Opinion: How Blockchain could avert a gaming industry disaster
In the past decade, more and more gamers have been opting for digital game purchases rather than physical disc options. However purchasing a digital version of a game means the game data is stored on a gaming company’s server, with players needing to re-download it every time they want to replay it.
But what would happen if the major gaming companies closed down and their servers were wiped completely? Such a move could limit the replay value of games, make it more difficult for players to access new games, impact developers financially, and mean players would no longer have a central platform to connect with others.
In a world that is shifting ever more towards Web3, could blockchain tech play a role in solving the implications of such a disastrous gaming scenario?
Let’s dive in!
How Blockchain could avert a gaming industry disaster
Some of the leading video game companies around today are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Sony manufactures the PlayStation gaming console, Microsoft has the Xbox, and Nintendo – among other hardware – has the Switch. And each of these companies has services that allow their users to play games online, purchase and download titles, and access other features such as online multiplayer and voice chat.
Some of the corresponding services are as follows:
- Sony: Playstation Network / Playstation Plus
- Microsoft: Xbox Live / Game Pass
- Nintendo: Nintendo Switch Online
If any of the above companies were to close down, it would have a significant impact on the gaming community.
For one, players would no longer be able to purchase and download games as, with no one paying for and maintaining the servers, the data on them would be gone. But, storing the data on a permanent decentralised storage solution like Arweave could be the solution. Players could go back and access the games they had purchased whenever they liked, from anywhere in the world. And the data would never disappear. Gaming headache averted!
But, it isn’t just the players that would benefit from the use of Arweave. Companies (while still active in our gaming doomsday scenario) would only have to pay once to upload the data to Arweave and, additionally, would not need to maintain the servers. The move to Arweave would be cost and time efficient for them.
Going back to data loss.
In addition to the base game data, players would also lose access to all the add-on content (DLC) they had purchased, as well as any saved data they had stored on the gaming servers. As a result, they would lose their gaming progress and any custom settings or preferences they had saved. Again, Arweave could be the answer here.
But wait! There’s more!
The problem goes way beyond data loss. Many gamers play multiplayer games with friends, as well as with strangers. The servers going permanently offline would mean they would no longer be able to do so. Popular multiplayer games such as “Call of Duty,” “Fortnite,” and “Minecraft” would no longer be playable with friends or other players from around the world and would thus greatly limit the replay value of those games. In this instance, the solution could ultimately be a type of decentralised server that would allow players to continue accessing the multiplayer functions without the need for the initial gaming company’s servers. A protocol built on a blockchain network with high throughput and transaction speed could act as the server. Furthermore, all player actions would be recorded on the blockchain, so cheating in games may also be taken out simultaneously as an added benefit.
Game developers would also be affected by the servers going down.
Developers rely on major gaming companies and the services they offer, using them as a medium to sell their games and make money. If they closed down, developers would lose a significant source of revenue, which could lead to financial difficulties and even closures for some gaming studios. If the future of gaming is going to be blockchain heavy, a new decentralised financial structure for both raising capital and making profits could be highly beneficial. Luckily enough, the blockchain industry has a head start on this one… DeFi.
Decentralised Finance (DeFi) techniques could be implemented into the gaming industry as a whole. The move would not only solve the above issue, but it would also improve the current system.
Simply put, if we were to switch to a digital-only gaming industry that relied on blockchain tech, with no physical copies of games in sight, developers could benefit from the monetisation of secondary market sales. For example, today, if a player sells their physical copy of a game on the secondary market – like on eBay – not a single cent from the sale goes to the initial developer or gaming studio. If that physical copy is subsequently sold another nine times (once the gamers are done with it), the developers are missing out on ten potential sales. Assuming an average title – when new – costs $50, that is a $500 loss. But, if the game existed as an NFT, secondary sales revenue could be programmed into the game from the get-go. This is something that happens already in the digital art NFT space. The NFT specifications of many blockchains allow developers to program a percentage that will automatically be allocated to their wallet upon users selling the NFT on the secondary market.
Utilising decentralised blockchain technology could solve most of the complications of central gaming companies collapsing or closing down their services. At the same time, there are many benefits of the gaming industry making the switch to Web3. However, it can’t go without saying that blockchain tech is currently far from perfect, and many real-world use cases remain simply as ideas for now. But, we are arguably standing on the edge of the new era of Web3, in which many industries, including the gaming one, will be affected.
So is it better to fight the move? Or accept the new and improved tech?