The devices upon which we enjoy video games have come a long way since the release of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first video game console, in 1972. 50 years later and there are now entire different categories of devices that gamers can consume content on — including VR, mobile, desktop, and of course, consoles. Each system offers its users their own set of unique advantages and disadvantages, as well as specific titles that may only be available on one device. This has allowed gamers across the world to access their favourite games from their living room, their office, while out and about, and increasingly, inside of their own digital world. This presents a massive challenge, as well as opportunity, for blockchain-based gaming and metaverse game developers to decide on which platforms they want to develop for that will deliver the most impact. In this article, we will cover the different types of game consoles, some examples and what the future might look like.
Given that the video game console was the first dedicated device to play video games on, we will cover the console first. Simply put: a video game console is a device that outputs a signal to a screen and is controlled via a game controller. Technically there have been nine generations of video game consoles, though we will save that entire 50-year history for another article! The most popular gaming consoles of today are the Xbox from Microsoft, the PlayStation from Sony, and the Switch from Nintendo. As it relates to blockchain-based gaming, gaming consoles face an uphill battle of adoption due to the fact that these platforms are locked down by the companies that produce them. This is often due to the fact that the price of the console itself will often be subsidised by licensing fees on games that are paid to the company that made the console. That type of agreement doesn’t exactly mesh with the open source, digitally native spirit of the blockchain space. There are, however, a number of play and earn and metaverse experiences that can be enjoyed on game consoles today — the most notable being NFT Worlds.
The next category of gaming device is the desktop. The history of the desktop computer is one that goes back even further than the video game console, with the main difference being that a computer is a general purpose computing machine, not a dedicated gaming device. Even still, scientists in those early days realised the potential of the desktop to serve as a device to play games on and, as a result, began to develop games as early as the 1950s — long before anything that resembled an actual “desktop” computer was produced. Additionally, desktop computers are controlled with keyboard and mouse — though a large assortment of peripheral devices can be added, including game controllers. Desktop computers, particularly those geared to gamers, tend to be the most expensive of the devices that we will be discussing. This is both due to their raw computational power, as well as the fact they can be used for a wide variety of productive tasks aside from gaming. As it relates to blockchain-based gaming and the metaverse, desktop computers are the gold standard and this is where the vast majority of players are currently playing. This is for many reasons; for one, the majority of play-and-earn games so far have been browser-based and a desktop computing environment is where most people interact with their crypto wallets. For these reasons, it makes sense that the space has been, up until this point, focused on desktop gaming. To continue growing, however, a greater emphasis must be placed on cross-platform support.
Speaking of cross-platform, that brings us to the next gaming arena: mobile. Mobile gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years, in tandem with increased numbers of smartphone users worldwide. The gap is quickly closing between mobile and desktop, as increased computing power has been able to be packed into small devices with the help of the ARM-based System on a Chip. The mobile gaming space generally suffers from the same locked down ecosystem problems that plague console gaming. A key difference in the mobile space is the variety of devices that players can game on. When we think of mobile gaming, images of smartphones and tablets come to mind. But remember the Nintendo Switch we mentioned earlier? It’s one of the first devices that is powerful and efficient enough to be used as both a home console and also as a mobile gaming device with a built-in screen. This makes it a much more versatile and cohesive gaming experience when you would like to take that campaign mission with you on the go. There are a number of successful blockchain-based games on mobile platforms with the most notable being Stepn. The space is ripe for disruption, however, as the stranglehold that the App Store and Google Play have had on payment processing appears to be weakening.
The last category that we will be covering is virtual reality (VR). As a rule, VR is the newest of any of the devices that we have mentioned. In its present form, VR utilises a special headset paired with a controller — though this is likely to change in the coming years. At present, some VR headsets require a connection to a desktop computer, while others are standalone devices. Although these headsets may still be a little bit clunky, they have only existed for a relatively short period of time. Companies are investing an extensive amount of capital to improve and simplify the hardware product offering. That is no coincidence, as VR is the natural choice for building a metaverse. With all the hype aside, the fact remains that currently there are not that many metaverse experiences to be had on VR. Virtual reality remains a promising yet under-utilised and under-appreciated segment of the gaming market, with low adoption — despite standout exceptions like Somnium Space. Indeed, we are still defining what the metaverse actually means. This doesn’t have to be what Mark Zuckerberg says, or sells us.
The metaverse and blockchain-based gaming are two trends that are here to stay. As technology continues to be developed and deployed, the devices that we interact with are ever-changing. Are you excited about the future of gaming consoles and crypto? Make sure to follow us on Twitter as we continue to GamiFi Everything!