Although blockchain technology started out with crypto-related applications, banking, logistics, agriculture, and even medicine are now just some of the key global sectors being upended by it. It’s inevitable, therefore, that blockchain has made its way into online gaming. Today, over 75% of online gamers want to exchange virtual items for an asset that they can use for transactions on multiple platforms, the most prominent kind being cryptocurrency.
As a result, popular blockchain and crypto products like crypto tokens, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and stablecoins are all changing the way we play online. Here’s how.
Crypto tokens, which are built on the blockchains of existing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are becoming more popular in the sports world. For instance, eSports teams like Team Heretic, Team Alliance, and Evil Genius mainly revolve around crypto tokens sold to fans. Even F1 racing is reportedly looking into adopting token use. Developed in partnership with crypto platforms, these digital fan tokens allow eSports supporters to purchase exclusive content and merchandise, and in some cases even attain voting powers on team matters.
This is a big part of how crypto tokens have provided a new and creative way for cryptocurrencies to enter online gaming markets – not that they need any help. In fact, due to the current rise of sites like Americas Cardroom, it’s evident that Bitcoin is increasingly becoming a popular way to play poker. Those who play poker for real money online have to provide their personal details to set up an account. Cryptocurrency is changing this as a secure and anonymous method of exchange that doesn’t involve banks. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies also allow players to play at virtual real-money tables, even in states with strict gaming rules. This has led to a semi-underground online poker market enabled by cryptocurrency. And it’s far from being the only crypto-driven virtual gaming marketplace.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for massively-multiplayer online (MMO) game players to use these digital currencies for trading items, cosmetics, equipment, tools, property, and other in-game assets. But while cryptos and their corresponding tokens jump-started these developments, in-game assets are now being traded through another blockchain product: NFTs.
Digital art and fashion transactions were the first million-dollar NFT exchanges that made the headlines. Meanwhile, in online gaming, there’s also been a notable spike in the popularity of NFT games. Most games simply hold NFT collectibles in-game, such as collectible card games, like Gods Unchained and Skyweaver, in which NFT cards are earned and traded by players.
With some worth tens of thousands of dollars, NFTs are enabling the rapid development of in-game blockchain marketplaces.
However, there are also “play-to-earn” NFT games. These games reward users with either crypto tokens or NFTs the longer they play. As a result, games like Axie Infinity have become very popular in developing countries, where workers use it to supplement their income. With a certain fee required to set up an account, some have even turned to sponsors to help them get started
One drawback of using cryptocurrency, however, is the fact that price fluctuations can be volatile. This is mainly due to the fact that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have a scarce supply and don’t have a central bank to manage circulation.
However, with stablecoins, this volatility can be avoided. Since the value of stablecoins like the USDC are tied to a fiat currency, they are considered more price stable. Perhaps this is why we’re seeing more game developers, like Dapper Labs and ITAM Games, use stablecoins to build their games on or use as one of their in-game currencies. Stablecoins ensure that users who trade in their fiat currencies are able to reap the security and anonymity that cryptocurrencies offer without facing the volatility risks of owning crypto.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in how blockchain is shaping online gaming at present. While many players still need to overcome the complexity of blockchain-based trading, these aforementioned use cases are paving the way for blockchain to go mainstream in online gaming.
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