What if you could make a living from playing your favourite game? That’s what play-to-earn, a new generation of video games, promises. Every player can monetize fun by generating in-game tokens and items as NFTs and selling them via online marketplaces. It can be a nice alternative to standard income sources.
Some games have already achieved it (check out what Axie Infinity did in the Philippines), but there’s still a long way to go. Play-to-earn is a new concept and the market is still developing.
It could develop faster if there were more developers willing to work in web3. Most game devs stick to web2, and there’s a good reason for it: blockchain game development has quite an entry barrier. In this blog post, I’ll explain what it is and how to remove it once and for all to make play-to-earn flourish.
Web3 game development explained
Web2 game developers see the play-to-earn model trending and might have cool ideas on how to implement it. What prevents them from producing blockchain-based games is the technical barrier.
For developers to be able to focus on engaging, immersive gameplay, they need to have the core foundations handled. Similarly to the pyramid of needs, once those critical components are handled, creators can focus on the “fun” component.
At the bottom, there’s the game engine, the basic tool of a game developer. Could be Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, or any other according to one’s preferences. It’s the foundation of every video game that has a significant impact on the other elements of the pyramid.
The next area to take care of is networking and security. As play-to-earn involves real money, web3 games need to be 100% secure. There are many ways of exploiting security weaknesses (Andressen Horowitz summarized some of them here), and developers need to prepare their games for all of them.
Unfortunately, they usually don’t have such competences. Security is the weakest point of today’s P2E games that affects the reputation of the entire sphere. Until we learn how to produce secure games, P2E adoption will remain stuck in a place because players won’t trust web3 titles.
Once developers take care of security, they can go to tokenomics, the eternal economy of their game. It’s the apple of the eye of the team members with a blockchain background. It doesn’t make the game more fun (could be the opposite, but it’s a topic for another blog post), but incentivizes people to play, especially those from the web3 community.
Finally, once the game engine, networking, security and tokenomics are in place, developers may focus on gameplay. It’s the heart of each video game, and the core of the brilliant ideas born inside game studios. Gameplay is what makes games fun, engaging and replayable, and that’s what developers want to focus on. Unfortunately, in the traditional development process, they cannot because they’re too busy with the previous steps.
Game developers vs. blockchain competences
We play games primarily to have fun, don’t we? If so, it should be a natural thing to focus on engaging gameplay. That’s what developers want and what they’re competent at.
The remaining elements are equally important but hard and time-consuming to develop. Building games on the blockchain imposes new requirements that call for specific competences.
Most developers simply don’t have them. Blockchain game development is a tiny niche, and building a team of people specializing in both gaming and web3 is wishful thinking.
Because of that, many marvelous play-to-earn ideas get wasted. If game developers had a solution that would take the engine, network, security and tokenomics off their shoulders, they could focus on gameplay and develop better games (where better means more engaging yet without security trade-offs).
My team has developed a tool that plays exactly this role: Elympics.
A single tool with multiple purposes
Elympics is a multiplayer engine for web3 games that frees developers from the heavy lifting. It allows them to build secure, engaging browser-based games and publish them in no time (even 48 hours!). Its server-authoritative approach and ML-based matchmaking provide fair duels without the pay-to-win mechanics. The result? More fun!
Elympics comes with a library of Essential Smart Contracts that make tokenomics development simple. They allow developers to reward users for in-game achievements, implement gate ticketing, organize PvP duels and implement regulatory mechanisms such as coin burning.
Thanks to Elympics, game studios don’t need to have blockchain competences on board. It allows them to focus on making games fun without worrying about security or the engine. This way, the entire sphere benefits from better games: players have more fun and web3 creators enjoy better reputation.