Game news Playing to earn money, the future of video games in Play to Earn and NFTs?
Published on 13/11/2022 at 15:55
If there is one topic that has ignited the gaming community in the first part of 2022, it is that of NFTs. With industry giants having shown their interest in the blockchain, such as Take Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Square Enix or even SEGA, the place of the player has been called into question. What if the great adventure of tomorrow was not to beat a final boss, but to earn money by playing? To your wallets, citizens!
The tales of cryptoThe still unoiled cogs of a new business modelWork is health?
I told you about crypto
Model of the future for some, vast deception for others, the blockchain and its possible applications in the world of video games have generated heated debates within the various targeted communities. On paper, the promises for users are multiple. Among them, there is decentralization which is leading to the emergence of a new business model: Pay-to-Earn. Play to win, in our sweet language. But win what, exactly? Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, namely 100% digital money that does not depend on any bank, and NFTs, which can take the form of any type of virtual content (images, music, weapon skins, etc.) to trade and resell. Playing more to earn more is what is put on the table by Web3 via apps such as Gods Unchained, Splinterlands, Runiverse, My Neighbor Alice and Pegaxy. The principle ? The player is downloading a game for free, spending time on it and earning winnings in return. Of course, like classic free-to-play, microtransactions are present to improve your avatar, or rather to become more productive.
NFT ? Blockchain ? Quèsaco ?
An NFT is a so-called “non-fungible” cryptographic token constituting an authenticated digital object. In other words, any digital content can receive a certification making it unique, and therefore rare. This authentication is done on the blockchain, a decentralized network that keeps track of exchanges by assigning a serial number to items that previously did not have one.
When we talk about Play-to-Earn, the pokemon-like Axie Infinity is immediately mentioned. Very popular, especially in developing countries like the Philippines where it has become a very real source of income for its users, the Sky Mavis software has caused an explosion in the price of the cryptocurrencies used as well as its NFTs. This decentralization, so called because it takes place outside the ecosystems belonging to the industry giants Facebook, Google or even Amazon, actually promises interdependence between the different parties, an interdependence that would make it possible to distribute value according to the everyone’s involvement. “It’s another philosophy that takes the opposite view of what exists,” explained Nicolas Pouard, Strategic Innovation Lab Director at Ubisoft. In this sense, the blockchain and everything that derives from it (NFTs, Play-to-Earn, etc.) brings a paradigm shift. For the best or for the worst ?
The still poorly oiled cogs of a new business model
Like publicly traded companies, the prices of cryptocurrencies and NFTs fluctuate. Developers must overcome several issues related to the success of their creation, and find a good balance between the scarcity of NFTs and the need to provide new ones. “The creation, destruction, use of cryptocurrencies and NFTs must be relevant in the game. Developers must find real use cases and must not just ride the wave of NFTs with their game. see the value of the cryptocurrency and NFTs used in the game collapse” recalls Cryptoast.fr. Who says fluctuation says speculation. It is therefore never trivial to embark on the blockchain, especially when the entry point is a video game.. Play-to-Earn must above all deal with a moribund reputation, that of relying on financial pyramid schemes (Ponzi schemes, which remunerate investors with the money of new entrants).
Axie Infinity saw its number of active players drop from 20,000 to 2 million in just a few months. Recently, Sorare (soccer card game) raised $680 million, while Forte (crypto gaming startup) raised $750 million. As soon as a new system proves its worth and leads to a resounding success, different actors want their share of the cake. That’s why we saw industry behemoths explain their interest in NFTs earlier this year. But the players were able to make their dissatisfaction heard. In the world of game design, this business model was greeted with a certain lukewarmness.. Artists remain convinced that NFTs will force you to think about games related to collecting (cards, creatures, etc.), which is not to everyone’s taste. At the end of January 2022, a report from the Game Developers Conference showed that 71% of developers were not interested in blockchain and its applications.
Work is health ?
Although successful Play-to-Earn games are relatively rare today, that doesn’t mean the model is doomed. Observers agree that if major studios start optimizing its mechanics, then we could see its rise. Who knows, maybe in the more or less distant future, mining in Minecraft will bring money, unearthing an extremely rare legendary weapon in World of Warcraft will be worth a small jackpot, and that completing quests in Genshin Impact will be rewarded with cryptocurrency? It would still be necessary for the largest groups to take the plunge, which no longer seems to be relevant if we rely on the latest statements from the sector. However, Microsoft recently invested in Wemade, a Korean developer that specializes in blockchain, and FIFA sees the future of official games on the Web3.
Projects like The Sandbox or Decentraland explore concepts related to what is called interoperability, this other promise of the blockchain which is to be able to transfer an object earned from one game to another game. However, it is good to take big tweezers about this proudly displayed ambition. It is not tomorrow the day before that a costume purchased in Assassin’s Creed can be worn in GTA or Call of Duty. Technological and economic agreements between the various developers/publishers would be needed for this to happen. Nothing is impossible, especially at a time of market consolidation, but we are entitled to have doubts.
Helping game developers by completing a number of tasks (like designing puzzles, quizzes, etc.) and then receiving financial reward (in the form of crypto or NFTs) is also within the realm of possibility.. In addition, the desires of Metavers expressed by Facebook and other giants correspond well to this vision of a player who can “work” while “having fun”, and collect a few prizes along the way. Even that would sound terrifying and raise multiple questions, ranging from possible addiction to a game to earn a living, to the disappearance of the playful aspect of a medium that was born out of the desire to entertain. As you will have understood, Play-to-Earn raises ethical issues that the major video game publishers may not want to resolve against all odds.
Play-to-Earn is currently facing a major problem in the world of video games. Thought up by traders to make money rather than by experienced game designers, they transform gaming into a device that is more restrictive than fun, based on nebulous financial schemes. Which goes against the very origins of the media. Faced with the publicly displayed disinterest of the biggest names in the industry since gamers loudly displayed their rejection of NFTs, there is no sign to prove that Play-to-Earn will be the business model of tomorrow, even if start-ups -ups having bet on it would find success in the cryptosphere. This will change if the masses, the very people who have embraced microtransactions in the past, embrace blockchain in the future.
About NFTs in gaming