Over the past decade, mobile gaming has become a mainstay of the interactive entertainment market. Thanks to the arrival of smartphones, users all over the world have been integrated into the field of hardcore gamers. Now, the advent of blockchain technology has brought about a paradigm shift, providing players with the ability to own the assets they earn or buy within the game and the ability to generate tangible value from the time they spend playing.
There are many opportunities this new model can present, but today, most of the projects available simply don’t measure up to their old counterparts. This has led many to suspect that this new generation of games can break through to mainstream interest. However, this may be shortsighted. Indeed, this is not the first time that a new technology has been rejected based on its first examples.
The Growing Pains of Blockchain Games
Web3 games incorporate decentralized blockchain elements, including smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), to create virtual assets that can be verified and owned by players without third party intervention. This innovation returns a high degree of power to players’ hands. However, the crypto gaming space is still nascent, and many early offerings have been described as overly simplistic and derivative without offering new or compelling gaming experiences.
As a result, many self-proclaimed gamers want little to do with NFT games based on a perceived lack of depth and an overemphasis on financial gain. Dubbed play-to-win, or P2E, these products offer players an opportunity to earn real value in the form of cryptocurrency and NFT, which can then be sold for fiat currency. A prime example of a P2E game is Axie Infinity, which made headlines when it became a meaningful source of income for many around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, only to eventually become unprofitable as bear market conditions set in and gain potential.
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This is, unfortunately, the case with many similar Web3 games. Not designed to withstand the test of time – or major economic shocks – many Web3 titles fail to motivate their fan base without their once lucrative financial benefits. This has led many critics of the blockchain gaming genre to assume that current offerings are the pinnacle of what is possible, while dismissing the sector as a fad as a result. However, a cursory look at the recent past—particularly the homogenous rise of mobile gaming—makes it clear that first products shouldn’t define future potential.
Parallel mobile games
If you look at mobile gaming circa 2005, it’s similarly bad. Titles were very simple, often difficult to control and lackluster in the graphics department. The classic Snake game was among the most popular mobile games when Nokia made it to its mobile range, with millions playing around the world. At that point in history, anyone who used their phone for games could only be called a casual gamer, and a similar story emerged as we see it today.
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Many viewed gaming on mobile phones as a novelty for casual gamers who could never compete with the offerings available on consoles and desktop computers. Fast forward to the present day, and titles like Fortnite and Arena of Valor have become hugely popular among professional gamers and have even affected the broader gaming industry. These days, no one is going to say mobile games aren’t compatible with older offerings, as technology has evolved to make the differences more superficial.
In fact, as of 2022, mobile phone dominates 60% of the gaming market. It is now the largest gaming branch worldwide. While traditional gaming platforms are still around and doing well, mobile has shown how new technology can change the entire industry story when it comes to aging. And to make the main point, Snake didn’t specify what the mobile would become.
The future of encrypted games
No matter how you feel about the approach and success of P2E games, this metric clearly should not be used to judge the future viability of Web3 games. New generations of games that will take old titles to a mission in progress. Some of these games still contain P2E elements, and others implement NFT; But more importantly, the industry understands that games need to go beyond monetary compensation and offer attractive gameplay to attract and retain players.
While many currently use Web3, P2E, and blockchain gaming interchangeably, they are not all exactly the same. In the coming years, these branches may differentiate from each other and spawn new subcategories of how this technology can be implemented. Assuming that all future offerings will be pretty much the same fails to see the diversity that has emerged in the mobile market.
Only time will tell the fate of Web3, but those who bet against it might want to think twice. There are many parallels between the emergence of mobile games and what we see now. What killer apps might open the scene to a larger audience remains to be seen, but in 10 years’ time, chances are these kinds of titles will simply exist alongside their home console and mobile brethren.
Justin Holog He is the Chief Studio Officer at 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 information purposes and is not intended and should not be considered legal or investment advice. The views, ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.