Full Steam Ahead: Spending Tokens In Digital Gaming Economies
Imagine the hours a gamer spends playing sports games like Madden or FIFA, or action/shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Now, take those hours and convert those into playable tokens or coins that can then be used to enter tournaments, purchase in-game items, or even transferring from player to player.
In today’s gaming world, game developers like EA Sports, Activision, Treyarch, or Epic Games are providing a one-stop shop for players to enter, play, and purchase content, all in their universe.
It’s no longer about buying gift cards to the PlayStation Store or Microsoft Store; it’s about utilizing your already earned in-game tokens/monies to purchase downloadable content and addons.
Welcome to the Digital Economy
Epic Game’s “Fortnite”
Take Fortnite’s V-Bucks, for example. The easiest way to earn them is by simply logging into the game each day. Each day, the player receives a daily reward. The in-game currency can be spent in both the Battle Royale PxP mode and the Save the World PvE campaign. These V-Bucks allows the player to purchase certain in-game items. Otherwise, a user can simply use real-life cash and purchase them.
Treyarch’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4”
In Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, developers have included the “Black Market”, allowing players to conduct in-game transactions to help increase their skillset and level of gameplay. The game’s microtransaction currency, “COD Points”, allows players to buy tiers of the Black Market if they choose, as naturally playing through all 200 tiers of the “cosmetic rewards” would require a significant number of hours and game play by the player.
EA & DICE’s “Battlefield 5”
In EA & DICE’s latest installment to the Battlefield series, the latest game has introduced two versions of in-game currency—a premium currency that can be used to buy cosmetic items for use in-game, and “grind currency” which requires hours of gameplay.
How The Blockchain Can Enhance Digital Economies
As gaming is quickly becoming one of the world’s most important and profitable forms of digital entertainment, consumers spend over $100 billion a year. In developing these in-game economies, new technologies, like the Blockchain and cryptocurrency can help expand this universe to incentivize players to give full effect to the “work hard, play hard” ism.
Currently, the “in-game asset industry” comprise of the players, game-developers, and third-party platforms and intermediaries. While game developers work hard to keep players fixated on their universe, ultimately, it’s difficult to continue using these middle men, as players want full control over their virtual items they earn and purchase.
Back in 2003, Steam was introduced as the first platform to allow players to trade in-game items, including the ability to buy, download, and launch their games. From within the platform, players could log into different marketplaces to buy and sell their purchased in-game items with other players.
Fast forward to 2018-2019, the marketplace is faced with two major issues—restriction and security issues.
In its current state, in-game asset trading is extremely restricted and prohibitive. In a centralized system where you have the few major gaming organizations that take their cut of the pie, they are able to control the highways of traffic and transactions running through their own gaming servers. While players may be able to trade items within a particular game, that’s about it. Yet, players historically haven’t been able to trade items across platforms or even games. This keeps the competitive edge among game developers and gaming platforms.
Another major issue is the comprehensive scams that players run against one another. According to one report, 50-99% of all virtual assets available online are fraudulent. Most commonly, the “PayPal chargeback” scheme has taken players with a run for their money.
With the power of blockchain technology, these two issues can be addressed in ways that benefit the game developers, players, and the platform.
Implementing the peer-to-peer (P2P) system, allows players to transact directly with one another and game developers, without having to worry about middle-men clearing houses. This removes the necessity of another third-party to control and monitor the transactions taking place. Remember the U.S. economist, Adam Smith, and his “invisible hand” principle? Take this theory and apply it to the gaming sector.
Creating In-Game Currencies
Most importantly, by creating either a universal token or specific in-game currency, players are able to buy, trade, and sell in-game items to one another and even potentially across a series of games, whether it be Call of Duty, Battlefield, or today’s fan favorite, Fortnite.
While a number of projects are beginning to address these issues, one company is working to meet both the needs of the gaming community and blockchain enthusiasts. In its beta-phase, MobileGo has introduced its GShare tool, converting gamers’ computer power into usable coins, GShare Gold coins. Similar to mining, there is no crypto involved. Rather, it’s a soft currency that by running the app in the background, players earn MGO tokens while playing their games.
Currently, it’s being used on esports platforms, available for public beta tests. Developed for gamers of all skill sets, gamers can find decent competitors and spend a good amount of time playing, while earning tokens.
The holders of MGO are able to use their tokens as an accepted payment method in both the Xsolla Pay Station and esports platform, making its adoption more appealing to the sphere.
Yet, as these technologies become more expansive in this gaming universe, players, developers, and platforms will find a new means in which to incentivize “smart gaming” for the community as a whole, while rewarding all those who have helped create the world in which we escape to for hours upon hours.
Andrew is a Forbes Contributor, former contributor for The Merkle, former Huff Post contributor. He also works as a consultant for ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC across Dallas and Ohio on the latest news in the technology law realm. He has been quoted in many Forbes articles and featured in national stories across the countries such as Cheddar on GDPR, and on podcasts such as Lawyer 2 Lawyer, Thinking Like A Lawyer, TheLegalTool Kit, and This Week In The Law.