I recently explored the exponential growth of the games and esports industries along with the potential use cases for using blockchain technology in gaming. It is believed that by the end of 2019 the gaming industry will have generated over $134.9 billion dollars in revenue and 427 million people will be watching some form of esports.
An increasing amount of projects in the space are turning their attention towards gaming as the perfect sector to be disrupted as blockchain technology solves a number of key issues such as security, transparency and the ability for gamers to have full control of their items to name a few.
From a technical perspective this could solve critical issues such as hacking which is still an epidemic even in the world’s biggest titles and at the highest levels. A couple of weeks ago after the Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers, a number of Fortnite pro’s took to Twitter to voice their concerns and fears of suspected hacking during these games.
FaZe, one of the game’s most established players with a Twitter following of 235k followers, took to Twitter with some harsh language directed at the games developers, Epic Games.
To highlight the significance of these allegations, the winning prize pool of this tournament is $30 million. With this amount of money at stake Fortnite need to completely ensure that the competition is fair and any suspected cheating sees the culprits stripped of any positions and banned for life – but they have remained silent.
Issues like hacking have been around in games since they were invented and you will always get players trying to cheat the system. But it’s not just in-game hacking that is being exploited to gain an advantage over your opponent.
In December 2018 the BBC reported that Fortnite hackers were “cracking” user’s accounts which involves using lists of accounts and passwords from data breaches over the years in order to break in to gamer’s accounts and steal their skins and items. Fortnite are estimated to have made over £1 billion through the sale of skins and other add-on items over the years and it’s these unique items that players are attracted to as they are considered rare and hard to acquire.
Although Fortnite has achieved immense success and is still one of the world’s most popular games, it’s issues like these that can be eradicated using blockchain technology. Any unique or rare item, like mentioned above, can be stored safely on the blockchain with a private key as opposed to a player’s account that has the usual username/password format. These unique items have a specific name in blockchain gaming which you may have already heard of: NFTs.
What are NFTs?
NFTs stands for Non-Fungible Tokens and are often discussed in blockchain gaming as a new and exciting way for users to be able to acquire completely unique digital assets.
“Non-Fungible” simply means that – the cryptographic token that has been produced is unique and is therefore not interchangeable. A fungible token in comparison would be a generic Ether or Bitcoin with no unique properties.
A real world example would be how you can have unlimited amounts of £5 notes with the same value, however when you have a cheque it still represents money, but the unique information on that cheque means that only the person it’s addressed to can cash it in and for the specific amount mentioned.
NFTs first became established within the crypto community with the release of the game Cryptokitties.
Cryptokitties is a game based on the Ethereum blockchain where users can collect and breed “kitties” which can unlock rare traits or attributes. These kitties are made completely unique – they cannot be replicated, taken away or destroyed. This is done using the ERC-721 standard which you can read more about here.
As of now NFTs have only been used for collectibles but there is a whole world of unimaginable potential behind this new technology that is yet to be explored.
As we move further into a digital world, humans are spending increasing amounts of time playing games, on social media and creating a virtual image of themselves. NFTs will allow gamers to create their own lore and story of themselves and all of their achievements.
Story Driven Character Items
Let’s take an example of an MMORPG:
You’re a level 1 Wizard with a Wooden Staff in the sleepy village of LeafyShire. As you traverse the open area you slay multiple enemies and the information of every foe killed with the Wooden Staff is stored on the blockchain. You kill 100 fire ghouls and boom – your Staff becomes imbued with a Red Flame with +2 Fire Damage to ghouls. This changes the skin of the item and your item becomes “NoobWizard’s Staff of Ghoul Flame”.
As you make your way across the landscape you try your hand at more physical combat and manage to slay 250 iron ghouls with your Staff. All of a sudden your weapon becomes “NoobWizard’s Iron Staff of Ghoul Flame” with a new attribute of +2 Strength.
You are beginning to create a lore for your own character simply based on the enemies you have defeated with this weapon. If you wanted to then go to sell this weapon to another player they can see that the item has these added attributes and has a long history of ghoul slaying, just like they require ready for their own quest.
However if you want to keep your items you can continue to upgrade your gear and it will remain completely unique to your character and your story. On top of this, the item is owned by you, not the game, and is stored safely on the blockchain.
This also opens up the potential for cross-title item use. Let’s say you spent 250 hours playing and completing the endgame of an MMORPG and you managed to get the last hit on the hardest boss in the game. This information is then stored on your item and it becomes known as “Hardest Boss Slayer” with a completely unique skin that no one else in the game has.
However, what then happens when the game shuts down or the players leave to start on a new title? The item gets forgotten about forever along with all of your achievements and time dedicated to completing challenging story lines and quests.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could bring that item across to that new title? Along with the item you could bring your completely unique skin and your own character’s lore and background! You could have your own plot of land where your in-game house lies and the sword is hung proudly upon the fireplace so all players in this new game are aware of your proudest achievements and your gaming prowess.
As more titles are released on the blockchain, players will be able to collect unique items that form a powerful narrative of their own adventures and journeys across various worlds and landscapes forming their own story and reputation.
Now imagine traditional sports memorabilia. Over the last 100 years avid sports fans across the globe have spent millions collecting some of the rarest attire worn by professionals in the most sought after sporting moments. The football shirt worn by a player of your country in the 1966 World Cup or the hockey stick used to score the winning penalty in the Stanley Cup -some of these items sell for unimaginable amounts of money.
Picture this – a popular blockchain first person shooter has a world cup final at an esports event that’s being live streamed to 5 million people. All eyes are on this game and it’s the most intense battle in years. There are two players left and “Nunja” gets the final killing blow creating a historic event witnessed by millions of people all over the world.
As this weapon is now stored on the blockchain it’s essentially immortalised forever. Over the years this item gains in value, with the match still being talked about, and Nunja has the opportunity to sell this to another player if he likes. The player who purchases this relic can then take this incredibly rare and unique item, steeped with history and achievement, into a new game and use it for themselves!
Using blockchain technology all of this is possible and it opens up a new realm of possibilities – the sky really is the limit when it comes to being creative with NFTs.
Interview with Arclegger
This is a two part article and in the second part I interviewed a key figure in the gaming industry – Arclegger.
Arclegger is widely respected in the gaming community and is seen as one of the godfathers of the battle royale genre having been the senior game developer for H1Z1. Since then the gaming industry has seen an explosion in battle royale games such as Apex, Fortnite and PubG to name but a few.
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Founder of The Daily Chain