The blockchain has certainly come a long way since the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto first published a whitepaper on cryptography.
Since then it has evolved to transform multiple traditional industries like financial services, publishing, supply chain management, mining (of precious metals), and even the government.
It has also proven to work well with non-blockchain projects within the technology space like the Internet of Things, digital advertising, cloud computing, and eSports.
This is because at its most basic, the blockchain provides a simple value proposition that transparently shows immutable ownership. This is the primary reason why it has been used as a vehicle to raise capital for today’s leading technology startups.
What’s the Blockchain?
The blockchain can be described as a data structure and associated set of algorithms (or an immutable record of transactions on a block) that stores, distributes, and enables access to the data. Once the transaction has been completed and added to the chain, it becomes part of the blockchain forever.
This same approach can be used to store voting records, medical records, or any other transaction. As this information is publicly available on a decentralised network, only the transaction itself is visible to everyone.
This means the data stored within the block can’t be seen or manipulated by anyone. So while each transaction is authenticated in a verifiable transparent decentralised ledger, it still maintains security, anonymity, and privacy.
As a result, the nature of the blockchain makes it ideal for virtual currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. In the same vein, it also makes it ideal for trading digital assets and tokens within games which in fact were the first digital currencies in history.
In a gaming environment, blockchain technology also takes away the middleman (PayPal, credit cards, or cash) to facilitate the trading of digital assets and makes the whole process simple and convenient. The added benefit is the fact that it won’t disrupt gameplay and you won’t incur any third-party fees.
How Can the Blockchain Transform eSports?
While there are already games like CryptoKitties that were built using this technology, the primary benefit of adding the blockchain to gaming is its ability to seamlessly merge in-game economies with real-world economies.
Both real world and virtual economies are governed by the law of supply and demand. So like in the real world where the value of goods is finite, the gaming world also replicates this to incentivize players to spend more time playing the game to acquire it.
When it comes to in-game economies, there are three primary economic models:
One-currency system: This approach is often found in mobile games where players will have to use a fiat currency to buy and install the game and earn in-game currency over time to access in-game rewards. Sometimes these games also come with a subscription fee and in-game auctions of digital assets (like World of Warcraft).
Multiple-currency system: In this scenario, both in-game and fiat currency can be used to purchase digital assets (like League of Legends).
Fiat-only currency system: In this in-game economic model, only fiat currency can be used to purchase digital assets or upgrades (like Dota 2). However, the reward system enticing the players to progress and unlock new content keeps the game interesting.
As all three combine scarcity with value, it can lead to fraud that’s rampant within the gaming industry. Because the blockchain in eSports makes it easy to show proof of ownership (with transparent transactions), it enables both developers and players to engage in in-game economies both within games and across gaming platforms safely and securely.
It can also act as an official record to store data about what was created, who created it, when it was created, and when a transaction occurred. This ensures that no gamers will be ripped off in the future.
It can also be used as a robust tool to store gameplay where each player’s action is stored in a verifiable decentralized ledger. This will be highly beneficial for professional gaming communities.
How to marry Blockchain and Non-Blockchain Projects
Like the blockchain can compliment and transform non-blockchain projects related to electronic medical health records, it can also have the same effect on eSports. A great example of this is the recent announcement of a partnership between DMarket and Unity Technologies.
DMarket, the first blockchain-based marketplace for trading in-game items recently started working with the planet’s most widely used 3D development platform, Unity Technologies. This partnership will make it easy for Unity-based games and their related digital assets to be easily traded on DMarket’s blockchain marketplace.
So now gamers can create an asset inventory, trade them, and keep track of their transactions. They can also use DMarket’s API to assign a value to an in-game digital asset, monetise it, withdraw it to their DMarket account, and migrate it back to their game without ever leaving the gaming platform.
This is a marriage made in heaven that provides a marketplace for Unity’s fanbase that are playing games on over 3 billion devices. This recent partnership has changed the gaming world forever and it’s even got their direct competitor wishing that they would have done the same!
With this partnership, gamers will now be able to securely trade digital assets from VR, AR, 2D, and 3D games built with Unity’s real-time development engine. This means that gamers and developers on platforms such as mobile, PC, and wearables can all now actively participate seamlessly in the in-game economy and that can potentially create infinite opportunities for monetisation and trade.
As a result, we can say that the blockchain has essentially created a robust parallel economy in the virtual world. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the real world economy in the months and years to come.