How does blockchain change the direction of game development

“Game design is not just a technical skill, it is a 21st century way of thinking and leadership; playing games is not just for fun, it is a way to work together to achieve real change in the 21st century.”

——Jane McGonigal, “Games Change the World”


  •  DeFi has entered a downturn, and the low volatility and low gas handling fees push chain games into the GameFi stage
  • As of July 30, 2021, the chain game market has attracted investment of nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars, and the total amount in 2020 is 72 million U.S. dollars.
  • The blockchain rebuilds the game development model, and the “three carriages” theory can explain how the blockchain promotes the development of the game economy.
  • The game time is “valued”, players are deeply involved in the game, and the reconciliation between the game and reality has been pushed to another peak.
  • The blockchain is gamified rather than the game blockchain. The game is called the blockchain, but it is a financial calculation.
  • At present, the chain game has gathered a group of enthusiastic participants, but its future depends on the participation of more participants.

1. Overview of chain game development

(1) Defi enters a bear market, and chain games enter the GameFi stage

For the development model block chain game, Abitchain founder Zhao Meijun has said, “block chain with a combination of game, the first game is a chain of currency block, the second game of props and characters block chain, The third is the blockchainization of the rules of the game.”

The above three stages also correspond to the three stages of the chain game development process. From the rough chain game model of “game currency on the chain” to the confirmation of data assets such as game equipment through non-homogeneous tokens, to the game’s output logic and key rules are all moved to the chain. You continue to develop towards maturity.

In a “real” blockchain game, 100% of the game data is on the chain, which means that the game is off the server. However, a large amount of data and transactions may cause serious network congestion, and conflicts between game upgrades and the immutability of the blockchain still exist. Whether the deeply integrated model is suitable for games is not yet known.

Collectible games such as CryptoKitties, CryptoPunks, and Ether Water Margin, which emerged in 2017, confirm the rights of digital assets through non-homogeneous methods, and allow players to profit from acquisition and transfer. Among them, a crypto kitty was sold at a sky-high price of one million, which made CryptoKitties and chain games suddenly become the focus, but the subsequent crash confirmed its bubble and speculative properties.

In 2018, a wave of capital board games emerged, first with FOMO3D, and then with the popular gambling (gaming) games on public chains such as EOS and TRON. A large number of players have entered the market one after another, and the fun of “gambling” and the gimmick of “getting rich overnight” have made the money plate game grow wildly. But the result can be imagined.

With the bursting of the bubble in 2019, chain travel has entered a period of cooling off. According to the “DAPP Data Report for the First Half of 2019” released by DappReview, the number of DAPPs on the four public chains of Ethereum, EOS, TRON, and IOST has dropped from 1,362 in the first half of 2019 to 494 at the end of the year, which has shrunk compared to the first half of the year. 64%.

“After the brutal growth in 2018, this model has accelerated the decline of the entire chain game industry. Players and developers have a “two-loss” situation. Players also lose money, and most of the project parties also lose money. Players have no incentive to play on the chain. The project party has no motivation to develop games.”——“DAPP Data Report for the First Half of 2019”

Entering 2020, the underlying technology of the blockchain has been sought after, and many companies have introduced the blockchain, and the successive policies issued by the state have released signals of optimism about the blockchain technology. On the surface of the chain swimming plate, the waves are calm, but secretly it is surging. Major chain game platforms such as LemonGame, Loom, Cocos and Gcs have been deployed to compete for the leading position of the blockchain game platform, and chain games are ready to go.

In 2021, China’s cryptocurrency market will be rectified, market hype will be restricted, and the smashing Defi will also enter a bear market. As the crypto market enters a downturn, the situation of low volatility and low gas handling fees has led to the development of chain games. According to DappRadar statistics, on April 18, 2021, the number of transactions in the chain game sector was as high as 480.7 billion US dollars. The number of users of the chain game sector has also gradually increased. As of July 31, there were more than 780,000 users, an increase of more than 170 times compared with the beginning of the year.

“In a bull market, speculators play a speculative game of rubbish coins; in a bear market, speculators play a speculative game of NFT avatar.” said Brian Flynn, former product manager of Dapper Labs.

Chain game trading volume and users

How does blockchain change the direction of game development

Data source: DappRadar

This new round of chain games has spawned the “play to earn” model. Axie Infinity is the most representative of the chain games. According to Cryptoslam statistics, Axie Infinity’s cumulative transaction volume in July exceeded US$660 million, and the number of transactions reached 1.3 million. Axie Infinity is a decentralized turn-based strategy game. Players earn tokens through the process of developing and breeding pet Axie to build a kingdom of elves.

The “Play and Earn” model represents the coming of the GameFi era. At this stage, the chain game introduces the DeFi protocol, and promotes the transaction of game assets through the DeFi+NFT model. In addition to Axie Infinity, Alien Worlds, Cryptoblades, Sorare, and Zed Run are also products under GameFi.

Axie Infinity transaction volume

How does blockchain change the direction of game development

Data source: Cryptoslam

(2) The classification, transaction and financing of chain games

DappRadar data shows that the current number of chain games reaches 798. Various chain games are competing in different tracks.

Link game classification table

At present, chain games can be roughly divided into games built on public chains and private chains. Among them, public chain games are completely open and transparent, and nodes are scattered all over the world; private chain games are built on the internal blockchain of some enterprises, and the read permissions are not completely open to the outside world.

Chain game classification chart

In terms of transaction amount, Axie Infinity currently has a total asset value of US$131.55 million, the number of transactions is about 900,000, and the number of wallets is about 240,000. Far surpassing other games.

Ranked by transaction amount in the past 30 days (as of August 1, 2021)

According to statistics from, as of July 30, 2021, the total investment in the field of blockchain games to date is US$1 billion, and the amount for the whole year of 2020 is US$72 million. From the perspective of the investee company, Dapper Labs’ financing amounted to US$3.57, far exceeding other companies.

Financing ranking

How does blockchain change the direction of game development

Source: 01 Blockchain·Zero One Think Tank compiled according to public information

2. How does blockchain transform the game

(1) The three carriages that drive the game economy

In the real world, consumption, investment, and import and export are the three carriages that drive the economy. Interestingly, when the game combines the blockchain to rebuild the development model of the game, the “three carriages” theory can also explain how the blockchain promotes the economic development of the game.

Consumption refers to internal demand, which provides the main driving force for economic development. The “internal consumption” of the game world also provides impetus for game development. Mobile game trading platforms such as Tao Mobile Games and Trading Cat provide game players with trading services such as accounts, equipment, and props. But at present, only a few trading platforms use insurance and contracts to protect the interests of users, and more platforms do not provide protection. In addition, in the uneven trading platform, the handling fee is expensive and the type of transaction is single.

The transaction of traditional game assets is underdeveloped, and the more “developed” chain game transaction model has greatly promoted “consumption”. Smart contracts make game data impossible to tamper with, open and transparent, and quickly build trust; non-homogeneous token technology has spawned game assets with confirmed rights and eliminated theft; game tokens also provide a convenient medium for exchange, expanding asset transactions and The scope of circulation. Economic factors such as contracts, assets and currencies have provided a safer, transparent and convenient trading market for the game trading market, which has promoted the growth of game trading.

Investment brings growth momentum to the economy and promotes the upgrading of economic models. In the game economy system, investment also determines the level of development of the game. The development cost gap between games is very large, a simple 2D mobile game Angry Birds, the development cost is 100,000 US dollars. When it comes to making terminal games, 3D, multiplayer, and various simulation scenarios, each cost is expensive. Grand Theft Auto, a console game, has a development cost of $265 million. In addition, the cost of trial and error in game development is very high. When the investment fails, only a bunch of “sky-priced” code is left.

Tokens opened up a new era of game investment. The emergence of tokens has allowed a large amount of capital to flow into the game market, developers and investors can share development costs, and sufficient funds can support the development and upgrade of various games. In addition, the quality of the game will also be directly linked to the inflow of tokens, so the market can adjust the flow of funds to games with more investment value to promote the development of the game market.

Imports and exports are economic flows between different countries, and the introduction of tokens makes “cross-border” transactions in the game world possible.

Prior to this, games were in a state of “split segregation”, in-game transactions had already been difficult, and inter-game transactions were even more difficult. The method of “trade for goods” requires finding a specific counterparty, which is very difficult for games with a small number of players. Through the “commodity-currency-commodity” transaction method, the process is complicated, the handling fee is expensive, and there is no strong guarantee.

Various cryptocurrency exchange platforms provide liquidity for different tokens. Different game assets based on the same token can be directly traded, just as countries in the US dollar zone can easily trade. Different tokens can also be exchanged through exchanges, and the “exchange rate” is open and transparent, and “cross-border” transactions make the game world form a unified economy.

(2) Reconciliation of “Player’s Regret”

The last thing game players want to admit is the loss, regret, and self-blame after leaving the screen. If we spend game time in real life, will we have a better life? Technology reporter Clive Thompson calls this emotion “player’s regret.”

The player’s regret reflects the separation between the virtual world and the real world. The happiness and experience brought by the game are short-lived, and this short-term gain cannot promote real life. Players need games that can extend happiness to the real world.

Fortunately, the conflict between virtual and reality is gradually reconciling. Games have become an important outlet for today’s young people to release their pressure. Various hot game competitions have made game players a professional, and even non-game players have begun to have the fear of leaving the “gaming society”. When the game encounters the blockchain, the game time can be “valued”, and game players can seek a higher meaning in the game, and the “reconciliation trend” is pushed to another peak.

The video “NFT Game in the Philippines” released by Play-to-Earn tells the story of how rural residents in the Philippines earn living expenses through the chain game Axie Infinity during the epidemic. The sudden outbreak of the epidemic caused the unemployment rate in the Philippines to rise from 5.1% to 17.7%, and the repatriation of more than 100,000 Filipinos may continue to push up the unemployment rate. The “play and earn” game model has attracted a large number of unemployed people to join, and even Yield Guild, a community that specializes in training and operating “play and earn” games, has emerged. “Although the amount is not high, but being able to make three or four hundred dollars is basically life-saving money for the people here.” said Gabby Dizon, co-founder of Yield Guild.

It is also a hobby. Playing the piano and painting oil paintings are considered to be nurturing, while playing games is criticized as a waste of time. Behind the differential treatment is the difference in value identification. Traditional hobbies are more linked to art and history, and have a striking “civilization” label. If the game carries other meanings, can it be compared? If it can, then the token governance introduced by the chain game may make playing games meaningful.

Chain games can give players the rights of game development and operation. Through transactions and voting, each player will become a “chain game” developer to some extent. In the future, games may no longer be the assets of giants such as Tencent, Google and Facebook. Playing games is also a process of developing games.

In addition, the concept of meta-universe has also become popular this year. Games such as Decentraland and The Sandbox allow players to buy and sell land, create various buildings and functional scenarios, and “landlords” are the rules that can define their own territory. Players participate in the reconstruction of “social” norms and value systems, and the process of playing games is also a process of participating in the establishment of a virtual civilization.

“Gamers will participate in the value created by these networks while having fun. They basically have a place in the games they play. It becomes a symbiotic relationship between game creators and players,” co-founder of Horizon Blockchain Games Michael Sanders said.

Three, impetuous, inertia, threshold

The cryptocurrency circle is always prevalent with impetuous and speculative atmosphere, and chain games are no exception. At present, blockchain games are often criticized as blockchain gamification rather than game blockchainization. Calling the game the name of the blockchain is just a financial calculation. For players with gaming experience, the game mode and gaming experience of chain games are general.

A survey report by in the second half of 2019 showed that more than 60% of respondents believe that the main obstacle to mainstream adoption of blockchain games is still the quality of the game. Most of the various chain games that went forward and succeeded were eventually eliminated in the torrent because of the lack of long-term vitality and investment value.

“Many of these games seem to be forced to practice, basically trying to monetize digital ownership using blockchain.” said Serkan Toto, CEO and founder of Kantan Games Inc., “Many of these games have no real pleasure.”

The development model of chain games is also in urgent need of transformation, from the development model of “investment tools” to the game itself. Previously, most of the players were for profit, and the developers also used the mechanism of “being fleece” to play large amounts of money, but when the developers reduced the room for profit, the players also left the game. The rise of GameFi this time is also full of speculation. How to reverse the previous development inertia will be the next big problem.

In addition, current blockchain games require every game player to have an encrypted wallet and trade on an encrypted exchange. This requires players to have a basic understanding of cryptocurrency and master the use of transactions. And transaction fees and congested networks can also become obstacles. According to the statistics of qkl123, the gas cost of a single transaction on Ethereum in February this year was as high as $17.95. The above thresholds may be “big and small” for players in the currency circle, but it will be a challenge to attract gamers who have never been exposed to cryptocurrencies and younger players. The congested network is also a barrier for low-profile players and impatient players.

“I kept getting error messages about processing transaction fees, and warned that the fees were higher than usual due to “blockchain congestion”. Then the Dapp stopped loading. After multiple failed attempts, I couldn’t even access the game. (I It took about an hour to set up the cryptocurrency and transfer $50 worth of Ethereum to my Coinbase wallet.” Game experience of a CryptoKitties player.

“The cost of the contract on the rules of the game is too high and it is difficult to iterate. Each execution not only costs gas, but also has to wait a long time… I think that with this switch, the rules that players don’t care about are transparent. It’s not worth it at all!” This is the real experience of a chain game player.

4. Standing on the shoulders of “blockchain”, participants of chain games need to see farther

Game reporter Rob Fahey famously said in 2008: “Avoidance is inevitable: soon, everyone will become a game player.”

According to Newzoo’s “Global Game Market Report 2021”, in 2021, the total number of game players worldwide will exceed the 3 billion mark, a year-on-year increase of 5.3% compared with 2020. In 2021, global gaming revenue totaled US$175.8 billion. With a market size of US$88.2 billion, the Asia-Pacific region has become the region with the highest share of global game revenue, while North America, Europe, and Latin America have been affected by the epidemic and their revenues have fallen. Newzoo believes that by 2024, there will be 3.32 billion gamers and global gaming revenue will reach 218.7 billion U.S. dollars.

The huge group of game players and the total market provide an excellent production soil for the development of chain games. The vigorous development of games has become unstoppable. Whether chain games can become another breakthrough in blockchain applications, or the final form of game development, is unclear. At present, the chain game has gathered a group of enthusiastic participants, but its future depends on the participation of more participants.

“It took off in a way that no one of us expected.” Epic’s Chief Creative Officer Donald Mustard said when talking about Metaverse.

The most refreshing chain tour this year is the non-meta universe. Virtual real estate can be traded and sold. The exhibition hall and trading center of NFT support digital art, and the clothing and food of virtual shopping malls can reach the door directly. The meta universe seems to be another parallel space. Calling the meta-universe a game, the format of the game seems to be too small to support the close-to-reality side of the meta-universe. But in fact, does our imagination limit the format of the game? Based on the blockchain, the imagination of the game may be unprecedentedly liberated.

“Don’t just seize the day, but hope for a hundred years” — “The Law of the Earth” Steward Brand

The development model of blockchain + game depicts an extremely beautiful future. The game introduces a new economic system, game players can participate in the underlying construction of the game, and the meta-universe makes us lament the imagination of the future of chain games. But the participants seemed too anxious. One wave fell and another wave rose. Unilateral focus on the financing function of chain games. Chain games will only exist overnight. Only when high-quality and breakthrough games are created with passion and focus can chain games develop for a long time. Standing on the “shoulder” of the blockchain, the participants of the chain game need to look farther.


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