The speed at which gaming has spread is only matched by the pace of new buzzwords influencing the ecosystem. Marketers and decision makers, already suffering from FOMO about opportunities within gaming, have constantly focused on esoteric trends such as applications of blockchain in gaming and “metaverse” in an effort to get ahead of the trend rather than play catch-up. Have given.
The attraction is obvious, as the connection between blockchain, the metaverse, and gaming is understandable. Gaming has always been at the forefront of digital ownership (the gaming platform Steam can be credited for generalizing the concept to games, and arguably other media such as movies), and most agree on the metaverse’s vision of decentralized games. In common virtual environments rely on digital ownership.
Whatever your opinion of the two, I believe they both have a mutually related future in gaming. However, the success or relevance of any of these important topics is dependent on an important step being abandoned at this point.
Let’s start with the example of blockchain and, in particular, NFT. Collecting items of varying rarities and often random delivery form some of the main “loops” in many games (ie kill the monster, get better weapons, kill the harder monster, get even better weapons, etc.), and Collecting “skins” (eg different costume/permutation of game character) is one of the most commonly accepted patterns of micro-transactions in games.
The way NFTs are currently being discussed in relation to gaming, there is a great danger of falling into this trap: hitting the core gameplay loop through a financial fast track.
Now, NFTs are positioned to be a natural fit with a variety of rarities that are permanent, trackable and have open value. Recent releases such as “Smash (for Adventurers)” have introduced a new approach in which NFTs only describe fantasy-inspired gear and are presented in such a way that other creators use them as tools to build worlds. can do. It’s not hard to imagine a game built around NFT items, la loot.
But it’s been done before… sort of. Developers of games with the “loot loop” described above have long had problems with “farmers,” who acquire game currencies and items to sell to players for real money against the game’s terms of service. The solution was to implement in-game “auction houses” where players could use real money to buy items from each other.
Unfortunately, this had an unwanted side effect. As noted by renowned sports psychologist Jamie Madigan, our brains have evolved to pay special attention to rewards that are both unexpected and rewarding. When most of the joy in some games comes from an unexpected or random reward, being able to easily obtain a known reward with real money makes the game fun.
The way NFTs are currently being discussed in relation to gaming, there is a great danger of falling into this trap: hitting the core gameplay loop through a financial fast track. The most extreme examples of this phenomenon are the greatest cardinal sins in gaming – a game that is “pay to win”, where a player with a large bankroll can obtain a material advantage in a competitive game.
Blockchain games such as Axie Infinity have rapidly increased enthusiasm for the concept of “play to earn”, where players can potentially earn money by selling token resources or characters earned in a blockchain game environment. If this sounds like a scenario that could come dangerously close to “pay to win,” that’s because it is.
What is less clear is whether it matters in this context. Does anyone care enough about the potential market value of NFTs or the main game rather than the earning potential through the game? More fundamentally, if real-world earnings are the point, is it really a game or just a micro-economy, where the “farming” mentioned above is not an illegal activity, but the core game mechanic?
The technology culture surrounding blockchain has advanced solutions to very difficult problems that few people care about. Solutions (like many problems in technology) involve reappraisal from a more humanistic point of view. In the case of gaming, some fundamental gameplay and game psychology issues have to be tackled before these technologies can be mainstreamed.
We can turn to the metaverse for a related example. Even if you’re not particularly interested in gaming, you’ve almost certainly heard of the concept after Mark Zuckerberg put Facebook’s future at stake. For all the excitement, the fundamental issue is that it simply doesn’t exist, and the closest analogs are largely digital game spaces (such as Fortnite) or sandboxes (such as Roblox). Still, many brands and marketers who haven’t really worked to understand gaming are trying to fast-track an opportunity that’s unlikely to materialize in the long run.
Gaming can be seen as the training wheels for the metaverse – the way we communicate, navigate and think about virtual space is based on the mechanics and systems that are foundational in gaming. I would go so far as to predict the first adopters of any “metaverse” will actually be gamers who have honed these skills and find themselves comfortable in virtual environments.
By now, you may be seeing a pattern: we’re more interested in the “future” applications of gaming than in the “future” applications of gaming without a greater perspective on the “now” of gaming. Sports scholarship has grown since the early aughts, due to the recognition of how sports was influencing ideas in fields ranging from sociology to medicine, and yet the business world has not paid much attention to it until recently. .
The result is that marketers and decision makers are doing what they do best (chasing the next big thing) without the general history of why said thing should be big, or when it gets there. What to do with The evolution of gaming has presented a huge opportunity, but the sophistication of the conversation around these possibilities has been stalled by our misdirected attention.
There is no “pay to win” fast track from this blind spot. We have to work to win.