Play-to-Earn and “Play and Earn” are not the same


In all applications of NFTs, one thing has remained constant: they are a demonstration of the incalculable potential of blockchain technology. In the early days of crypto, most early adopters were drawn to the idea of ​​blockchains because of their disruptive potential in the world of finance. But with NFTs, this disruption is happening across a wide variety of industries.

NFTs have gradually gained traction among internet savvy users who have used the technology to launch careers in a multitude of creative industries, namely music and art. However, one industry that seems like a perfect match for blockchain technology has seen its market resist the idea of ​​incorporating blockchain elements into its products: games.

So what is a blockchain game?

Simply put, blockchain games – also commonly referred to as crypto games and NFT games – are video games that incorporate blockchain technologies such as cryptocurrency and NFTs.

OK. But how does blockchain gaming work?

Typically, these integrations stem from players’ in-game assets being created as NFTs or usable as cryptocurrency. The resulting earning potential has led some to label blockchain-based games gaming experiences to earn (P2E).

CryptoKitties. Source: Zen Axiom

The idea of ​​hosting in-game assets on the blockchain started with CryptoKitties in 2017, which centered on the mechanism to trade and collect high virtual cats even outside of the crypto game client. Notably, one of the game’s earliest fans was Trung Nguyen, who later created Axie Infinity – a current leader in the space – after months of obsessing over the NFT virtual cat game.

More ambitious projects like Decentraland and The Sandbox offer blockchain integrations beyond tokenizing game assets. These games give users tools to create their own assets, from wearables to full metaverse experiences.

What not to do when creating a blockchain game

While today’s top NFT games typically feature blatant P2E game mechanics, the long-term future of blockchain integration in the gaming industry may need to dilute this message significantly.

For example, although P2E games have garnered a lot of support online, large segments of the larger gaming community remain skeptical (if not outright hateful) of new developments taking place on the internet thanks to blockchain technology, otherwise known as Web3. If you’re unaware of all this vitriol, a quick search of the term “NFT” on a widely read gaming publication Kotaku tells you everything you need to know. So where does all this hate come from?

It largely boils down to what happens when blockchain game developers make games as cynically as possible. When Brazilian game developer Mark Venturelli gave an impassioned talk about how P2E games could threaten the integrity of the gaming industry as a whole, these types of games were what he had in mind.

So what are they? Are there any developers trying to tokenize Big Rigs: Road Race? Or find a way to reward players with crypto each time the player character drops an F-bomb in rogue warrior? (Wait, that doesn’t seem like such a bad idea in hindsight…)

Far from there. At worst, blockchain games – especially P2E games – can essentially function as a second job for a large subset of its users. The search for in-game rewards and currency suddenly takes on a much more dystopian twist when in-game performance can determine whether or not there’s food on the table. With these kinds of potential stakes in how a game rewards you, then what Venturelli described as the escapist fantasy essential to an enjoyable gaming experience is perverted.

Set clear priorities

Blockchain game developers have started to take notice of these concerns from angry gamers and mainstream game developers. Upcoming titles from various blockchain game development studios are now billed as games and earn experiences – markedly different from their P2E gaming ancestors.

For example, after two decades in the gaming industry, South Korean game developer Wemade recently set its sights on blockchain gaming with the release of Mir 4 – a full-fledged MMO experience with blockchain integration. As part of its plans to create a comprehensive platform for blockchain games, Wemade intends to use upcoming releases to improve the perception of P2E games.

A character in the midst of serious mining in Mir 4. Source: Mir 4

“You won’t get rich playing games on the Wemix platform. The reason we emphasize playing AND winning – not playing TO win – is that the economic reward is only a small part of the whole experience,” Wemade CEO Henry Chang said in an interview with nft now. “The games we serve are well-designed games that are fun to play. The economic reward is not the only reason why you should play the games on the Wemix platform. He’s there to make the game even more exciting,” he said.

Are P2E games really that simple?

Ok, if the right approach when creating a blockchain game is to create a really fun game instead of systems that bring out a user’s potential to win in the game, then why aren’t developers doing it? not just to prove all haters wrong?

The short answer is: because game development is really, really hard.

It’s so difficult that instead of creating their own game from scratch, the NFT Worlds team relied on a team of experienced Minecraft modders to help create a potential competitor to the world’s Decentralands and Sandboxes. . As such, they hosted their entire ecosystem on Minecraft’s servers, which goes against the spirit of using blockchain technology in the first place.

With Minecraft banned from NFTs and all blockchain technologies on all of its servers, NFT Worlds now finally has to do the work and create its own game. Hopefully, at the very least, the game will be fun.


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