Play to Own - The Next Catalyst for Web3 Gaming
Web3 gaming has seen extreme popularity over the past year or so, with titles such as Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained having taken over the space as gamers and web3 fanatics basked in their glory. Harnessing the power of distributed ledger and blockchain technology, developers are now able to create decentralized gaming experiences, where players have complete ownership of their assets and experiences - a feat unheard of before in the gaming industry, where assets are held by big gaming developers, and can be taken away from players without hesitation. In recent months, the space has grown at breakneck speeds, as traditional gaming and web3 investors alike funding next-gen projects like BLOCKLORDS,
Skyweaver, and as of very recently, Project Awakening with 8-figure sums like its no-one business. Over 2022 alone, $4 billion had been invested into web3 games.
As we move towards onboarding gamers and games into web3, there needs to be a shift away from the current form of financially incentivized gaming, otherwise coined Play to Earn. Although Play to Earn has produced a lot of good from an economic standpoint, giving those in less developed nations an opportunity to make a living, it adds a dimension to games which take away from its most important factor-fun. It is here, where Play-to-Own steps into its own.
What is Play-to-Own Gaming?
The Play-to-Own model (P2O), is the next evolution in the web3 gaming model. Centered around longevity, sustainability, and fun, P2O associates itself much better with the feel of web2 games, providing a sense of familiarity for gamers. Play to Own games encourage players to go through the duration of the game with their assets, rather than tossing them onto the secondary market for a quick buck. With the help of smart contracts, items and assets have dynamic characteristics and stats, which develop depending on the actions of the player, and so instead of earning some coins, you end up with an arsenal of digital assets, uniquely crafted by your experiences and decisions. As assets have the ability to be enhanced thanks to your actions, and aid you on your journey, there is less incentive to throw them to the highest bidder, and a real emotional connection is made where players can really own their experience.
Being able to own the experience, puts real value to the blood, tears and redbull that have gone into grinding the game.
This ownership of experience is the missing piece in web2 games, no matter how hard you grind, all you’d be left with is a character in a cool skin which at the end of the day isn’t really yours. The relationship is fickle, one wrong move and it's gone. Web3 games, with the help of the Play to Own model, can help create a gaming environment where players can foster experiences to truly call their own, in a sustainable way, where the focus is on fun!
The Difference Between Play to Own and Play to Earn
Some people may be confused as to what the actual difference is between P2E and P2O. Well, it really comes down to one thing. The motive.
Play to Earn games, as the name states, focuses on the financial incentives that are possible to implement in blockchain games. Financial incentives are neither good nor bad, it purely depends on which perspective you come from. Economically, it's great that players can derive monetary value from their efforts, and even kids worldwide have been able to make an ample amount of money doing so, but as a gamer, playing the game for fun, the dynamic is shifted as the focus isn't on enjoyment, but on farming internet coins.
For those who want to play games for the sake of playing games and enjoy the experience on a holistic level, or web3 game developers who want to create a game to stand the test of time, the Play to Own model is more aligned with those objectives. The bonus in a Play to Own game is that you can sell your assets on the market, but as discussed, that isn't the primary objective. Longevity and ownership of experience is the name of the game.
How to Tell if a Game is Play-to-Own or Play-to-Earn
There are a couple of key things to analyse when deciphering whether a game is Play-to-Own or Play-to-Own, so here's a brief rundown of the important things to look out for.
Tokenomics is crucial to any sort of crypto project, and games are no different. Economically sound tokenomics, where rewards are not paid in a coin with infinite supply that is down only from the rip, is a good start to identifying the strength and intentions of the game. A few questions to ask yourself:
- How does the game function?
- Is there a rewards token?
- If so, does the coin have actual utility?
- What purpose does it serve?
- Is the minting mechanism sound? How are rewards earned?
- What is the vesting schedule?
- What does the in-game economy look like?
These few questions should give you an idea of how the game works and the potential future of the game. Where is it headed? A game with terrible tokenomics and a short vesting schedule will clearly not stand the test of time, and be played knowing you are probably Icarus flying toward the sun.
Checking out the developers behind the game, and their backers, can give some hidden insight into the intention of the game. For example, a team of traditional gaming veterans, working at the likes of Ubisoft, EA, Riot, and NCSOFT, would be more inclined to make a web3 game that sits on the top shelf with the biggest titles of our time, a real game for ages. Games on this scale are less likely to want the motivation behind playing to be on financial gain, but on raw enjoyment and longevity, and will opt for the Play to Own model.
The White Paper
Yes, Captain Obvious has made an appearance. Checking the whitepaper is imperative. A game will state its motives here in the overview and opening pages. Anything linked to game mechanics will also be found here, which gives great insight into the games intentions, how it will play out.
Play-to-Own Games to Watch
There are a couple of P2O games that are worth watching, and have made some waves in the industry.
BLOCKLORDS is the first Web3 MMO strategy game, and boasts the Play to Own model. Developed by MetaKing Studios, the game is a medieval strategy game, in which players choose their path and create their own legacy. Whether you want to be a farmer, and spend your days in the fields, or a battle-hardened Lord, ready to expand his empire , the choice is yours. The games NFT’s have unique traits that develop through the game, creating a personalized experience for each player. The game is set to release in late 2023, but check out some BLOCKLORDS gameplay in the meantime.
Reign of Terror
RoT is another P2O MMO strategy game, but set in a feudalistic cyberpunk society. Players choose their squad and complete missions, and use resources to craft armor and weapons. Reign of Terror’s gameplay goes deeper than portrayed, join a faculty or guild and form alliances and experience the depth of the social, and economic strategy side of the game.
The web3 gaming space is on the rise, and is looking to compete with the biggest names in Web2, and by utilizing the Play to Own model, this goal is not as far as we may think. Giving power to the players and real control over their assets will bring us one step closer to the ultimate gaming experience.