The question might seem strange, especially coming from someone who has put so much effort into developing the Play to Earn (P2E) industry. However, if we Web3 developers want to make the best P2E games possible, we need to use the best resources we have. And frankly, a lot of those resources are in Web2 gaming technology.
In order to provide a better gaming experience to users, Web3 game developers should use Web2 technology as much as possible and integrate blockchain only when necessary. Here’s how.
Play to Earn: when do we really need blockchain?
Ultimately, the technology used to create blockchain games is at least ten years behind that of classic games. Indeed, those who build and use the Play to Earn ecosystem have decided to make this compromise in the name of decentralized ownership.
But is it really worth having Web3 games with such outdated mechanics just to have blockchain-based solutions?
Nope. Indeed, many practical elements like payments, integration and other game features, turn out to be much smoother without the blockchain. Still, there are some cases where blockchain may be the most suitable tool. So when does blockchain technology become necessary?
Which came first: the problem or the solution?
Many scholars believe that blockchain could add a layer of interoperability to in-game items and currencies, allowing them to be transferred between platforms. However, the infrastructure necessary for this kind of interoperability between games will not be available for some time. This, even when it comes to games created by the same studio. So while interoperability is possible, it’s not practical – at least not anytime soon.
Indeed, the only thing blockchain can come in handy for today is ownership. Since blockchains are both decentralized and immutable, they can be used to create secure proofs of ownership for any item, currency or other type of game asset, including user data.
It should be noted, however, that ownership of game items is also possible without blockchain. Most of the time, end users don’t know or care about the difference between on-chain and off-chain ownership. In these cases, ownership of gaming assets is not an issue that needs to be resolved. Therefore, the use of blockchain for certain types of ownership cannot really be called a solution. In fact, it can even be a problem.
Yet, we see more and more such “solutions”, whether for property or for other things. And when the market becomes speculative, thousands of companies start developing these solutions, creating “problems” that their products can solve.
Ultimately, this leads to a surplus of services that will become obsolete in the long run. And since they are only temporary fixes to ongoing problems, using them is not a good idea.
Play to Earn: optimizing the blockchain
The problem of using blockchain in Play to Earn therefore has two sides: blockchain is often overused, and when it has to be used, the solutions that are easiest to apply in the short term are not sustainable.
That’s why today, P2E game developers should use Web2 technology as much as possible. This in order to create advanced games that will be complemented by robust blockchain applications only when and where these are needed.
In cases where blockchain really is the best solution, Web3 developers need to build systems that are sustainable for the long term. These include Layer 1 (L1) blockchains and Layer 2 (L2) solutions that have strong ecosystems and development teams.
Indeed, although these L1 and L2 protocols are not currently capable of offering the same types of complex ecosystems as today’s Web2 games, it is likely that they will be one day.
Many L1 and L2 developers are trying to create blockchains that will work like Amazon Web Services, i.e. strong and flexible programs that can support an unlimited number of applications. And when that happens, the Web2 technology that supports these robust P2E games can easily be transferred to Web3.
Link off-chain assets with on-chain marketplaces
If you look at the P2E ecosystem, 99% of companies that build in today’s market will no longer exist in two years. Who will stay? Studios that will focus their efforts on creating games with proven design mechanics. Indeed, these games encourage spending and generate sustainable long-term income.
At the moment, these games could be entirely off-chain with only tangential relationships with blockchains. For example, off-chain game assets may be “exportable” to an on-chain status, where they could be traded on external marketplaces. So, once users are done with the on-chain services, they can “import” their assets back into the game again.
The future of Web3 games lies in Web2, at least for now. While many Web3 games have come and gone like lightning, some Web2 game ecosystems and communities have thrived for years. After all, many Web2 games are more technically advanced and far more user-friendly and entertaining than their Web3 counterparts.
So if we want to create P2E gaming ecosystems that attract more users and developers, and that will continue to thrive in the future, we need to take inspiration from Web2 games.
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