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Gaming and Blockchain

Gaming and game industry has undeniable role in our lives and, some people dedicated their life to this. In fact, they are making their living by playing games. What can be better than playing game and making money? There is a famous quote: “Do what you love and you never work a day”. Something happens in my head when I Imagine Cristiano Rolando is saying this to his son: Dad is going to play football to make money so that I can buy a new mansion and you have more space to play around! It doesn’t make sense! Playing and making money?! And not just a fist of dollar, so much that you can buy a Lamborghini and whatever you love!

I am sure that even Lionel Messi does not enjoy playing football as much as gamers do, when scoring goals with him in a football game like Fifa or PES (ok, I am exaggerating but I must make this article attractive for you so bear with me!) BTW, to make this more exciting for you, I am a CR7 fan .

The gaming industry is growing at maximum speed, every day we see new games with new concepts and features. Just open Google Play or App store on your phone and browse tower defense games.

This is very good news that every day I, as a gamer with 30+ years of gaming experience, open my eyes and see tones of new games. I can choose a game, start playing that for a couple of days, months and even years, depending how attractive it is and is good for my taste. For example, it is more than 4 years that I am playing the “Clash Royale” game. 

The good thing in Clash Royale game is that everybody can get all tower skins, emojies and the other “the same” stuff, while playing this game. Some people can afford to pay on daily basis to get new stuff, some other practice patience and wait!

Every day, the game offers some new emojis and every season, one has a chance to get a fresh tower skin etc. So you probably think that I can get that someday or can use “in-app-purchase” and buy that in a blink of an eye.  So sooner or later, frequent daily players (like me!) can collect everything either buy paying or waiting for that specific thing to come to shop. Fair enough for all the players all around the world. I saw some emojis couple of days ago that never ever see them before in this 4 years of playing this game and they were 100% unique.

Now imagine you play a game like Fortnight that at the time of writing this article has 350 Million players! It is a battle royal game where you must be the last man standing in the field. In the game, you can obtain some unique collectibles that is not available to everyone or in all the regions. I know that because I live in Iran and can’t have access to many events of Fortnite. I “must” just download the update file every time because I have to. In order to be able to play the game, I must download the update file. It is like buying a Mercedes Benz, but you can only touch it and say “what a beauty, wow!”

And it is not a lightweight file of 100-200 MBs, but at least 1.5-2 GB! But I am a gamer and I love playing that, nobody can stop me (applause from audience!). Stop mourning and nagging, let’s move forward. 

Now picture this: A player in another country, has access to all the features and events, is sitting back on his/her sofa and is enjoying this game at its best. Anyway, he/she has collected some unique skins and other stuff that maybe just a few players around the world can achieve. If I want to get that stuff I have 2 choices: Ask him/her in a nice way and pay the price for that or, hire a hacker to hack the account. FYI, the Epic Game servers are very much secure because they enjoy AWS package.

Figure 1: Fortnite enjoys AWS package | Source: Prasad Duvvi twitter account

But let’s imagine that I could manage to find a way to hack that account and get my hands on the brilliant stuff that he/she has collected. Later, I can claim that I am the “real” owner of that stuff and there is no way that others can argue with that. Poor player, lost everything and must start from zero to become a hero again. What can be possibly done to improve the security and ownership of his/her collectable? 

Can blockchain be the solution for this? You will find out the answer at the end of this article. Before we start, let’s find out what blockchain is.

Blockchain, as the name is speaking for itself, is the combination of two words: block and chain. It sounds scary as it may resemble prison and it can be a prison for bad guys! Blockchain is a new technology with endless possibilities. In short, it is an immutable distributed ledger that all the people in a (blockchain) network has access to a copy of that ledger. What does that mean really and how can that “immutability and distributed ledger” improve game industry?

Blockchain is a concept that attracted attentions when a whitepaper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System” was published by an anonymous person/organization/group called Satoshi Nakamoto. Who or what is Satoshi Nakamoto is still a mystery and if you search for it, you find my people claiming that “I am Satoshi Nakamoto” which is nothing but a big lie. John McAfee once said I am going to reveal the secret but he never showed up again and now is enjoying his days at prison. I can’t say that was the reason that he is now in prison, but who knows…?!

Blockchain is not Bitcoin, repeat again! Blockchain is the underlying technology of Bitcoin. Bitcoin was and still is the world’s first cryptocurrency that used Blockchain capabilities to come to this world. Cryptocurrency word is the combination of “cryptography” + “currency”. To recap, blockchain is not Bitcoin nor cryptocurrency, it is an enabler, an infrastructure for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, Cardano etc.

As said before, blockchain has 2 major characteristics alongside other sweet benefits that it gives us. Let’s discover them one by one:

  1. Immutability: Blocks in a blockchain are chained together with cryptographic functions that use complicated mathematical calculations. If one wants to break the chain and hack a blockchain, must break this cryptographic functions one by one and go way back to the genesis block, also known as block zero or first block.

    Besides, the hacker must take control of 51% of the network that the data that he is inserting to the blockchain are the correct information! On Average, every 15 minutes a new block is generated by miners in blockchain. So even if the hacker starts now…forget it, he/she can never make it! Even his/her grand grand grand grand children can’t do it!

    Check the picture below. Bitcoin is now in block number 688379, oops! just changed to 688380! So the hacker must go from 688380 all the way back to block zero to completely take control of this blockchain! Poor guy, I respect and salute your efforts but you can’t never make it! Even if you can pay for the computational process and power. It is like making a wall in front of a goal in football with concrete and you try to score goal. Forget it, “STAY CALM, LEARN TO TRADE AND BE NICE!”

Figure 2: Bitcoin blocks | Source: BTC.com

 

 

  1. Distributed ledger: You can imagine that as a distributed database that each node in a blockchain network get a copy each and every time that something happens on the network. If Bob wants to send 1 BTC to Alice, from the beginning to the end, the entire network is notified and aware of this process. Once finished, each node on the network receive an updated version of the ledger and as the results, it is very hard to change the data in that ledger.

    So you might have guessed that blockchain is very secure and you are right! Blockchain is very safe and secure by its nature. A blockchain network never sleeps, does not have down time and maintenance break because of the nodes. Nodes are always awake and they are spread across the world. A datacenter, no matter how big it is, how secure it is and no matter how many monitoring sensors it has, is vulnerable to
    There are some issues with private-closed blockchain networks which does not fit in this article. 

 

NFTs: Why so serious?

So far we learnt about blockchain and why it is good. But we are not going to be discussing about blockchain in this article, the goal is to find out why and how blockchain can help gamers and the game industry. You must wait one more time before we jump into the gaming section of this article, but I respect your stop and want to write a little about NFT. Gaming and NFT have very close relationship so you need to be prepared.

NFT which stands for Non-Fungible Token is Non-Fungible Token, in short! According to Cambridge dictionary, fungible means “easy to exchange or trade for something else of the same type and value, like fungible asset/bonds”. Thanks to the dictionary we are now way ahead of describing the meaning. In general, when something can be traded/exchanged at the same value, it is fungible. 

100 Euros, is always 100 Euros no matter 10×10 Euros or 2×50 Euros or 8×12.5 Euros, 100 Euros is known and have the same value all around the world. Ok, you may pay 118.65 Dollars to get 100 Euros, but again you get 100 Euros. So Euro currency is fungible and the Euro holder does not care if you return it in any form, as long as it values the same 100 Euros.

10 bananas are not the same as the other 10 bananas which means banana is non-fungible. Here is a description of NFT from Opeansea.io:

“Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique, digital items with blockchain-managed ownership. Examples include collectibles, game items, digital art, event tickets, domain names, and even ownership records for physical assets.”

 

Figure 3: Fungible Vs. Non fungible | Source: Opeansea.io

By summarizing highlighted text above, one can easily find out the importance and the rule of NFT in the gaming industry. Especially if you are a gamer, your eyes must be sparking now! So get back to your game and try to find rare and unique items, maybe you can sell them and earn some Ethereum! I believe it is the best and most green way to earn Ethereum or other cryptocurrencies than mining.

Things are getting pretty interesting, aren’t they? Now let’s see what blockchain can do for the gaming industry.

Problem:

I, as a gamer, spend a lot of time and found a rare skin for my character. I must find a place that I can trust to sell my item and/or buy other items, too. On the other hand, there are other players that use fiat currency to buy a cryptocurrency so that they can achieve rare items. Well, competition is not fare now but always those who have the money, have the power! So maybe money is not everything, but it is as valuable as oxygen!

But maybe there is something here that can equalize the situation: When you are not playing your online game, for example Fortnite, all of your achievements are stored on a “centralized server(s)” of Epic Games Company. No matter how secure they are, with all the respect to Amazon that hosts Fortnite game, they are easy target for hackers. And speaking about blockchain, the main characteristic of blockchain is “decentralization”. 

For online games, this is the worst nightmare that one day they login to the game and see everything is vanished and gone! Now I really want to see the face of those who paid to buy items in the game (called V-Bucks in Fortnite).

Figure 4: When all your achievements are gone! | Source: theloadstar.com

I can list more and more issues that games face every day but just want you feel what can happen in a blink of an eye for a gamer. I’d rather someone hack my phone rather than my PS4 account!

Is Blockchain the answer to this?

We conclude this at the end of this article but let’s find out what can blockchain do for us, gamers!

As said before, I’d rather to find a safe and secure marketplace where I can sell the rare item that I found. One thing to keep in mind (if you are a gamer you can skip this part!) is that although the rare items come to the game shop later, but it all goes back to show-off! “Look at me! I have this rare skin and I paid 700$ for that!” BTW, the skin is called Galaxy in the Fortnite game and at the time of release, it was 700$. 

Not all the players can afford to buy this skin or other expensive items because they either find it useless or “maybe it comes to the shop”. But this specific skin is very special and was release on a cross-promotion between Samsung and Epic Games for Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tablet S4 users. So this makes this skin very special, precious and super rare. What if you get a chance to exchange this item with other items? Maybe you have a super rare machine gun that you put a lot of effort to assemble and now want to exchange it with something irreplaceable like the Galaxy skin. 

If this reminds you NFT, “unique, digital items with blockchain-managed ownership” then you are thinking of minting your own NFT. By the way, the process of creating an NFT token is called minting (it is a token after all!) 

So you need a marketplace where you can sell and buy items. Game developers can develop a blockchain-enabled marketplace where players can buy items using cryptocurrency. This way, they avoid fraudulent payments and also, don’t wait for 3rd party payment providers. They also pay less (close to zero) commission, happy days!

Is there anybody out there that have noticed this opportunity? Yes, Enjin has introduced a framework for game developers that includes SDK, wallet, game plugins and other apps for virtual item management. For more information visit https://enjin.io/ . Just to stop you from clicking: 

Enjin is introducing Enjin Coin (“ENJ”), a new ERC20 token that gives communities, content creators, game servers and game publishers, an easy solution for implementing virtual goods and real value, into their gameplay and communities. Enjin will develop a powerful framework of open-source software development kits (SDKs), wallets, game plugins, virtual item management apps and a payment gateway platform.” – hackernoon.com

Back to the topic, when purchasing a digital item in a game, gamer does not “really” own that thing. It is kind of a license let’s say that says this player own this item and can “only use it on this specific platform”. If a gamer gets banned or the game company decide to sell the company, then everything is gone (and again a 5 finger punch to TV screen or monitor!).

Now that Enjin has introduced a unified solution, let’s see what the advantages are: It decrease fees and eliminate a middleman in between. You directly transact with Enjin and the only fee that the gamer pays, if the network fees. Good to know that Enjin is built on top of Ethereum.

We’ve been discussing that blockchain is a distributed immutable ledger that keeps everything in a secure way, very safe and sound. Tataaaa! All your purchases and items have been recorded on blockchain (Ethereum) and you “really own” the items, no matter what happens to the game or your account! 

Figure 5: Gaming and blockchain | Source: cointelegraph.com

Just like ETH for Ethereum, ENJ is the single currency that the gamer purchase and trade with, that’s it! Now imagine if a majority of online games adopt this currency, what an ecosystem that would be! 

There are other benefits about this blockchain (Enjin) which you are currently thinking about like increase the value of ENJ by trading etc. But the mentioned items are motivational enough for a gamer to have faith in the future of blockchain and gaming. Before I finish this article, I’d like you to read this title from cointelegraph.com carefully:

Gaming Industry Use of Blockchain May Lead to Mass Adoption

So I think we have the answer now: Yes, blockchain can be a solution for the game industry and gamers. One more surprise: Imagine quantum internet with quantum blockchain and quantum gaming. 

BTW, this article can be an NFT! Haha!

 

Written By Shahriyar Nasrmalek

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