Bitcoin, Ethereum, the blockchain, all words you have probably heard thrown around with some regularity over the past few months. But what is it? And more importantly, how does it apply to you? Today we will be going over a short synopsis of what it is, and how you can make use of it.
What is a blockchain?
A blockchain is, at its roots, just a way to permanently store data on the internet. It does this by storing a copy of the entire chain on thousands of computers, also called miners. Each ‘block’ has an id that is dependent on the block before it, and before that one, and so on, so it is impossible to hack one block without having to hack the entire chain. While it might not be as fast as conventional servers, it provides far more trust and stability than otherwise possible.
How does blockchain technology apply to game development?
While there are potentially limitless applications of this new technology in gaming, we will only be going over the most common, and I believe most practical, applications of blockchain technology in game development today.
Trading games, and online content games.
A blockchain’s most apparent use is in trading games, and collecting games. One could tie in, for example, different trading cards to a blockchain and use the player’s computer as the miner for this chain. This would make it impossible to fabricate cards and trades, while at the same time you would have an easily expandable system and not need to pay the conventional server costs associated with online games. In addition, because of a blockchain’s public ledger, you would have far fewer scammers and such on your platform and have a more enjoyable play experience.
This use is similar to the above-mentioned trading game but stays closer along the path of conventional cryptocurrency. Again, player’s computers would act as the miners while providing a perfectly secure network for your in-game ecosystem. Currencies like this can also be potentially entered into normal crypto exchanges and bring their own kind of value. This has the added benefit of rewarding your players for playing with actual money, with little to no expense to you.
Alternative funding for free-to-play.
Another possible use is to simply incorporate a cryptocurrency miner to use extra CPU/GPU power in the player’s system. This would fund development, provide an additional revenue stream, and has little to no effect on your players when compared to conventional advertising or in-game purchases. Simply include it in the terms and services agreement and you are good to go! Just be sure that the performance of the game does not suffer due to the mining. Keep in mind that this method should be used with caution, and you should preferably have a simple opt in or opt out method. One example is your players can choose between this method and advertisements. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THIS METHOD BE USED WITHOUT THE PLAYER BEING CLEARLY INFORMED.
In conclusion, blockchain technologies have a lot to offer the game development world if properly implemented. This short list is by no means complete, and I’m sure that with such a new and emerging technology there are plenty of uses I have never even thought of. Share what you think in the comments section below and let me know if you think I missed anything!