Use Cases & Challenges of Blockchain in the Gaming Industry

This past weekend, the largest celebration of gaming culture, PAX West, came to Seattle. The festival gathered thousands of gamers and industry experts to celebrate engaging video, tabletop, and arcade games. In celebration of PAX West, Dragonchain partnered with OnePiece Work to host a meetup on the first Friday of the event; exploring how blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the gaming industry. A panel of industry leaders shared their knowledge about the challenges today. And gave insights on what’s next for blockchain and gaming in the Pacific Northwest. They answered the questions, is gaming moving towards being an Olympic sport? Also, will blockchain keep up the scores and immutably record all match data?

The panel included:

  • Joe Roets, the CEO & Founder of Dragonchain, a hybrid blockchain first to Interchain with Bitcoin and originally began at The Walt Disney Company.
  • Jon Bonazza, the Founder, CEO, and Technical Director at SummerPlay Games. Bonazza has been an avid gamer since he was young and has worked with Roets for several years.
  • James Mayo, the Founder of 8 Circuit Studios. Mayo has been in the gaming industry for 30 years before founding his company.
  • Gary Hall, the CTO of BitGamer and Co-Founder of Jag Solutions. Hall has spent over 20 years in the IT industry. A decade of which he worked at Cisco Systems, building their data centers worldwide, after which they automated the whole process. At BitGamer, Hall aims to bring a revolution to the gaming industry for all gamers through blockchain.
  • Danny Luedke, the Product Marketing Director at Dragonchain, moderated the panel.

So how does blockchain fit into the gaming industry? According to Bonazza, technology isn't quite there to take full advantage of blockchain for gamers. However, there isn't a lack of use cases.

  • Tokenization of assets is a pretty standard use case in blockchain these days.
  • Others are working on putting completely decentralized backend systems for games, so running your next demo on decentralized and open source backend servers.
  • Scarcity is another use case. In the game that SummerPlay Games is building, all the weapons are tokenized and have a history associated with them. Take a Twitter user with a verified following. You can say a popular gamer used a specific weapon in one of your games, and it is provably him. So if you sold that item in a marketplace, it would have more value than it otherwise might have.
  • Roets agrees scarcity is huge. Leaderboards, transferring assets between games or communities, as a provable activity. Or even your whole character, proving the gamer didn't cheat to get a specific asset or character.
  • There are profit incentives too, both for gamers and the gaming industry.

Mayo believes the gaming industry will use blockchain technology. Apart from the technical side, he sees three ways to think about what blockchains do for gaming in terms of demo philosophies.

  • Use blockchain for persistence, to keep something public and make sure that it lasts forever, at least as long as the blockchain will run.
  • Interoperability, you have something that lives on a blockchain forever, and you can also have that thing work between games or versions of games over time.
  • Once you have both persistence and interoperability, you can do cool stuff on blockchain that's not possible on a hard drive, at least on Ethereum and Dragonchain. One of the ways people like to experience their games is through characters; you can put a character on the blockchain and have it forever. It then could mutate or change over time and move between games. This is how blockchain might be applied to something that is pretty standard in games. Dragonchain's Interchain technology and horizontal scaling is part of what makes this possible today.

For Hall, blockchain, at it's most basic definition is a ledger. If you take that ledger, since it never dies and continuously grows, and you make that itself into a gaming platform, and put a player inside of it, couldn't a blockchain on its own be a game? Because it constantly changes, which would create an environment for a gamer that never stays the same. You need the input for a gamer to control the environment to be a part of it.

Hall also knows gaming will only keep growing. There's a lot of attention and money in gaming, and everyone realizes that. It's heading towards being an Olympic sport, although it's not there yet. However, if it does reach that point, having blockchain there that records everything that happens, makes it even more reliable. You can't change data; it's on blockchain and it's proven.

Bonazza brings up another great point in regards to moving characters between blockchains. After launching a small game, smaller developers who don't have the resources to reach critical mass easily could leverage this capability to bootstrap their player base. The biggest challenge would be how to make blockchain so ambiguous that the average person understands it well enough? Currently, Bonazza is using Dragonchain technology for his game that hasn't been announced yet. One of the reasons is the interoperability part, where he can run smart contracts and easily Interchain with other blockchains.

Mayo, on the other hand, is using Ethereum, for characters, property, and digital items. Interoperability happens with property, they have a partner game where you can have a building occupy space in their game, as well in the other one.

Hall says they're using blockchain in a lot of various ways. One would be a social platform they're offering, where other gamers can easily donate microtransactions to other people who are posting tricks or ideas. Besides using cryptocurrencies, there are a lot more opportunities in regards to storing data, and they want to explore as much as possible. You can also have a provable history of a gamer's match data, to enable gamers seeing whom they are playing against.

Challenges with game development and blockchain

  • PR - Blockchain is a new thing and still somewhat controversial.
  • Games are expensive to make, during fundraising somebody could tweet something and completely destroys the credibility of Bitcoin for example.
  • In terms of designing the game, blockchain is just another feature. There's nothing magical about it and should not be treated as such.
  • Try not to overuse it for things that can just as easily be done with databases.
  • It's challenging to learn and be careful what you put on the (public and vertical badly scalable) blockchain such as Ethereum, gamers expect a good user experience.
  • High transaction fees with certain networks.
  • Make a lot of mistakes and earn quickly, while also finding the fun.
  • Look at the amount of data you put in and out, find a blockchain that supports high volumes.
  • Take legal issues into consideration, for example the volatility of cryptocurrencies that are not a stable token or stable moving average.
  • How do you remove data out of a blockchain that's not supposed to be removable?
  • Think outside of the box

Learn how Dragonchain's private/public hybrid blockchain solved all these problems. Are you looking to use blockchain in the gaming industry? Contact us today. Want to learn more? Watch the full 1-hour video about gaming and blockchain on Twitch.