Throughout 2020, distributed ledger technologies and cryptocurrencies have continued to make inroads into global industries. During the summer months alone, blockchain technology has been implemented in global firms, local authorities and even national governments, and is set to play a key role in ramping up efficiencies while certifying authenticity and provenance in these major markets.
This growth, while welcomed by blockchain enthusiasts, is still largely organic in nature and does little to increase the awareness of decentralised currencies and technologies amongst the general public. This is why the gaming industry, with its global audience of 2.5 billion people, is currently being touted as the catalyst to take the technology mainstream.
A harmonious relationship
Blockchain is a technology that is particularly suited to the gaming industry and vice versa. The gaming industry is known for being at the forefront of innovation, integrating and further developing advanced tech like AR, VR, and Cloud hosting/streaming, while simultaneously pushing them further and further into the mainstream. We’re already seeing the huge transformation brought about in the mobile and smartphone sectors as a consequence of the rise in popularity of mobile gaming — a trend that blockchain enthusiasts are hoping to replicate.
Currently, the biggest impact that blockchain has made on the global gaming industry is the development of Nonfungible Tokens (NFTs). Essentially, NFT’s enable players to actually own the in-game purchases they’ve made. Smart contracts govern the transactions made inside the game and the result is irreversible: assets are transferred to a player’s public address and full transparency is provided. This means that players can freely and easily trade their in-game assets, which can include things like in-game items, special abilities, and special characters.
It’s no overstatement to say that blockchain has the potential to completely revolutionise the gaming industry, both technically and experientially. As Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao states “blockchain has become an essential part of game development and is set to change the global gaming industry”.
Potential industry-wide benefits
It’s not just the video gaming sector that would benefit from blockchain integration, it could offer a whole host of benefits for the real money gaming segments too. The technology may not be present currently in the big-name online platforms, but if it were to be applied across the iGaming sector, blockchain could further strengthen operators’ efforts to adhere to gaming regulations and operational policies.
With blockchain, however, these processes could be streamlined and centralised. The transparent nature of the technology would ensure gameplay remains provably fair across the board since each and every player and operator would be able to check wagering transactions and payouts on the public ledger. Meanwhile, the increased security levels of distributed ledger tech would effectively guard against both fraudulent play and hacking.
It could be some time before this happens in the real world, however. While there are currently several Bitcoin and Alt-Coin-based casino gaming platforms in operation, the major brands in the industry are a long way off full-scale blockchain integration.
The current state of play
Although it may be a while yet before iGaming can live up to the potential that it has to accelerate blockchain adoption, huge progress is being made back in the more traditional video gaming sector.
A raft of blockchain games offering “AAA experiences” to players have been newly released including SpacePirate Games’ Age of Rust — described as “blockchain to its core” — the cyber-punk themed Neon District by Blockade, Infinite Fleet from Pixelmatic, and a brand-new 3D blockchain iteration of the 2012 classic The Sandbox.
One of the main barriers to blockchain game penetration up until now has been the simplistic nature of the games that have been released. Today’s gaming audience requires immersive games as standard. However, the developers behind the newest games like those listed above are prioritising gameplay and user experience, leading some in the industry to believe that it’s just a matter of time before blockchain gaming has it’s own ‘Fornite moment’.