Both startups and established gaming companies are showing unprecedented interest in blockchain and crypto technology to advance the industry. Last May, Enjin announced that massively popular game Minecraft was integrating its EnjinCraft blockchain solution, a plugin that will allow players to integrate and trade blockchain items through the game’s servers.
This is one of many ambitious projects entering the blockchain and crypto space. In the last months, we’ve seen several platforms that are entirely fueled by the technology, such as Somnium Space, The Sandbox, and Decentraland. Now, giants like Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Microsoft, and Atari are eager to explore the applications of blockchain.
Several games have already proven its potential. CryptoKitties, for example, is an Ethereum-based game for collecting and breeding cats. Each of them is unique and 100% owned by a user, and some (like the virtual car Dragon) have sold for $170,000, or ETH in cryptocurrency. Other popular games benefitting from blockchain include the Japanese My Crypto Heroes, spaceship builder 0xUniverse, and digital trading card game Gods Unchained.
Blockchain will certainly continue benefiting the gaming industry by providing better user experiences and true ownership for players and content creators. Below are some of the main platforms and companies betting on it.
Blockchain Digital Worlds
Somnium Space is a blockchain VR metaverse or open social virtual world. The game has its own currency and economy, as well as a marketplace for games, social experiences, avatars, and land ownership. The use of blockchain technology allows Somnium Space to provide a long-lasting economy that lets creators monetize their work and offer it inside a persistent universe.
Decentraland is the first-ever virtual world that is completely owned by its users—who can create scenes, structures, and artworks. The game offers a simple builder tool as well as an SDK for advanced creators. Decentraland’s marketplace offers land, estates, avatar wearables, and names and is all backed by Ethereum blockchain. There’s one feature that differentiates this game from any others: It has a model of governance called DAO, an autonomous organization that runs polls and bindings votes to determine the future of the virtual world.
The Sandbox is one of the most ambitious blockchain games of 2020. The platform is completely user-generated and consists of a 3D voxel editor for creating items, a market-place for trading them, and a multiplayer sandbox environment for experiencing the world. The game is entering public beta in Q4 2020, with several events planned to launch the play-to-earn mechanisms.
New Blockchain Players
Microsoft began using Quorum blockchain technology in 2018 to offer real-time royalty information for publishers of Xbox games. The following year, the company introduced Azure Blockchain Services, a platform that furthers the process even more by integrating the cloud marketplace with Lition blockchain. Microsoft was the first major provider to bring blockchain to the cloud.
Ubisoft defines itself as “a creator of worlds.” The company is set on offering its users original and memorable gaming experiences—and has turned its eyes to blockchain. Since 2019, Ubisoft has been exploring the Ethereum blockchain for managing in-game items purchase. This year, the company announced its Entrepreneurs Lab incubator program call for startups interested in exploring the nascent technology. The focus of the program will be placed on transaction security, virtual assets ownership, and relationships with and between gamers.
In 2018, Sony acquired a patent to apply blockchain technology to its digital rights management (DRM) system for video games, movies, and music —including those in the Playstation Network. This year, Sony also announced a new high-speed processing technology capable of performing data transactions for the Blockchain Common Database (BCDB). The Sony group is now expanding the application of blockchain to private key management.
About The Blockchain Game Alliance
Perhaps the main engine behind the adoption of blockchain in gaming, the Blockchain Gaming Alliance is an organization committed to promoting the technology within the game industry. The group provides an open forum for individuals and companies to collaborate, spread awareness about blockchain, and create common standards for creating, publishing, and playing games. Among the Alliance’s sponsors are Ubisoft, Ark.io, AMD, Algorand, Maker, Matic, Mobox, Chromia, Animoca brands, and Galaxy Interactive.
About the Author
Yisela Alvarez Trentini is an Anthropologist + User Experience / Human-Computer Interaction Designer with an interest in emerging technologies, social robotics, and VR/AR.