Token Gamer is a proud member of the Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) and I am an individual member too. In 2018, it was one of the few organizations in the space… there’s no narrowing of that sentence. In 2018, few blockchain gaming organizations existed, and yet the BGA formed when there were scarcely enough developers, publishers, and industry professionals to fill it; that’s foresight for you.
Needless to say, the BGA is an organization that established itself in the foundations of blockchain technology in the games industry and remains the center point of the space five years later. I’m not going to sell you on the benefits of membership or unpack all the ways in which the the BGA helps move the space forward, but rather do as I do every year: break down the yearly report.
The Blockchain Game Alliance State of the Industry Report is released at the end of each year and gives a macro-look at our fledgling industry, above and beyond just Unique Active Wallets connecting to games. Two elements, in particular, raise the value of these reports: Firstly, many of the statistics and metrics that are presented in these reports are gathered by good old-fashioned legwork; there isn’t the high-level infrastructure in place to download the year’s stats and write about them. Secondly — and connected — is the caliber of member in the BGA which includes the likes of Ubisoft, Animoca Brands, and Square Enix, which means you get a level of insight only possible from the movers and shakers of the games industry, web3 or otherwise.
With that in mind, I want to offer something a little different to what most outlets provide: I will give my breakdown of some of the most interesting takeaways, rather than the copy-paste 300-word article consisting of an introduction, some stats found on the first page of the report, and a conclusion.
Observation 1: The Fall of Creativity and Gameplay
The “Changing Attitudes” section is interesting, particularly when you look at the changes. Asset ownership is one of the chief benefits of blockchain technology in gaming, but it borders on a trope of an answer. Scratching below the surface is where the interesting thoughts lie here and “Creativity and gameplay” is particularly noteworthy. This could be a real value-add to gaming and I was pleased to see it rise up the ranks from 7th to 4th in 2022. But, now it’s falling again.
So far, very few studios are being innovative with blockchain technology and the way it interacts with gameplay. The best example at present is Dr. Disrespect’s Deadrop which is an extraction shooter — a popular FPS subgenre — but where the items you extract are NFTs you own and can trade or sell. Trying to extract a game item is one thing, but trying to extract a rare NFT that is worth money — that’s a new experience. Not only will that infuse the gameplay with a level of adrenaline few pastimes can match, but the resulting video content makes itself — a fundamental part of modern success for a game.
Observation 2: Cloak and Dagger
In the summer of 2022, I attended Gamescom in a professional capacity and I was fortunate enough to meet with some of the biggest companies in the industry. What I learned was that damn-near every major publisher, studio, or infrastructure company was already working on integrating blockchain. Some of them are public knowledge — Amazon’s AWS For Games, Square Enix, Ubisoft — but most were hiding it.
I won’t “out” them, but some of the companies every gamer on Earth knows and they were so eager to explore it further, but didn’t want that made public. I even worked with one titan in gaming only for them to get cold feet and bury all the work we’d done until the climate was more temperate.
So, this above graph isn’t necessarily indicative of a lack of interest from the movers and shakers in the games industry, but rather, it could be merely a sign that we haven’t made much progress since the summer of 2022 in that regard.
Observation 3: The Path of Least Resistance
BGA was kind enough to quote me in this report and I want to unpack that thought a little here, particularly as it follows on from the last observation.
When many companies look at integrating blockchain into their games, they recoil in fear at the knee-jerk reaction we have seen from traditional gamers who believe NFTs to be a scam. On this, I would like to point out two things: firstly, the hate is waning and no amount of (often patronizing) education, bickering, or Twitter-spats will speed this process up. Secondly, blockchain’s value to gaming is a “show don’t tell” situation. The era of blockchain being a game’s USP is over; show the value blockchain brings.
The reason I have praised NFL Rivals by Mythical Games as much as I have is that they have simply got this angle right. They made a great game and quietly integrated blockchain tech so that gamers can own their in-game NFL players, trade them on an in-game marketplace, and interact with true digital assets without the politics around it. Some may argue that this is duplicitous, but blockchain shouldn’t have been front-and-center in the first place, not to mention, the players are better off.
Final Thoughts: Blockchain Game Alliance Report
As it has been for the past two years, this report is mandatory reading for anyone in the industry. I would say congratulations to the BGA on their work, but it’s more appropriate to thank them. Also, a thank you to Leah Callon-Butler and Emfarsis for their roles in the creation of this report.
2024 is poised to be a year of true significance to crypto and web3, but games utilizing blockchain may hit new heights. Truly brilliant, triple-A quality blockchain games near the end of their development cycles — ordinary, multi-year cycles, as opposed to being rushed to market to capitalize on a P2E cash cow — and this will hopefully bring about a fusion of blockchain gaming and traditional gaming; a return to the shared primary goal of great games.