We’ve all heard about Blockchain, a digital ledger that automatically records the history of transactions adding transparency to any process. Bitcoin was its first application, but blockchain has had major hype in recent years based on the promise of transforming many different industries from banking to healthcare, education, and voting (just to name a few.)
Now, we are seeing the emergence of Blockchain games. Yes, you read that correctly. Some publishers are integrating this blockchain technology into their games. This adds a little layer of protection to the player and their assets, all thanks to cryptocurrencies.
The majority of Blockchain games take place online and you need a computer in order to play. Don’t worry though, there are actually some F2P Blockchain games out there as well!
Let’s look at a couple of these Blockchain games.
All the fun, none of the mess
CryptoKitties, as adorable as it sounds, is a game that uses the cryptocurrency ether to collect and breed digital kittens. Are you getting flashbacks to the days of Tamagotchi? Because I am. Anyway, it all started with the idea that a digital item could be rare or collectable, like baseball cards.
The original kittens are called “Gen 0” and a new one is released every 15 minutes. The developer, Axiom Zen, says that they will keep releasing Gen 0 kittens up until November of this year when they expect to hit 50,000 originals. After that, there is no more! The only way to get new kittens is to breed them together or trade/sell them to other players.
These kittens can go for thousands of dollars as well. It sounds absurd to me, but it really does go along with that baseball card theory. The more rare the kitten, the more money you can get for it. Each kitten is as unique as one of us, with its own special code and set of attributes (or cattributes, as the game calls them) that they get from their parents. Aw.
I won’t get that into the actual logistics of the game, but I would like to talk about why people are getting so into this.
It may be digital, but it’s mine
Thanks to Blockchain, these kittens can’t be duplicated like other digital goods. That means that when you buy a CryptoKitty, it is actually yours. Just like going out and adopting a real cat but without having to get a litter box. Win, win!
However, there are some downsides. It costs money to do anything in the CryptoKitties marketplace, like breed or trade. While you can take your kittens code and bring it elsewhere, there isn’t much for you to do with it once you are there (unless you have some fun CryptoKitty playhouse you aren’t telling me about.) You also run the risk of losing the actual image of the cat as well. Bummer.
I can predict your next thought, “that doesn’t really sound like a ‘game.’” Well reader, I would agree with you! But it just so happens to be the leading example of a Blockchain game on the market right now. Having transacted 25 million in USD, they are certainly making a name for themselves. They are even joining Ubisoft in their first Blockchain Hackathon this weekend! That’s really cool.
If you still aren’t convinced, don’t worry. I have searched the wonderful internet and found another example of a Blockchain game that is actually a game (and a free-to-play mobile app!)
Blockchain games on mobile
It’s called Spells of Genesis and uses Blockchain technology and bitcoin for transactions. The game started like any other F2P mobile app; it partially monetizes with ads and players can get free cards and use them in battles against other players. Remember Magic: The Gathering? It’s basically that in a mobile app.
However, Blockchain comes into play when players decide they want to buy new cards that have higher stats and power. These cards are collectable and you buy them with bitcoin. Here’s the catch, developer EverdreamSoft has only released 300 of them. At least CryptoKitties gave us 50,000!
The cards are kept in a separate wallet app called BookOfOrbs (ORB stands for Ownership Revolution on the Blockchain.) This wallet can then be linked to the game and used in gameplay.
This has the same idea as the first game, where you have a collectable item that is unique and non-duplicatable. But, Spells of Genesis adds that actual gameplay aspect so your collectable can be used for something. Yay!
Spells of Genesis is the perfect example of how Blockchain can be used in the free-to-play mobile industry. While you can play the game without the use of Blockchain, the purchase of Blockchain cards could potentially enhance the game for you. Instead of using in-app currency to deal random cards to play with, you can search out and purchase specific cards for their special powers. Which, hypothetically, defeats your enemies faster. It truly treads the line of being a “freemium” game, with Blockchain catapulting it into a new realm of possibility.
In the end, CryptoKitties and Spells of Genesis have similar goals. By only releasing a set amount of inventory, they are allowing for these non-duplicatable items to become rare and sought after. It may be hard to believe that these items could go for as much as a Mickey Mantle baseball card, but players seem to be eating it up. What do you think?