For years players have invested their hard-earned money in in-game purchases, and while they were able to use the cosmetics, skins, products or even special in-game currencies like OSRS Gold, actual ownership has always been an elusive concept. On one hand, yes you own the product, but at the same time the product is constantly attached to a virtual environment from which you can not remove the product, and sometimes locked with your account, meaning you can’t sell or trade it.
Recently, a myriad of development has occurred in the technological, and digital space, which eventually would translate and be replicated – or at least applied – in the gaming industry. Concepts such as NFT’s, Blockchains, and digital currencies have become more, and more commonplace with games. While still in the very early stages of development this trend seems to align with other industries which are taking steps towards the new era of the digital landscape.
A South Korean company is innovating the wildly successful Roblox by creating the first blockchain-powered virtual world inside the game. The “PlayDapp World” allows players to partake in the game using the traditional Roblox default characters as well as exclusive NFT characters. This is just one of the things players can acquire and build, there are plenty of activities regarding the server, but outside of the scope of the game is where it gets interesting, PlayDapp is allowing third-party game items to be commercialised through their marketplace, via Polygon blockchain.
Having multiple titles, items and NFT’s allowed in a single digital environment and blockchain is the beginning of actual ownership for players. This means that you can negotiate, invest and commercialise through titles, which removes the barriers of having your digital goods locked behind specific virtual environments such as the Epic Store, Steam Marketplace, and other similar entities. Yes, you are still bound to a blockchain provided by PlayDapp, but having some of those barriers lowered is a very good sign, especially for those that are interested in games from an investment perspective, and not only as a hobby anymore.
Non-fungible Tokens are data units that are stored in blockchains, they have recently risen to popularity under the acronym of NFT. What non-fungible essentially mean, is that they are unique and by proxy irreplaceable.
For instance, even inside a limited series of a piece of art that has been converted into an NFT, they are each unique, and hence even if traded for another equal product would hold their own unique set of data and number inside the series. Conversely, other types of tokens such as cryptocurrencies are in their essence fungible, which translates into the fact that if you exchange a bitcoin, for another bitcoin, you essentially own the same thing.
NFTs have recently begun expanding what is contained inside them, as albums, songs, portraits, photographs make their way to the new wave of digital purchases, in-game skins, cosmetics, and items have eventually found their way to this new consumption format. Companies are working in collaboration with artists such as Camilla Cabello, Deadmau5, Paris Hilton, and The Weekend to bring exclusive content to their fans in a multitude of titles across different platforms.
New currency formats
As cryptocurrencies such as Binance Coin, and Binance itself start getting involved more often with the e-sports world, and online games, not only from a sponsorship standpoint but as a collaborator and creator of unique NFTs, as recently seen through the WePlay Animajor Dota 2 championship. The possibility of acquiring tokens through gameplay becomes more enticing.
Games such as Splinterlands will begin the distribution of their currency through Binance’s Smart Chain, players will be able to hold virtual lands, currencies, and trading cards which will eventually use their own coins. Another example is Illuvium, a yield farming, monster hunting title, that will have its own non-fungible tokens. Other titles have begun experimenting with these concepts as well and play to earn formats will surely become more common and available as the practice establishes itself in the gaming community.
For gamers, the ability to be rewarded in such a fashion that allows for the creation of wealth, either through currencies or NFT themselves is a huge leap not only towards the ability to have some financial return over their investment but to look at spending time in-game as something that provides a financial return, on top, of being a hobby.
Games won’t, and aren’t, the only sources of ways to earn currencies that possess value in the digital world. Entire communities and groups of people have started providing and developing their own form of currency that can be acquired by playing games, creating content, joining their discord server, reading, writing, interacting, and countless other ways. It seems like a development from things like Reddit Awards which have purely visual values, and can’t be traded for anything.
Platforms such as playtoearn.online for example awards their fanbase with tokens that can be eventually traded for their Art, Music, Domains Names, Virtual Worlds, Trading Cards, Collectibles, Sports, and Utility. All of these things are NFT’s bound to different blockchains such as Polygon, Ethereum, or Klaytn. The interesting part as stated is that no financial investment needs to be done in order to win tokens to eventually convert into NFT that hold value.
This example is just one of many, and while this is domain provided token, other games such as Binemom are already utilising some of the concepts mentioned above to attract gamers. This fusion of cryptocurrency, NFTs, and gaming is a very natural evolution of the marketplace, and you can expect other companies that rely on their own digital marketplaces to generate revenue to start making some adaptations to their systems. It honestly wouldn’t be surprising if some of those companies developed their own currencies, which in the perfect future could become interchangeable. But for the moment, playing to earn seems like the way to offer an opportunity for players to get educated about blockchain technology, create value and have fun at the same time.