2021 was the year NFTs exploded. It is hard to think that, BAYC, has yet to reach its first birthday upon its release in April 2021.
What started off just like any other NFT project minting at 0.08ETH (US$190), exploded into a current floor price of more than 100 ETH(US$275,983) putting any other appreciating assets to shame.
The world was brought to light one what NFTs could actually do for us as living species. Beyond hefty tags in value, NFTs served as a digitally verifiable private ownership and a potential sector in the market many big companies are looking into. More on how NFTs will be on Instagram soon, according to Mark Zuckerberg.
On the flipside, we’ve seen a visceral reaction against NFTs, particularly in the gaming industry, as seen by videos like this.
Are NFTs out to extort or liberate gamers?
Ubisoft sought the first movers advantage by implementing NFTs as cosmetic wearables for weapon and armour in its Tom Clancy Ghost Recon game. The release of Its YouTube video was received with a barrage of negative feedback, prompting its removal from the site in an attempt to avoid company embarrassment.
Ubisoft might have had the welfare of its gamers in mind but gamers thought otherwise.
Fans thought NFTs was a way for gaming corporations to either milk more money or an attempt in making a quick buck. Majority of them were really not for it.
According to a study from the 2022 Gaming Developers Conference, “the majority of game industry professionals claimed their organizations were not interested in Cryptocurrencies (72 percent) or NFTs (70 percent) at all.”
So why do gamers hate NFTs?
As a casual gamer myself, I stand on a neutral ground. The only occasional games I play are on my mobile device (anyone else on Mobile Legends?) as I moved away from computers games about five years ago.
I thought to myself if I am already spending so much time on a game, I might as well get monetary rewards from it right?
However, this video states otherwise as the key objection seems to stem from monetization concerns. This was particularly evident around the play-to-earn (P2E) model popularized by Axie Infinity.
All games which have a large following on a global level start from an equal footing. For example, Counter Strike, arguably the most popular first person shooter game, boils down to an individual’s accuracy in aiming. Money can only be used as a decorative tool in the form of skins, and it will not make your weapons or movements any stronger or quicker.
Other games like Dota or Mobile Legends share the same sentiment.
There was a new breed of games which has options for you to utilize your money for faster progression in the game. An example is Clash of Clans. Users begin on an equal footing, however spending money allows you to enhance your towers immediately, as opposed to the eight hours you’ll have to wait if you don’t.
P2E games almost has this unspoken sense of broken fairness. Players instead have to purchase resources with their fiat which may permit them to progress in game without climbing the traditional merit based ladder.
Basically “they (Gamers) tolerate it if the purchases offer aesthetic upgrades but the discontent grows if players can buy tangible gameplay advantages.”.
Will P2E ever lead to economic freedom?
In Q3 2021 alone, gaming NFTs generated 22% ($2.32 billion) of all NFT sales. Another estimate finds that the blockchain gaming market in 2021 ballooned to $1.5 billion in sales (approximate three-quarters comes from Axie Infinity).
In crypto, we think of whales as those with deep money pockets. In gaming, the “whales” are those with the most time on their hands. Because not everyone can completely devote to a game, the grind in games may not be feasible for everyone.
So what if we have time on our hands?
We saw glimpse on how Web2 enabled (some) gamers to monetize their gaming time through Twitch live broadcasting and to earn prize money through competitions and product sponsorships through social media. Web3 advances this logic by making it possible for everyone.
Even veteran gamers who are negative about play to earn game can agree that our favourite games may sometimes include much too much monotonous effort and grinding. Play-to-earn is unlikely to totally replace the “grinding” process, but it can adapt games such that players are rewarded for their efforts.
Critics of play-to-earn argue that the commercialization model threatens to take the “joy” out of games, but this argument misses the purpose completely. Play-to-earn provides gamers with a more welfare-enhancing choice than the present ones accessible to them. That’s preferable to doing nothing.
In my opinion, where the balance between commercialization and the joy that comes from games is found, we can then consider Play to earn a serious avenue for financial freedom.
I guess the beauty of free markets is that they allow for a wide range of ideals to coexist. However, they do not speak for the billions of casual gamers who are content to pay a few dollars for their games and would certainly embrace play-to-earn alternatives.
Rather than impoverishing game culture, blockchains have the ability to socially and commercially improve the industry by expanding the options for player participation. Gamers’ love for games coupled with the fundamental misunderstanding of blockchains, has driven them to protect the only real profit maximizing dictatorship of gaming publishers.
Blockchain games liberate all of that. It create a means to legitimate all aspects of the gaming economy and incorporates the 99% in the wealth building process not toward 1 single entity but for everyone.
[Editor’s Note: This article does not represent financial advice. Please do your own research before investing.]
Featured Image Credit: Chain Debrief