto games are placing their bets on.
However, combining blockchain with the traditional game market can provide important advantages. Thus Sony, the tech giant, together with Sony Pictures Entertainment, its subsidiary, have applied for a patent on a digital rights storage system based on blockchain. The creators of the system believe the existing digital asset management solutions lack the required security. If a system or a provider responsible for storing information about content stop operating, users will lose all their digital assets forever. Blockchain-based copyright protection systems allow to store user ID data and solve the security problem. Incidentally, the patent contains a number of blockchain use cases for the entertainment industry.
Ubisoft, one of the industry leaders offers even more interesting ways to integrate blockchain technology. Back in February the company began looking into ways of applying blockchain at their Strategic Innovation lab.
According to Anna Pak, the lab manager, all the existing standards for storing data on the blockchain can not only transform the gaming experience, but even turn players into the shareholders of their own virtual worlds.
Pak has mentioned ways of “increasing cooperation between players”. Besides the actual tokenization of assets that the latest crypto games are testing out, blockchain can be utilized for a user ID system. In this scenario the personal token can be linked to not just one, but many games, allowing the user to be more involved in developing a character and acquiring assets than it has ever been possible on top of increasing the potential value of said assets.
Ubisoft also wants to use the digital ledger technology to solve the toxicity issue in gamer communities without infringing the EU privacy laws. Solutions allowing to verify users are already present in the form of facial recognition systems that don’t disclose personal data.
However, a more promising application for blockchain in the gaming industry lies beyond isolated innovations. The ability to break away from large publishers that pocket roughly 30% of revenue from every copy sold will help both game developers and gamers alike. Developers and gamers will be able to communicate directly, improving and expanding the games together and not have Valve, Apple or Google looking over their shoulder telling them what to do. They will be replaced by smart contracts. The most interesting experiment in this regard is Dragonereum, a blockchain-based game.
Its developers have decided not to follow the ICO route, however. They will not claim revenue from game sales or digital asset distribution. They won’t charge a single cent of commission for transactions… How is the game monetized then?
The only thing that Dragonereum developers can profit from is the rise of token price. This puts the developers on the same level with players in their ability to monetize the game. Further still, the governance over the project is planned to be put in the hands of the players themselves some time after the game is released and has gathered a community around itself. Video game history is ripe with examples of simple mods transforming into huge games of their own at the hands of their very players, but blockchain allows creating something even larger – instead of creating standalone projects based on the main game it opens up the opportunity to gather all the interesting ideas within the main game, making development and content creation a potentially endless process.
Learn more about the Dragonereum project