Stop Trying to Sell Gamers What They Don’t Want

A realistic look at what the Web3 stack actually offers game developers and players, from Jyro Blade, product lead at PlayFi.

AccessTimeIconJul 10, 2024 at 2:02 p.m. UTC
Updated Jul 10, 2024 at 3:35 p.m. UTC

Video game players do not care about NFTs. They don’t care about ownership of in-game assets. They don’t care about faster and cheaper blockchains. They fundamentally don’t care at all about the underlying tech stack behind the games they play.

This op-ed is part of CoinDesk's GameFi Week 2024.

Every year, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has a main floor filled with every manner of game development tools and platforms. Among these are inevitably Web3 companies trying to explain to an audience of completely uninterested Web2 developers how easy it is to tokenize in-game items and how many transactions per second their layer 2 scaling solution has. But never once has a single of these developers heard from their communities “I really wish my magic spells were NFTs.”

So why do Web3 game developers and infrastructure companies continue to champion these ideas as the key to bringing Web3 gaming to the masses?

Since Web3 developers care about decentralization and ownership of assets, they mistakenly believe everyone else must as well. But the average gamer doesn’t have a clue they don’t “own” the video game skins or items they have bought or received through gameplay. While Web3 fans may care about cutting edge technology and all the metrics associated with it, many gamers happily play on mid tier cell phones or a generation old game console.

This is why there is such a massive disconnect between video game communities and crypto spaces. Instead of focusing on what gamers actually care about, the sales pitch is what crypto fans care about. Car commercials don’t advertise the latest updates they’ve made to streamline head gasket design and how easy it is to change the oil. They market that their car makes your morning commute more fun and comes in your favorite color, because that’s what the average car driver wants from their car.

Then, what do gamers care about? Well, playing an enjoyable game goes without saying. Beyond that, they actually care about many of the same things that those in Web3 care about. The most important of these being community, data, and extensibility. Fortunately, these are all problems Web3 technologies are perfectly set up to solve.

Years ago, indie game developers discovered that empowering their communities to contribute to development, testing, and marketing is the key to building an impactful (and profitable) game on a tight budget. Releasing early access builds and doing community playtesting offers a huge spectrum of benefits from practical bug testing to getting feedback on identifying and connecting their game with the exact target audience. All without spending money to acquire that information and service. By involving their communities early and often, game developers also build a network of evangelists that feel a personal connection to the project. These advocates generate hype, content, and general grassroots goodwill simply because they are genuinely excited to do so. This is a resource that’s nearly impossible to buy.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Web3 communities need this exact same level of community involvement. Projects live or die in the crypto space based on iteration alongside their communities. They need these evangelists to champion the endeavor, building organic trust and recognition. Web3 technology is inherently designed for and powered by a community.

Data is also at the forefront of both video games and Web3 in perhaps the most obvious way. One only needs to glance at things like esports tournaments or speed-running stats to see how important data is for players. Not to mention the countless Websites dedicated to strategy and statistics within the most popular games. Digging a level deeper into game development itself, analytics are absolutely crucial from every stage of a game’s lifecycle. Developers use analytics for in-game activity like balancing or tracking player behaviors, but also for finding what demographics and marketplaces are best for advertising and selling.

Web3 is almost nothing but data. People pore over DeFi protocol metrics and their return rates. They dissect and evaluate whitepapers while comparing the throughput and scalability of blockchains and smart contracts. Even the meme coin fans spend hours staring at charts.

Finally we have extensibility, or the ability of these systems to be expanded upon. Gamers adore user-generated content. They love every aspect of it, from community tournaments to fan art, to custom maps to secondary marketplaces. You can see these constantly popping up organically across platforms like Reddit or Discord and many of them eventually even mature into their own whole Websites and ecosystems.

Again we see a direct parallel to Web3. Users building on top of or alongside blockchain architecture is core to the concept of decentralization. The base technologies in crypto not only allow this behavior, but make it a near necessity. Essentially all content in Web3 is user-generated.

We know what Web2 gamers and developers want and it’s time to give it to them. Stop showing up at conventions trying to sell them on the intricacies of your novel consensus mechanism. Stop pitching that if you only make a fast enough blockchain with cheap enough fees eventually Valve will tokenize the entire Steam marketplace on a blockchain as NFTs. Stop selling things gamers don’t want.

If you want to convince gamers and developers of the merits of blockchain technologies, show them how it solves their real problems and meets their real needs right now. Show the strong communities it empowers, show the rich data it provides, and show the opportunities for expansive user-generated content.

Web3 technology truly has a lot to offer to the biggest entertainment industry in the world. The only way to bridge that gap is to meet video games in the reality of what their players and developers actually want, and how Web3 is the best way to deliver it to them.

Note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinDesk, Inc. or its owners and affiliates.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.


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Jyro Blade

Jyro Blade is Product Lead at PlayFi and BattleFly.