There is an expression in games when one player is so completely and completely beaten by another that there is only one word capable of describing the carnage just happened – and yet, ironically, it is as close as the players can truly "own" something in the digital world.
After purchasing an avatar from a digital store and spending countless hours tailoring every function, it can begin feel as if it belonged to you, but it is not like that. The digital representation of your innermost game self can be removed at any time: players are at the mercy of centralized game providers and their servers.
But blockchain technology has the potential to change all this. Through the use of decentralized networks and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, such as the ERC-721 compatible tokens created for the first time by Axiom Zen's CryptoKitties, players can create characters, vehicles, weapons and other digital events that they have for life, only the duration of a game. Technology opens the door to a player's individualized and tokenised creations to move seamlessly from one game to another through the decentralized web, or even to be bought, sold or traded on second-hand markets.
The potential is enormous, which is why many believe the nascent blockchain industry can produce the elusive "killer app" that finally brings this technology to the masses.
But is the market ready for such a radical change in digitized gaming resources? A consortium of eight of the leading companies in this industry – including the representation of Ubisoft, one of the world's most successful gaming publishing companies – certainly thinks so. And their vision for the future of the $ 140 billion video game industry has the support of a growing number of gamers and game developers.
L & # 39; Alliance
The nine founding members of the Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) officially joined forces in late September, unveiling their coalition at the inaugural Blockchain Game Summit in Lyon, France. The group presents some of the most important actors in the nascent sector, including ConsenSys, Everdreamsoft, Enjin and the French game titan Ubisoft.
The goal of the Blockchain Game Alliance is to bring together stakeholders from both the blockchain and the gaming industry and work together to develop solutions for the challenges facing these converging fields, according to the Blockchain Initiative Manger of Ubisoft, Nicolas Pouard.
After all, if cryptographic and decentralized technologies are still in their infancy, then the blockchain game could just as well be a glimpse into your Atari piggy eye. Game developers, publishers, distributors, and the like would be wise to work together to develop common standards and best practices if these great ideas were to ever take off. And what better way than by "taking advantage of the experience of some of the brightest minds and leaders" in the industry, says Nicolas Gilot, founding member of the Alliance and co-CEO of Ultra-a "block generation" based on the platform blockchain. "
Pouard says that the interest of Ubisoft for the BGA is twofold: to learn as much as possible from other innovators in this field and to provide their expertise in the field of technical integration, regulation and, perhaps most importantly, the development of a "title" AAA ": a kind of big budget, a high-profile blockbuster of a game that only a great publisher can offer.
And it is the last piece of the puzzle, the potential of a revolutionary success at the level of a franchise of "Assassin's Creed", which fuels the vision of the game as the bridge of the blockchain towards the mainstream. "The game will allow people to familiarize themselves with the blockchain in an interactive environment, which is the first step towards mass adoption," says Gilot. The obstacles remain, but much of the promise that this technology supports its ability to redefine the outdated notions of digital rights in a rapidly changing world.
"Blockchain's value proposition for games relies heavily on what we call" real estate, "says Ubisoft's Pouard. "Nowadays, in most cases, players who have made a game in which they have invested a great deal are not able to derive any value from the objects or results they have collected with great effort".
The issue has its roots in the complexity of property rights throughout the digital world. You can buy a song on iTunes, for example, but it's not really your. There are limits to what you can do with that digital file and you certainly can not resell it (at least, not according to current law).
Gaming resources are similarly limited. On traditional gaming platforms, items purchased by players are stored on centralized servers. "If you stop playing, lose your account or experience technical problems, you lose these digital assets," says Manon Burgel, CEO of the B2Expand blockchain game development studio and the woman largely responsible for creating the Blockchain Game Alliance. Game items are "related to the studio that publishes them," he says, and some publishers explicitly prohibit players from selling or even giving away these items to others as part of their End User License Agreement (EULA). The perceived injustice of this among the players is what is driving the desire for blockchain to overturn it.
"A game that runs completely on the blockchain is an example of a decentralized platform that could be owned by everyone."
Dan Biton, founder of Gimli
Last week, Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX), a blockchain e-commerce platform for virtual goods, published a survey of 500 video game developers and 1,000 players in the US showing strong support for "effective ownership" of resources of play. The study found that 68 percent of the interviewed players believe they deserve to "truly own" the items they purchase. In addition, 62 percent would be more likely to spend real dollars on virtual items if they were able to transfer them between different games, and nearly three-quarters of the players said they would like the features to sell or exchange game items "regardless of state of the game. "
The developers seem even more optimistic, with 86% believing that negotiable gambling activities will become increasingly important in future games and more than two thirds agree that the value of these resources is "repressed by unnecessary control of "publishers.
By handling these items, players can decide for themselves what to do with them: deliver them, exchange them or even sell them. It allows a "digital market of used", explains Burgel, and "its decentralized nature ensures that games and objects are not held by one company but by the network".
But while a blockchain-driven "power to the players" movement may seem great for individual players, developers and publishers also need to find a way to take advantage of this type of activity.
I Biz: NFT and SEC
Ultra and other companies are exploring new ways for distributed technology to help generate revenue streams for game developers, such as sharing monthly content subscription plans and advertising revenue. "The goal of Ultra is to be fairer for developers, charging them with a significantly lower commission fee, allowing developers a greater chance to interact with the platform immediately," says Gilot.
The idea is for the EOS-based Ultra custom platform to provide a "completely transparent" bridge between players and developers, in which purchases such as games, virtual items and services are made through smart contracts using Ultra Coins (or UTA token) ) and placing smaller developers at the same level as the big players.
At present, however, the value of blockchain in the game remains largely limited to the tokenisation and sale of digital assets. And given the regulatory climate in the United States regarding tokenised resources, this complicates matters for a large publicly traded company like Ubisoft.
The CEO of Ultra insists, however, that "there are no problems with the tokenised resources" from a legal point of view, provided that companies adhere to the appropriate regulatory guidelines. "The goal of regulatory bodies such as the SEC is to protect the public from being subject to fraud," he says. "The blockchain and crypto industry is constantly evolving, so it's important to keep up-to-date with the latest regulatory decisions to avoid slowing down innovation."
Gilot also notes that the tokenized resources that will be exchanged on the Ultra platform and throughout the block-block gaming space (NFT) are distinct from the type of tokens sold during an ICO or a security token (STO), which may include the sale of investment contracts and are therefore subject to securities laws and regulations. Meanwhile, a digital gaming resource, Gilot says, simply "guarantees ownership, as well as demonstrating the scarcity of an article if created through a publicly available intelligent contract."
The NFT, in other words, are digital representations of unique objects, not unlike the collectible cards of the past, which function as a "proof of purchase" tokenized for the owner. They are the basis for the vast majority of blockchain-based video games currently on the market, such as "Spells of Genesis" by Everdreamsoft, a combination of playing cards, an arcade-style battle game that claims to be the first blockchain-based mobile game ever product.
"Spells of Genesis" was launched in April 2017, a full seven months before Axiom Zen published Ethereum CryptoKitties' collectible trading game, whose non-fungible felines literally crashed the Ethereum network a year ago. CryptoKitties remains responsible for some of the most expensive NFT-based collectible games ever sold, some even higher than six points.
Other games, such as the highly anticipated "Gods Unchained" by Fuel Games, which just two weeks ago has sold its 2 millionth digital business card, similarly it is based on the auction of rare and tokenized collectibles to generate revenue. "Plague Hunters" by Arcade Distillery – a turn-based "turn-based" turn-based strategy game with an integrated market based on Ethereum for the purchase and sale of gaming weapons and "hunters" – uses a similar chain / off-chain hybrid model: NFT transactions are processed on the blockchain while the main gameplay is not.
In mid-November, Arcade Distillery announced that "Plague Hunters" has passed Sony's review process and is now out for PlayStation 4 in the first quarter of 2019. When it lands, it will mark the first time a blockchain game brings trading NFT to an important console.
Beyond the sign
With Sony on board the blockchain bandwagon, the question arises: when an important publisher will publish his first blockchain-based title? In July, the new blockchain game protocol MagnaChain announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with Epic Games, the creator of the great hit "Fortnite", inciting the rumors of an upcoming "Fortnite on the blockchain". MagnaChain, however, has remained relatively quiet since its original announcement and neither company will comment on the precise details of their partnership or progress.
For Ubisoft, Pouard says the company, bound by a fiduciary duty to its shareholders, is still in a "test-and-learn" phase when it comes to blockchain. "Real estate" is still very new on the market and relatively untested, and Pouard says it remains to be seen if the model is "something that publishers can manage over the long term".
Burgel's B2Expand has recently started testing this use case, after having released its first game, Beyond the Void, just over a month ago on Steam. The game uses Ethereum's blockchain for its "economic backbone", allowing players to buy, sell and trade "cosmetic game items" for the online Battle Arena Multiplayer and real-time strategy mashup using the Nexium token ( NXC) of B2Expand. But had it not been for the very early launch of the company's ICO project and ICO in November 2016, Burgel said that Beyond the Void would explore the implementation of the blockchain in its basic gameplay.
However, Burgel agrees that, in addition to "real estate" and trade created around NFT trading, "the gaming industry has yet to find the right business models to suit these opportunities." However, he believes that publishers can find value in any tools that enable gaming communities to "grow and feel organically involved", for example by facilitating the creation and distribution of user-generated content. This is just "one of many possibilities", says Burgel, and "many companies are already exploring new ideas".
Dan Biton, a member of the Blockchain Game Alliance board and co-founder of the export-blockchain betting platform Gimli, says we need to think beyond the current video game landscape to imagine how these possibilities might look. "A game that turns completely on the blockchain is an example of a decentralized platform that could be owned by everyone, and we could think of something in which each player has his part in a voting system to evolve the rules of the game", He says. This means that the logic of the game "or even the game itself" could change according to the wishes of its players "in a completely decentralized way".
It is a game experience radically different from the one currently available, and one of those that Ubisoft is already putting to use its resources and its sector. Ubisoft's Strategic Innovation Lab, an internal think tank dedicated to examining future industry trends, is already looking beyond the limited "cryptographic" cases available on the market today.
The lab has spent the last few months building a prototype, a game inspired by Minecraft, a treasure hunt and exploration of the island called "HashCraft". The game does not use NFT. In fact, it has very little to do with tokens. Rather, it incorporates blockchain in a way that pushes the limits of what was previously thought possible in games, positioning game publishers like Ubisoft simply as the creators of the "fantasy" – the characters and the overall storylines of the game – and the players like builders of "experiences" that they truly possess.
It's a bold new path and Ubisoft is still at the start of this journey. "There's still a lot we need to find out, which can not be done without continuing our exploration or collaboration within the ecosystem," says Pouard. And collaboration is exactly what Blockchain Game Alliance seeks. The young coalition of gaming companies at the forefront is now proceeding to formalize a formal governance structure for their organization, one that seeks to accommodate the admission of others within the industry that share the same vision and are eager to join. Says Pouard: "This is only the beginning of adventure".