From Credits to Cryptocurrency: Block-Gaming Here to Stay

The relationship between cryptocurrency and video-games is getting stronger with reports this week detailing the launch of a self-proclaimed ‘Blockchain Game Alliance’, a collaborative initiative founded and comprised of a handful of organisations.

These range from the blockchain-focused (such as ConsenSys) to those specialising in video-games (like centralized crowdfunding platform Fig).

The Blockchain Game Alliance is one of the first of its kind to be seen, bearing a simple website which bears a subscription form and self-referential claims of being a

“coalition of gaming and Blockchain companies committed to advocate for the democratization of Blockchain within the gaming industry”.

French games publisher Ubisoft is notably the name that has featured in the greatest number of headlines around describing this event: and there are many reasons for this.

What’s So Special About Ubisoft

Ubisoft is one of the biggest names in the video-game business and is also part of a small, yet growing list of prominent video-game companies which have chosen to dip their toes in the sector (including Nvidia and AMD).

The company has enjoyed a 400% growth in stock value over the past three years, and releases a multitude of blockbuster franchise entries on an annual basis.

Additionally, this week’s news is only the latest in a series of recent stories indicating Ubisoft’s blockchain aspirations such as: a partnership with Google, and the release of a blockchain game entitled ‘HashCraft’.

From Credits to Cryptocurrency

Whilst a far cry from the integer based ‘credits’ system of arcade video-games, fiat-purchased digital currency is (and has remained) an integral part of the games industry ever since.

Original home-console implementations of digital currencies began with the distribution of points and in-game ‘money’ that can be used to buy items within that specific game they are involved in – like power ups and extra lives. This is in parallel to digital implementations of gambling games in casinos and online.

Companies like Ubisoft have implemented and helped to pioneer movements such as micro-transactions (for downloadable content and in-game items). This is alongside ‘games-as-a-service’ models, which often requires subscriptions from players to gain access to content which is creatively updated and added to on a continuous basis.

These examples are centralized, with non-fungible ‘currencies’, and would make prime candidates for ‘tokenization’.

Digital Distribution + Blockchain

Quite arguably the most ubiquitous utilisation of virtual in cryptocurrency in video-games is the digital distribution model.

This is a method of purchasing video-game titles in whole through a virtual marketplace from which they are also downloaded and have been integrated into home-consoles for the most recent two ‘generations.

Beyond Sony and Microsoft’s stores: industry leaders at present include Steam (Valve), Uplay (Ubisoft), and Good Old Games (GOG).

Big Contributions. Small Companies

As proven by the roster behind the Blockchain Gaming Alliance, there is value to be gained from all positive contributions – whether the company specialises in cryptocurrency or video-games.

There is also value to be gained from the contributions of newer organisations which have been formed specifically to catalyse the marriage of blockchain and gaming.

Equiti Games is one such company, hailing itself as a revolutionary approach which will decentralize and tokenise video-games digital distribution. By removing centralized middle-men and platforms taking up to 30% in fees, Equiti Games plans to reduce costs for gamers.

This will be accomplished, according to the company’s website and whitepaper, by using the Ethereum blockchain to connect creators to their customers directly. A maximal proportion of profits will therefore be delivered to the creator whilst a second-hand market is opened up for consumers – making digital products retain their previously transient value.

Terra Virtua is another company which I have mentioned many times due to the pedigree of the executive team as well as their innovative VR-centric approach. They seek to combine two nascent technologies along with video-games, and they have key partnerships with companies like Epic Games (Unreal, Gears of War, Fortnite).

Final Words

So the biggest question which remains to be answered is: what exactly will this ‘Blockchain Game Alliance’ do to blockchain and gaming: both collectively and as separate entities?

Such big actions (and from such large ‘movers’) signals a turning of the tide with ideas that, if implemented, would open up cryptocurrency to a large consumer market and encourage mainstream adoption within and outside of the gaming-sphere.

Other giants in the gaming industry who could benefit the crypto-video game movement significantly include: Activision Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch), and console makers such as Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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