Loot chests and boxes were just the beginning, the next massive shift in gaming will move to whether game companies integrate and implement Non-Fungible Token (NFT)’s into their games. For those who are not yet versed on what NFT’s are, here is the basic concept. An NFT is a digital asset where a specific owner gets mapped to it in the block chain ledger. In the art world NFT’s are blowing up by creating a record of 1 person being the owner of a digital art print. You see the flaw in this is that digital images and art can be found/copied, downloaded, saved and being a registered owner of a digital art is really for bragging rights in my opinion because there is no way to limit it’s usage online and spread everywhere digitially.
Game companies have different options for NFT’s and some can provide value, and some not. Here are some of the ways I envision NFT’s will be leveraged by game companies to drive increased revenue, profits for the game companies but also drive player economies as well.
#1 – NFT Early Access and Kickstarter Benefits
Even established game companies have taken to Kickstarter’s and early access programs as ways to raise revenue and work with a community to build a game to meet community demands. They set milestones and goals based on money raised and community involvement. NFT’s will allow the game developers to give people a permanent and unique digital asset as a reward for their support to help fund the game. This could come in the form of a simple unique character portrait, sample game art/drawings, to something functional in game like a character weapon, armor or cosmetic skin. To me this builds hype from a community fanbase and players who really sink their time into games from early access to remain long time players after a game fully releases love to have unique item to flaunt how they were there at the beginning. Provided you can’t buy to advance, and this the items tied to NFT’s aren’t providing you a key competitive advantage this is a fine and fun way in my opinion to help further enhance Kickstarter and early access development. Single player games don’t really matter so much about having items that give benefits over standard items, that is really applicable to only PVP and competitive player vs player games.
#2 – NFT Pay to Play or NFT Reward to Play
Games that are sandbox in nature or massive time sink’s like MMO’s need players to keep logging back in and continuing to exist and spend time in their game universes. Being able to create an unlock system or earn system to reward NFT’s either based on play time, or luck finding NFT based items in game creates a new reward system to encourage people to spend more time in the game. Skins are incredibly valuable in games, people just love customizing weapons, armor, characters and more. Just look at CS:GO and the economy and market around weapon skins for example. As long as they are cosmetics, this gives a huge advantage and appeal to be able to be the only player in an entire game to own a unique skin or item that no other player has. Combine this with a market system where you can buy, sell or trade collectible NFT items with other players and you now have a massive in-game or real world economy where players will invest in the game for that economy. The pro here is players who are dedicated loyalists and fans can sink time into the game and gain perceived and real value if those NFT’s can be sold or traded. The negative is that bots and scams will be abound, which can hurt the game rep and those involved who get scammed too. It also can further create player and gamer addiction for those who have those tendencies and disorders. There are already Pokemon type NFT games where owning a unique Pokemon type asset that can be traded or sold is driving incredible revenue and obsession.
NFT’s could be a way to re-vitalize interest in a waning game, releasing new ones on DLC or major updates to a game too. As long as the company does a good job with creating unique enough assets and enough assets so enough players can earn them and there is a fair path to ownership. Tying an NFT to a merch store or having to buy them to me is a horrible model, and should not be used for a unique player asset that no other player can purchase. It shouldn’t also be that only 1-5% of players have the time or ability to earn NFT’s or that there isn’t enough NFT’s generated and offered to where a large share of players have ability to earn them, being too stingy with deliveries will also harm player base and game rep.
#3 NFT Trading Markets
Now, Steam currently prohibits NFT games on their marketplace, but can you imagine what would happen if the Steam marketplace which already is a real world economy with trading card were to dive into cross-game NFT exchanging? Combine this with a transaction fee and the game store marketplace would potentially reap huge benefits while players can trade/exchange or buy/sell NFT’s from their favorite games. The first game store to have an integrate game NFT marketplace will dramatically boost their adoption. My prediction is EPIC may finally come out on top over STEAM here if they adopt this and will drive a lot more game publishers and users to EPIC. Again, the key here is avoiding bot, spam, scammers and keeping everything tracked well, but in theory this could further create a way for people to actually make money just for gaming and being willing to part/sell off their NFT’s collected as income sources
NFT’s are the Value of Nothing?
As society continues to head toward a metaverse where entire ecosystems, lives are forged online, this continues to bring the ever advancing means where people can create, exist in and profit from entire digital domains with zero real world value. To some extent this already exists and has, marketplaces are built around selling game accounts to WOW, League of Legends, and of course CS:GO skin marketplaces are abound. Crypto is another example of people who can make incomes entirely from owning/trading digital assets, some of which have zero real world value, others do and are integrated into real world purpose and function.
Where do you stand on NFT’s in gaming? I want to know, does the thought of collecting unique in-game items that only you own and are tied to as owner appeal to you, or are you thinking this will further be just a greedy ploy for game publishers to claw more from players?