We explore how companies like Enjin Coin, Decentraland, Unikrn, OPSkins and Chimaera are using the blockchain to help change how the gaming industry works.
Some 2.3 billion gamers will spend $137.9 billion on games this year, according to gaming research firm Newzoo. That’s a lot of gaming. But while the industry is bigger than ever, it is facing challenges: global-scale hacks, spiralling development costs and a disappearance of independent games developers.
Could blockchain help ease these issues? We take a look at five companies looking to do level-up the gaming industry.
If you’ve played games recently, you’ll know one of the key ways developers raise money is via in-game purchases. But those in-app purchases and the currencies that developers create are locked into the game and can't be released.
Enjin Coin wants to change that.
The company’s ERC20 Token allows developers to create a monetisation mechanic inside their game without having to go through the time-consuming process - not to mention third-party processing costs - of building one themselves.
Once a gamer earns or buys a token within a certain game, they can easily trade them for currencies in other games in an open and transparent system.
Virtual reality isn’t new, nor is sandbox style games where players are free to explore. But what would happen if you pushed both of them together - and allowed people to own land, build and develop new products inside that game? You get Decentraland.
You purchase land in the Decentraland world, and the record of ownership is recorded on the Ethereum network. Once that’s done, you’re free to do whatever you choose with your land.
To access it you put on a VR headset or use your web browser, and you can become a property developer inside this virtual world. Plots of land and the buildings on them are valued in MANA, a native cryptocurrency.
At the time of writing, people are building cities, roads and houses that are selling for as much as $800,000 in fiat currency inside the game.
The eSports industry is projected to make $700 million in revenue this year, growing to $1.5 billion by 2020 according to gaming research company Newzoo.
As you might expect, a gambling industry has built up around eSports. But there’s a problem: it’s largely unregulated and, according to reports, often involves minors under 18 participating in placing bets.
Unikrn wants to change that.
Bets are more secure and backed up on the blockchain. The company has created its own cryptocurrency to allow wagering to take place in areas with tighter gambling laws, and created a currency that can’t be cashed out for jurisdictions where gambling is illegal to.
“Skins” or digital decorations for weapons and characters inside games is a $50 billion industry. While there’s a burgeoning trade appearing around players selling their skins for real cash, the industry is rife with scams and misinformation.
Whenever a player earns a skin inside a game, they can take that skin to the OPSkins exchange and trade it for real cash or cryptocurrency. Or, if they’re in the market for one, pick up one safely and securely.
Powering this platform is the Worldwide Asset eXchange, a cryptocurrency that allows the exchange of digital assets to occur on a decentralised platform.
It means players in different countries now no longer need to calculate exchange rates - and pay transfer fees to banks - in order to buy and sell their favourite skins.
Game development is costly. The average cost of producing a game in a mid-to-large studio is $20 million and involves dozens of people and years of development.
Other barriers include independently managing game complexity, infrastructure costs, publishing and account administration. This often makes it impossible for independent developers to bring their concepts to market.
Chimaera wants to change that, using blockchain.
Developers are able to run, manage and distribute games on the network at a fraction of the costs.
Video games are powered by CHI tokens on its blockchain, and Chimaera has created its own API so that games written in any language can connect to it, giving designers the opportunity to design games in their language of choice.
The goal is to foster creativity and bring concepts to life without worrying about infrastructure.
The games industry has grown spectacularly over the past decade. But it’s at risk of becoming a victim of its own success: that’s where blockchain comes in.
Everything from skins, to decentralised games development to monetisation platforms are all helping lower the barriers of entry for gamer and game developers.
That means more choice for consumers, more opportunities for games developers, and more companies creating awesome services for all.