Opinion,  Technology

Cryptocurrency and Gaming, A Common Ground?

How gaming can bring the Average Consumer Into Cryptocurrency

Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.

Why gaming?

Imagine someone who plays a video game for two hours everyday, spending hundreds on in-game content. Eventually, they stop playing for one reason or another, but still have everything that they bought. With crypto technology, they could sell their in-game items, receive crypto for it, and use it to pay their bills.

Play-to-earn games are becoming increasingly popular in the crypto industry. The most popular example is Vietnamese game Axie Infinity (AXS). The game is somewhat similar to Pokémon, you collect “Axies” and battle other players for rewards. AXS is an Ethereum based token that players earn for playing the game. Players can buy Axies or land as NFTs, so they have sole ownership in game. This is a vibrant market worth hundreds of millions. On top of that, the game has over $4 billion in transactions to date. Other games have been popping up with similar concepts, allowing dedicated players to make significant money off them.

Axie Infinity (via https://whitepaper.axieinfinity.com/)

The Internet makes gaming accessible. Games are easy to find, download, and play. Everyone has heard of Fortnite, which currently has over 80 million active monthly players. Professional athletes livestream games like Call of Duty. Universal Pictures is making a Mario movie, starring several large Hollywood names like Chris Pratt and Seth Rogen. All those examples barely scratch the surface of how much of an impact gaming has had on our culture. Now there are big celebrities like Snoop Dogg, and big brands like Nike getting into play-to-earn games like The Sandbox or Decentraland.

There is a way that companies in the crypto industry can use video games as a way to help consumers understand the fundamentals of crypto. Using crypto technology in video games will help the average consumer learn about crypto in a way that is both fun and informative.

People have no problem spending big on games

Not only is gaming a massive market, but the most dedicated gamers have no problem spending $40 on an in-game skin, or buying other cosmetic content.

Using Fortnite again as an example, people can buy hundreds of different skins for their avatar. These skins add no in-game value whatsoever. They don’t give you a strategic advantage, and they don’t make you any better at the game. They are for purely cosmetic purposes, and some people spend a significant portion of their paychecks on them.

I have personal experience with this type of game. In middle school I was obsessed with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a first person shooter game that runs on Steam. You can buy or sell different skins and stickers for your weapons on a community market. Some skins are worth thousands. All they do is make your weapons look cool, and maybe get you some compliments. I personally spent hundreds of dollars on this game, me and my friends would also trade skins all the time.

This acts similarly to an NFT market, but there are some differences: Steam servers aren’t run on a blockchain, they’re run by Valve. Additionally, you can’t transfer your steam balance into your bank account, you can only use it to buy other items on the Steam network. This means that someone who gets tired of the game can’t get their hundreds of dollars back that they spent on skins. Also, if your steam account gets banned, you lose everything in your inventory, even if it’s worth a lot of money.

Imagine if a market like the one I mentioned existed, but players are able to exchange their skins for digital currency, which can be transferred to real money. It’s totally decentralized, so once you have an in-game item, it’s in your possession, instead of it being kept on a company’s servers. Through the use of video games, there is an easy way to teach people about digital currency.

Why people are hesitant to get started

Celebrities are promoting weird crypto projects and there is a seemingly unlimited amount of spam on Twitter or Instagram. Unsuspecting people with a couple hundred to spare will throw it into weird crypto projects, and then lose it all the following week. People will share these stories of failure with friends and family, spreading doubt about the industry. I don’t blame them at all for being hesitant, it’s difficult and time consuming to do research on the crypto industry, especially if you don’t know where to start.

Not everyone wants to read a thirty minute explanation on the technology that goes into a digital wallet. Crypto technology, as it is now, is confusing for the average consumer, they don’t know where to begin. There are people who still have a hard time using PayPal, so they are naturally going to have a hard time taking the initiative to setup their own wallet or using a decentralized exchange.

Crypto wallets

The way to get people more interested in this technology is to make it fun and smooth. Imagine if you could connect your digital wallet to Candy Crush, and every time you beat a level, you get transferred a small amount of digital money. This is the same wallet you use to buy groceries online. You can also use the wallet to make a post on social media.

What if games gave their players small monetary rewards for setting up a wallet? This gives an initial incentive, and once its done, they’ll realize it wasn’t that bad. This might provoke some curiosity, and they’ll see what other functions their wallet can perform. Now that it’s made, there’s no harm in seeing what else it can do.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in-game gloves being sold for over $1000

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Elijah Pollack is editor-in-chief of Modern Consensus. He has previously co-hosted the Audible podcast Extra Credit. Elijah has published work in the past for Book and Film Globe and The Observer.