1200 AHR0cHM6Ly9zMy5jb2ludGVsZWdyYXBoLmNvbS91cGxvYWRzLzIwMjItMTEvZDllYjQyNjctODhiOS00OTY5LTg4ODctNGMwZWJmNmQwMDRhLmpwZw

Axie Infinity is toxic for crypto gaming

Blockchain gaming is only four years old – a toddler compared to the rest of the industry. It has a lot to do with growing up, especially when it comes to play-to-earn games.

I am a 28 year veteran of the wildlife industry. I produced 32 titles in that period on everything from Sega Genesis to Oculus Rift. Some of them were great. Many were forgettable. I hadn’t heard much talk about blockchain games from traditional developers and gamers until Axie Infinity started to take off. Cut to the peak of 2021, and the game had nearly 2 million players logging in daily.

Most people outside the crypto community at the time were (and still are) extremely skeptical of blockchain’s ability to add anything meaningful to gaming. They see Axie as an example of the low production values ​​and rampant speculation they want to avoid at all costs. More so, they see blockchain as a continuation of overreach by publishers. However, in 2021, many believed that Axie would prove the skeptics of blockchain gaming wrong.

It didn’t. Axie and most other crypto “games” to date have been horrible experiences. They’re not even really games. They are more like digital participation, rich NFT owners exploiting low-wage earning players. This is shallow play, layered on a tokenomics model. This was most recently highlighted in October, when Axie’s SLP token fell in value due to an impending token unlock.

Related: Crypto games must be fun to be successful – Money doesn’t matter

Most players sell their tokens on the crypto market rather than in-game, which means that token numbers increase and cause a kind of crypto-inflation. The game model relies on a constant influx of new players to sustain it – something this month has shown is very much not guaranteed.

Axie’s value is primarily driven by this speculation rather than fun. The game, if it can even be called that, is literally a grind. Despite efforts to separate it from game economy dependency with iterations like Axie Origins, the toxic model of being hyper-dependent on tokenomics prevails. This continues to detract from projects trying to make fun games that use blockchain to improve player experience.

At the height of its popularity, the team behind Axie arrogantly claimed to “liberate” gamers and enable a world where work and play merge. But the game’s decline after the massive $620 million hack of customer funds in March showed how hollow this language was. Axie creator Sky Mavis turned from the play-to-earn narrative to a play-and-earn ethos, clearly aware that the game wasn’t going to deliver on its mission.

For blockchain games to be successful, developers need to focus on awesome game design instead of trying to prop up their tokens. During an increasingly difficult global economic climate, even mainstream games are struggling. But those games that are doing well despite market sentiment are AAA titles like God of War Ragnarök and the latest Call of Duty, which have exciting lore and great gameplay.

The ability for players to spend time creating things that people will love in terms of stickers, skins and weapons – while earning them – is key. People need an outlet where they can be creative and put together content that sparks interest and emotion with a community that loves to play the game.

If we want to turn the tide on the perception of blockchain gaming, we need to show how it can benefit players. To move beyond words and actually demonstrate that it improves gameplay and usability. Blockchain can do amazing things as a backend infrastructure, such as allowing players to actually own in-game items, prove attribution and history of their weapons and loot, and be rewarded for their in-game creations.

Related: The reason why bots dominate crypto games? Developers who upset cash stimulate them

Part of Vitalik Buterin’s drive to innovate with blockchain was driven by his distress when he lost a spell’s abilities in World of Warcraft overnight due to centralized control of the game. Blockchain ultimately restores true ownership of in-game features to players, meaning they own them even if a game changes or goes down.

This asset ownership can extend to many areas. Right now, Microsoft and Sony allow you to record video of your in-game activity and then post it to social media, but you don’t really own how it’s monetized. You are locked into YouTube monetization. Blockchain allows players to capture in-game moments, memorialize them as NFTs, and then allow people to buy/sell them as they see fit. By updating game infrastructure and enabling new innovation, real-time integration of players into the creative process can also occur, which is rarely seen in the industry.

Players want involvement in the creation of the games. They don’t want to be manipulated into paying more. Studios need to prioritize gameplay, rich graphics and compelling narratives to bring players on board. The blockchain games that become successful will be the ones where players don’t even know that there is a blockchain in the background.

Deception and speculative frenzy have been the central features of the broader crypto market this year. So bringing players on board is going to be that much harder. Studios will have to go the extra mile to demonstrate to players that blockchain games can achieve the security, fun and adrenaline-pumping action that defines the games they love.

Mark Long is the CEO of Shrapnel, a blockchain-enabled moddable AAA first-person shooter. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in computer science before attending an executive education program at the Wharton School. He previously served as director at HBO’s digital products group; as a group program manager at Microsoft; and as the CEO of companies including Aristia, Meteor Entertainment and Zombie Studios.

This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended to and should not be construed as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Related Posts