Virtually every sector is exploring an array of possible applications for blockchain technology. Since its inception ten years ago as the platform on which cryptocurrency was built, the blockchain has made waves in the financial, insurance, legal and logistics sector to name a few. More recently, blockchain technology has found a potentially exciting use in gaming.
A year ago, blockchain superpower Ethereum launched a game on their blockchain called CryptoKitties. The game allows users to create, sell and buy their own virtual animated kittens securely, while the nature of blockchain ensures that each user’s kitten creation is protected – only the seller and the buyers will be able to “own” that specific kitten.
However, blockchain technology has the power to revolutionise the gaming industry on the whole from a technological perspective.
Gaming in SA
Gaming has taken off in South Africa over the past decade, moving away from being considered a recreational pastime, to being considered a competitive sport, and the domain of anyone with the time and money to spare.
Sporting games, first person shooter games, virtual reality games, single or multiplayer, localised to the gamer’s premises or in play with remote players across networks, gaming has become a popular culture. However, in South Africa we are heavily reliant on game play that is determined for us.
To date, gaming development has been the realm of big, mostly international gaming brands. These gaming houses invest the time and money to develop content for users who have to select from their options at the prices determined for them.
Using blockchain technology, gaming houses could open up development to the gaming development community. For example, gamers could develop environments, characters or avatars, customised challenges and more using the game developer’s platform. They could obtain trade permissions from the game developer, then securely sell their creation on the blockchain. CryptoKitties is proven and successful validation of this concept.
This means that not only can gamers contribute to creating the game, thereby customising it to cater to cultural market demands, but can also profit from it. Whereas, big development houses can focus more on enablement of development ecosystem that can generate more localised gaming content using BlockChain.
The transparent and secure nature of the blockchain makes this possible, allowing game vendors to monitor, assist and be involved with gamer development while enabling gamers to retain the rights to their creations and additions to the game.
Social, cheat-free gaming
Creating a platform where gamers can get involved not just from player perspective, however, also from a development side helps to engender a more social gaming environment.
Game play on the blockchain also creates a more cheat free environment. Players’ right to enter a new stage or environment can be verified through their play history on a previous stage or they can be required to pay a fee to enter the new stage of play. Due to the authentication and transparency required by the blockchain, cheating would be recorded and noted, and players may be denied access to next levels.
Customised, piracy free gaming
While the blockchain enables the potential for players to customise and monetise their games, it also helps developers to create gaming aimed directly at their core markets. Data storage on the blockchain, at the back-end of gaming, can record player behaviour and give insights into what the players like, dislike and how they interact with the game. Developers can use this information to mould the game according to player data.
Similar to blockchain game platforms that can eliminate cheating, they can also eradicate piracy. Piracy continues to be a thorn in the sides of game houses and is a contributing factor to the high prices of games, today. If players are required to go to an authenticated platform in order to play, it would be impossible for gamers to make copies and pirate games without leaving a record of the action. Game houses could more easily identify and report piracy.
Gaming for the future
Gaming and new technologies are interweaving rapidly, with game developers leveraging the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) across the board. The inclusion of blockchain is the next logical step, where these technologies can integrate more seamlessly while incorporating players and developers, and encouraging an influx of non-gamers, too.
By Sumit Kumar Sharma, Enterprise Architect at In2IT