As we wade through the wreckage of the cryptocurrency market during these difficult economic times, we are offered unique clarity into some of the cryptoeconomic mechanisms that became popular throughout this last cycle. Some work, some don’t and some are stuck somewhere in between. As the great Warren Buffet once said: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”. In this article, we aim to set off on a theoretical voyage across the sea of play-to-earn gaming (or play-AND-earn gaming, as we at GamiFi prefer to call it) with the aim of addressing some of the systems in play there.
Play-to-earn gaming, commonly abbreviated as P2E, has become incredibly popular in the cryptocurrency industry with many names such as Axie Infinity, Crabada, Zed Run, and many, many more capturing the attention of thousands of new users. Daily active users and transaction counts have fallen significantly, though, in tandem with native token prices that determine how much a player actually earns from their time in the game. This could potentially point to a very painful fact that many do not want to acknowledge: a lot of players were there for the “free” money, not because the gameplay was necessarily good. Indeed, in the frenzy of increasing prices and transaction counts, it seems that many P2E game developers spent more time bothering about the tokenomics of the game rather than the gameplay. And who can really fault them when a AAA game can take multiple years and millions of dollars to complete? But…what if we could change all of that, while simultaneously increasing decentralisation across the entire industry? Let us explain, albeit with the disclaimer that backend infrastructure engineers know a whole lot more than we do about this topic!
The proposed system would include one critical, yet simple missing piece of infrastructure in the P2E gaming space: servers and nodes! You see, there is an entire subset of users who run server and node infrastructure already, which is effectively a “run-to-earn” model, depending on how the nodes need to be configured and if they need any maintenance. But what if we got players involved, too, and developers could build a lightweight node infrastructure that can be tacked on to any game to be run concurrently, without a significant hit on system resources?
Let’s say, for the sake of example, that developers have designed a decentralised server infrastructure for gamers that has a proof of stake consensus mechanism, or some new consensus mechanism based around the delivery of packets of data to a certain number of players. If minimum system requirements are met, players could simply opt-in to running the node concurrently with the game via a checkbox without having to interact with the node software directly. Meanwhile, members of the team and dedicated community members could run nodes independently of any game instances in order to provide a smooth experience and constant uptime if there are only a small number of players online concurrently. Further, there could be a “lite node” and a “full node” configuration that would allow full node operators to utilise more system resources than lite node operators.
The benefits of such a system would be twofold: primarily, users would not be dependent on centralised servers that are not only prone to hacking, but also have a limited life cycle that is entirely up to the company who runs them. There have been many such cases of cult-classic online videogame communities being shut down by closed servers, and those community members scrambling to put together their own server infrastructure, or just outright having no choice but to give up the game. Secondarily, and perhaps more importantly, the actual earning aspect of the game could be completely separate from the actual gameplay. Developers of non-P2E games could utilise this node software to provide a better and more rewarding experience for players. Current P2E game developers could add on an entirely new stream of revenue for their players, while shifting their development focus to more immersive gameplay. This would help to close the perceived “fun gap” between a pure P2E title and a traditional AAA game.
If this were a whitepaper, we would go on to describe all of the technical aspects that would need to be implemented in order for this to work — lots of RAM and high network speeds would undoubtedly be required! However, this is purely hypothetical. We wanted to get you thinking about the future of what we prefer to call “play-and-earn” games: combining high quality and immersive gameplay with players having fun and also earning rewards for their efforts.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter for more musings on the future of the metaverse, as we continue to GamiFi everything!