Blockchain is considered a breakthrough technology in this modern era of science and is altering many industries including the booming games industry.
But, what is a Blockchain? Think of it as a distributed, decentralized database existing simultaneously on multiple servers where each computer has a copy of the entire database. Each section of data is known as a block, which has a timestamp and a reference to the previous block, forming a chain-like structure. This is why it is known as a “Block-Chain“.
The introduction of Blockchain technology in video games
Blockchain has found its way in various verticals but games have been quick to embrace the technology as well. Lot of game studios are building games around public blockchains like Ethereum and EOS. This blog will help you understand the reasons for the widespread adaption of this technology by the gaming industry. If you are planning to build the next game leveraging blockchain, this blog will help you understand how to structure your game.
You will be surprised to learn about the level of control that Blockchain provides to the “Gamers”, the users who play games. The features can be broadly categorized as:
- Decentralised asset exchanges
- Verifiable scarcity of virtual objects & collectables
- Fast & secure payment network
Blockchain makes it possible to create unique digital content
In a nutshell, the key benefit of using blockchain technology is to store the assets of the gamers on a publicly accessible blockchain. Hence for the first time ever, users can own 100% unique digital items earned while playing the game. Before blockchain, every digital item (like a weapon or trading card) was just a copy of something else. Now users can truly own unique digital asset in a game – which opens up tons of new gaming and collectible options, allowing users to trade and earn their unique digital assets.
Let’s take a look at blockchain game to understand these concepts in details. We have picked Cryptokitties, which also became the first famous blockchain game, to elaborate the concepts further.
Popular Blockchain game
One of the earliest games to emerge on the blockchain network is “Cryptokitties”. After getting released in November 2017, the game triggered extreme congestion on the Ethereum network, causing some significant trouble for the Ethereum developers. After all, everyone on the internet wanted to get a kitty of their own! It was the sensational hit game of that era.
Developed by a Canadian game developer “Axiom Zen”, the game is all about creating fun, unique digital cats, leveraging the power of blockchain to create unique digital assets owned by gamers.
What is the game about?
When you start the game, the first thing which you need to do is own a kitty. Apart from buying or getting one as a gift, the game gives you the option of “breeding” two Cryptokitties together, which produces a unique kitty. Once you are labeled the owner of a kitty, your data is stored on a public blockchain.
Players can also put up their kitties as “public Sires” at a price from which other players may decide to breed their “Dames”. This creates a source of income for players in the game. Moreover, players can even sell their kitties via bidding or even if they are not up for bidding, anyone can put a price to them and the owner may decide to sell/not sell them. The highest bidder wins in these cases. You can review the tutorial as well.
It’s important to note that each kitty produced is “unique” in its own way and no two kitties can be exactly similar. This takes advantage of creating “unique digital assets” owned by gamers.
Since digital assets are possessed by gamers and stored on a public blockchain, the games or other game developers have an option to continue development of the game in case “Axiom Zen’”ceases to support the game. Moreover, since the game is developed upon the Ethereum network, anyone can fork and create various versions of it, which allows enhanced security of digital assets.
Important feature of blockchain is verifiable scarcity of virtual objects
Let us review how CryptoKitties used that concept in the game. An interesting feature that the game offers is “Rarity”. Some of the kitty traits start off as rare but become common with breeding while others don’t. Let’s discuss a few of them to get a clearer concept:
- Each kitty is associated with a Generation number which is the highest amongst the kitties involved in the breeding process. The “Gen 0” kitties are a rarity. At the time of creation, a limit of 50,000 was set by the developers and since the game resides on the blockchain network, this figure is immutable.
- Cryptokitties have many cat categories set. One of them, the “fancy cats” have reached their limit as well so, to own one, the players need to buy them. New ones cannot be created.
- There is a category of “Exclusive cats”. These kitties are dropped by the developers on special occasions.
- There are many other features similar to the ones above. The immutable nature of the Block-chain technology ensures that the numbers cannot be tempered with so this urges the players to look for and try and own rare kitties.
Blockchain provides enhanced security of the network
So, whenever someone creates/breeds/buys (basically performs any kind of transaction upon the block-chain), the Ethereum network needs to perform a series of tasks to confirm that the transaction is valid. This action requires computational power and the miners charge a “gas fee” from the one who initiates the request. The higher the gas price, the faster your transaction will be. If e.g. you are bidding for a cat you like, you should opt for a higher gas price. Other not so trivial tasks can be performed on low gas prices.Keep in mind though, with a very low gas fee, and the miner maxes out, your request might be canceled but you will still have to pay so choose a limit which should at least put your request through. You can review detailed gas price chart.
Since block-chain provides a fast and secure payment network, it allowed kitty owners to exchange their digital assets for a digital currency though a digital Wallet. Payments upon this network are made via “Ether” or ETH and you are expected to have a “Digital Wallet” like Dapper for that purpose. Like with tangible money, its value changes according to the market and you need to convert your currency (e.g. USD) into Ether to be able to pay for things (take a Cryptokitty for example) on the Ethereum network.
Figure shows the average breeding cost ($) from Dec 2017 till Apr 2018 : Ref
In October 2018, CryptoKitties reached the milestone of 1 million cats being bred with a volume of 3.2 million transactions on its smart contracts. It’s interesting to note that before the one millionth kitty was born, a cat by the name of “Dragon” was sold for US $170,000 (600 ETH) on the market! Moreover, of the people who own wallets and have made transactions using the Cryptokitties smart contracts, over 85% possess at least one kitty.
Till September 2018, around $26M (over 50,000 ETH) were generated through the game. The sales aren’t as high as when the game was released because of the realities of digital scarceness, but still the number of kitties created are increasing at a steady rate. One of the reasons might be the decrease in the value of the Ether currency. People might want to get a kitty while it was still affordable!
The advent of the block-chain technology is trying to open a whole new stream for the gaming world. When players understand that they can earn by playing these games, turnout is expected to increase. Moreover, the level of transparency and trust that this technology conveys is sure to help the gaming industry grow immensely. The concept is widely used in card games, multiplayer games and casual games. GenITeam just finished a multiplayer card game leveraging blockchain.
GenITeam Solutions, is leading full service game development agency helping clients builds games from scratch to finish. We are helping various clients build and market, blockchain games. If you are planning to develop blockchain games, please do not hesitate to reach out to experienced game designers for free consultation.