Blockchain gaming is under heavy development. New projects and ways to implement blockchain into video game development are being introduced every day. This article is meant is an introduction into the topic, because there’s so much more to tell about blockchain, video games and the companies that are already building on this inevitable future.
Talk to gamers, and most of them have played online games like Call of Duty, League of Legends or World of Warcraft. The major issue each of these games have, is that your hard earned loot will vanish when the game closes down. Blockchain technology is something that could solve these problems, as it provides ownership. All it needs, is adoption and publishers willing to actually give gamers ownership over virtual goods.
What is a blockchain?
Without getting too much into details, a blockchain is a network of (decentralized) computers that validates new entries into its system. When a data entry is false or duplicate, it gets rejected. Every data entry is therefore unique and its location is always updated by the entire network. The complete history of the network is being stored into the blockchain, which you can compare with a log book. This allows to track a piece of data and see which accounts is the owner.
Why blockchain makes sense for the games industry
Obviously blockchain technology can create non-fungible assets, which would be owned by a consumer and can be traded as well. The authenticity of these items would be guaranteed by blockchain tech, for example smart contracts as ERC-271 non-fungible token standard, or the references from ERC-1155. Exchanging virtual items already is a major industry, and putting this on the blockchain would annihilate fraud. Think about skins for Counter-Strike, League of Legends or a very rare sword in World of Warcraft.
But implementing blockchain technology into video games goes further than just ownership alone. Creating a ledger on blockchain technology that would allow backwards compatibility on newer platforms, for both the core game as acquired DLC and credits, could benefit developers and gamers alike. This would keep popular content alive, despite a generation of gamers shifting to a new platform.
Backwards compatibility, ownership and even cross-platform content can be easily enabled by blockchain technology. Gamers would have an universal gaming profile that would dictate ownership across all platforms. This would allow you to see which Playstation 4 trophies you’ve won, while playing on a future Xbox platform.
Another thing that the gaming industry could benefit from, is archiving productions on the blockchain. Every developer would be credited for his or her work, no matter how small. Besides, it would suddenly become so much easier to index games based on genre, platform, age, online functionality and so on. Sure, the websites like MobyGames already provide this type of service, but when it’s on the blockchain it can be automatically tied to wish-lists from consumers, pre-order campaigns from retailers, the resume of a game developers, translator or marketing agency.
Network speed is crucial
When Cryptokitties launched, it became such a popular application (dApp) that the Ethereum network couldn’t handle the work load. Basically Cryptokitties allows people to merge two cards (a compatible female and male cat) and give birth to a new card. As a result transfer fees for ETH skyrocketed, and all other tokens using the network also suffered. Specialized blockchains and smart contracts – like the earlier mentioned ERC-1155 – are needed for the tech to be embraced by the gaming giants.
One of the projects with an emphasis on all-round entertainment, is the Tron network. Tron is supposedly two thousand times faster and hundred times cheaper than the Ethereum network. CEO Justin Sun already has a deal with Game.com to create web based blockchain games, while blockchain company BitGuild is making a video game called Magic Academy which will utilize the Tron network. Network speed is crucial for gaming projects to be successful in the mainstream, and perhaps Tron will be the first one to deliver. BitGuild’s first application Guildchat is already a success and paves the way for more to come.
Currently Cryptokitties is the biggest game in crypto, with some cards being valued at thousands of dollars. In terms of video games, Cryptokitties is not very playable. Thankfully more ambitious projects are on the horizon.
Gods Unchained is an action game that runs on centralized servers, but uses blockchain technology for cards that can enhance a character. These cards can be traded on decentralized marketplaces. The same idea is currently in development in the Rotterdam-based studio Code Glue, where the team is working on an online action game, Crown of Carnage, where wizards battle for domination in an arena. Their powers are based on tokenized cards, some of them are extremely powerful and will surely have value to gamers.
The mobile game Clash & Go is already on the market, and it combines mobile gaming, with alternate reality and the blockchain. This game is already so popular that its creator have cancelled a scheduled ICO. Tokyo-based kiokumushi is working on Treasure Dungeon, while the Thailand-based Digital Token Alliance is working on an AR-game called Loot Hunt, which is in the style of Pokémon Go.
Hash Rush, a real time strategy game, is currently in development and planned for release in March 2019. This game promises to let players earn cryptocurrency while playing the game. It’s one of the many ways in which games can embrace blockchain technology.
There are plenty of companies working on integrating blockchain tech into video games. Decentraland is building games with blockchain use-cases, while Enjin is building a tool box for developers to work with. Xaya is another blockchain gaming platform, and so is Ark.
Who are jumping in?
There’s no blockchain game yet that comes close to the AAA game releases like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Battlefield, Mario Kart or Fortnite. Yet, major companies like Ubisoft and Microsoft are already looking at blockchain technology. Sony has filed some patents in regards to blockchain registration of digital rights in entertainment.
Microsoft obviously has its Azure technology, which also features elements of blockchain tech. It only makes sense to implement Azure into the Xbox brand more and more as time goes by. Ubisoft is really a forerunner when it comes to blockchain. They hosted an event called Blockchain Heroes, to explore the promise of blockchain technology for the gaming industry. They are also one of the founding fathers of the Blockchain Game Alliance, while a small team is working internally on a blockchain based Minecraft-style video game called Hashcraft. While Sony apparently is implementing its digital rights patent into its online services, which would include the Playstation Network.
These are only the companies that have outed their endeavours in the field of blockchain tech. It’s fairly safe to believe that every major video game corporation is looking at blockchain technology for its next step in the evolution of video games.
It’s a new dawn
Blockchain gaming is still very new, and it will take a while before the technology will be mainstream. Perhaps we won’t even know it’s blockchain, because major game publishers will hide the technology in their own tools, like Valve’s Steam, EA’s Origin or Blizzard’s Battle.net. One thing is for sure, ten years from now blockchain technology will be an integral part of our existence. Not only as gamers, but as consumers in general. There’s lots of stuff happening, and worlds envisioned in books and movies like Ready Player One are on our horizon.