Rethinking the ban on selling in-game assets

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Should buying in-game assets from another player be prohibited as cheating? The answer depends on who you ask.

Game publishers would probably say that special gear, weapons, or outfits are meant to be earned – exciting rewards for hours of hard work and game participation. Buying these assets outright, they might say, wouldn’t be not just cheating; that would betray the very spirit of the game.

On the surface, it’s a logical (if a little tight) argument. But in their furious defense of the player experience, these critics ironically neglect player experience.

Consider Fortnite. Generally speaking, maintaining a decent cosmetic collection requires hours of gameplay and a sizable amount of real money. Collecting rare skins can be difficult to the point of impossible, as the game randomly allocates cosmetics and limits proactive acquisition to Battle Pass earnings and V-Bucks purchases. Want a limited-time, event-specific asset? You better be at this event, or you could lose your chance forever.

Some might argue that these limitations make in-game acquisitions more satisfying and rewarding. But their argument – ​​that digital assets should be “rewards” for playing – fundamentally misses the prestige aspect of collecting. A Fortnite cosmetics inventory, like a collection of real-world art, is not just a representation of how hard the collector has worked to acquire certain items. Objects themselves to have value; to dismiss them as mere gameplay prizes is to flatly deny that curation is an integral part of the player experience.

Given all of this, it’s no surprise that gamers want to access digital assets through player-to-player trades. Earlier this year, a Fortnite News poll found that nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of gamers surveyed thought Epic Games should create an item trading platform. But they don’t hold out much hope – the investigative team concluded that despite the interest, Epic is unlikely to build a trading system as it could undermine V-Buck sales.

Epic’s financial motivation to avoid player-to-player trades is understandable; he wants to maintain his grip on the Fortnite economy. However, in the absence of honest trading options, players have flocked to the black market to buy digital assets. Fortnite accounts cost between $200 and $250 each; some can sell for thousands of dollars.

These trades pose a significant problem for Epic. In December, the publisher went so far as to tweet out a reminder that buying and selling accounts is a punishable offense; those who engage in black trading could lose their stocks forever. Hacking is also a problem – according to a recent report from Night Lion Security, thousands of stolen Fortnite accounts are sold each year for a collective amount of $1 billion.

Above: My DeFit Pet is a blockchain game in which players own assets.

Image Credit: My Pet DeFit

Yet the market demand for gaming assets is clearly there, as is player recognition of their value. Players spend a huge amount of effort and time building their collections. Shouldn’t they have a way to curate and trade without turning to – or worse, being victims of a dangerous black market?

Currently, the answer for most mainstream games seems to be a resounding nope. But on the fringes of the industry, DeFi developers may have found a way to facilitate curation and reward player efforts through blockchain-based games.

Blockchain-based games, or DeFi games, are games that use blockchain-based cryptography. As Adrian Krion described for Nasdaq earlier this year: “The mechanics of DeFi enable blockchain games to provide players with different ways to make it worthwhile and earn rewards. This growing proliferation of monetary benefits is a growing point of interest.

In Fortnite, cosmetic assets have perceived offside value because players want them. In DeFi games, similar assets have intrinsic value as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Thus, players of blockchain-based games can reap real financial rewards by engaging in gameplay and item curating.

“Collect and trade games are among the most popular genres on the blockchain,” Krion pointed out, “in part because they allow players to buy, sell, and trade unique tokens and assets. And with games increasingly creating and issuing their own native tokens, developers are essentially able to build their own economies and ecosystems, and connect to each other through them, in many cases even across multiple platforms. -forms.

Of course, some might argue that DeFi games democratize the game economy at the expense of the game itself. As Dr. Serkan Toto, founder of an independent video game consulting firm, recently said, Reverse“A lot of these games seem like forced exercises in basically trying to use blockchain and digital ownership and monetization.”

Historically speaking, he is right. Consider CryptoKitties. In the game, players have the ability to buy, breed, and sell cats. But cats aren’t really do anything; they just saunter around the player screen looking (arguably) cute. As a result, players face the reverse of the Fortnite collection problem: players can organize, but they can’t. to play.

This problem is partly due to a mismatch in the skills of DeFi developers. Game development and DeFi app development are distinct and therefore require niche-specific training. Asking a DeFi developer to create a fun blockchain-based game is a bit like asking a pastry chef to cook a main dish; the result will be achievable, but it will probably not meet expectations.

But in recent years, blockchain-based game producers have begun to find a more balanced position. When those of us at Kardia Chain started building the My DeFi Pet team, for example, we specifically curated a 50/50 developer ratio – 50% DeFi experts and 50% mainstream game developers. .

Our intention with My DeFi Pet was to create a mass adoption blockchain game that balanced conventional gameplay with DeFi functionality. My DeFi Pet revolves around a set of game activities such as collecting, breeding, evolving, wrestling and trading digital pets – it’s a real, playable game which enables key aspects of the conventional game while allowing players to participate in its economy.

Of course, we are far from the only team making balanced DeFi game development a priority. The management team behind Skyweaver, a collectible card game that lets players own and trade their digital game cards as NFTs, expressed a similar perspective in a post earlier this year.

“Above all, you need to get rid of the friction so the player can get into the game themselves,” said Michael Sanders, lead storyteller and co-founder of Skyweaver’s Horizon Blockchain Games studio. “Blockchain technology isn’t that meaningful unless the game itself is enjoyable in the first place.”

Gamers and blockchain enthusiasts are at a turning point. Now that blockchain-based games have begun to prove that they are not just fun investment platforms, we could see a boom in innovative games that blend gambling and economics.

Going forward, it is reasonable to expect that emerging DeFi games will provide a balanced experience that solves many of the problems inherent in conventional and blockchain-based games. These games will solve the CryptoKitties playability problem by incorporating conventional gaming features into the game – and will solve the Fortnite curation problem by facilitating secure and legitimate trading with blockchain-based technology.

Gamers today want to trade their in-game assets because they know, more than anyone, their true value. Isn’t it time the gaming industry recognized their point of view and allowed them to do so?

It just seems right.

Tri Pham is the CEO of KardiaChain and My DeFi Pet.

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