2021 was in many ways the debut year for blockchain gaming. While there have been blockchain games for several years, the subsector of the gaming and crypto industries erupted last year, primarily due to the Play to Earn (P2E) movement. There is now something of a race to produce the next big blockchain game.
There is a difficulty, however, and it’s one I raised in last week’s WAX Lyrical episode: the surge of interest in blockchain games came so quickly, complex and high-quality games — much less AAA — haven’t had enough time to be developed. There is no way that can be overcome, but there might be a different path entirely.
RF Online’s Battle Coin Server
RF Online is a South Korean MMORPG by developer CCR, originally released in 2004. For those who were involved in the early days of MMOs, the above gameplay will be deliciously nostalgic, even if — like me — you didn’t play RF Online. It has a Guild Wars feel to it and I could certainly be convinced to try it even today.
Now, RF Online has long been deep into gaming obscurity, though it does still have a small, loyal following. However, CCR is creating a new Battle Coin Server that will act as a fresh start and the game will go through seasons with more content added as the level cap increases. What’s interesting is that they are adding cryptocurrency rewards, allegedly Bitcoin and Ethereum, that will be airdropped to players.
Could Retrofitting P2E Be the New Trend?
There will undoubtedly be people — many people I suspect — who see this as a cheap ploy to get players into a “dead” game. Depending on the integration of crypto and what the rewards are for, there might be a sliver of truth to that. But, what’s particularly intriguing about this is the trend it has the potential to start.
As I have said, developers large and small are rushing to make games with blockchain functionality built-in, but the more comprehensive and impressive the project, the longer it takes. Indie developers are always more agile than the leading publishing houses with less red tape, but they have to lower their ambition accordingly. One way to bypass this temporary impasse is to “mod” fully-fledged games.
Many gaming genres — but particularly MMOs — have games with private, community-run servers that have been modded to add more contemporary utility and gameplay loops. Then, we have seen the rise of reboots, with Blizzard’s World of Warcraft: Classic being one of the more famous examples. There is little to prohibit any completed game from having P2E elements, crypto wallet integration, and blockchain technology retroactively installed.
This has the potential to capture new players as awareness for the game spikes, bring in the P2E crowd which is sizable, and recapture past players who may want to wander down memory lane with added perks. If RF Online has any success — or perhaps even if it doesn’t — this could spark an influx of “new” blockchain games.