By Robby Yung, CEO, Animoca Brands
Blockchain gaming. The term suggests a special kind of gaming, like “online gaming.” But, 25 years since the web started bringing people online, “online gaming” is almost redundant because the “online” bit is just part of the plumbing. I think the same will happen with blockchain gaming before long.
Most people know blockchain as the technology developed to facilitate Bitcoin, the first digital currency (cryptocurrency). While blockchain is great for cryptocurrency, it’s also great for content. Specifically, a type of blockchain token called Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs are tied to pieces of content such as images, video clips, audio files, or even in-game content such as a game character or a virtual car. Most importantly, NFTs are unique and their ownership can be verified.
Blockchain enables true ownership of digital collectibles like this F1 car.
What does this mean for gaming? It means that thanks to blockchain, gamers have the opportunity to truly own the content in their games, like the Formula One car above. When you spend money in a (non-blockchain) game to buy an object, you are essentially given a license by the game publisher for that object: you do not actually own it. You also usually have no idea how many of those objects there are in total—the item could be rare and valuable, or so common that it’s owned by almost every other player. With blockchain, items can be unique or limited in quantity, and their ownership and scarcity can be publicly verified.
This is a groundbreaking development when applied to games. It means that buying that legendary sword with the highest rating for a higher price carries with it the assurance that there are only going to be a limited number of them—ever. And the presence of a marketplace (like OpenSea) where these items can be traded outside of the game environment gives them actual real-world value.
F1 Items available for sale on the OpenSea marketplace posted by their owners.
To recap: blockchain enables game developers to create content that can be sold to players, the ownership of that content can be verified, and the content can realise value on third-party marketplaces. But wait, there’s more! Because each NFT item of content is unique and verifiable, it’s also possible for developers to allow these items to be used in each others’ games.
LAND in The Sandbox
For example, above is a map of The Sandbox, a virtual world created on the blockchain where individual parcels of LAND are being bought by players and partner companies (like Atari, Metamask, Wax, and others). LAND is another NFT, representing tokenized virtual real estate in The Sandbox, on which users develop their content. Using the Sandbox authoring tools, players and partners are building the Metaverse, and it could look something like this……
Made by Alex
Because of the underlying blockchain technology, each character in the image above, each building, each element, can be crafted by a player, owned by them, and has value. For example, if the owner of this city block of real estate wanted to sell one of their buildings, or a street lamp, in the marketplace and replace it with something else, they could.
Blockchain gaming is therefore really about true digital ownership. We believe the ability to transfer value, and to allow players to unlock the value of the time, effort, and money they have invested in games will truly revolutionize the game industry.
And if you don’t believe me, then let Yat Siu convince you.
Robby Yung is the CEO of Animoca Brands. He will be exploring the connection between blockchain and gaming further as a speaker at MGS GVC 1.0. Reserve your spot at this pioneering digital event. Learn more about virtual conferences here.