If you’re a blockchain enthusiast, you likely have at least experimented with all different types of implementations of the technology. From your crypto wallets to your NFT collections, there are many ways that distributed ledgers have changed the way many of us live.
However, despite big claims from proponents, we’re yet to see any major implementations of blockchain technology in mainstream games. Of course, there are plenty of titles that do use it in various ways, including big hits like CryptoKittie and the myriad of play-to-earn titles that have flooded the market in recent years.
But there is a big distinction between these specially-created crypto-based games and the mainstream titles that are made by traditional developers and publishers and marketed to consumers using the many tried and tested channels.
There are almost no games at all in this category that have featured any form of blockchain implementation, contrary to the promises made by crypto pundits since Bitcoin rose to prominence back in 2017. So what, if anything, will it take for us to see the blockchain appear in a major mainstream game, and which titles could benefit the most?
Online casinos have been at the forefront of technological innovations since the creation of online platforms in the late 1990s. Since then, we’ve seen iGaming platforms embrace HTML5, smartphones, video streaming and even virtual reality.
Much of this innovation has been driven by competition as major brands have sought to attract more and more customers. After all, millions of people worldwide enjoy playing virtual titles like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat. Of course, that hasn’t been the only tool in their arsenal. They’ve also turned to running generous casino bonus promotions to attract new players, as well as developing major ad campaigns and sponsoring sporting events and teams.
So, given that these casinos are always trying to push the boundaries of what is possible in their quest for market share, blockchain technology should be right in their wheelhouse. Yet, that isn’t the case.
The main possible implementations for casinos could be through making cryptocurrency payments and/or wagers, and using smart contracts to regulate each bet to demonstrate fairness. However, the benefits of these would be limited because casinos already have many different banking options, and undergo rigorous licensing and independent auditing processes to ensure they treat players fairly.
Therefore, casinos are likely to need something a little more special from the blockchain for widespread adoption to take place.
AAA games are the big blockbuster titles released by major publishers like EA and Ubisoft. They are the best-known and most-played games on the market with millions of players across PC and consoles.
Like online casinos, these games have often been at the forefront of new technological innovations like ray tracing, the internet, and procedural generation. Yet they still almost never feature blockchain technology.
The main potential implementation in these titles is in the trading of in-game items. Microtransactions have become big business over the last decade. Indeed, developers and publishers derive huge proportions of their income from these small but regular payments from players.
Despite payments being the most common use for the blockchain and the distribution of digital items becoming very prominent in the last few years, only Ubisoft has attempted to use the technology for its microtransactions. Even then, Ubisoft’s implementation was widely regarded as a flop. Players condemned it for being a cash grab and the company quietly retired it within just a couple of months.
Ubisoft isn’t the only company that has at least flirted with the idea, though. Electronic Arts’ CEO told investors in early 2022 that NFTs and the blockchain, in general, were “the future of our industry”. However, he added that he was unsure of how his company would eventually implement them.
It seems, just like with casino games, that there is yet to be a big enough benefit from the blockchain to warrant the time, expense, and risk that comes with adding the technology to games for publishers to be willing to invest. Once that changes, it is entirely possible that the blockchain will be included in almost every new title released to the market.