April 24, 2023
Uniting the Gaming and Web3 Communities: What Will it Take?
The majority of the most avid gamers have been, at best, apathetic about blockchain games, and at worst, antagonistic toward it.
We know that gamers are willing to pay to play — the $170 to $300 billion gaming industry is now bigger than Hollywood for a reason. So why aren’t they willing to play when it means they could earn?
In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons has to do with that three-letter f-word that Ohanian mentioned: “fun.” Gamers often see web3 gaming projects as optimizing for the earn part of play to earn, while forgetting about play.
That dichotomy especially plays out when you consider the metaverse, which has promised immersive experiences yet, to date, offers mostly a regression of the gaming experience — vast and largely empty worlds, with outdated graphics, few users and little to do compared to the types of activities that have been possible on MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Runescape for over a decade.
The metaverse will catch up, as will web3 gaming experiences, and there are a number of promising projects on the horizon. But the current state of play has made gamers hesitant to go all in — and they’ve rightly interpreted NFT launches by big game developers, such as Square Enix and Ubisoft, as thinly veiled cash grabs rather than genuine attempts to return value back to their users.
Such extractive tactics are exactly what NFTs and the blockchain were created to deter, so of course those projects have seen little adoption from gamers and web3 enthusiasts alike. And those gaming giants have little incentive to change — after all, those extractive measures are what got them their massive market capture in the first place (even if they could well benefit from launching NFTs that actually engage with their community and produce real value for both users and developers, as I’ve previously written).
So How Do We Cross the Chasm?
I don’t see a future of gaming that isn’t mostly focused on fun. It is the critical first component for web3 developers to solve for.
The earliest play-to-earn blockchain games often made players spam-click their phone to receive crypto tokens. Ironically, this repetitive gaming style most resembles the type of pay-to-play (also known as pay-to-win) mobile games that get players addicted to a Candy Crush-style mania, and then try to upsell them through microtransactions.
In this case, earning speculative tokens isn’t enough of an incentive to convince most gamers that it’s a worthy use of their time. Playing such games is work — tap in, make money, tap out — not, well, play. And so the typical early adopter web3 gamer was actually less gamer and more remote worker.
The real value of web3 gaming lies in its ability to create a deeper connection and fairer collaboration between gamers and the games they love. As Everett Muzzy, a senior vice president at the marketing firm Serotonin, writes for CoinDesk in “The Gaming Industry Doesn’t Need Web3, but Gamers Might.”
Games built on blockchain technology can provide gamers with true asset ownership, financial opportunity and creative feedback loops with studios, to name a few. The history of gaming is rife with examples of how gamers have felt cheated or deceived by the industry they love. Web3 principles of sovereignty and collaboration can offer a way for gamers to benefit more richly from the games into which they already pour their time and commitment.
In order to get to those values, though, the game has to actually be good.
Ask nearly anyone what the most successful Web3 games are and you’ll get answers like Axie Infinity, DeFi Kingdoms and Wolf Game. These apps gained significant attention (and capital) during the bull market, and came to represent the first wave of “proven” Web3 games. In reality, these titles were little more than decentralized finance (DeFi) apps with a veneer of design and gamification. Any traditional gamer familiar with the fidelity, storyline and aesthetic of titles like Stardew Valley would certainly bristle if they were told that DeFi Kingdoms was the future of gaming.
Gamers are especially wary of games that are over-financialized, after years of gaming giants trying to monetize every aspect of their game playing process. They have every right to be suspicious.
Thankfully, the Web3 Gaming Industry is Maturing
The user experience has been a major roadblock in the past. Historically, managing transaction speeds and throughput on the blockchain has been a time and energy-consuming affair. Those challenges, plus high gas fees and tricky wallet integrations, often bogged down the in-game experience.
Games built on SKALE have zero gas fees, and seamless wallet integration, so users don’t have to log-in to their wallet for events to be recorded on-chain. It’s the most eco-friendly and green blockchain that can operate at mass scale, and recently was shown to have the fastest speeds of any chain in a recent Dartmouth Study.
Those innovations make it easier for web3 games to provide more immersive gaming experiences. And it’s a major reason why a number of gaming companies are building on SKALE, including…
With over 700,000 app downloads, Gamifly has emerged as a leading decentralized web3 platform designed for and solely owned by genuine sports and esports enthusiasts worldwide. Gamifly delivers cost-effective transparency to the eSports landscape, benefiting fans and gamers alike.
0xBattleGround: League of Survivors
For those who have a bit of lingering FTX-frustration to let out, well, the highly-anticipated battle royale game’s official trailer includes a manhunt aimed at taking out a certain “Simon Brain Fried.” In addition to its irreverent embrace of user ownership and input, the game promises simple navigation, a transparent revenue model, and an exciting gameplay loop.
This casual competitive multiplayer shooting game triggers your tactic and strategic thinking, as every choice counts in the battle over marshmallows at war. Players own their progress and in-game assets as NFTs, can trade and exchange them with others. They can also transport their heroes across games and metaverses, in contrast to most web2 gaming ecosystems that restrict interoperability.
Increasingly, web3 games are seeing their blockchain components as just part of their promise, with quality of gameplay and “fun” becoming the real focal point of their efforts. Building on chains that allow for low-latency, high-speed and high transaction throughput will be critical to optimizing for that user experience — ultimately creating games that everyone, not just crypto enthusiasts, can enjoy.
SKALE is an Ethereum native, modular blockchain network composed of high-throughput, low-latency blockchains that are optimized for Web3 user experience. SKALE chains offer zero gas fees to end-users and have advanced features such as on-chain file storage, interchain messaging, zero-cost minting, ML/AI smart contracts, and enhanced security features.
The SKALE network enables developers to deploy their own EVM blockchain in minutes without sacrificing speed, security, or decentralization. Welcome to the SKALEverse.
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