What Makes an In-game Item a Cryptoitem?

Ownership, Utility, and Representation

Gun model by Altitude Games 3D Artist Van Halen Cunanan

Blockchains will transform the game industry in the coming years, and one of the first paradigms that will be affected will be the implementation of in-game items. Cryptoitems are an early example — these are in-game items built on the blockchain that provide increased value to both players and developers.

To someone who doesn’t know much about blockchains though, what exactly does a cryptoitem do that a traditional in-game item doesn’t?


To better visualize the differences between a traditional in-game item and a cryptoitem, we can use the In-game Item Demo here.

Click here to play the In-game Item Demo

Let’s use the gun in the demo as an example of a traditional in-game item. An in-game item has 3 important characteristics:

  1. Ownership, or what rights players have over an item
  2. Utility, or what use an item has in a game
  3. Representation, or how an item is represented visually

With traditional in-game items, these characteristics are usually determined on a developer’s game and corresponding servers:

Ownership of an in-game item is usually determined using a player’s accounts. This is shown in the Demo where the user has to log in on Facebook in order to use the item. Traditionally a player has very limited ownership rights over his in-game items — he is unable to trade or sell it, and access to it is determined by developer requirements such as a social network login.

The Utility of an item in our demo are the parameters it has when we log in (such as Bullet Power and Bullet Speed). These values are usually determined and balanced by the developer. Cryptoitem design will need to take into consideration how these are defined.

Lastly, the item’s Representation are the files that determine how the in-game item is shown both inside and outside of a game. We’ll find that cryptoitems, unlike traditional in-game items, will need to be represented outside of the game as well.


Cryptoitems vary significantly from how we’re used to experiencing traditional in-game items. Ownership is the the clearest example, where items can now start to be usable across games. Utility and Representation are not yet as clearly defined but, as the field evolves, these characteristics will start to be standardized as well.

Game developers, digital creators and potentially all of us will be affected by the blockchain. At Alto, we want to enable developers to navigate this disruptive transition and find success in the new decentralized world. Reach out to us on our Telegram channel, and find out more about us at alto.io.