Of all the wild applications that the blockchain is going to have on our world, by far the most fun to think about is its effect on the gaming industry. Blockchain and gaming are such a perfect fit for each other; blockchain allows you to completely digitalize assets and bring them into video games where previously this was all done on eBay. Startups like decentraland have created virtual property rights entirely secured by the blockchain. Parsec Frontiers is developing a virtual currency used for an MMO that will blur the line between gaming assets and real assets. The future of blockchain gaming will be defined by virtual assets taking on a newly liquid, valuable, and immutable charm.
Virtual economies operate very similarly to the ones we see in real life. Wherever there are tradable assets to be found, economies develop around them. One of the most liquid and efficient economies of its time was developed by Jagex in its game Runescape, that was essentially a working stock exchange of every item in the game.
This was one of the most interesting economic changes made to the game, and also changed the game entirely. Many people hated it, many people loved it, but overall you can’t argue that it didn’t make trade far more beneficial for the community as a whole. Trades went through far faster, and you could multitask while trading. This, however, brought a whole new dimension to asset management within the game. Now you actually had to worry about which assets you held your net worth in. Instead of thinking about which items provided you as a player the most value, you also had to consider how the rest of the world was valuing it. Now, the thing here is that all value is still restricted to in-game currency. There was a dividing line between the real world and the virtual world that most people wouldn’t cross because they could get kicked out of the game. Enter, blockchain.
Parsec Frontiers is eliminating that line completely. Not only will trading currency in the real world be allowed, it will be a core design feature of the game. The entire premise is that all transactions will happen on the blockchain and be completely auditable by anyone interested. This includes gathering resources, destroying others’ property, and in-game trades. The currency will be on the blockchain, so anyone can trade it at any time, and the price will fluctuate with market demand. What will this do to the game, you might ask?
- Absolute virtual liquidity — In some games its difficult to monetize your gains from playing even with in-game currency. With this solution, not only can you liquidize your assets for in-game currency, but you can do it for USD. No widespread game has tackled this concept yet, as most have opted to make it illegal and try to eliminate the black market. CSGO has had widespread gambling rings taken down, and World of Warcraft has had persistent issues with bots raking in large profits. Parsec Frontiers will not be immune to these issues, and may even face larger regulatory restraints as they are planning to support these use cases. This will allow the game to become 10x more intense, as every loss in the game is a loss in real life. Players may be able to make a living off of the game, if they are a dominant enough force and the game gets a high rate of adoption. This is a virtual reality that matters.
- Pay-to-win — It is possible that a pay to win scheme evolves here, but the problem with this is that it is assuming that the game tries to allow people to have equal footing going in. This game is going to be truly an extension of the world around us, not meant to be perfectly fair in all the ways we expect games to be. Virtual currency will be treated as an asset, not simply as a play toy. Entire organizations will sprout up to manage warfare, resource gathering, and exploration. Large donors outside the game will be able to invest in virtual corporations, and make a liquid return on investment. I may be getting ahead of myself here but the point I’m trying to make is that this game isn’t meant to play by the rules of prior games. It is an entirely different beast.
- A whole new meaning to the word ‘RageQuit’ — This game will be more intense and seemingly world-ending than any game has ever been. The game specs aren’t out yet, but there is a nice little blurb that the so-called, ‘non-aggression pact’ will end December of next year. What I assume this means, is that at some point people will be able to kill each other and take their money. Literally take their money. That concept will make for an absolutely ridiculous gaming experience, the huge risk that will be taken every day going out into space. This already exists to some respect, but the liquidity of the money in and out of this game may mean much higher valuations for in-game items.
This type of game embodies the phrase virtual reality. The blockchain allows for this type of microtransaction on a mass-scale, without allowing the game developers to change things without the players knowing, or hackers to capitalize on bugs without people knowing. It creates the most efficient and profitable economy of any game on the market today, and could make gaming an actual livelihood for a large market of people. This is the power of blockchain.