How Will the Dual Forces of Mobile Gaming and Blockchain Revolutionize eSports?
Both blockchain and mobile gaming are disrupters in their respective spaces, but what would happen if like a Marvel / DC mashup, these two joined forces? Well it’s safe to set aside fantasy and speculation because this movement is happening right now, and I predict a massive wave of profitable adoption and inclusion on the horizon.
Blockchain and Mobile; A Symbiotic Journey to Mass Adoption?
Blockchain is the buzzword of the moment in global Fintech circles and many are comparing its debut to the premier of the Internet decades ago. Like the Internet, blockchain promises great leaps forward for humanity in business, tech and everyday life, but the key to its growth and longevity lies in mass adoption.
Enter Mobile gaming; while most of the population is still grappling with the concept of digital currencies like Bitcoin, gamers are already well indoctrinated to the idea. Microtransactions — love them or hate them — require gamers to pay for access to in-game assets or advanced levels of play and as a regular feature of mobile gaming apps, these transactions have familiarized users with digital currency. Betting platforms like Skrilla and Unikrn even feature their own tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain . With two-thirds of the global population owning a mobile device, the ubiquity and accessibility of mobile makes it a natural conduit for the expansion of blockchain, and you’d be hard pressed to find better bait to get people hooked in than the opportunity to game for fun and prizes.
While most of the population is still grappling with the concept of digital currencies like Bitcoin, gamers are already well indoctrinated to the idea.
Beside easy consumer-to-platform payments, an advantage specifically for mobile gamers presented by the adoption of blockchain is the potential for gamers to have “true ownership” of in-game assets. Recently Hoard Exchange introduced a simple game called Plasma Dog on the OmiseGo network as a demonstration of this very concept. In an article written by Hoard’s Community Manager, Chris Robinson describes the idea of true ownership in this way:
True ownership is enabled when players have full control of the content of their gaming experience, including their avatars, XP & skills, in-game items, maps, and other customizations. If a player has true ownership of these items, they are free to conduct all types of commerce with them — buy, sell, share, rent, trade, etc on both primary and secondary markets. Players should even be free to import their items from one game into another .
As blockchain’s involvement with mobile games and apps expands, more attractive benefits for gamers like “true ownership” will evolve driving consumer awareness and adoption. With mobile games already making up 51% of the entire global gaming market, and projected to grow to nearly 60% by 2021, blockchain developers yoking their future fortunes to mobile gaming are making a winning bet and a shrewd play for immense profits.
Mobile Gaming and Blockchain as Democratizing Forces?
Individual players don’t have the same access in eSports as sponsored teams. In eSports women gamers are woefully underrepresented. In banking, 1 in 4 adults in the world don’t have access to formal financial services. What’s the connection?
Discrimination unfortunately is a common parallel to many of the systems we as humans construct and it’s amplified when money and profit are on the table. Both the banking industry and eSports exhibit aspects of this problem, and blockchain and mobile gaming have the potential to be potent catalysts for changing the trend by expanding inclusion.
Within the finance world, 25% of the world’s adult population (just around 2 billion people) qualify as “underbanked” . While the vast majority of underbanked people reside in regions with developing economies, or are immigrants, a proportion of the underbanked live in fully industrialized nations and belong to a demographic that has faced historic socio-economic discrimination . Banks have been quite blatant in their exclusion of these potential consumers because for various reasons they are deemed high-risk or unprofitable.
Similarly in gaming both women and minorities have faced exclusion. While female gamers make up almost 50% of the global gaming population, and a staggering 65% of mobile gamers  they are appallingly underrepresented in eSports. This disparity illustrates a long standing trend in how the majority of gaming companies choose to target consumers. Another less cited reason for this iniquity is platform bias — in eSports PC players are represented in greater numbers than console or mobile players, and attract greater sponsorship. Platform bias may in fact explain why Black and Latino players have such low eSports representation since they are more likely to be console players .
Mobile Gaming and Blockchain, a Catalyst for Inclusion
The accessibility of mobile devices combined with their low price point naturally promotes inclusiveness. Gaming apps are relatively cheap and easy to download minimizing the barrier to entry encountered with higher priced PC and console platforms. With 75% of the global population predicted to own a mobile device by 2020 , regions with the largest underbanked populations are projected to see the bulk of this growth. It’s not by accident that blockchain projects like Cardano or TelCoin have strong expansion plans for Africa and Asia. In these areas populations ignored by traditional banking are already transacting in digital currency via mobile phones. Exposure to mobile games is but another opportunity waiting for enterprising mobile game developers to enter.
The accessibility of mobile devices combined with their low price point naturally promotes inclusiveness.
Within eSports the potential for mobile gaming can’t be ignored. The incredible success of mobile games such as PUG and Fortnite are undeniable proof of concept. As mobile gaming leagues see growing success, their broader demographic will result in a greater representation of gamers from around the world and as eSports pushes for greater mainstream adoption an acceptance as a true sport, it can only benefit by embracing mobile gaming.
The Future Is Now…
Mobile Smart device hardware and API (Application Program Interface) are becoming more efficient and powerful, allowing more functionality while using less memory space. Battle Royale games Fortnite and PUBG are examples of sophisticated game play available on smart phones and tablets that are generating serious profits. Fortnite alone has raked in over $1billion. Combined with the enormous capabilities derived from blockchain, the future expansion and massive global adoption of both mobile gaming and blockchain seems obvious. Now it’s only a matter of seeing what that adoption will look like and which demographic and geographic target markets the industry will move towards. My bet is on emerging economies and a balanced split of male/female ratios for more stable growth and monetization. “The future is now”… or so the meme goes.
Originally published at mobilegamesalpha.com.