While blockchain gaming has its haters, who react almost hysterically any time it’s mentioned in conjunction with a major publisher or popular video game, it’s safe to say that investors aren’t among them: Investment in the sector has already broken $3 billion in 2022, compared to $4.2 billion across the whole of 2021. This has been driven by the success of pioneering games such as Upland, Splinterlands, and Blankos Block Party. The poster child of blockchain gaming, Axie Infinity, boasts more than 2 million daily players and has even spawned an entirely new business model, in the form of crypto gaming guilds, which have the sole purpose of facilitating play-to-earn gaming.
There is no denying that awareness of the play-to-earn gaming model is now widespread. Despite this healthy growth, it’s destined to remain a niche model within gaming – if it survives at all. The current model is heavily siloed, making it increasingly impractical and likely to alienate all but the most committed play-to-earn gamers. For blockchain gaming to encourage mass adoption, it can’t ignore the mass majority of gamers who fall into the casual category. For them, friction and barriers to their gaming experience inevitably lead to low retention; if indeed they start playing in the first place. So while investment in blockchain gaming is considerable, and awareness of it is widespread, there’s a lot of work to be done before mainstream adoption can follow suit. It’s clear that blockchain gaming must evolve. But how?
Fun at Scale
Mass adoption relies on mass attraction. The only way to facilitate this is by putting good gameplay first and making earning power a secondary, albeit welcome reward. While play-to-earn incentives and the creation of fully-fledged blockchain gaming economies have led to new types of players and even non-playing investment personas, the most important piece is to drive real adoption with the everyday player. This will be the biggest and most important web3 enabler.
The majority of global casual gamers rely on free-to-play content and use whatever device is available to them (mainly mobile). A blockchain gaming model that compromises these mass-market dynamics is unsustainable and unscalable. So any blockchain gaming model should start with what made gaming great in the first place – fun. From here, we need to create a multi-faceted offer that caters to and provides choice to each of: investors, guilds, NFT collectors, game studios, independent creators, play-to-earn scholars – and every “type” of regular gamer in between.
Platforms, Not Just Games
To create scale, ease and choice for players, it stands to reason that we need blockchain gaming platforms, not just blockchain games. Creating a single game that has universal appeal is pretty much impossible, on or off-blockchain. Just take a look at Fortnite, one of the most successful games of all time. In 2022, it’s estimated that it has averaged approximately 24 million players per day. Astonishing numbers, but a mere fraction of the global game-playing community.
If people want to continue playing multiple games, it just isn’t viable to have thousands of separate, unique blockchain game economies. Users would have to accrue and manage multiple wallets and tokens on multiple blockchains, creating more friction and drop out. What we should be aiming for is a similar user experience to that offered by mainstream app stores, music, or video streaming platforms, but with a key difference – one that is built on the key principles of web3: transparency, decentralization, and community ownership rather than a web2 walled garden.
A Win for Blockchain Gaming
Gaming is in the ideal position to drive genuine web3 adoption – with a global community of engaged and passionate fans. We are at the cusp of a paradigm shift which, if done right, rebalances the established relationships between players, publishers, platforms and advertisers. There is a real chance to rebuild fundamental elements of the video games world, to provide fair reward for people’s valuable time and talent, offer ownership of their favorite games and experiences, and give players a say in how they are evolved.
However, before this can happen at scale, blockchain gaming needs to cater to everyone from play-to-earners to casual gamers, with multiple ways of playing and engaging. Ideally, this needs to be within a small number of multi-faceted ecosystems that bring together multiple games under one economy and one seamless UX; avoiding the interoperability constraints of web2 ‘metaverse’ platforms. It is only by breaking down the current siloes that blockchain gaming can evolve, survive and thrive.
About Şekip Can Gökalp
Sekip is a founding contributor and strategy lead at Infinite Arcade, a platform that enables game developers to introduce blockchain elements into their games. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of mobile games self-publishing platform Coda, which reaches more than 15,000 game developers and 10 million gamers. Sekip has close to two decades of experience working with companies like Opera, Netlog, and Adcolony amongst others. He is also an investor and his interest lies in early-stage startups in the mobile gaming space.
About Infinite Arcade
Infinite Arcade is taking mobile games into the metaverse. It’s a platform that empowers both game developers and creators to connect with players in an open marketplace where participants can own part of the ecosystem, benefit from growth, whilst being rewarded for time spent in-game, and contribute to the community. Established in February 2022, Infinite Arcade was created to introduce metaverse dynamics like “Play and Earn” and NFT digital asset ownership into thousands of mobile games. Infinite Arcade is backed by industry-leading mobile games self-publishing platform Coda, which proudly features over 15,000 mobile game developers and 10 million gamers.
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