For the 20th part of Unhashed, I reached out to Andrew Colosimo, the CEO and Co-Founder of XAYA, a blockchain gaming and DApps platform. In this interview, we explore several aspects of blockchain and gaming.
Answer: Hey and thanks. I got into Bitcoin in 2011, firstly through mining. I also mined Namecoin, the first altcoin, and have been involved in that community from around the same time. Namecoin opened my eyes to the different possibilities of blockchain more than that of just being e-money.
Going further back, in 2000, starting with Everquest, I spent most of my time trading virtual assets for real money. For me, this “play to earn” experience was something I really enjoyed. Selling a sword for $2000 was both fun and rewarding. I continued to do this in my spare time across a number of MMORPGs. At the time, something people always used to ask me was “why would someone pay for a virtual item that doesn’t really exist?”
This helped me realize that Bitcoin and crypto were going to be big, people will pay for something that doesn’t exist. In 2013 I realized that by using technology like Namecoin, it should be possible to create games that follow all those features which make Bitcoin so great and provide an experience for players that allows them to sell their time in the form of assets acquired by gameplay in a truly transparent, secure, fraud-proof and provably fair way, which was not possible in the original MMOs.
In February 2014, we launched our first test or experimental project, Huntercoin - a fully decentralized simple MMO that provided true and fair play to earn gaming experience, with players earning over $10,000 a day during its peak.
Since then, we’ve focused on R&D and finally released the Xaya blockchain in 2018 and the SDK shortly after. Xaya is a platform and technology which allows developers to build and deploy fully decentralized game worlds on multiple blockchains using Xaya’s SDK.
Answer: At the moment, it’s still very early and we are yet to see an influx of real gamers. I do think that is inevitable. I think when players realize they can sell their time spent playing a game (through assets or selling of accounts) in a way that is fraud-proof, then it just makes more sense for them to play a game like that. Although traditional games provide fun and memories and this should be their primary objective of any game, being able to cash out definitely adds more of an incentive to play a game.
At the moment, blockchain games are about money, yet it is still really early and there are virtually no real games in the traditional sense utilizing blockchain.
Answer: This is something we have focused on for the last few years, and in 2015, our tech lead Dr. Daniel Kraft released a research paper on this topic. We call it “Game Channels”. You can think of game channels as payment channels in Bitcoin or state channels on Ethereum, except they are designed for gaming.
This allows games to still be trustless and decentralized yet allow for millions of transactions or real-time gameplay whilst also reducing blockchain bloat. Although we have yet to release a smooth real-time game, we have built a real-time turn-based game of BattleShips as a tech demo, called Xaya Ships. In this game, the players only need to submit one transaction to the blockchain to start a game, and one when they win, yet there can be an unlimited amount of transactions in between that are not recorded on the blockchain. The game is still verifiable and provably fair as to who won the game.
Answer: Yes, this is not a trivial problem to solve. Games using Xaya’s technology are designed to run unaided and unstoppable in a decentralized way just like Bitcoin. When it comes to updates that affect the state of the game, such as an expansion or fixes, updates need to be planned for a certain time in the future of which the community has an option to update or not. Those that aren’t willing to be running in a parallel universe with different rules. This is essentially a fork of the game world.
Although this might sound like an issue, it actually has the benefit of empowering the gamers or community themselves. If they don’t like an update, they don’t need to, or, they can even update the game (all opensource) themselves. Front end and graphical changes can be done anytime in the case of Xaya games, and third party developers can create their own front ends if they wish.
Answer: I think there is no need to stop it from turning into that if that’s what the community or the game developer wants or is designed. However, in the games we are building, such as Taurion, which is a fully decentralized MMORPG/RTS style game, each asset has utility and its value is associated with that.
The most powerful rail gun is going to be the most expensive rail gun. And, for example, the rarest and expensive blueprint used to build an advanced mining laser would trade for a high value. But its real value comes from using it to build the mining lasers which are then sold to players who will use those to mine resources that they can sell on the built-in DEX inside each building. We have designed the game with a fully player-driven economy where each asset has utility and isn’t just a pretty picture.
Answer: The biggest challenges from our point of view is on-boarding and UX. This is something we have focused on for one of our upcoming projects - Soccer Manager Elite. However, it’s still not perfect and a lot of work needs to be done for it to be perfect.
Answer: Blockchain gaming is only going to get better in terms of performance and accessibility. I believe in the topic of play-to-earn, decentralization will become much more important. Players will want true fair gameplay with no cheating, hacking and so that the currencies and assets in those games are acquired transparently and fairly, just like how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mined. The more expensive their in-game assets become, the more important decentralization will be.
Long term, I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine a virtual world like the matrix, a virtual world with rules that cannot be broken just like the agents can’t break the rules in the matrix, the players can’t break the rules of a fully decentralized virtual reality. All players must follow the laws of that game world.
Disclaimer: The sole purpose of Unhashed is to unhash (decode) information about projects innovating using blockchain and cryptocurrencies and share it with the community. The writer does not have any vested interest in any of the projects covered herein. Not that this article shares any, but still, taking investment advice from strangers on the internet is not a wise thing to do.