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Let blockchain “games” be games

Whenever people talk about blockchain games, “Play2Earn” is definitely is the most mentioned word. For sure, blockchain games that allow players to make money directly by playing games has a huge appeal for them,and way easier compared with traditional games. Not to mention, in the blockchain world most people want to make big gains with little effort. They hope to get rich quick with limited initial investment.

In fact, looking back at the early stages of blockchain games, they all relied on unique gameplays to attract players with the assistance of money-making mechanisms that allow players to make money, so that more players will participate in the game, such as the card fusing mechanisms of Gods Unchained, the gene breeding of Crypto Kitties and the little love potion of Axie Infinity.

For a brief moment in time, blockchain games were in the spotlight for many, as the other part of the Crypto world was full of academic terms and professional lingo hard to grasp by the general public. But when did blockchain games begin to dim?

The story began with the prevalence of liquidity mining triggered by the explosion of DeFi.

Everything can be mined

Since then, DeFi allowed anyone to mine. Regardless of whether the project code was audited, whether the project had good prospects, or I whether it had leading technology. Most people saw a ridiculously high annualized return rate and greed made them gamble. Although it is possible to receive a big return, they were facing the risks of being frauded or “rug-pulled” by the project owner(s).

A few months later, people began to feel aesthetic fatigue on the similarities within liquidity mining projects, so they began to find increasingly “interesting” ways to enhance their returns by stumbling upon NFTs.

The most famous name in the NFT mining space is Don’t buy MEME. This project has maintained its vitality until today. The reason of it’s most recent success is that it no longer relied on mining as a mere token reward protocol. Instead, mining was transformed into NFT collections, changing the original spoof of trading cards to beautiful art works created by well-known artists which made Don’t buy MEME a real crypto art platform, rather than just another “mining project”.

Looking at other projects with similar characteristics, they have only maintained the form of liquidity mining,but haven’t made any new transformations.

Have you noticed? The deterministic propositions on whether a project has long-term vitality has no direct correlation with the mechanisms it adopts or whether it was popular at the time or not. The most important factor to consider is whether the project has actual intrinsic value to support it’s worth.

What reflects the inner value of blockchain games

What should be the intrinsic value that supports a blockchain game?

When playing a traditional game, what are the perspectives will we use to evaluate the game? Whether the picture is exquisite, whether the gameplay is novel, whether the plot is attractive… all these are the basis for us to judge whether the traditional game is good or bad. So why is that in the crypto world, we only care about annualized return rates?

Since the end of 2020 till now, many claimed that the new era of NFTs was coming, because countless NFTs and game projects have appeared in the market. But in fact, most of them are still using the idea of ​​liquidity mining, and NFT is only used as “ Buff bonus” . for instance, Dego’s pickaxe and the alpacas of Alpaca Cityall use the same mechanics. But if a project advertises itself as a “game”, then the project itself should have at least a little “playability”. It doesn’t have to be as sophisticated as an AAA masterpiece Game, but there can’t only be a singular feature to show — mining.

Wealth effect

Given the fact that many people join blockchain games to earn money, projects that include a “Play2Earn” model should not reject people who only try to make money as well. After all, money is a powerful incentive to drive people into spending more time and energy into their game.

Thus, the so-called “Earn” should not only pertain to the “Mining” process of a game, and “Mining” should not only serve to provide liquidity, but also to include practical, hands on play options for NFT mining. With these mechanisms, the only “play” players actually experience is putting their NFTs into the game while waiting quietly for their returns without any actual game play. These types of games create a norm of building a mining mechanism first, then using NFTs as an embellishment after.

Having discussed some projects that use mining protocols as a way to develop a game, let’s talk about projects that take a different approach.

The first project I will talk about is Axie Infinity. It combines game plays that resemble Crypto Kitties andGods Unchained. Players can make money through the breeding or sales of Axies while earning “small love Potion”- $SLP tokens through battle modes. Battle modes require players to practice strategical thinking and tactical formation creating both wealth effects and gaming experience desired by countless players, so much so that some players even make a living just by earning $SLPs. Not to mention the establishment of gaming studios that place it’s primary focus on making money in the game. Although the project made an autonomous decision to block gaming studio accounts, the game’s overall performance is still remarkable.

Another project worth mentioning is NBA Top Shot. The game is based on the Flow blockchain and has caused a huge spike recently. The total valuation of WhaleShark’s NBA Top Shot collection has exceeded $15 million as of January 25th, 2021. What can we learn from all of this madness in the rising value of collectables?

Recently, Pop Mart International Group — China’s mystery toymaker was successfully listed on the Hong Kong stock market with a market cap of $12.5 Billion as of December 11th, 2020. Skeptics of Pop Mart’s recent triumph rumour that that reasons for their success was due to their use of the “blind box”, it was not. The founder of Pop Mart revealed their drivers of success in his previous interview — the decision lied in choosing an appropriate channel and creating IP for their business which in turn made them stand out from the market and then evolved to become the blind box.

The use of the “channel selection” + “IP” model can also prove it’s viability in NBA Top Shot, bringing hundreds of millions of fans to join, many of which are giant whales. As seen earlier this week, the digital collection cards of LeBron James and Zion Williamson have sold for a whopping price of $100,000, this crazy market has just been ignited.

Games don’t have to be profitable

Is there any game without a “Play2Earn” model but can still catch people’s attention? Does such a blockchain game even exist? Of course it does.

Dark Forest” is a game doing so. Although you can attribute its popularity to the “hunger marketing” model that requires an invitation code to enter the game, or the “celebrity effect “ caused by Vitalik Buterin tweeting on it. The main reason is definitely the innovation of it’s gameplay design.

The theme of the game drew inspiration from the dark forest law in the novel The Three-Body Problem, in which the production team has successfully translated into a game. Their use of zero-knowledge proof ensures that player can’t see what shouldn’t be seen in the forest. The game UI is unique where it has a retro pixelated interface creating a futuristic feeling, which has deeply captured the hearts of many developers in the crypto world.

The production team of this game was from MIT, they chose to drop out of school in order to develop this game. When asked if whether they would issue coins in this game, they made it clear that there is no such plan at present, and that all they want to do is to make a “ fun” game. “Fun” should be the highest level of compliment for a game.

Let “games” be games

Is it difficult to make blockchain games a real “game”? It’s not. Not at all.

Look at the recent blockchain games/ collectibles, NBA Top Shot, Neon District, Blankos Block Party, Dark Forest, etc. There is a large number of projects focusing on “gaming experience” being born. Players love these games and are willing to spend time and energy on them because of it’s excellent gaming experience. The common factor of all these early-stage creations is the conscious choice to derail from the emphasis of making money and mining, but instead should stem from the perspective of the player, to make a game players will love and have “fun” to play.

WRITTEN BY Holiday Hu

This article has been translated from Chinese to English Annissa

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