The blockchain has brought with it many new use cases for many different industries. One industry that’s experiencing major blockchain innovations is gaming. As one of the biggest industries in the world, gaming is very much centralized. Yes, there may be a diverse number of companies producing games including the independent ones, but they all still have total control and can modify their games at any time. Not to mention the many threats gamers already face from bots to hacks. More and more people are becoming professional gamers and they need a system of independent verification which is well overdue.
Online gaming in particular is a rising behemoth. The world is becoming more globalized by the year and people from around the world are finding it easier to connect with each other through various platforms. Now with online gaming they can compete with anyone in the world, all while sitting at the comfort of their homes. Without a doubt offline gaming will soon be overshadowed by its online counterpart. Generations that come after us will have known nothing besides playing games over the internet.
For years now online gamers have sought to have total control over their games. Protection from having their in-game data exposed by/to their foes is vital. The transition from offline to online meant new threats would arise since it would mean playing on a shared network. On a shared network not everyone is looking to play fair. Plus, there’s also the ever present challenge of trust between the gamer and the game developers. There have been cases where developers built themselves backdoors for cheating or some sort of cheat codes. These are all some of the issues the gaming industry faces today that blockchain can fix.
I write this article not as a seasoned gamer but someone who has a good understanding of the gaming situation and about blockchain tech. With roughly four years of experience in the blockchain space I can safely say that these issues are the very same issues faced by many other industries, just in different contexts. How blockchain solves this problem of centralization and trust in the gaming context will be closely watched by different industries looking to implement the same solutions. Therefore, the blockchain-gaming innovation may prove to be critical in other contexts/industries as well.
What are NFTs?
An NFT is a Non-fungible token. This simply means that each token is a one-of-a-kind and there’s no other one like it. Unlike traditional blockchain tokens NFTs don’t have the same values or perform the same functions. Each token is unique in its properties as well as its utility. NFTs store different kinds of rather sensitive data. This data could represent anything as insignificant as a personal to-do list or something as important as a bank vault password.
To my knowledge NFTs are still more prevalent in gaming than in any other industry. For gaming NFTs play an important role in tokenizing the different in-game assets. Characters, tools, weapons or skins are each unique from player to player thus have different values. You can sell these assets to other players easily by selling the accompanying token at your set price. The properties of this token can be confirmed on a blockchain and whether or not it truly contains a rare asset. This is just one use case for NFTs in gaming but nevertheless a very important one. Players will no longer have to trust the assurance of a third party about the scarcity of game assets.
As referenced to earlier NFTs aren’t only meant for gaming and are being implemented in other sectors of the blockchain. For instance, imagine a future where NFTs are used to tackle the global piracy and copyright problems. Where each music track bought/downloaded is attached to a unique NFT that cannot be copied or transferred to someone else. Or at least if transferred to someone else then the initial owner loses possession of that music track as there can only be one. To get that song they’d have to buy/download it again or ask the person to send it back.
This could create a system of scarcity if an artist only makes 1 million music tracks available for download and a market for a listener to re-sell the song after they’ve listened to it. The artist may receive a percentage each time a song is sold and resold in perpetuity. The price of the song would quickly rise for sought after hit songs and drop for the not so popular ones. Radio stations and streaming services would benefit the most as people would tune in to hear their favorite songs because they either couldn’t afford them or the songs are sold out. Same goes for images, podcasts, movies etc.
Of course piracy and copyright infringers will always find a way around any innovation. NFTs can help prevent some efforts and minimize losses as a result. This is just touching on the entertainment industry, the same could work for the mobile devices, clothing or consumer goods industries. Such industries face similar challenges due to counterfeiting. To counter brands can decide to embed NFTs in their products.
Mobile devices could implant a chip or similar technology on their logo that could be scanned by a smartphone to validate its authenticity to an official blockchain of the company. Each device upon activation could even have its own unique name on the blockchain verifying its owner. Clothing brands could make use of QR-code technology to prove authenticity of their products. The same applies to most consumer goods products.
How secure are NFTs compared to traditional tokens?
Non-fungible tokens don’t have a specific property that makes them more secure than traditional tokens. Yes, they do have certain attributes which make them a better option for certain niche use cases. When it comes to security however NFTs are as secure as any other token on the blockchain.
Ethereum was the first platform to introduce NFTs through popular games like CryptoKitties and Decentraland. Certain standards had to be implemented for NFTs to work in gaming. The ERC-20 token standard we’re all accustomed to could not work so the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards had to be introduced. These latest standards are not necessarily safer than the ERC-20 standard they just allow for different kinds of tokens and smart contracts to be created.
Bitcoin currently doesn’t have the capability to efficiently host NFTs especially ones that may be transferred on a daily basis. First of all, the Bitcoin blockchain doesn’t facilitate smart-contracts which would allow for ease of use and automation of all NFTs. Secondly, Bitcoin carries high fees in general compared to other blockchains such as Ethereum or EOS. Also block confirmation times of ten minutes or more are impractical for the gaming environment. So yes, you could launch NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain but it wouldn’t be wise to do so unless it’s for high value assets. After all Bitcoin is still the most secure chain of all, yet to be successfully hacked and many have tried.
EOS also has its own NFT standards two of the more popular ones are Simple Assets and dGoods. Initially EOS got its momentum from gambling dApps (decentralized apps) when it launched in June 2018. Many gambling platforms either migrated to EOS or chose to launch on EOS because of its faster transaction speeds and zero fees, two important properties for such platforms. Gaming dApps in these past months have been making their way to this blockchain for similar reasons.
So how secure are NFTs? The broader answer would be they are as secure as the blockchain their built on. As a user or gamer we shouldn’t worry too much about the security of NFTs on a particular blockchain as that is something the NFT developers would’ve researched well before deciding on the platform’s native blockchain. Hackers are also less likely to target NFTs because they cannot be quickly sold on exchanges like regular tokens. NFTs also serve very niche purposes for a single dApp and won’t necessarily possess value outside that ecosystem.
The future is online.
One thing for sure is that the future is heavily directed towards being digital and online. Blockchain and specifically NFTs will serve as an orderly governance of the internet. Built from the ground up in what would otherwise be a vast centralized and exposed inter-network. NFTs will be the core technology that many industries use to protect their data and that of their clients.
As much as we’d prefer for all systems to be decentralized it makes sense for some institutions to keep their systems centralized. Control over one’s organization may help it operate more efficiently and ensure that it can quickly react to sudden threats on its network. Quicker system upgrades are what give centralized systems an advantage over decentralized ones where consensus is needed to act.
Entertainment, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality etc. are examples of the significance the online world possesses over the physical. The online world has a wider reach, information travels quicker and responses are instant. We already work, play, socialize and shop on the internet which makes us that much vulnerable to hacks or identity theft. NFTs may just be the answer to safely store the personal data we use daily in the online world. No more ransomware!
Every time I write this posts I get carried away and end up filling 3 or 4 pages. It’s funny because back in high school I couldn’t write a 4-page essay about anything to save my life. It goes to show that when you do what you enjoy you’re more willing to put in the effort. I feel we all are passionate about blockchain and all its potentials which clearly shows in the comments I get from you guys.
It’s been three weeks since my last post here but I hope the wait was worth it and that you enjoyed this read. I’ve been occupied with writing content for EOSGo these past couple of months. Finding the balance to focus on everything has been a challenge especially with the amount of research I put into each of my articles. I’ll make it a point to post here a bit more frequently from hereon.
Thank you for reading this post in its entirety, it’s appreciated!
Until the next one,