Due to its position as a cutting-edge sector, the gaming industry is one that is constantly evolving. Whether meeting player expectations, developing following rapid technological advancements, or setting new benchmarks for innovation, gaming markets strive for progression.
In recent years several trends, from cloud gaming to eSports, have kickstarted new revolutions in the gaming industry. In 2023 and beyond, all signs point towards blockchain tech being the most impactful new trend in gaming. But what is blockchain gaming, and does it really hold the power to radically transform the way we play?
The Role of Blockchain in Gaming
Along with cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology has been making waves throughout various industries thanks to its decentralized and transparent nature. Simply put, blockchain technology refers to a digital ledger system that securely records and validates transactions. When applied to gaming, it offers a whole host of benefits for players and developers alike and ensures that all transactions made remain tamper-proof.
When it comes to gaming, blockchain has already begun to affect existing markets and is giving rise to brand-new gaming segments under the banner of GameFi (a portmanteau of gaming and finance). It has emerged as a game-changer — pun intended — and is transforming everything from gameplay to asset ownership. Features such as NFTs, play-to-earn mechanics, and cryptocurrency and digital asset ownership are reshaping the landscape to the point that gaming brands can even capitalize on the popularity of decentralized tech to run crypto-themed promotions, as seen in Bovada’s shooter game to win crypto.
One of the keyways in which blockchain is impacting all areas of the gaming industry is its ability to redefine trust and ownership, particularly from a player perspective. As a decentralized ledger tech, blockchain ensures that in-game transactions, such as item trades or virtual currency exchanges, are securely recorded on a public ledger. This enables players to have full ownership and control over their digital assets, unlike in conventional video gaming when even purchased items remain the property of the developer.
Blockchain Gaming Developments
One of the most exciting developments to have arisen from the application of blockchain technology to the gaming industry is Play-to-Earn (P2E) gaming. As the name suggests, P2E gaming actively rewards players for the time they spend within gaming titles, which enables them to earn digital assets with real-world value as they participate in gameplay and contribute to the in-game economy. Plus, by owning their digital assets, players can then trade them or earn cryptocurrencies that hold tangible value outside the gaming environment.
P2E mechanics empower gamers to the point where some have even been able to earn a reliable income by actively playing P2E games. While gaming does offer numerous career opportunities, with eSports making it possible to become a professional gamer, nevertheless, there are significant barriers to entry, especially for players in developing markets. To earn rewards in P2E games, all that’s needed is a stable internet or mobile data connection and a suitable device on which to access the titles.
Although not exclusive to gaming, NFTs have certainly soared in popularity following blockchain’s integration into the industry. Non-Fungible Tokens are unique digital assets that can represent anything from in-game items to artwork or even virtual real estate. Built on blockchain technology, gaming NFTs have created a vibrant marketplace where players can buy, sell, and trade digital assets with real-world value.
What makes NFTs so appealing is their ability to unlock new possibilities within gaming that benefit gamers and developers alike. Players can truly own and monetize their in-gaming items, in turn supporting thriving new digital economies, while developers can leverage NFTs to create unique gaming experiences in which players can unlock special content or bonuses. Furthermore, non-fungibles enable cross-game compatibility and foster a seamless, interconnected gaming system in which players can use their assets across multiple games and platforms.
The Blockchain Games Future-Proofing the Industry
Make no mistake, blockchain technology is a bleeding-edge innovation like many of the tech trends that dominate the gaming industry. However, that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible to the average gamer. While it’s true that there’s a significant percentage of the gaming population actively participating in blockchain gaming for financial benefits, P2E, and NFT-based games themselves still provide fun and immersive gaming experiences.
Early iterations of blockchain games focused more on functionality than they did on gameplay and gaming mechanics, but the latest era of GameFi sees developers and publishers centering engaging experiences alongside performance. What’s more, as the popularity of gaming in the metaverse continues to rise, blockchain games will play a pivotal role in developing this burgeoning sector.
Titles like Crypto Kitties and Axie Infinity are some of the most well-established blockchain titles, but new games such as The Sandbox and upcoming releases like Illuvium are spearheading the shift to gaming in the metaverse. While virtual and alternative reality gaming will never replace conventional video games, blockchain games are nevertheless playing a pivotal role in future-proofing the industry.