It is almost difficult to think back and remember prosperous crypto-times where green-candles were a daily occurrence and blockchain projects surged in price to new all-time-highs on a regular basis. It all came to a halt at the beginning of 2018 when bears appeared and ate a lot of people’s crypto profits.
One of the main reasons, besides the obvious one of over-valuation, was the inability to scale. For a gaming dApp to become fully functional on the blockchain, a network has to be able to process all the transactions in a timely manner. At the time (the end of 2017/ beginning 2018), CryptoKitties was becoming immensely popular and over flushed the Ethereum blockchain with transactions. The network got congested and the only way to get your transaction through was setting a high gas transaction fee.
My personal journey into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies started near the end of 2016 when I was looking for an alternative way to invest some of our life savings. I discovered Bitcoin, researched it and got more-and-more excited about it every day.
Around the same time, I found out I still possessed the login data from my Runescape account, a game I had last played 15 years ago and apparently is still popular to this day. In my dashboard, there they were: two party hats, some Santa hats, a Christmas cracker, and a few Easter eggs, all special items that were dropped in-game on special occasions, some 20 years ago. What caught my eye was founding out that these rare virtual items were being sold in real-life for real money. At the time the party hats represented a value of around $ 1,600 per piece.
Because I wasn’t an avid player anymore, I decided to look for a buyer and sell all my in-game assets. A lot of time went into examining how to transact in a safe way for both parties. Turned out the majority of the buyers were scammers. I finally gave up, after I encountered countless scamming attempts.
To this day I still think about that entire trading process. I can’t believe how many times someone tried to scam me before I finally gave up. The entire process should have been a lot easier and safer. Luckily solutions are in the making with blockchain-based games.
On the 20th of November, Sony announced it has approved blockchain-based video game, Plague Hunters for their flagship video console, PlayStation 4. According to the Japanese electronics giant, Plague Hunters will be released to the market in Q1 of 2019. It is the first blockchain-based game that has come through Sony’s rigid approval process.
Plague Hunters is the successor of Plague Road and is developed by Arcade Distillery, from New York. The game is free to play with the added feature of purchasing in-game items. For the transference of in-game items, the game will have a decentralized marketplace, powered by the Ethereum blockchain. In-game assets will be non-fungible tokens. Non-fungible tokens, that have unique features and are one-of-a-kind, can have the ERC-721 or ERC-1155 token standard. Ethereum’s basic ERC-20 standard tokens are fungible, which means all the tokens are the same.
Blockchain-based projects focused on the gaming industry
Gaming developers are slowly adapting to implementing cryptocurrency. A few examples of blockchain-based projects that offer blockchain services for gaming companies are Loom Network, Enjin Coin and BORA. Loom and Enjin both initiated their project last year by conducting an ICO, while newcomer BORA has recently concluded its presale. BORA will skip a public sale to list their native BORA token straight onto an exchange.
The common ground on two (Loom and BORA) out of the three projects is that they plan to solve the scalability issue by implementing a layer-2 scaling solution. Layer-2 solutions like sidechains, state-channels, TrueBit, and plasma are built on top of the blockchain, unlike layer-1 technology that is built into the blockchain layer itself. Sharding is an example of a layer-1 solution and it is expected to be completed by 2020. Suffice to say, looking for a solid scaling solution that is ready to be implemented earlier in the game would be preferable.
Enjin is an all-in-one website content management system (CMS) for the gaming community. Enjin is predominantly used by members in the gaming community. The project will offer a framework of open-source software development kits (SDK), game plugins, wallets, virtual item management apps and a payment gateway that supports the project’s native ENJ token. Enjin’s main goal is to become the go-to currency for gamers in terms of providing portability between different gaming platforms and enabling the transferability of virtual goods and digital assets.
Loom positions itself as a next-generation blockchain application built on the Ethereum blockchain. Loom aims to implement DPoS sidechains that will allow for commercial size (blockchain) games and other dApps to be deployed on the network. Loom uses sidechain technology to scale and achieve high-throughput and low latency.
A nice feature that Loom offers is the free programming tutorial, called CryptoZombies. Anyone can learn to code Ethereum dApps and after completing the course, you are set to have developed your first game, coded in Solidity.
Blockchain-based BORA aims to create a decentralized entertainment platform focused on distributing digital contents while incentivizing community members. BORA uses sidechain technology to allow for highly-scalable dApps to be suitable for the platform. BORA has a team of 12 developers based in Korea that is working on releasing the mainnet version of BORA Island in Q1 of 2019. For now, we will have to suffice with the BORA testnet that was released in October 2018.
During their recent meetup in South-Korea’s capital of Seoul, BORA announced that they have already lined up at least five gaming developers that will implement BORA into their game(s). BORA tokens can be used to purchase in-game items or BORA Shell can be rewarded for playing games or fulfilling small tasks.
BORA intends to launch their Ethereum based ERC20 tokens before the end of 2018. We can expect an announcement any day now.
As I see it, the launch of a successful, globally adopted blockchain-based game can be one of the catalysts to take crypto mainstream. In the past few years, games like Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption 2 and League of Legends have managed to attract tens of millions of users worldwide. In the U.S. alone the entire video game market was worth around 18.4 billion dollars in 2017.
The year-long cryptocurrency bear trend hasn’t been very good for mass-adoption. Only time will tell if and when the market is strong enough to break out of the downtrend. I think this is an excellent time for everyone (that is in it for the technology) to collaborate and contribute to creating a stronger more mature cryptocurrency market.