Crypto experts discuss blockchain gaming’s current issues

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A panel at Wild Digital SEA 2022 featuring three cryptocurrency specialists discussed the current state of play-to-earn games, the problems those games face and potential solutions.

The panelists included the founder and CEO of STEPVR, Cheng Guo, the head of China at Polygon, Cora Chen, and the co-founder and chief technology officer of Cake DeFi in Singapore, U-Zyn Chua.

When asked about the current state of play-to-earn games, Chua noted that most of the recent games weren’t being played because they were fun. Instead, most of the players were motivated by the financial reward aspect.

“We see a lot of players playing it more for money farming than for fun. So you play more to earn money rather than for fun,” said Chua, as per InsideBitcoins.

Chua continued to explain that most games rewarded players for continuously playing a game. The more players interacted with the game, the more tokens they would produce, which would draw players in.

He drew comparisons to the early stages of blockchain technology, where mining was the primary “game” that players played. Mining benefits the player performing it while also improving the strength of the blockchain. This caused mining to be mutually beneficial, which strengthened the communal aspect.

However, Chua found that most current play-to-earn games didn’t have this feature, and in what he called “a race, kind of the bottom”, players were instead mostly driven to take resources away from others, effectively hurting the communities. Chua said play-to-earn games rather need to find a model that allows players to mutually benefit from each other’s actions, mirroring a real-world economy.

Competition, monetization and sustainability

Play-to-earn games also face very stiff competition from traditional video games. The companies handling most mainstream games, such as Blizzard and Activision, have huge budgets and can afford to spend billions on their games. Guo believes that NFT games can’t compete directly with such a large budget gap. They must instead find ways to carve a niche through the creative use of blockchain technology and better infrastructure to support more ambitious projects that could disrupt the industry.

Chen had a different take on blockchain gaming’s issues. According to her, the issue lies in the fact that developers are still prioritizing monetization and tokenomics over game quality. Plus, combining gameplay, earning and sustainability might be too complicated for some developers at this time when the industry is still fairly new.

“Many of them instantly worry about establishing the tokenomics and don’t really think about increasing the quality of the gaming,” said Chen.

Another consequence of not prioritizing gameplay is a shorter lifespan. Chen noted that most Web3 games didn’t last as long as traditional games, as many players were there to earn rather than enjoy themselves. Chua agreed with her, adding that developers should focus on finding ways to benefit players to increase sustainability rather than inflating the economy.

While the panelists criticized some of the currently available blockchain games, they were optimistic about the industry’s future. For now, the industry should focus on shifting its mindset from play-to-earn to play-and-earn, said Myrtle Anne, the moderator of the panel and co-founder of PlaceWar.