The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar a year global industry, and with the introduction of blockchain gaming, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. People started playing games thousands of years ago. One of the first games ever created was Senet, an ancient Egyptian board game from 3500 BCE.
Since Senet, gaming has transformed, with gamers playing on everything from their phones to Xbox One. Today, blockchain gaming is disrupting this industry, and in Q3 2021, blockchain games had an influx of 140% more players than in Q2 2021. This article will guide you through the exciting world of blockchain games, how to build them and what you can expect in the future.
How does Blockchain Gaming work?
In traditional games, you buy the game – you play it. As you play, you find and discover weapons, gear, and other items within the game. Then you use this equipment to fight, defend yourself, etc. What happens when you stop playing the game?
You no longer need those items or weapons you found or purchased. All the work you put into the game, the assets you have are now meaningless. You can’t use them in another game, and you can’t sell them either because they are not your property.
Examples of traditional games and how they work
We can sort traditional games into several types:
- Dungeon crawlers (Diablo)
- First-person shooter (Counter Strike)
- MMO (World of Warcraft)
- Trading Card Games (Hearthstone)
In these game worlds, items are usable only in their respective worlds. You cannot use a sword from World of Warcraft in Diablo. You must play Diablo to use Diablo items. In other words, you must stay in the “Diablo game universe” to use a sword or another gear.
The same happens with Counter Strike. You can have guns, skins, grenades, and other items, but you can use them only within the “Counter Strike game universe.”
Now let’s talk about blockchain and what it allows you to do.
What happens in blockchain games?
On a high level, they work similarly to traditional games. You find and discover items, weapons, and gear and use or equip those items while playing the game. However, the key difference with their traditional counterparts is that the assets exist outside of the game.
When you turn off the game or stop playing altogether, you can use the items, for example, a sword or a shield, in another game, sell them on an external market or convert them into cryptocurrency. Blockchain makes each item unique and transferrable.
Blockchain allows you to create items and store their information. For example, the requirements might be to create an item, name it, have a picture to go along with that item, define the quantity and the ownership of these items. It would look similar to this:
- Golden shield
- Picture of the shield
- Quantity – 100
- Owner – the game creator, deciding on who will get them.
Then the creator of the asset submits this data to the blockchain. Anyone can do this with some knowledge about publishing this information to the smart contract. Now, since this blockchain asset exists and we know that there are 100 golden shields, the person who holds them can give these assets away by transferring them on the blockchain.
For example, you want to send this shield to a gamer named Alex1330, who won it in a giveaway competition. You transfer it to that gamer, and it is then stored in his personal Ethereum address (or any other blockchain network, like Solana). Now, it is recorded on the blockchain that Alex1330 is one of the 100 owners of the golden shield. You can verify this by checking his public Ethereum address to see his assets.
A quick recap on blockchain games
- A player officially and provably owns assets.
- Blockchain records this information for everyone to see.
- Games check the blockchain to see what assets a person owns.
- Blockchain game developers decide whether to include this item in their game.
- To create this asset, a player doesn’t need to have any game to be developed beforehand.
- Blockchain games become a multiverse, where gamers can use assets across different games, sell them at auctions, and put them on a marketplace outside the game.
- Players are free to send their items peer to peer.
In summary, there is an overarching blockchain of stuff out there. In that blockchain, we have data, such as that Alex1330 owns a golden shield of which only 100 exist. So if you are a new blockchain game creator, you might check the blockchain and see what people own. So if you sign up for this game and provide your public Ethereum address, the developer can check your “inventory” and decide to incorporate some or all of your assets.
For example, if you had a blockchain dungeon crawler, you could check someone’s Ethereum address, find a golden shield, and say that they can use it when they join your game. The same goes for the first-person shooter, MMO, and trading card games.
Those might be completely independent games with separate developers, owners, and even built using different blockchain networks. However, each of these games can create unique scenarios with information about the assets available on the blockchain.
Here is how it works:
- Blockchain dungeon crawler: Alex1330 can use the golden shield to protect himself from dragons.
- Blockchain’s first-person shooter might not have shields in the game, but Alex 1330 can use the golden shield emblem on his character’s uniform.
- Blockchain MMO: Alex 1330 can use the shield to protect from attacks.
- Blockchain trading cards game: Alex1330 has a golden shield trading card, granting a +10 attack to his team.
These games might have a different feel and look of the shield, but it will be the same asset that only 100 people would have. This is called a blockchain multiverse. With the development and adoption of Web 3.0, this multiverse will become an integral part of the global decentralized network.
Now, let’s take a look at two real-world examples of two real-world blockchain gaming projects.
Enjin is a blockchain gaming leader that released an axe as a collectible blockchain item. They’ve sent it out to telegram users and some community fans before the release of the game. As a result, you can own assets before playing any specific game and store them on your Ethereum address. Enjin has a crypto wallet that allows you to see what items you own with pictures. It’s a very cool presentation of your assets.
Fun fact: Enjin also allowed adding a wooden sword from Minecraft as a collectible item to your Ethereum address.
When developers launched this game (similar to Diablo), they integrated Ethereum addresses and Enjin Wallet. So if you had an Enjin axe in your Enjin Wallet, you could select it in your inventory when playing Forgotten Artefacts, even though this asset was from a different game. This game also allows you to use the wooden sword from Minecraft to fight monsters.
AXIE Infinity is an anime game using non-fungible tokens. So each AXIE is unique and can have its own appearance, name, stats, etc. Each AXIE starts off with a basic appearance but players can customize it to their liking. They can even team up in different units and compete against others in Arena fights.
So if Alex1330 owns an AXIE and sets up his unit, he could add it to other games. Such as a blockchain first-person shooter, which allows you to select an AXIE from your inventory while playing the game.
In Summary… There is one overarching multiverse where assets are stored on Ethereum. In this multiverse, independent games can control what assets their users own, allowing them to use those assets in multiple games. This is a massive step up from the old way of owning items for one specific game only.
CryptoKitties was the first blockchain game ever. In this game, you can purchase unique cats that cannot be duplicated. CryptoKitties connect blockchain technology to a new form of a collectible. The uniqueness of cryptokitties is represented in their genetics. The genetic algorithm determines a unique cat after each kitten is bought and sold.
As a result, each cat is unique, even if it looks similar to other cats. If one of the cats falls under copyright infringement, they will have a feature that deletes those features from being used on any other cat. Cryptokitties are so charming, so friendly, so very rare.
Guide To Making a Game on the Blockchain
You’ll quickly find that most existing game engines can’t support blockchain games because engines need to track items and transactions. So, every blockchain game is made using Solidity or another language built on Ethereum with unique functions that allow easy integration of assets into games.
Here are some tools you will need to make a game on the blockchain.
- Solidity Browser – a free browser for browsing your Solidity contracts on Etherscan. It also lets you deploy contracts from websites to the Ropsten test network then call their public functions in your browser.
- Ganache – In case you didn’t know, Ganache is a blockchain emulator developed by Ethereum developers that allows you to set up a personal blockchain with one click quickly. It comes packaged within the Truffle Framework, and the Solidity Browser mentioned above.
Choosing a Language For Your Game in Ethereum
In 2017, Developers wrote most blockchain games in Solidity and C++. In 2018, more languages appeared for building games on Ethereum, such as LLL (low-level Lisp-like language) or Serpent (similar to Python).
Experts recommend using Solidity, Serpent, or LLL because they are efficient languages for beginners. Solidity is currently the most popular among game developers and in many ICO projects.
Although the Solidity language is relatively new, many online resources are available to familiarize yourself with it. Many games have been developed using this language.
Building Games in Solidity Remix IDE
Remix is a web browser-based IDE for writing smart contracts in Solidity. It allows you to add libraries from MEW or other sources; it compiles your code instantly. When the compilation is done, it will enable you to test your code by sending a transaction immediately.
Remix is one of those online resources that allow you to build games on the blockchain with Solidity. Follow their instructions and tutorials until you understand how their engine works. Then work on making your game unique and exciting for users.
Making Assets in Your Game
Ganache is a personal blockchain emulator created by the Ethereum community that lets you use Solidity locally on your machine to make development faster. Ganache is a great way to test out smart contracts in a safe environment.
How to Make a Game in Solidity
There are two ways that you can use blockchain technology to create games on Ethereum.
- No 1 is by using the ERC-721 token standard. ERC-721 is a non-fungible token standard, which essentially means that each token is unique or non-interchangeable. This allows you to create collectibles on the blockchain with different attributes, i.e., they could have different strengths, weaknesses, movement speed, etc.
- No 2 is by using smart contracts to build games like roulette or blackjack. This method requires an understanding of mathematics and cryptography because you will be making scripts that decide whether your player wins or loses. Variables present in the script determine the game outcomes, meaning that if you want to change them, you can easily modify them without affecting the game’s code.
Blockchain Games with Solana
Solana is another blockchain gaining a lot of traction, especially among game developers. It makes games run faster than other blockchains by using more efficient and cost-effective consensus algorithms than Ethereum. Hence, the Solana network’s transaction cost makes it ideal for buying, selling, and transferring game assets.
Proof-of-History (PoH) lightens the load of the network nodes in processing blocks. Solana’s PoH offers a method of encoding time into the blockchain with unparalleled precision. Additional to PoH, the Tower Byzantine Fault Tolerance security protocol that Solana uses lets the participants stake tokens and vote on the validity of the PoH hash.
Proof-of-History also uses Proof-of-Elapsed Time, involving a lottery system. Each node will take a turn to add a block to the chain, and the network’s clock determines its turn, which starts with 0 once every node has been given a chance. As a result, you can’t predict when your next turn will be, which will create an equal opportunity for all players regardless of their computing power or wealth.
The Play-to-Earn Model
Since blockchain-based games are decentralized, it is up to players to decide whether they will win or lose. Players who are excellent at the game but don’t have enough wealth will find endless opportunities in blockchain gaming.
The Play-to-Earn model provides many opportunities for players to earn while playing and for game developers to raise funds for development. Players could participate in crowdfunding events held by the developers or other players.
Blockchain technology is still new, but it has a lot of potential for building exciting and engaging games. In Q3 2021, blockchain games had an influx of 140% more players than in Q2 2021. We expect to see a lot more development in the coming years.
Building blockchain games is not very different from blockchain app development, but there are nuances that you need to keep in mind before you start building, including your game model and the blockchain that you will use.
Finally, blockchain gaming can change the way we play. It will be a complete transformation from how the games are funded to how players interact with each other and developers. Now, it’s the best time to start experimenting with the different possibilities, especially if you’re already familiar with blockchain technology.
And remember, blockchain-based games are decentralized and give people the opportunity to win real money or prizes. All these features make blockchain games exciting, even for players who don’t usually enjoy these types of games.