Tech & Gaming

Getting Gamers On Board With NFTs

As an integral part of an ever-evolving industry, you’d be forgiven for thinking that gamers would welcome the prospect of NFTs and their incorporation into the gaming sphere.

Surprisingly, the gaming community has a rather negative view on any conventional gaming companies that are thinking about integrating NFTs into their games. How much of this is justified? 

The primary reason is the commercial aspect of it, being that these games are designed to make a profit. Many gamers feel that NFTs would just add an extra layer of P2E (pay-to-earn) mechanics. However, NFTs could actually benefit mainstream gaming companies, the games they produce, and ultimately, the gamers themselves.

The Rise of the NFT

The recent boom in blockchain technology has led to the rise of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs are digital assets that are stored on a blockchain and are unique, meaning they cannot be replaced by another copy of the same asset. This makes them perfect for use in gaming, as they can represent in-game items that are truly one-of-a-kind.

Also, it’s important to note the distinction between NFTs as we’re discussing them here, and often predatory microtransactions that give all types of paid in-game digital ownership a bad rep. With an NFT, you get what you pay for, while microtransactions, loot boxes, and other exploitative practices only serve to benefit a single entity. Here that’s the company making and, even more, the company publishing the game.

The Pros vs. the Cons

The benefits of NFTs for gaming are many. For one, they can help to combat fraud and counterfeiting, as each NFT is stored on a blockchain and thus cannot be replicated. They can also be used to create new revenue streams for gaming companies, as players may be willing to pay real money for rare and unique in-game items. And finally, NFTs can help to create more immersive and social gaming experiences, as players can trade and show off their rare items with others.

However, there are also some potential downsides to NFTs in gaming. One is that they could potentially add an extra layer of pay-to-win mechanics, as players who are able to afford more expensive NFTs would have an advantage over those who cannot. Another is that NFTs could lead to game worlds that are even more segregated and siloed off from one another, as each game would have its own unique set of NFTs that could not be used in other games.

The Current State of NFTs in Gaming

At a recent company meeting, EA CEO Andrew Wilson called NFTs and P2E games “the future of our industry”. He continued, “It’s still early to tell, but I think we’re in a really good position to think more innovatively about that on a go-forward basis.”

And while they may be watching the development closely, the company has yet to officially make any significant steps into the P2E or NFT space and integrate them into their games. Their somewhat reserved stance reflects a broader position inside the gaming industry.

According to a recent report at the 2022 Game Developers Conference, nearly 75 percent of developers are not interested in cryptocurrency as a payment option, while 70% are opposed to NFT integration into their games. The hesitancy among developers is evident due to cryptocurrency and NFTs still being fairly new and uncharted territory. But, for how long can they reject what is already here?

A New Approach to Gaming

The play-to-earn gaming sector, which was created specifically for and around blockchain technology, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the business. Since the beginning, blockchain-based game developers have been trailblazers in the space. The games that they’ve built are more than simple digital experiences – they’re living, breathing economies. In these worlds, players can own their in-game assets and are rewarded for their contributions to the game ecosystem.

This model represents a fundamental shift in how gaming is viewed. In traditional gaming, players are at the mercy of centralized systems controlled by developers. But with play-to-earn games, players have a real stake in the success of the game. They can work together to build an economy that benefits everyone involved.

Tony Hawk, the legendary skateboarder, is just the latest celebrity to embrace NFTs and the metaverse. He has teamed up with The Sandbox to create a series of digital skate parks that can be bought, sold, or traded as NFTs.

This is just the latest example of how NFTs are becoming more mainstream and how celebrities are getting involved in the space. It’s also a sign that EA may eventually have to get involved in the NFT space if it wants to remain relevant in the gaming industry.

The Future is Now

This new model isn’t without its own challenges. Developers need to find a way to monetize their games without resorting to the pay-to-win model that has become so prevalent in the industry. In-game economies also need to be carefully managed to ensure that they remain healthy and sustainable in the long term.

According to a recent study by Delphi Digital, a company researching crypto, a variety of gaming platforms may start to accept non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a part of their gameplay experience. Their report suggests that incorporating NFTs into the core free-to-play offering would allow gamers to purchase optional experiences such as new character skins, tickets for events, and other side activities.

With the operative word here being “optional”, it would allow  those who use the game for monetization purposes to profit, while those simply enjoy the game to play it without any limits and constraints. The report argues that the more people care about the game, the more likely they’ll be willing to go the extra mile and spend money on it. 

Finally, the adoption of NFTs and, potentially, other emerging blockchain technologies by the very people the industry so desperately needs approval from, the gamers themselves, will solely depend on whether or not gaming publishers decide to not place emphasis on maximizing their already massive profits, but rather honestly focus on using bleeding-edge technology in service of enriching the entertainment experience of gaming, not hampering it.