As complex and beautifully designed games are, the only part of the entire experience which is truly owned by the gamer is the feeling of achievement. That is as close as gamers ever get to really “owning” anything in the computerized world.
Online games offer avatars for sale, which gamers purchase from a computerized store as a symbol of their entity within the game and then spend hours on end to customize it, to enhance the feeling that it belongs to you, and yet it doesn’t. It can disappear in an instant. An instant in which the entertainment platform and its servers can be shut down. No warning and no explanations.
But good news strike on the horizon of online gaming. The innovation of blockchain technology can change all of that. Using decentralized systems and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs—like the ERC-721-consistent tokens previously made by Aphorism Zen’s CryptoKitties—players can make characters, vehicles, weapons, and other advanced signs that they claim forever, not simply the timeframe of realistic usability of a diversion.
The innovation can be the entryway for a player’s individualized and tokenized manifestations to move consistently on multiple online blockchains.
The potential is huge, and it’s the reason many trust the expanding blockchain gaming industry could deliver the slippery “killer app” that at last conveys this innovation to the majority.
But is the market prepared for such an extreme move in digitized gaming resources? A consortium of eight of the leading enterprises in this space, including Ubisoft, considers so. Also, their vision for the eventual fate of gaming and the $140 billion computer game industry has the help of a developing number of gamers and diversion engineers alike.
Ubisoft’s Blockchain Initiative Manager Nicolas Pouard believes the goal of this alliance is to rally stakeholders from both the blockchain and gaming industries and work together to develop solutions for the challenges that await these converging fields, according to Ubisoft’s Blockchain Initiative Manager Nicolas Pouard.
And it’s that last piece of the puzzle—the potential for a breakthrough smash hit on the level of an “Assassin’s Creed” franchise—that fuels the vision for gaming as blockchain’s bridge to the mainstream.
“Gaming will allow people to familiarize themselves with blockchain in an interactive environment, which is the first step to mass adoption,”
Nicolas Gilot, a founding member of the Alliance and co-CEO of Ultra—a blockchain-based “next-generation games distribution platform.”
The ownership in the digital world has its complexities. Let’s take iTunes for example. You can buy a song on iTunes, for example, but it isn’t really yours. There are limits to what you can do with that digital file—and you certainly can’t resell it.
Nowadays, in most cases, players that are done with a game in which they invested a lot are not able to pull any value out of the items or achievements they collected with much efforts.
Blockchain’s value proposition for gaming strongly relies on what we call ‘true ownership,’
Ubisoft’s Blockchain Initiative Manager Nicolas Pouard
This also applies to game platforms. Gaming assets are similarly restricted. In conventional games, servers store all the things that players buy.
“If you stop playing, lose your account, or experience technical issues, you lose those digital goods,”
Manon Burgel, B2Expand CEO
As explained in the blockchain games vs crypto games article, the in-game items are tied to the server of the platform, not to the real-life user of the account. Some even specify in the EULA (End User Licence Agreement that players are not allowed to sell or gift items to others.
The perceived unfairness of this among gamers is what’s driving the desire for blockchain to flip it on its head.
“A game that runs completely on the blockchain is an example of a decentralized platform that could be owned by everyone.”
Dan Biton, founder of Gimli
Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX), a blockchain e-commerce platform for digital assets, released a survey of 1,000 gamers and 500 game developers in the U.S. that shows solid support for the “true ownership” of in-game assets.
The survey states that 68% of the gamers trust they have the right to “truly own” the things they purchase. In addition, 62% would be bound to spend fiat on virtual assets if they could transfer those assets in between games, and near 75% of gamers said they would enjoy to sell or exchange in-game assets regardless of the type of the game.
What’s more, 86% of the game developers believe that in-game assets are on their way to becoming strategic components of future games, and more than 66% agree that the publisher of the game suppresses the advantages of these assets.
By tokenizing these assets, players can choose for themselves how to manage them: give them away, exchange them, or even offer them. It empowers a “digital second-hand market,” Burgel clarifies, and “its decentralized nature ensures that games and items are not held by one company but by the network.”
Of course, this sounds extraordinary for gamers, but publishers must figure out how to profit from this game model.
Nowadays, blockchain’s involvement in gaming is limited to the tokenization of digital assets. Furthermore, given the administrative atmosphere in the Unified States with respect to tokenized resources, this convolutes matters for an expansive, traded on an open market organization like Ubisoft.
Ultra’s CEO demands, in any case, that he sees “no issues with tokenized assets” from a lawful point of view, while organizations cling to set appropriate administrative rules. “The goal of regulatory bodies such as the SEC is to protect the public from being subject to scams,” he says. “The blockchain and crypto industry is continuously evolving, therefore it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest regulatory decisions to avoid slowing down innovation.”
Gilot additionally takes note of that the tokenized assets that will be exchanged on Ultra and all through the blockchain-gaming space. NFTs do not fall under the same rules as tokens sold during an ICO or STO (Security Token Offering), which may incorporate investment contracts and are subject to securities laws and guidelines. In the meantime, an advanced gaming asset, Gilot says, essentially “guarantees ownership, as well as proves the scarcity of an item is created through a publicly available smart contract.”
NFTs, as it were, are computerized portrayals of unique items, which are different from the collectable exchangeable cards of yesteryear. Those collectables work as a tokenized “proof of purchase” for the proprietor. They are the reason for most by far of blockchain-put together computer games at present with respect to the market, for example, Everdreamsoft’s “Spells of Genesis”— a game of collectable card, arcade-fight style game that makes a case for being the first blockchain-based mobile game.
“Spells of Genesis” was launched in April 2017, seven months before CryptoKittis were released on Ethereum. CryptoKitties and its non-fungible cats broadly smashed the Ethereum network in December 2017. CryptoKitties stay in charge of the absolute most costly NFT-based, gaming collectables ever sold—some surpassing the six-figure mark.
When will a major publisher release its first blockchain-based title?
In July 2018, the upstart blockchain gaming protocol MagnaChain announced its partnership with Epic Games, the maker of “Fortnite,” spurring rumours of an inescapable “Fortnite on the blockchain.” However, MagnaChain hasn’t commented on any details regarding the process.
For Ubisoft, Pouard from Ubisoft is still at a “test-and-learn” stage regarding the blockchain technology, mainly because of their financial obligation to its investors. “True ownership” is an extremely new business model and many tests are still needed to conclude if this is “something publishers can handle long term.”
Burgel’s B2Expand started paying more attention to this use case, having discharged its first game Beyond the Void on Steam. Beyond the Void uses the Ethereum blockchain for its “economic backbone” enabling players to purchase, sell, and exchange “cosmetic in-game items” for the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena and Real-Time Strategy mashup utilizing B2Expand’s local Nexium (NXC) token. Burgel says Beyond the Void would have explored the blockchain technology within the core gameplay if it wasn’t for the early release of the project.
About “true ownership” and the trade made around the exchanging of NFTs, Burgel states that: “the gaming industry has yet to find the right business models fitting these opportunities.” Nevertheless, distributors could, at last, discover an incentive in tools that enable gaming networks to “organically grow and feel involved,” for example, by encouraging the creation and dissemination of user-generated content. That is just “one of many possibilities,” Burgel says, and “many companies are already exploring new ideas.”
Dan Biton, a co-founder of the Gimli platform and a Blockchain Game Alliance board member, says we have to think past the present video-game scene to imagine what these conceivable outcomes may lead to. “A game that runs completely on the blockchain is an example of a decentralized platform that could be owned by everyone, and we could think of something where every player has its share in a voting system to make the game rules evolve,” he says. The game’s logic “or even the game itself” could change as indicated by the wants of its players “in a completely decentralized way.”
It’s a new and unique gaming perspective and one which Ubisoft is now putting its assets and target industry into an investigation. Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab is an inner research organization gave to analyzing future industry patterns and they are already looking far ahead from the “crypto collectable” use case of the blockchain which is found today in the market.
In recent months, the lab has gone through the process of developing a Minecraft-inspired model, a treasure-chasing and island-investigation game called HashCraft. The game doesn’t utilize NFTs. Indeed, it doesn’t have much to do with tokens. But it joins blockchain and pushes the limits of what was recently thought conceivable in gaming, situating publishers like Ubisoft as basically the makers of the “fantasy”, which are the characters and storylines of the game, and the players as the developers of “experiences” they genuinely possess.
It takes courage to embrace this new trend and Ubisoft is still in its infancy in this journey. “There is still plenty that we need to discover, which can’t be done without continuing our exploration or collaboration within the ecosystem,” says Pouard. Furthermore, cooperation is decisively what the Blockchain Game Alliance looks for. The alliance of game publishers are in the procedure now of formalizing a formal administrative structure for their association. Says Pouard: “This is just the beginning of the adventure.”
Hurdles remain, but much of the promise that this technology brings rests in its ability to redefine antiquated notions of digital rights in a rapidly changing world. We take this as good news, thinking that crypto and decentralized technologies are still in their infancy.