For many people, playing games is not strictly about sitting in front of a monitor. Instead it’s a lifestyle that often includes collecting fancy real-world items such as figures from their favorite games. These collections are super impressive, and yet they still have a downside — usually, you can’t use them in a game.
Thus, the idea of phygital items has appeared in the industry — they are physical souvenirs with digital data kept on an internal chip. This idea already has some practical implementations, and still, it promises much bigger potential growth. And this growth is good news for consumers of gaming products and for business people in the industry.
Existing phygital assets
I would like to mention just two offers on the market and draw attention to what they lack.
- amiibo by Nintendo — it’s almost the perfect implementation of phygitality. Advantages here are a huge variety of high-quality popular characters in an amazing artistic style, and the possibility to get additional content in games. The most obvious limitation of amiibo is the strong connection to Nintendo devices and the whole Nintendo ecosystem. Also, the functionality of these figurines and cards could be much bigger — in fact, amiibo only open some additional content in games; they don’t offer, for example, data on release or edition, which is quite a significant aspect for collectors.
- Toys for Starlink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft — it’s quite a good example of phygital assets for one particular game. These ships look and feel great as souvenirs. Still, they don’t offer much in the game; most of the content is available through digital purchases, and their use in only one game is still quite limited.
Space for evolution
Gamers play in all realities — virtual and physical dimensions — are parts of a huge playground. Phygital assets are a kind of connector able to expand on the gaming experience.
Game developers and publishers, along with toys manufacturers, have direct interest in being present in a multi-dimensional ecosystem where all aspects are interconnected. This presence opens the possibility of increasing user involvement and boosting revenue by providing customers with additional value.
As a gamer, I see the future of phygital assets in these possibilities:
- to use one item for various platforms — to check the data on mobile devices, play on computers, get something in VR and AR;
- to have some practical use for these souvenirs, like playing a tabletop game with them;
- to synchronize progress between platforms and realities, when achievements in one version of a game influence other versions or even other games;
- to have phygital assets with some interesting interactive features, such as light and sound signals for virtual victories or achievements. Figurines can even move for special occasions.
As a businessman in the game industry, I would add these features to the phygital aspect of gaming:
- highly immersive playing experience, so users become much more involved in the products and everything surrounding them;
- security by technology, where no fraud is possible with fake items or fake info in those assets;
- proven history of such assets that includes adventures and feats. This makes a real difference between seemingly the same phygital items, with an effect on their market value;
- a thought-out service for trading phygital assets and connecting them to games;
- an effective way to increase monetization without pushing away the existing audience (and even with attracting new people). The user value becomes bigger — it’s quite an advantage for the free-to-play monetization scheme.
As a businessman in the game industry, I’m going to implement these features with Caer Sidi — and this includes the ideas of me as a gamer. The phygital aspect of gaming is quite innovative and we can further boost it thanks to the distributed ledger of Tangle.
Toys-to-life is another name for phygital gaming items yet I prefer to avoid it. This aspect of the industry is full of excitement, that’s true. But also, it’s full of business opportunities, so we have here something more than toys. Personally, I’m quite thrilled by the possibility of having figurines connected to virtual characters through NFC chips. After participating in esports tournaments or unique missions, this particular phygital asset may become quite a precious collectible — with the possibility of developing it further.
Interactivity in phygital gaming items is quite a promising innovation. Figurines that make sounds, have lights and even move according to the virtual game situation — this may sound like a fantastic idea but it can be implemented in practice right now, quite easily. We need only NFC chips with Bluetooth features and some mechanical additions to the construction of the figurines. Many ideas of interactive phygitality can be born in direct communication with game developers — specifically for their products.
The evolution of the phygital aspects depends on many individuals in the industry. With the team of Paracosm Project, we develop a Tangle-based architecture to store data, a platform to distribute games and assets, a service for the exchange of assets between players, and even our own games (Post Scriptum), which prove the level of innovations and their feasibility.
I believe in creativity and the open minds of people in the industry. Together we can evolve the idea of phygitality into something (almost) incredible. That’s why one of our priorities is the cooperation with other developers and publishers. Phygitality is an interesting aspect of gaming in general and Paracosm Project in particular. Of course, it’s not everything — Caer Sidi offers many more opportunities for players and game creators.