Gaming NFTs have certainly gotten a bad rap lately. When a game publicly implements NFT and tokens under the “play to earn model,” it has the potential for severe blowback from what is an otherwise ardent and loyal audience, an audience that deserves to be rewarded fairly. In a highly visible NFT flameout, almost nobody bought the line of NFTs Ubisoft launched last December around the Ghost Recon Breakpoint gaming line. For another developer, GSC, social media blowback was all it needed to quickly pull a proposed line of NFTs around its S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 title.
The potential for gaming audiences to be skeptical about NFTs has only grown with the implementation of gaming tokens and NFTs that can be sold for popular cryptocurrencies or “real” currencies on secondary markets, giving way to a “play to earn” model where gamers can gain income for scooping up virtual rewards and game tokens.
It is incumbent on the gaming industry to find a way to implement NFTs in a manner that is not only fundamentally ethical but also heightens gameplay instead of distracting from it, especially as NFTs become a popular way for various creatives to engage their audiences, from art to entertainment to, yes, gaming. The gaming industry should not jump on the NFT bandwagon just because, well, precisely because it is a bandwagon, but because those NFTs make sense as a way to further engage customers and build, rather than dilute, gaming brands.
One way game producers can integrate this new business model in a way that will make sense to their gaming audience is by adopting the “play and earn” model rather than “play to earn.” What that means is making virtual items tied to tokens and NFTs a nice bonus on top of the gameplay, but not the objective itself. To give you a real-world example, a Play and Earn title that has recently pushed the envelope on this philosophy is Time Raiders; a fast-paced shoot & loot, NFT game whose quality and gameplay are more important than the crypto gamification mechanics that underpin it. Fundamentally, honoring gamers’ wish to play, and most importantly, enjoy a game, instead of having to treat the game like work.
In actual practice, NFTs are not that different from rare, in-game skins. The problem lies when companies introduce the non-fungible concept into the gaming model as an arbitrary cash grab in which no real value is offered. And yet, NFTs do have the ability to make a drastic difference in most games. The MMOs of the past often experienced immersion-breaking moments in which multiple players, who all supposedly owned ‘unique’ armor & weapons, encountered each other. And that would break the spell; later realizing that these ‘rare’ items are not truly limited – if every knight is wielding Excalibur, it stops being special.
But what if NFTs could offer a path to true exclusivity? For instance, on Time Raiders, in-game weapons can gain reputation, upgrades, and over time, even unique names that are exclusive to the player who earned them. This is due to the real, in-game utility that these items possess. Once the economic nature of the game becomes decentralized, both sides can truly reach a win-win scenario; in which no particular party is favored, and players are rewarded intrinsically and extrinsically.
The integration of tokens and NFTs is only replacing the old monetization paradigms of advertising and in-game items, not the games themselves. Game producers should not let the thirst for these potentially lucrative new channels of monetization undermine the fundamental value proposition, which is delivering a diverting, delighting, and compelling game experience.
Now, if you’re eager to see a new approach to NFT gaming, cryptocurrencies, and a fairer, decentralized in-game economy, the Time Travel, Play-To-Earn NFT & Crypto Game ‘Time Raiders’ is launching in Q2 2022.
Players travel through time and fight enemies to find loot. They can use these precious resources to power up their characters and weapons, craft new items, or sell them on the player-to-player market.
Everything in the game is an NFT with true utility that can be traded between players for Xpendium ($XPND), Time Raiders’ native in-game token.