Games Should Promote ‘Play And Win’ Instead Of ‘Play To Win’

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There’s probably no entertainment that has better captured our current and future dystopian times than Charlie Brooker’s TV series. black mirror, and there’s perhaps no better (and more cynical) take on what the current future of gaming might look like than in the series’ second episode, “Fifteen Million Merits.” If you don’t remember, in this episode, society was run by a currency based on “merits,” which people earned by riding stationary bikes. They could then use these credits to buy food, virtual props, and virtual avatars, or to escape the mandatory advertising present in the giant video spaces that dominated their living spaces.

Sound familiar? Since going live around the same time payment processing itself went live, the game has gone hand-in-hand with virtual currencies and similar rewards. Mid-2000s MMOs Had Virtual Treasure Chests this would soon give way to often-conflicting loot boxes in games like World of Warcraft. It didn’t take long to raid the farmers to play the virtual reward systems of these MMOs in a scheme that resembled a digital sweatshop.

There is now a bridge between fiat currency and items and the currency of games and virtual worlds that makes the digital sweatshops of the MMO boom look like child’s play and brings us closer to this world of black mirror where players are pushed to accumulate as much “merit” as possible rather than, well, play. It is a very dangerous crossroads.

Meet players where they live

The potential for such shenanigans has only grown with the implementation of gaming tokens and NFTs that can be sold for popular cryptocurrencies or “real” currencies in secondary markets, giving way to a model “play to win” where players can earn revenue to collect virtual rewards and game tokens. When a game publicly implements NFT and tokens under the “play to win model”, it is usually described negatively, from Ubisoft’s unpopular Ghost Recon NFT to the the scammers who were peddling fake Outerverse NFTs.

While “play to win” may have had a rocky start, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, among others, think this new dynamic is a fatality, and it is difficult to argue with its logic:

“In five years, you will really value your time properly. And instead of being harvested for ads or being scammed into buying stupid hammers you don’t actually own, you’ll be playing an equivalent chain game that will be just as fun, but you’ll actually earn value and you will be the reaper.

The numbers back it up. According to Juniper Research, 230 million players are expected to purchase loot boxes by 2025, generating $20 billion in revenue. Particularly avid gamers are also willing to pay high sums for rare items and are willing to pay real money for in-game items when it makes sense.

It behooves the gaming industry to find a way to implement this new wrinkle, a wrinkle that is unlikely to go away, in a way that is not only fundamentally ethical, but also enhances gameplay instead of distracting it. The genie is now out of the bottle when it comes to the new in-game economy supported by virtual goods, gaming tokens and NFTs, and the industry needs to come up with a plan to ensure that this new dynamic is not not invaded by scammers.

Gaming and player-centric models

One of the ways game producers can embrace this new business model in a way that will make sense to their gaming audience is to embrace “game and win” instead of “play to win”. This means virtual items related to tokens and NFTs are a nice bonus instead of the goal. Basically, players want to complete a game, not collect loot boxes or become day traders.

As Ohanian pointed out, the integration of tokens and NFTs only replaces old paradigms of monetizing advertising and game items, not the games themselves. Game producers must not let the thirst for these potentially lucrative new monetization channels undermine the core value proposition of delivering an entertaining, delightful, and compelling gaming experience.

Like any land rush, digital or otherwise, you’ll always have your fair share of scammers. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that as long as NFTs and Tokens are an aspect that enhances gameplay rather than a total for-profit replacement of that gameplay, these things can actually be embraced by players. For this to happen, the gaming industry needs to come together to formulate best practices for integrating virtual currencies inside and outside of games, while being proactive on anti-fraud measures that will protect players. . This could mean that the industry describes a set of principles and self-regulations already used by crypto institutions, such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC).

The game shouldn’t feel like a black sci-fi job or rewards program. To avoid a gaming landscape that resembles “Fifteen Million Merits” or a dystopia like that, the industry must do all it can to root out fraud and build models where winning is an additive gaming force. , not its sole purpose of being.

Anthony Charlton is the co-founder and CEO of Utopian Game Labs. He has 30 years of experience as a marketing professional and business strategist across multiple industries including sports, leisure and hospitality, and more recently with specialist knowledge of information technology, blockchain and the video game industry. Anthony has senior management experience in these sectors and has led a number of companies from inception to growth and profitability, and ultimately to financial exit. For ten years Anthony was also a personal business coach and mentor, working with individuals and organizations advising them on future strategy and C-level planning.

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Games Should Promote ‘Play And Win’ Instead Of ‘Play To Win’


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