Blockchain and its value propositions for gaming (pt. 1)

Sebastian Reinholz
Aug 7, 2019 · 5 min read

When reading about the use cases of blockchain it’s nowadays almost inevitable to not come across gaming as one of the most promising ones. Ever since CryptoKitties stormed the hearts of crypto lovers and even made it beyond attention from just the crypto community, blockchain gaming is a thing. But it’s not just another trend for tech enthusiasts to explore the uncharted territory of real-world blockchain applications, or a fun and engaging way to spend your precious cryptos, it’s way more. It’s the bearer of hope for many to bring the long-awaited blockchain breakthrough called “mass adoption”.

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In one of our previous posts, we’ve already briefly touched on blockchain gaming in general and our take on it with Chain Clash. In this series, we want to expand on the topic and talk about what blockchain can do for gaming. Why would a game, built on, or incorporating blockchain be better than its traditional counterpart? If so many people are betting on it, there have to be good reasons for why games can benefit from blockchain, right? Let’s take a look at two of the major arguments, which build the fundament for understanding the value of blockchain in gaming.

Blockchain’s value propositions

Blockchain gaming is undoubtedly one of the biggest hypes in the industry currently. Despite the hype, the industry is still in a very early experimental phase. In the context of gaming, this means that applications, use cases, and game mechanics, which can be powered by blockchain, yet have to be proven as being valuable in the long-term. However, independent from the value that this technology is already providing to players in the gaming space, there are a couple of value propositions that seem to have the ability to sustainably change the gaming industry for the better.

In-game asset ownership

In traditional games, players don’t actually own their in-game assets. In-game currencies, characters, items, and achievements might seem to belong to the player but are actually only available within the boundaries of what the game developer allows. If a game company doesn’t want you to trade, sell or transfer an in-game asset, you won’t be able to, no matter how much you’ve paid for it or how many hours you’ve spent to acquire it.

Blockchain enables in-game assets to exist in third-party systems, where ownership can be transferred freely and independently, leading to:

  • A change in the power structure. Owning in-game assets on a blockchain provides sovereignty to players. Since they actually own the assets, game developers can’t freely dictate how to handle and transact with them.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say, you’re playing an online card game where you can collect cards, build decks and compete versus opponents (there are a plethora of such games). Now, in a traditional game, it’s very likely that you’re neither allowed to trade or sell your cards nor can you sell your account as a whole (looking at you, Hearthstone…). You’re continuously spending time and money for new cards and to get better, but none of the assets you acquire have real-world value since they’re bound to the game. And the worst part is, you’re not even owning them. If you were, you would be able to sell them or to use them as you wish, wouldn’t you? Effectively, you’re burning money for nothing but entertainment. That’s a valid reason to spend money, but what if you got more than that? What if those cards were assets living on a blockchain? Once you buy one you become the actual owner. You can stop playing the game, even uninstall it, and still own the card. Once you want to sell your collection, you can do so, wherever you want.

Transparency, provable scarcity, and authenticity

With game assets and collectibles, no matter if digital or physical, it can be incredibly hard to track the history of ownership. However, verifying its history can be a necessary aspect in determining the authenticity, as well as the value of an asset. Without a trustworthy source of information, it’s impossible to reproduce the history of ownership. The same problem applies to the scarcity of in-game assets. How do you know that a seemingly rare asset is what it’s said to be? How can you make sure that you’re not trading something below value? The answer is, without an independent and transparent source of information, you can’t. And that’s exactly where blockchain can help:

  • Transparent history. Once an in-game asset is issued via a blockchain, all related transactions will be stored and are publicly visible. Players can reproduce the history of assets at all times, gaining maximum certainty about the issuer, date of creation as well as the previous owners.

Once you own an in-game asset on a blockchain, there’s no need to rely on proprietary marketplaces of the game developers anymore. You can validate the authenticity and history of the asset yourself. Due to the immutability and security of blockchain records, you can be sure to get what you’re paying for.

And it get’s even better. You don’t only gain freedom and security. The in-game assets itself might become more valuable because of the transparency of blockchain. Imagine an in-game item was previously owned by a celebrity gamer or streamer. In traditional games, you’d never be able to prove that — with blockchain, you now can. What’s been possible for years with signed baseball cards or signed jerseys, for example, is now possible with digital assets as well.

With actual ownership of in-game assets as well as the inherent transparency, we’ve touched on two of the major value propositions that blockchain can contribute to gaming. However, there’s still more. In the next part of this series, we’ll touch on why in-game asset interoperability may be a game-changer, what immutability can mean for gaming, as well as what programmability of in-game items means. Eventually, we’ll talk about the challenging way ahead of the blockchain gaming industry and the gap between theory and practice. If that sounds interesting, stay tuned! And in the meantime, let us know your thoughts and opinions about the value of blockchain in gaming by posting in the comments or joining our Discord!

As a side note: we’ve recently started a closed beta of Chain Clash! If you’re interested in joining as a tester and helping us bring this game to life, let us know in Discord!

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