Web3 games have faced reluctance from traditional gamers, who lament that they're not as fun as they could be - and for good justification. For too long, blockchain-based games have simply over-relied on yield and reward gimmicks to draw in and keep players, and not quite nailing high-quality core gameplay loops.
However, the winds of change are blowing.
Consensus 2023 (by Coindesk) offered encouraging signs that gaming remains a confident direction and focal point for the broader crypto and web3 community. A panel of industry veterans including Immutable Chief Marketing Officer Devon Ferreira, Animoca Brands Game Director Marc McGinley, and Alien Worlds co-founder and CEO Saro McKenna, reflected on the current state of web3 gaming, typical stumbling blocks for blockchain game developers, and the ingredients for a successful web3 game.
Here are the takeaways.
The Tech Maturity Tango:
Every new era of gaming is initially met with skepticism, even outright dismissal, from players. The advent of free-to-play and mobile games faced a similar reception; many players simply scoffed at the concept. The first games to surface in these genres were seen as low-quality, often relying on gimmicks to attract a certain group of gamers.
But then a handful of breakout titles - League of Legends, Fortnite, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush - changed the game, amassing billions of combined players. Today, the free-to-play and mobile game genres contribute a significant share to the $200 billion gaming industry's revenue.
Web3 gaming, in its current state, bears an uncanny resemblance to the early days of free-to-play and mobile. Initially, games highlighted their 'free-to-play-ness' and 'mobile-ness' as selling points. They soon found that players cared primarily about one thing: is the game entertaining?
As web3 technology matures, a shift in perspective may be necessary for the development and marketing of games. Web3 game developers might need to revisit the fundamental principles of game design, crafting genuinely engaging and immersive experiences for players, rather than leaning heavily on unreliable earn-based incentives.
To win over the mainstream crowd, perhaps it's time to move away from overemphasizing 'web3-ness' tech, and concentrate instead on delivering compelling gameplay loops and experiences, much like free-to-play and mobile games did.
Innovation Station: What's the potential of web3 gaming?
The innovation web3 brings isn't limited to enhancing the current gaming model, but also involves unlocking new genres, experiences, and game models that weren't possible before.
Immutable sees web3 as an enabling force, both on the technical application side, such as digital asset ownership and liquidity, and as a catalyst for creators and developers to journey down innovative game development paths. This translates into game experiences that are not only immersive but also highly interactive and shaped by player decisions.
The transparent and permanent nature of the blockchain also unveils new avenues for community interaction and play styles that are otherwise constrained by closed systems like those in web2. For the first time, players can chart their own course regarding their assets, achievements, and experiences – whether they choose to display them, trade them for value, or carry them over to a new title.
For web3 games to truly entice mainstream players, they need to fundamentally redefine what's possible.
The Three Pillars of a Winning Game:
Successful games are built on three key pillars:
Immutable is confident that web3 technology can effectively address the safety and fairness pillars. As for fun? That's the creative territory of game builders.
We're handling the aspects we know blockchains are good at solving, like user-asset security, and creating fair game systems that can't be manipulated. In essence, we think that developers should concentrate on creating an excellent game while we piece together the best web3 components. That's why we're developing powerful tools like Immutable Passport, the Immutable Global Orderbook, and Immutable zkEVM to simplify web3 game development.
Going Back to Basics:
The web3 gaming industry is on a journey of rediscovery, trying to pinpoint what players genuinely seek from a game. While blockchain technology is set to usher in a new gaming era, it's crucial for game builders not to lose sight of how and why this technology will empower their player community.
With more than 180 high-quality teams and titles working with us, Immutable is striving to dispel the notion that 'web3 games aren't fun'. It's high time to demonstrate the potency of web3 gaming to players and empower game developers to create truly outstanding games.
Feel free to explore the games currently building on Immutable. If you're looking to develop a web3 game on easy-mode, check out our Developer Hub.
You can watch the full panel event at Consensus 2023 here.
Build. Play. Connect.