Part 4: Gaming Tokens And The Metaverse
Every game has its unique assets – background, characters, weapons, accessories.
With CSGO, you can collect skins. With MMORPGs, you can level up your characters, get powerful weapons and artefacts. With LOL or DOTA, there are characters and skills that resets every game, not to mention your MMR. With Fifa, you can collect soccer players and form your own fantasy team. With card games, you can form your own arsenal.
The thing is, all of these assets are restricted within the game's environment. In fact, most games don't allow you to trade or transfer your items with other players, but for those that do, it creates a secondary market.
This secondary market can even extend to cash transactions. In my teenage years, we created bots to farm for feather and wood on Runescape and sold them for pocket money. In Diablo II, it was trading powerful weapons with SOJs (Stone of Jordan), and even on Neopets, amassing super rare items or Neocoins and you can sell them for dollars. Of course, these items were only valuable to other players, and outside of that environment, there is no value for them.
NFTs And Games
When we talk about NFTs and games, it's hard not to mention Axie Infinity – a game that has continually set records for the number of transactions and trading volume it generated. In this game, you need to own pets (Axies) to partake in the activity, and these pets are all tokenised on the Ronin side chain.
In AI, you can breed Axies and sell them (very much like CryptoKitty). There are two types of coins in AI – AXS and SLP – which are used for distributing value within the game, and used for breeding new Axies respectively. AXS and SLP can be earned differently throughout the game, which creates interesting dynamics: Some people opt to join tournaments, while others try to farm SLP, and yet others earn from breeding and trading Axies.
AI is big because it successfully created one of the first play-to-earn game ecosystems, which many projects are trying to adopt into their gaming mechanics. In terms of playability, this is just the beginning of what is possible.
Imagine the hours spent on all these games, building up characters, accumulating resources, and the possibility to trade them. NFTs and games were meant to go hand in hand. But wait, why do we need them to be tokenised?
Interoperability Across Games – Into The Metaverse
Let's say all assets within games are tokenised as NFTs. What if you can use an asset across a different game?
For example, your Fifa players can be used in a different football manager game, or even a wrestling-street-fighter style game featuring football players? Or yet, say the character and items you use in a MMORPG can be used in a new upcoming game? With NFTs and Metaverse, interoperability will make these possible.
To even consider that possibility, there must be a fundamental change in how games are developed. Rather than create games around a story plot first, it starts with having NFT assets first, and then integrating them into different environments.
Currently, there are several environment being built – Voxels, Sandbox, Decentraland (DCL) for example – and this is not considering Roblox or Minecraft who already have functional worlds that are not crypto based.
Different NFT projects are creating assets for these environments – Metakey, Cyberkongz, Meebits. In fact, there are so many PFP projects realising that they need to create 3D characters to open themselves up to the possibility of being used in the Metaverse. What happens with an avatar that you can use in say Decentraland? It depends on what projects are being built there.
For example, Wonderzone is a game built within DCL. Metakey made their avatars for DCL, which means that these avatars can be used to play Wonderzone. Other notable franchises like Atari, Walking Dead, Rollercoaster Tycoon have all bought plots of land within DCL, and it's only a matter of time before they release their games or functionality within DCL.
This means that rather than a game having its independent assets, we can have cross-games integrations. For example, Wonderzone partnered with Metakey to drop their holders an in-game item that gives a boost on mining. These type of cross-game collaborations will be even more common next time – and your DCL assets can be used for multiple functions.
We can even expand beyond that to have avatars or items integrated across Metaverse. For example, if Metakey decides to build avatar and their items for Voxels or Sandbox, collectors holding that avatar will see even more utility than before. That is why interoperability of blockchains and Metaverse can transcend beyond what we know now.
Possibility Of The Metaverse
When we talk about the Metaverse, it is very much just a virtual space. You might be quick to dismiss it as just a game, which is fine because you are not a gamer, so let me change that thought for a moment.
The pandemic has created boundaries for many of us – not being able to meet up with as many friends and family as before, or even embracing remote work and the lack of physical presence with our colleagues. Yes, this too will pass, but what changed is how people have become more comfortable with interacting with one another online.
Now, interacting via Zoom or Google Meet is still very different from physical meet-ups, but what if the virtual meeting are immersive? Imagine a typical festive gathering, instead of going to one another's house, we schedule a fixed period of say 2-Hours where we'll hangout in an immersive virtual space to play poker or some board games together. With everyone doing that, it simply becomes arranging your schedule while being at the confines and comfort of your home.
If this sounds very similar to Ready-Player-One, it's because that reality might be closer than we think. Facebook's rebrand into Meta, and their accompanying hour-long introductory video poses that possibility. What is scarier is that Facebook, being that media giant, has the resources and connections to make it happen – they have the network of people, they have the ability to change user habits, they have the resources to build, and they have Oculus.
Give that video a watch, because they've captured quite accurately what I imagine is possible with the Metaverse. It all comes down to the execution and adoption in the coming years. Scarily, it might be here sooner than any of us would expect.
Gaming tokens and NFTs? We're only in the first inning.