Mini-Series: Unlocking the Next Level of Decentralized Gaming with Cartesi

Level Three: The Future of In-Game Economies and Cartesi in the Blockchain Gaming Industry

Cartesi Foundation
Published in
7 min readMay 27, 2021


As of 2022 Descartes has now been renamed as Cartesi Compute.

The gaming industry has evolved at a rapid pace in recent years, with continued improvements in MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games), e-sports, virtual and augmented reality all enabling the billions of gaming fanatics around the world to experience gameplay like never before. The gaming industry in the US alone is today worth over $65 billion and, as our appetite for digital products grows, the entire video gaming market is expected to be worth over $200 billion by 2023.

In the last two parts of this mini-series, we explored how blockchain gaming models are able to improve current centralized gaming models in many different areas; from increasing transparency and removing single points of failure from gaming models, to giving players true ownership of their in-game items, blockchain technology is revolutionizing gaming. We’ll be expanding on the latter specifically in this final article of the mini-series, discovering how in-game economies can benefit massively from decentralization, giving the players themselves more of a say into how the bustling in-game ecosystems that see billions of dollars transacted run and evolve.

As we move into an ever-immersive future of gaming, blockchain technology can play a central role in the construction of platforms, protocols, and applications. This being said, the popular toolsets, libraries, and software stacks that are utilized by millions of traditional developers around the world to create the world’s best games are largely incompatible with blockchain technology; in this third article of our decentralized gaming mini-series, we unveil how Cartesi bridges the gap between blockchain and traditional software development, making decentralized systems more accessible than ever before and clearing the way for a new age in gaming technology.

Improving In-Game Economies

The global gaming community spends billions of dollars a year on skins, weapons, power-ups and many other in-game items for use within their favourite games, but the gaming industry today consists primarily of paywalled and closed-loop infrastructure, meaning that the gamer themself never truly owns and often is unable to redeem items for real-world assets.

What’s more, through the use of ads and in-app purchases, the widely adopted “Free-To-Play” model has given consumers limited access to a game or in-game asset and has been the standard in gaming for several years. Popular Free-To-Play mobile-optimized games for example dangle a selection of purchase options, which include loot boxes and other in-game assets as well as in-game currency, that can help them progress faster.

Current models such as this that make up the infrastructure of some of our favorite games are built to favor the developers, publishers and billion-dollar platforms that they are hosted on, but they offer a minimal incentive to players, with user participation usually just rewarded with more in-game items that are irredeemable outside of the walled-off confines of the game itself.

Centralized in-game economies also often see developers control an in-game item’s supply and inflation rate, leaving players feeling out of the loop when it comes to item rarity and value.

With the utilization of blockchain technology, open in-game economies can see players rewarded with assets that have a transparent supply and inflation rate and that create residual value; an ecosystem within which gamers can buy and sell their in-game items on decentralized markets for real-world assets without paying fees to third-parties. This not only encourages spending, as players know that once they have lost interest or have no use for an in-game item that they can simply sell or replace it, but it also paves the way for immeasurable creativity and participation from graphic artists, independent developers, and more.

As gaming communities become ever-hungry for customized in-game assets, blockchain technology, and smart contracts can make designing a new set of skins, a new level, or even unique game modes a lot more rewarding for independent graphic artists and developers; revenue sharing models for purchases can be hard-coded into games, automatically paying an artist every time a skin is bought by a player for example and this opens up the doors for a new world of opportunity in the gaming industry for creatives and developers alike, enabling the gaming community as a whole to take more control.

Whether you are a player, creator, or developer, you should be fairly rewarded for contributing to the growth of the gaming ecosystem you love and blockchain technology is percolating through the gaming industry for these very reasons, powering the next steps in open and decentralized economies. Some of the world’s most popular games such as Roblox are already taking note and embracing the power of participatory economies — Andreessen Horowitz, a top venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, California, publicly invested in the hugely popular online game, highlighting that this new approach to open in-game development is “advancing culture and business models as well, sometimes containing entire economies.”

Cartesi in the Blockchain Gaming Industry

All of the above highlights what is possible with blockchain technology in the gaming industry. But it must be noted that whilst strides are being made in the space, there are some significant hurdles to overcome; both reaching the speeds seen on traditional gaming platforms and maintaining blockchain gaming systems are issues that must be addressed.

Today’s gamers expect a lag-free, seamless gaming experience, but many of today’s blockchain games are unable to perform to this level due to slow block times and heavy computational loads. Blockchains such as Ethereum would ordinarily not be viable as solutions when looking for a platform that can process the massive amount of transactions that take place within online multiplayer games every second, not only due to slow block processing times but also as transactions on blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are not cheap.

At Cartesi we’re working hard to push the envelope of what is possible for blockchain gaming models. With the help of Cartesi Machine, complex computational loads can be split and vital on-chain processes can be taken off-chain, reducing the cost and increasing the speed of blockchain transactions and making blockchain gaming models faster and more efficient.

We’ve already demonstrated what is possible when combining Cartesi and blockchain gaming with the release of a blockchain game named Creepts, a fully decentralized tower defense game that was built using traditional software stacks and that also retains all of the security guarantees of the Ethereum blockchain. A Creepts game session involves the computation of billions of program instructions, a workload that is several orders of magnitude greater than what a public blockchain can handle but, by leveraging Cartesi, Creepts is able to successfully run its game logic entirely off-chain.

Creepts is also completely cheating resistant!

Screenshot from Creepts:

Our Fully Decentralized Poker Game in Partnership with Polygon

As well as Creepts, we are developing a fully decentralized Poker game on top of Polygon’s PoS Chain and with the use of Cartesi’s Cartesi Compute SDK. With the release of this poker game demo in Q2 2021 we’re committed to showing the world how powerful and revolutionary blockchain gaming can become if developers are given access to the tools they know and love; we’ll be working closely with Polygon in the coming months to explore many more avenues related to blockchain gaming.

But what is Cartesi Compute? Created by Cartesi, Cartesi Compute is an SDK that enables developers to create, amongst other applications, blockchain games (and the smart contracts within them) using Linux-compatible software. Not only can the world’s millions of traditional developers now build games on blockchains with their favorite tools, but they can also significantly reduce development time and resources in the process!

We’re paving the way for millions of game developers to build on blockchain

By offering a Linux runtime environment, Cartesi connects the unbridled power of time-tested mainstream software stacks with the untapped potential of blockchain, giving developers the option to use the vast array of software that has been developed, tested, and improved upon over the years to build blockchain games.

With millions of game developers actively building worldwide and interest in blockchain technology growing by the day, the possibilities for blockchain gaming and open in-game economies are near limitless. In order for innovation to truly blossom in the blockchain industry on a massive scale, access to familiar and battle-tested software stacks must be made easier for the world’s most talented developers — We’re taking the first big steps toward bridging that gap.

Did you enjoy this mini-series? Let us know your thoughts on blockchain gaming over on Twitter or join our awesome Telegram community, we’d love to hear from you!



Cartesi Foundation

Cartesi Rollups is a modular execution layer that elevates simple smart contracts to decentralized Linux runtime.