To gain more insight into the direction of the blockchain gaming industry, we’ve been fortunate to receive input from Joshua Henslee and Jon Jordan. Here are brief bios about our two contributors:
About Joshua Henslee: Joshua Henslee is an experienced ERP/software consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia, who has been obsessed with Bitcoin since 2018. He left his full time consulting job in late 2019 to work full time on his passion. He seeks to help educate, build and form long term relationships in the Bitcoin SV society. He is a writer for Coingeek.com, Content Contributor at the Bitcoin Association, creator of retrotwetch.com and has a YouTube channel where he teaches viewers how to develop on top of Bitcoin SV.
About Jon Jordan: +20 years in the games industry, two years covering blockchain games, Jon Jordan is fascinated by the collision of value-based decentralized networks and interactive entertainment.
What got you interested in blockchain gaming?
Joshua Henslee: I am a fan of old-school RPGs such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and SaGa, all of which have various implementations of character growth. The ability to have different applications recognize the history of a player from a single source of truth is unprecedented; thus the potential use cases are quite exciting. Imagine using a player leveled to 99 in Final Fantasy in some other game, or that max leveling effort granting you special permissions in another.
Jon Jordan: I’ve been involved in the games industry for over 20 years, with a particular interest in the business and financial aspects of gaming.
So, when I first came across blockchains in early 2018 (yes, a latecomer!) I got excited about how blockchains would impact how games generate money and how using them would enable players to share in the financial success of the games they play.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
What are some of the key differences between blockchain gaming and traditional video games?
Joshua: The ability to earn cryptocurrency, more innovative multiplayer potential and having an immutable recorded history against your gameplay are a few. I think there are back-end benefits such as being able to unlock new features for the player (in-game and in external applications) as well as capability to push cloud-saves on-chain.
Jon: I think the fundamental change is the successful blockchain games of the future will be powered by player-to-player economies in which the vast majority of revenues will flow between players.
This is very different from the current scenario in which pretty much all revenues flow directly to the game developer.
Do you see major video game companies switching to blockchain technology?
Joshua: Yes. For example, a single ledger would be a solution to something like Pokemon and Nintendo have strived to achieve for years. They have Pokemon Bank which allows you to import Pokemon from the Red/Blue/Yellow Versions back in the 90s, as well as the most recent games. I am sure this was an integration nightmare. Using the blockchain would simplify that integration to be one-way out from the old versions and then be referenceable from there.
Jon: We’re already seeing some companies - notably Ubisoft - dipping their toes in the water, but the honest truth is successful games companies aren’t interested in blockchain because it disrupts their existing business.
The first wave of success will come from startups, who then will be acquired by the larger companies, just as happened with social games in the late 2000s and mobile games in the early 2010s.
In the next 12 months, where do you see blockchain gaming? How long will it take for blockchain gaming to be adopted by the mainstream gaming community?
Joshua: The games need feature parity with existing ones. These features I mentioned need to be integrated such that the user doesn’t notice, yet they feel the benefits. CryptoKitties failed because it could not overcome the challenges of being a ‘blockchain’ game. The games don’t need to be tied to the chain, or even advertise being a ‘blockchain’ game; they only leverage it to add features that manifest its potential.
I think once developers realize to use the ledger as a tool for their game, not as something that defines it, we can see these being adopted by the mainstream within the next year.
Jon: Two things will happen. On the infrastructure side, we’ll see continuing improvements in terms of new blockchains - Ethereum 2.0, Cardano, Flow, etc - and better user onboarding. These are important and will help make blockchain games successful but they will not directly drive large-scale uptake.
That will come as individual games and projects launch that combine excellent gameplay first with the advantage of blockchain, such as item ownership, for those players who are interested. Over time, these games will educate more and more of their player base about why blockchain is important.
Hopefully, we’ll see this kickstarted by the likes of Blankos Block Party, The Sandbox and CSC.