Over the past decade, mobile games have become an integral part of the interactive entertainment market. With access to smartphones, users around the world have entered the realm of hardcore gamers. Now the advent of blockchain technology is changing the paradigm, offering players the ability to both truly own the assets they earn or buy in-game, as well as the ability to create tangible value from their time spent playing.
There are many possibilities this new model has to offer, but most of the designs available today simply don’t live up to their outdated counterparts. This led many to doubt that this new generation of games could penetrate mainstream interest. However, this may be short-sighted. Indeed, this is not the first time a new technology has been rejected based on its earliest examples.
Blockchain Gaming Growth Challenges
Web3 games incorporate decentralized blockchain elements, including smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), to create virtual assets that players can securely own and trade without third party intervention. This innovation puts a high degree of power back in the players’ hands. However, the crypto gaming space is still in its infancy and many early offerings have been described as overly simplistic and derivative, not offering a new or compelling gameplay experience.
As a result, many self-proclaimed gamers want nothing to do with NFT games due to the perceived lack of depth and over-emphasis on financial gain. Dubbed “play to earn” or P2E, these products give players the opportunity to earn real value in the form of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, which can then be traded for fiat currency. One of the most prominent examples of a P2E game is Axie Infinity, which made headlines when it became a significant source of income for many around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, but ended up losing money when bear market conditions and profits set in. potential dived.
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Unfortunately, this is the case for many similar Web3 games. Not built to stand the test of time or major economic shocks, many Web3 games have failed to attract their fans without the once-lucrative financial benefits. This has led to many detractors of the blockchain gaming genre believing that the current offerings are the zenith of what is possible, and as a result, the sector is dismissed as a fad. However, a look at the recent past – especially the monolithic growth of mobile games – shows that the earliest products should not determine future potential.
Mobile gaming parallel
If you look at gaming on mobile devices around 2005, the situation is just as funny. The titles were too simple, often difficult to manage, and lackluster graphics. The classic Snake game was one of the most popular early mobile games when Nokia ported it to their line of mobile phones and was played by millions of people around the world. At that point in history, anyone who used their phone to play games could only be called a casual gamer, and a similar story arose that we are seeing today.
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Many saw gaming on mobile phones as a novelty for casual gamers who could never compete with the offerings available on consoles and desktops. Fast forward to today and games like Fortnite and Arena of Valor have become extremely popular among hardcore gamers and have even influenced the wider gaming industry. No one will say these days that mobile games don’t live up to legacy offerings, as technology has evolved to make the distinctions more superficial.
In fact, as of 2022, 60% of the gaming market is occupied by mobile devices. Now it is the largest gaming destination in the world. While traditional gaming platforms still exist and perform well, mobile devices have shown how new technologies can change the entire industry landscape when they reach maturity. And to hammer the point, Snake didn’t specify what the mobile phone would be.
The Future of Crypto Games
Regardless of how you feel about the approach and success of P2E games, it’s clear that this metric should not be used to gauge the future viability of Web3 games. New generations of games that will challenge the old games are already in development. Some of these games still have P2E elements, while others have implemented NFTs; but what’s important is that the industry understands that games need to go beyond financial compensation and present a truly fun gaming experience in order to attract and retain gamers.
While many currently use Web3, P2E, and blockchain games interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. In the coming years, these industries may become even more distinct from each other and even give rise to new sub-categories of implementation of this technology. Assuming all future offerings are largely similar, you won’t be able to see the diversity that has emerged in the mobile device market.
Only time will tell what becomes of Web3, but those betting against it should think twice. There are many parallels between the rise of mobile gaming and what we are seeing now. Which killer apps could open the scene to a wider audience remains to be seen, but it’s likely that in 10 years these types of games will simply exist alongside their home consoles and mobile counterparts.
Justin Hulog is the director of the Immutable Games Studio. He previously worked at Riot Games on successful titles including Valorant, Wild Rift and League of Legends. Justin graduated from Columbia University with a degree in comparative literature.
This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.