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5 Times Online Gamers Lost Their Hard-Earned Digital Assets

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So, what’s the big deal about true digital ownership anyway, and how does it benefit gamers?

You might think we’re beating the same drum over and over again (and you’d be right), but it’s for a good reason. 

As we get closer to interconnected gaming ecosystems and a shared virtual world, the question on everyone's minds is: 

“Who will own this world, and who stands to benefit from it?”

And our answer to that is simple – those who build it, and those who live in it. Studios, game developers, and players.

How digital ownership benefits studios, developers, and players

In traditional gaming, players invest countless hours and money into acquiring in-game items, but they don't truly own these digital assets – the game developers and publishers do – giving them full access to alter, restrict, or even remove access to players’ digital items at any time.

With web3 gaming, that ownership dynamic shifts – granting players true ownership of their digital assets through blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs.) Suddenly, players can now own, trade, sell, and gift their hard-earned assets to other players across marketplaces, creating a new level of engagement and investment in the games they love.

As our co-founder and president Robbie Ferguson said during his recent discussion at TOKEN2049, “Everyone is still massively underestimating how big web3 gaming is going to be. Gaming goods are essentially the largest digital goods category that exists. There's $240 billion spent on video games every year, $150 billion of which are digital assets."

"When players have the option to sell, you have brand new monetization mechanisms, secondary marketplaces, royalties. But you also will take the size of gaming from $150 billion to trillions of dollars."

That’s the future we are building at Immutable. When game developers no longer have to “continuously extract more value at the expense of anyone else in a negative or zero-sum way,” as Robbie also mentioned. 

For now, let's run through a couple of examples of real-life situations where players lost all their hard-earned time and effort in the blink of an eye.

1 – Ubisoft's Might & Magic X: Legacy server shutdown

In June 2021, Ubisoft shut down the servers for "Might & Magic X: Legacy," which blocked players from accessing the game's DLC content that they had purchased. This action rendered parts of the game unplayable, leading to players losing access to content they had paid for.

2 – Sony removes Helldivers 2 from sale in 177 countries

Helldivers 2 – the game people couldn’t stop talking about this year – now requires players to sign into the PlayStation Network in-game to continue playing. While server infrastructure delayed this requirement during the initial launch, many PC gamers worldwide will now get locked out of the game simply for living in a region that doesn’t support PSN.

3 – Epic Games account ban

Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, has had instances where players' accounts were banned without clear reasons provided to the user. In one notable case, a player found their Fortnite account permanently banned and was informed by support that the ban was due to the use of fraudulent software. Despite their appeals and the significant investment in the game (approximately $1000), the ban remained in place, leaving the player without access to their account and all associated in-game assets. 

4 – Blizzard server shutdown in China

In January 2023, Blizzard Entertainment faced a significant disruption in China due to the expiration of its licensing agreement with NetEase, a local partner that managed the distribution of Blizzard games like World of Warcraft (WoW) in the region. This led to the shutdown of WoW servers, affecting millions of Chinese players who lost access to their accounts and in-game assets overnight.

 5 – Vitalik Buterin's loss of WoW digital assets

We all know of Vitalik, the founder of Ethereum, but did you know he was motivated to build Ethereum after the 2010 incident where Blizzard altered the mechanics of Buterin's favorite character's ability? This profoundly affected his gaming experience and made him realize the negative impact of centralized control over digital assets, leading him to quit the game. 

Inspired by this incident, Buterin shifted his focus towards developing a decentralized platform that would offer users more control, culminating in the creation of Ethereum, which has since become a foundational technology in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors.

How Immutable makes sure players can always access and manage their digital assets

Digital ownership in web3 gaming solves these problems and ensures that players can never lose access to their hard-earned digital assets. However, a common misconception is that web3 gaming means players can still lose access to their accounts if they lose their wallet password. 

Immutable Passport addresses this concern head-on by offering single sign-on, providing the benefits of decentralized control without the complexity associated with web3.

Robbie Ferguson: "The main thing that's stopped player onboarding into web3 until now has been that infrastructure has not been ready to onboard everyday customers. If you ask someone to sign up and write down 24 seed words, you are losing 99.99% of your customers. Finally, with Passport, we have wallet infrastructure where you can sign up with email.”

Web3 gaming gives gamers control over their digital assets while also benefiting game studios and developers 

Join us on this exciting journey as we redefine the future of gaming. 

Together, we can create a gaming ecosystem that benefits everyone, from the most dedicated players to the most innovative developers and studios. 

To get started, join our $50 million reward program – The Main Quest – to experience the power of digital ownership firsthand by exploring the ever-growing collection of 330+ web3 games built on Immutable.

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