🦃️NFT Bazaar Infographics Hub | What Are among the Believers of NFT Gaming
Along with Dizon were James Zhang, CEO of Concept Art House, which just raised $25 million to fund its expansion into nonfungible token (NFT) art, and Miko Matsumura, cofounder of Gumi Cryptos, which invests in blockchain game companies. Plenty of their friends were there to welcome Dizon on his trip to the U.S. All three — Dizon, Matsumura, and Zhang — will speak about NFT gaming and “play-to-earn” at our GamesBeat Summit Next online event on November 9–10.
These are people who are true believers in NFTs, blockchain, and play-to-earn, and I know that many of them have been immersed in these ideas for many years. They’re not fly-by-night people. NFTs use the transparent and secure digital ledger of blockchain to authenticate unique digital items. By enabling game developers to find a new source of revenue — auctioning off rare items for high values and reselling them as well — they hope to bring a new business model to gaming that is as revolutionary as free-to-play was for Facebook games, massively multiplayer online games, mobile games, and eventually all games.
Anything with collectibles — art, trading cards, card games, and just about any video games — can use NFT technology to create items that are scarce instead of digital items that can be ripped off with abandon. An NFT is no different from money. If you believe in it, then it’s real. And it’s something that gamers themselves can profit from. At the party I attended, everybody believed.
They also believe — perhaps in ways that are more easily challenged by skeptics — that NFTs will usher in the metaverse, another buzzword the skeptics don’t like that signifies the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Since NFTs can establish true ownership, players are no longer serfs on the lands owned by the lord of the manor — the game publishers. They can take their NFT items from games and one day use them in interoperable games in the metaverse. If a game shuts down, that’s no big deal as players will be able to take their avatars and other NFT items to another world. Their investment won’t be wasted.
That’s a lofty ambition that could prove extremely difficult given the delicate balances of game economies. It’s more easily done with games that have been designed by one company to work together, like the worlds inside Manticore’s Core — a collection of games where it’s easy to take your avatar from one world to another.
But NFTs have already changed the world with simpler benefits — the simple ability for players to view the time that they put into a game as an investment and the opportunity to get paid for that investment.
Years ago, I called this The Leisure Economy. Dizon at YGG calls it “play-to-earn,” and his term is prevailing in part because he is making it happen. It’s the idea that you can get paid to play games.
If you start playing some of these NFT games like Sky Mavis’ Axie Infinity now, you can make money by first leveling up your cute NFT characters (Axies) and making them more valuable. Each one is unique. You can fight with other players and win. You can also think of them as collectible pets and keep going back for more. Sky Mavis, based in Vietnam, was started by a team of missionaries with a view that NFT games could build transformative economic power for communities, particularly in developing countries where jobs are in short supply. It could even be a model for more developed nations as the coming of AI will likely wipe out a lot of jobs, Sky Mavis‘ Jeff Zirlin said.
You can sell them for a profit, and all of a sudden the time you invested in that game will pay off. You can make money from the game, and that’s exactly what happened with players in Yield Guild Games, which is guild of players gathered on Discord. This guild not only makes it easy for players to join NFT games. It also teaches them how to invest in titles where playing is an investment, like buying virtual land.
In the Philippines, many players leveled up their Axies, sold them, and pocketed money that was three times the minimum wage. That was very important at a time of the pandemic, when many jobs were wiped out.
Dizon and Zirlin believe that Axie Infinity created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Philippines and they have since seen the formation of hundreds of guilds like Yield Guild Games. While the price to start playing the game is steep — players have to pay hefty fees to create their characters — the guild has scholarships that pay those fees for beginning players, who pay back with interest when they earn while playing. This film by YGG and Emfarsis captured the story of Axie Infinity in a poignant way.
This “play-to-earn” economy is being adopted by lots of other games — and, unlike Axie Infinity, many of those games won’t be pissed on by hardcore players as crappy blockchain games. We will see triple-A blockchain games taking advantage of play-to-earn, said Nick Tuosto of Liontree and Griffin Gaming Partners (one of the biggest game funds).
And while players in wealthy countries like the U.S. are sitting on the sidelines waiting for better games, players in emerging markets like Venezuela, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria, Ghana, and Turkey are embracing play-to-earn as a way to make a living in the digital world. They don’t care about fancy graphics because they phones can’t run them.
Zirlin is excited because of the income generation among underserved people around the world. About 25% of the players are “unbanked,” meaning they have no bank accounts. And 50% have not previously used cryptocurrencies, while 75% are new to NFTs.
They’re creating new jobs that never existed before, just like esports players and the influencers on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. Millions of players are participating in this virtual economy, which goes as far back as 2003, when Linden Lab launched Second Life.
“It’s beautiful that we have been able to introduce crypto to people that have traditionally not been using it,” Zirlin said. “We’re getting this technology in the hands of the people that really need it. And that is super rare.”
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