by Jeff Sue, Mintegral
Gaming typically thrives during bear markets. However, as gaming becomes increasingly linked to crypto, developers need to be aware of new pitfalls such as the crypto winter and grapple with the notion that web3 is still in its infancy. The rise and fall of the play-to-earn genre were equally as fast, and developers that decide to marry crypto with gaming need to shore up its inadequacies and evolve the community from one that sees earning to one that values gameplay itself.
Regardless of the macro-economic conditions, investments and strategic hires from the likes of Epic Games and Zynga show there is still interest and development going into blockchain gaming. Once regarded as a niche vertical, Blockchain has begun to successfully meld itself among the mobile gaming infrastructure as a whole. Some of the benefits of blockchain gaming include; removing in-game currencies from centralized control, a better means to record ownership and transfer of digital assets (e.g., NFTs), and more transparency for data storage are worth mentioning.
The glaring issue with play-to-earn games is that their economies can only grow as large as the userbase and the fundamentals of gameplay rely on this continued growth. As with any business, being able to pivot becomes vital in times of hardship – especially when its value is tied to a volatile asset such as crypto. This is where play-and-earn games can really shine and still bring innovation no matter the ‘crypto winter.’
Prioritizing real value
More sustainable long-term growth will be achievable if game studios can add value through Blockchain and not just rely on it. The inclusion of crypto and NFTs into games should be a complementing factor to gameplay, not the sole purpose. Gamers are always attracted to game quality and usability, especially for hardcore and MMO games where NFTs and other assets make a lot of sense.
That said, the inclusion of blockchain technology needn’t be restricted to a specific genre. The concept is viable from casual to hardcore games, although implementation remains uncertain. Developers have never had an easy task convincing their players to adopt new aspects within gameplay – take ads, for example. However, over time the inclusion of ads became more sophisticated and user-friendly, including formats like playable ads.
Rewarding loyalty and investment
For gamers, playing a game, regardless of the platform or medium, requires some form of investment from the player – time and effort, which directly translates as loyalty. Incremental or milestone-based rewards should be part of every game developer’s arsenal. With that in mind, the concept of ‘play-and-earn’ seems much more user-centric than the ‘play-to-earn’ model as it encourages a more nuanced approach to rewarding users for the investment and keeps the user focused on gameplay.
Types of rewards on offer
In line with current industry trends, there are multiple ways and examples of games that offer different types of rewards on the play-to-earn model. These include:
- Initial investment: This could be an upfront fee paid by the user at the early stages of the game cycle, with rewards to be paid out on Day1 or over a period of time. Pokemon-inspired RPG game, Ethermon requires users to set up a wallet and purchase ‘Mons’ currency through its Ethermon online store.
- Crypto-currency: getting crypto payouts for reaching essential milestones
- NFTs: This method can either be a gift NFT or the rise in the value of an NFT that the user already has. This could be an in-game asset, which could be traded for other game assets or actual money on an NFT marketplace. For example, Spells of Genesis mobile game combines trading card collection with point-and-shoot aesthetics of arcade games – users can redeem the collection of trading cards for NFT or Blockchain digital assets.
Is play-and-earn on your radar?
With tremendous growth potential behind play-and-earn, the strategy is already starting to pick up a lot of steam across the mobile gaming industry – in its rewarding of both the user and the game developer. For many companies, it might be worthwhile examining if this is the way you want the trajectory of your games to go.