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Can Blockchain Technology Up the Winnings for Online Gamers?

 5 min read / 

When American physicist William Higinbotham invented the very first video game – Tennis for Two – back in 1958, little did he know he would be unleashing an industry wave that is expected to crest at roughly $82.44bn in the US alone in 2018. Soon after Tennis for Two, developers released Pong and Pac Man, then Tetris and Mario. Now in 2017, games are evolving into the 3D virtual-reality immersion experiences.

According to a study released by the Entertainment Software Association, sixty-five percent of US households boast at least one, regular video gamer. In addition, newzoo claims global 2.2bn gamers are expected to generate a whopping $108.9bn in-game revenues in 2017.

To top it all off, spending on video games shows a clear trend away from the purchase of physical goods and a move towards digital downloads and online purchases, including mobile.  

With the video game industry performing this well, why would gaming companies and designers care about blockchain? Simply put – because blockchain will cost them less than the technologies they have now, while offering more to the consumers. The benefit is greater profit.

How Video Gamers Make Money Gaming

There’s lots of money in the gaming space, and not all of it goes to developers and manufacturers. Some pretty hefty amounts go right to gamers.

  • Professional gamers
  • Video game QA or playtesters

Tournament players and youtube celebrities make some pretty nice bank. Bloomberg reports gamers competing in the Activision Blizzard Inc. eSports league will receive minimum salaries of $50,000 US a year, health insurance and retirement benefits. The Overwatch league will share $3.5m in bonuses their first season. But video gaming money doesn’t only go to a mythical few.

Indeed found that from a sample of about 770,000 employees, users, and past and present job listings playtesters make approximately $48,000 per year.

That said, how does blockchain fit into this picture?

Peer-to-Peer Gaming

Blockchain services eliminate intermediaries. This allows people to communicate directly while exchanging goods and services on equal terms. Larger percentages of the profits go to the seller.

This also keeps costs down, so the buyer makes out better too. Blockchain is essentially an incorruptible digital ledger that can be programmed to record anything of value, such as a business transaction.

This means that a user with extra bandwidth or computing power could get paid to contribute to the network, similar to how Golem uses and pays for borrowed, extra bandwidth to build a supercomputer.

The practice of sharing bandwidth is nothing new. Also known as “peering” in the data centre space, peering is one of the reasons people can stream services like Netflix and Hulu on their smartphones. Peer-to-peer sharing increases performance.

Game integrity is unaffected by glitches, such as server outages or poor performance caused by high traffic. Instead of being hosted on a single centralized server, games are distributed, operating simultaneously on different computers around the globe.

These gains in efficiency and reliability benefit an industry already set to boom with bandwidth hogs like high-definition, 3D, and virtual reality technologies.

It Only Gets Better From Here

Gamers can already play online games via points clubs like MyPoints and Swagbucks, and can redeem points for a free gift, however, developers have again pushed the limits and are utilizing cryptocurrency in an effort to differentiate from the competition.

Many video games already have in-game currencies, so it’s only a step further replacing these fictional currencies with real, functioning cryptocurrency, which can be traded on the platform or exchanged for cold hard cash.

Both First Blood and Chimaera are blockchain eSports platforms which are already doing this. These platforms allow players to hone their skills while challenging each other for rewards. Soon, mainstream players will be earning a few bucks for a new high score or even participating in a match where winner takes all.

Conclusion

Market interest has skyrocketed recently, with the highly anticipated SophiaTX ICO launch being delayed due to congestion on Ethereum from a mass influx of individuals buying virtual cats. Players have spent upwards of $6.7m buying CryptoKitties, which can sell for as much as $114,000 each.

Both video games and blockchain technology are rapidly advancing industries, predominantly filled with tech-savvy individuals in similar target markets.

Developers on both fronts are realizing the potential of blockchain’s use in the gaming industry and it’s only a matter of time before society begins seeing mainstream video games integrating in-game cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based features. This is a steadily growing space that will likely continue to heat up over the next few years as advancements in technology begin to meet consumer availability.

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