Axie Infinity is toxic to crypto gambling
Blockchain gambling is only four years old – a toddler compared to the rest of the industry. He has a lot to do to grow, especially when it comes to games to win.
I am a 28 year gaming industry veteran. I’ve produced 32 titles in that time on everything from Sega Genesis to Oculus Rift. Some of them were great. Many were forgettable. I didn’t hear much talk about blockchain games from mainstream developers and gamers until Axie Infinity started to take off. Cut to the peak of 2021, and the game had nearly 2 million players logging in daily.
Most people outside of the crypto community at the time were (and still are) extremely skeptical of blockchain’s ability to add anything meaningful to games. They see Axie as an example of the low production values and rampant speculation they want to avoid at all costs. Additionally, they see blockchain as a continuation of publisher overreach. However, in 2021, many believed that Axie would prove blockchain gaming skeptics wrong.
This was not the case. Axie and most other crypto “games” to date have been horrible experiences. They’re not even really games. They are more like digital sharecropping, wealthy NFT owners exploiting low-wage gamers. It’s superficial gameplay overlaid on a tokenomics model. This was highlighted most recently in October, when the value of Axie’s SLP token plummeted following an impending token unlock.
Related: Crypto Gambling Must Be Fun To Succeed – Money Doesn’t Matter
Most players sell their tokens in the crypto market rather than in-game, which means the number of tokens increases and causes some kind of crypto inflation. The game model relies on a steady influx of new players to sustain it – something this month proved very far from guaranteed.
Axie’s value is primarily driven by this speculation rather than enjoyment. The game, if you can even call it that, is literally a grind. Despite attempts to separate it from in-game economy addiction with iterations like Axie Origins, the toxic model of being hyper-addicted to tokenomics prevails. This continues to hurt projects that try to create fun games that use blockchain to improve the player experience.
At the peak of its popularity, the team behind Axie arrogantly claimed that they were “liberating” gamers and enabling a world in which work and play merged. But the game’s decline after the massive $620 million hack of customer funds in March showed just how hollow that language really is. Axie creator Sky Mavis moved from a game-to-win narrative to a game-and-win philosophy, clearly aware that the game was not going to fulfill its mission.
For blockchain gaming to succeed, developers need to focus on awesome game design instead of trying to back their tokens. In an increasingly difficult global economic climate, even mainstream gaming is struggling. But those games that are doing well despite market sentiment are AAA titles like God of War Ragnarök and the latest Call of Duty, which have an exciting story and impressive gameplay.
The ability for players to spend time creating things people will love in terms of stickers, skins, and weapons – while also being able to monetize them – is essential. People need an outlet where they can be creative and create content that sparks interest and emotion with a community that loves to play the game.
If we want to turn the tide on the perception of blockchain gaming, we need to show how it can benefit gamers. Going beyond words and actually demonstrating that it improves gameplay and utility. Blockchain can do amazing things as a backend infrastructure, like allowing players to truly own in-game items, prove the attribution and history of their weapons and loot, and be rewarded for their creations in the game.
Related: The reason why bots dominate the crypto game? Money-snatching developers trick them
Part of Vitalik Buterin’s drive to innovate with blockchain was driven by his distress when he lost spell abilities in World of Warcraft overnight as a result of centralized game control. blockchain ultimately restores true ownership of game features to players, meaning they own them, even if changes occur to a game or it crashes.
This ownership of assets can extend to many areas. Right now, Microsoft and Sony allow you to capture video of your in-game activity and then post it to social media, but not sure how it’s monetized. You’re locked into YouTube monetization. With blockchain, gamers could capture gameplay moments, commemorate them as NFTs, and then allow people to buy/sell them as they see fit. By updating game infrastructure and enabling new innovations, real-time integration of players into the creative process can also take place, which is rarely seen in the industry.
Players want to be involved in the creation of games. They don’t want to be tricked into paying more. Studios must prioritize gameplay, rich graphics, and compelling storytelling to draw gamers on board. Successful blockchain games will be those where players don’t even know a blockchain is running in the background.
Deception and speculative frenzies have been central features of the broader crypto market this year. So getting players on board is going to be a lot harder. Studios will have to go the extra mile to demonstrate to gamers that blockchain gaming can achieve the security, fun, and adrenaline-pumping action that defines the games they love.
Mark long is the CEO of Shrapnel, a moddable, blockchain-enabled AAA first-person shooter. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in computer science before attending an executive education program at the Wharton School. He previously served as Director of HBO’s Digital Products Group; as a group program manager at Microsoft; and as CEO of companies such as Aristia, Meteor Entertainment and Zombie Studios.
This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended to be and should not be considered legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
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