From a niche pastime exercised by a small, but passionate community to an entertainment juggernaut that is today bigger than movies, TV and music, the video games industry has come a long way in just a few decades. This phenomenal growth has always been underpinned by the industry’s unrivaled ability to take advantage of the latest developments and advancements in computer technology. Weaving together artistry, storytelling and a lot of technical wizardry, the medium of video games has been able to grow and evolve alongside an increasingly complex and sophisticated tech toolset. The industry has gone through several distinct eras defined by the level of technology available to developers at the time.
Now, we might be on the verge of a new era for video games, one defined by a growing adoption of blockchain and other Web3 technologies.
How can Web3 benefit gaming?
Web3 has the potential to take gaming to a whole new level, no pun intended. This is not to say that Web3 games will simply replace traditional gaming, though. Rather, just like VR, AR, cloud computing and others, Web3 technologies will likely be incorporated into the ever-expanding game development toolset, giving game creators new robust tools to work with.
So what do blockchain and Web3 bring to the table?
Perhaps most importantly, Web3 gives us a new way of connecting players with one another. Today’s era of unparalleled connectivity hinges on large data centers and complex server infrastructure and while this approach has generally been very successful, it has its shortcomings. For one, these server farms are typically privately owned, meaning that the players are left at the mercy of the server operator, be it the game developer or a specialized provider. Whole games and their communities would cease to exist in an instant if the servers supporting them are shut down for good.
In contrast, a Web3 network is not controlled by a single entity and it cannot be shut down on a whim. This means that gaming communities that are built around Web3, blockchain-powered games are much better protected from corporate interference. Web3 games are also more censorship resistant, as there is no single entity that can decide to, for example, ban a player. You can learn more about what makes Web3 solutions a viable alternative to the traditional server infrastructure in our piece on decentralized cloud storage.
Furthermore, decentralized networks could be the connective tissue that binds different gaming experiences together to form larger, cohesive ecosystems of games. Now, video games are notoriously tricky to pull off as each game needs to be carefully tuned to accommodate a specific gaming experience and avoid potential balance issues. So making two or more separate games work with one another is not as simple as connecting them. Such an undertaking would likely prompt new game design paradigms to emerge, and that’s exciting. After all, the ability to inspire a new way of thinking is a hallmark of any transformational technology.
One thing that is likely to be a major factor in enabling such interconnected ecosystems is Web3’s ability to support digital economies. It’s important to keep in mind that creating balanced in-game economies is extremely difficult and having one game influencing another game’s economy is probably not the best idea. But even having separate economies that all exist within a common framework would alone be immensely helpful for bringing interconnected gaming experiences to life. It so happens that Web3 comes with such a framework baked in, in the form of token standards.
For example, Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard, the most popular standard for fungible crypto tokens, is a powerful tool that ensures that all fungible tokens existing on Ethereum share some common design principles, functionalities and features. Because of this, any ERC-20 token can easily be converted into another, giving players a convenient way to hop between different Ethereum-based games and be sure that they have the means to obtain the necessary in-game currencies.
And since we’re talking about token standards, we would be remiss not to mention non-fungible tokens. Since the advent of Ethereum’s ERC-721 standard, NFTs have quickly grown into a Web3 staple and have brought a new perspective to digital assets and digital ownership. In gaming NFTs can be used for a variety of purposes, including to preserve and verify ownership over in-game items.
The beginning of a journey
As things stand today, Web3 gaming still has a long way to go before it can unlock its potential. But to dismiss that potential runs counter to the spirit of video games. The industry is driven by iteration just as much as by creativity. Many of the key design principles and technologies that drive the industry today have matured through iteration, having started in a much less refined state.
Another key factor for the industry’s success is that even in their early, unrefined state, video games have always been able to present compelling experiences pushing the limits of the technology available at the time. Looking to the future of Web3 gaming, it’s comforting to know that a formula for success has already been so clearly established in gaming’s past.
Learn more about LimeAcademy and how you can transition to blockchain development and start building in the Web3 space!