Blockchain has begun to disrupt several major industries, with companies from various sectors finding ways to use the decentralised technology to solve problems and to lead to new opportunities. This includes the games industry, where developers, publishers and digital game retailers have steadily begun to embrace the power of the blockchain. One of the most notable examples of this is CryptoKitties. Running on the ethereum blockchain and using ether, a cryptocurrency designed around the principal of ‘smart contracts,’ players are able to breed and trade digital cats. Some 1.5 million users have traded more than $40 million worth of these virtual pets, according to VentureBeat and it has garnered celebrity endorsements from people like Golden State Warriors’ basketball player Steph Curry. So successful has the game been that other ventures such as OpenSea, a marketplace for CryptoKitties, has just raised $2 million in its own funding round. Other games that have made headlines for their use of cryptocurrency and blockchain includes the following:
  • Minecraft as Microsoft now allows Minecraft mod developers to sell their creations for cryptocurrency;
  • MonteCrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma is a puzzle game offering the first person to complete it one Bitcoin
  • Cryptocurrency mining platform GammaNow rewards players with loot boxes and in-game items for offering up their PC processing power.
By and large, these applications of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the gaming industry are good news for blockchain and cryptocurrency as a whole. With more than 144 million players worldwide, Minecraft is the second most popular video game in the world (it sits behind Tetris) and so Microsoft’s monumental decision to support cryptocurrency on its platform for selling in-game content could potentially expose all of those people to the exciting world of virtual currency. Also read: Can a game about virtual kittens help blockchain go mainstream? GammaNow, which offers in-game content for games such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch (which have well over 100 million players between them) also gives gamers a reason to get clued in on the technology. CryptoKitties also teaches players about the immutable and unalterable nature of information on the blockchain -- one of its most significant benefits. The importance of these adoptions in the games industry, from an awareness point of view, cannot be understated. As highlighted by Digital Trends, one of the biggest hurdles that blockchain and cryptocurrency currently face when it comes to mainstream adoption is that the technology is so difficult to understand for those not well-versed in technological concepts. Words like “immutable” and “unalterable” are unfamiliar to many people, and these concepts will seem all the more foreign when used in a technological context. But by using video games to explain and make clear the idea of and the benefits of the blockchain, we lead the way for people to at least be more receptive to projects that use the blockchain. However, while the games listed above are valuable in spreading the word, they do not lend themselves to maintaining that interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. The Bitcoin Enigma in particular is a good example of this. Yes there is significant interest around the idea of being able to play and win a Bitcoin, but how does that game foster continued involvement or interest once the prize has been won? GammaNow’s hands off approach, the ability to purchase Minecraft mods with other (non-crypto) currencies, and CryptoKitties’ use of collectibles rather than deep gameplay means that while all of these platforms are great for awareness, they’re all fairly limited. According to an industry study by Spil Games, there are more than 1.2 billion people who play video games around the world. Gamers are, by their very nature, early adopters having adopted new games consoles, new game genres, and new ways of playing (e.g virtual reality headset and motion control). In this article on Medium, Alison McCauley makes an excellent case for why gamers are well-suited to adopting blockchain in their droves; including the point that gamers have already been using virtual currencies to purchase in-game content. What this all means is that there is huge potential for blockchain to find a new, invested audience in gamers, if game developers are able to tap into gamers’ creativity by allowing them to have a much more hands-on approach. We are steadily seeing game developers taking this approach -- offering more interactivity on the blockchain. This includes games such as Leblock, which describes itself as “virtual LEGO” on the blockchain. This colorful title is built on the Metaverse blockchain and players are able to use their computing power to mine for different blocks of five different rarities in order to build and create an interactive world around them, including landscapes, weapons, characters, and accessories. The game makes use of the Digital Asset and Digital Identity capabilities of the Metaverse blockchain as a block can be turned into an in-game asset and can be recorded on the blockchain, immutable and unalterable. Blocks in Leblock can also be sold and traded to other players for the ETP cryptocurrency (the official token of Metaverse), giving players an additional incentive to play and get involved. Also read: 4 ways blockchains are changing the game for startups and end-users The Leblock team is keen to establish the game as a sort of blockchain version of LEGO or Minecraft. The blockchain-based game has been designed with player’s creativity in mind. With players able to create the content that they see in the game and set their own goals, the Leblock community -- and therefore the blockchain community as a whole -- will be much more vibrant and engaged in the technology. This is evident already in Leblock’s user figures. While other games on the blockchain have hundreds of thousands of users with just a small percentage of them playing actively, Leblock has garnered 60,000 users already with one third of them being active. This remarkably high percentage of active users indicates that there is significant early interest that can carry the project forward and help the community to grow further. Through LEGO and Minecraft, people have been introduced to building tools that let them make whatever they want, turning these skills in to bigger and bolder projects, including LEGO-made pinball machines and Minecraft versions of entire countries. The interactivity and engagement offered by something like Leblock is crucial for the long-term adoption of the blockchain by gamers, building the next generation of blockchain fans through the power of video game building blocks. ---- Echelon Asia Summit 2018 is e27’s flagship platform that brings together startups, investors, corporates, governments, tech ecosystem players and customers. Register for your conference passes today. e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. 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