Cryptoproperty: 6 Reasons The Blockchain Will Revolutionise Game Content

Last week, I gave the first ever blockchain talk at the world’s largest game developer conference: the 30,000 strong GDC San Francisco.

Blockchains are going to disrupt the game industry, most just don’t yet realise.

This post has been written to work alongside my GDC presentation — I hope it will be useful for game developers and crypto-enthusiasts alike.

While various aspects of blockchains will bring change, my particular interest is in the tokenisation of virtual property. Indeed, Ownage is predicated on that very concept.

I term this Cryptoproperty:

Digital property in which cryptographic techniques are used to control issuance, ownership and transfer, independent of any centralised registry

There are a number of differences between cryptoproperty and virtual property that will change their perceived relative values.

The critical insight is this: increased value comes from unbundling asset data from ownership data.

The value of cryptoproperty comes from that which cannot be copied. We must therefore understand how to place value on ownership, not just value from assigned utility within the originating product.

Properties of blockchain based digital property include:

  1. ‘Real’ ownership
    When we buy a digital product, typically the store manages a database of our inventory. The product is essentially licensed from them and is often limited in use to their proprietary platform. They can even take it off us, as Amazon have been known to do

    With cryptoproperty on the other hand, if I own a product, it is mine. The ownership is completely independent of the store in which it was purchased, just like physical products. 

    Cryptoproperty is ours forever and it cannot be taken away.
  2. Provable scarcity
    We shouldn’t have to trust that a given item is rare, we should be able to see exactly how many have been, and even could be, issued. Blockchain based property allows issuance rules to be transparent, removing the need to trust the issuer and thus providing absolute confidence in issuance data.
  3. Provenance
    Whilst most magic swords may be equal, one may be imbued with a special property making it unique (non-fungible). I’m not referring to a single uniquely issued item, since this is simply an item with a scarcity value of 1, but to an item with unique provenance. This may be an issuance number, or it may be signed by a CS:GO tournament and the actual player who used it. In the physical world we already know that provenance can increase value significantly. For the first time, we can replicate that in the digital world.
  4. Transferability
    Although it’s not a requirement that cryptoproperty is transferrable, where it is allowed that property will typically be more valuable. Moreover, it’s transferrable using a standard protocol and hence by multiple software applications. One particular advantage we’ve seen used by the likes of Spells of Genesis, is that items can be pre-sold and traded before they have utility within an intended product, allowing for a cryptoproperty investment market.
  5. Fraud reduction
    Considered within a supply chain context, a user or application can have absolute certainty an item is legitimate, whether at first sale or bought from secondary markets. When one considers the fraud issues within digital property, particularly the difficulties making reliable second hand purchases, blockchains provide a unique and valuable solution. If secondary markets become reliable, that will lead to an increase in liquidity in those markets.
  6. Openness
    With ownership handled on an independent data layer using a common protocol, it’s possible for anyone to support any given cryptoproperty in any way they wish, wherever they may be. 

    Intellectual property constraints still apply; this does not mean someone else can use a creator’s IP without permission, only that ownership of property can confer some benefit outside of the original creator’s intention. Examples include reduced prices, exclusive content such as cross game assets (licensed or otherwise), exclusive entry, priority purchase, and so on.

Together, these properties provide new opportunities and business models to content creators by providing users with tangible benefits over what they are used to. It will take innovators to navigate this new territory, which is why I believe the game industry is the perfect place for cryptoproperty. We have always been innovative and we still have open platforms where we can write our own software. Contrast that with music, film or books, where the playback media is highly centralised and controlled.

Moreover, I believe there are new opportunities in the world of digital collectables which will benefit brand owners such as those in comics and sports.

Ownage has spent over a year developing Ethereum based software with an extensive feature set. Our tools and SDKs will support common platforms and game development software, such as Unity and Unreal. Over the next few months we’ll be posting design and technical details of our work, and you’ll be able to try it for yourself.

In the mean time, please visit Ownage.io and join our Slack community to discuss blockchains and games generally, as well as to hear about how you can participate in the upcoming Alpha.

Finally, we are hiring! If you’re an outstanding front end, full stack, or C++ SDK developer interested in helping to build the future of digital ownership, please check out our roles here, and either apply via AngelList, or via email.

Many thanks to the following for help with this post: Jack du Rose, Florian Glatz, Dotun Rominiyi, Peter Borah and Simon de la Rouvière.


Ownage is an Ethereum based platform to distribute, collect, and trade digital game content.

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