The blockchain continues to cross over into more and more facets of everyday life. What started as the P2P dream of a decentralized currency has become a household name and an ever-expanding way of thinking. One of the newest realms being explored with the blockchain is online gaming. It seems a perfect fit as gamers have been on the leading edge of tech advances and were some of the first people to take notice of the emerging cryptocurrency boom. Generally, there seems to be some overlap between the esports and crypto communities.
In the burgeoning world of gaming on decentralized platforms, there are two major branches. Both involve the world of esports, or competitive gaming: an industry with revenue in excess of 600 million dollars in 2017. The potential for the blockchain in esports is extensive. From tournaments and team management to gambling and buying and selling in-game items, the two complement each other well.
One example of blockchain gaming involves the use of crypto. There are a few different ways in which crypto can be used in games, whether as a payment method developed by a gaming project or otherwise. An example of utilization of crypto in gaming can be seen with KuCoin’s recent partnership with BetProtocol. This collaboration sees KCS being offered as a selection for use as the primary token in their gaming apps. Due to the blockchain, crypto is seen as a safer option for many users, making it an ideal choice for gaming or, in this case, betting.
Another unique example can be seen with Hxro, which sees users bet on the performance of a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Players win if they correctly predict whether the currency will increase or decrease in value over a specified period. Ultimately, it gamifies crypto trading and offers a new way for players to make money with their trading knowledge.
Projects like Nano have built a plug-in that integrates with games to add the ability to make cryptocurrency transactions for in-game items. It most notably works with Unreal Engine 4 games. Beyond uses for in-game transactions, it can also be used to pay players based on their performance as they play or for watching adverts. There are numerous ways this can be implemented, making for an interesting adaptation for gaming and offering an easier way to bring together the world of gaming and blockchain.
Blockchain Games as dApps
Some projects are focused on betting, fund transfers and allocation surrounding esports while others develop games directly on the blockchain. Many of these games are being developed as dApps, or decentralized apps. They offer a similar gaming experience to popular online multiplayer games while utilizing the technology to solve some of the more troublesome aspects that arise with a centralized organization. Once again, the integration of the blockchain was a natural development for online games. There are also some interesting blockchain gaming projects that have wholly different goals. The likes of CryptoKitties is perhaps the most famous and amongst the first wave of blockchain games made available, but there is much more variety on offer.
One of these dApps is EOS Knights, currently sitting at the top of the list of games on the EOS platform. It is also the first EOS game available on mobile devices. EOS Knights is a multiplayer game in which users compete against each other to kill goblins, collect items, craft their own items and adopt pets to further their gameplay. EOS Knights has received good reviews and has garnered a significant following.
Games like EOS Knights also illustrate an interesting opportunity offered by utilizing the blockchain for gaming. As you play EOS Knights, you kill goblins and accumulate ‘magic water’, armor and other items which help you along in the game. These items can then be sold or traded for real, liquid EOS that is transferred to your wallet: by playing the game, you can accrue spendable currency. This internal economy, in combination with an easy to use, enjoyable gaming experience sets EOS Knights apart from other games in the field and places it at the forefront of the decentralized gaming universe.
Esports and Decentralized Platforms
On the other end of the spectrum are projects that focus on the massive demand for reliable esport betting platforms. Austrian based HERO is an interesting project with the main objective of literally changing the world of online betting. In the past, bets made online have always had the middle man of a bookmaker separating the betters. “The original and inherent social character of a bet is lost when it comes to online betting” (Hero (Play) ICO Whitepaper, 2018). By offering a P2P network utilizing the blockchain, HERO allows users to bet head to head with each other and create a unique online gambling ecosystem.
A major flaw in the current online betting world is the dubious nature of some providers; the unscrupulous practice of some has led to a general distrust among the community. Even when a provider is not an outright scam, they often operate with high margins that dissuade users from choosing their services. Along with these problems, there is also the risk of unethical data use and denial of funds: HERO’s decentralized network is the perfect solution to these problems. By avoiding the unknown middle man in its implementation, HEROcoin allows the community to become ‘the House’.
HERO utilizes an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, creating a fully transparent network. Smart contracts allow users to manage contests without the need for any middlemen. While this project is focused on esports and gaming, it has far-reaching potential for any and all online gambling ventures. Similar projects could take advantage of the blockchain to create trustless betting networks for live action professional sports as well.
Open World VR Games
Finally, a wholly different project is being developed that also uses the Ethereum blockchain. Decentraland is an immersive, 3D world that is owned and managed entirely by its users. Decentraland is similar to other open-world games like Skyrim and Fallout. However, it utilizes VR technology to create a more unified sensory experience.
Within Decentraland players use MANA, an ERC20 Token, to buy plots of land which they can then develop for any number of uses. Games, apps and gambling services can all be created once a user owns a plot of land. Users can also organize areas into Estates and Districts. Estates allow for more ease in managing different plots while Districts are groups of land organized around specific themes. There may be a District devoted to gambling and gaming for example, with all decisions being made by incorporated landowners using the voting dApp Agora.
By utilizing the Ethereum blockchain, users can be assured that all transactions will be stored on an immutable ledger and that no foul play will compromise their assets. The security of transactions and developments within Decentraland is important considering the potential for capital accumulation. Users can create apps that can be monetized to generate income. Land is also in limited supply, offering a way to increase value through regular market forces. “Currently, the cheapest plot of LAND is 11,750 MANA while more popular areas have price tags in the millions. The highest selling plot went for 2,000,000 MANA, or $175,578, in March 2018. This was quite a bit of money for a virtual plot of land and left the seller with a nice profit” (Buchko, 2018).
Decentraland is creating a new and unique VR landscape for users to meet, interact, play and potentially exchange goods and services. This project has the potential to revolutionize the open-world experience and is a glimpse into the future of VR technology.
The blockchain and gaming are a match made in heaven. Gamers often adopt new and innovative technologies before members of the larger population and are an influential community. These few projects are simply a glimpse into the dynamic interplay between decentralized tech and the pioneers of the gaming world. As new insights are gained, more projects will be developed that continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in this realm.
It is worth mentioning that this niche is still in its infancy, along with the technology itself. Some diverse uses can already be seen beyond just adding crypto for transactions, but it is very likely that many more will continue to appear over time. The idea of full-on 3d gaming on the blockchain that makes use of the various benefits of the blockchain is the ultimate goal and some projects are already making progress towards that, but it will still be some time before it is perfected. In the end, it is another way for blockchain and crypto technology to move closer to widespread adoption and recognition.
KuCoin is home to many interesting projects.
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