Content created from out of game tools can be the most inventive and powerful ways to change a gaming experience. The introduction of a decentralized gaming ecosystem offers unfettered freedom to communities in developing such content for their favourite games.
Old school gamers – yes, we are not all Fortnite dancing, button mashing whippersnappers – will remember Garry’s Mod and Starcraft as kings of user created maps and game modes. In fact, the entire MOBA genre was borne from a custom map – Aeon of Strife – built on original Starcraft.
What these games sold was far more than the game developer’s vision. They gave the community’s most talented individuals the room to effect their own creative vision and everyone was far richer for it.
So how can we return to what my lens of nostalgia tells me was a golden age of user content in games? Well, blockchain poses intriguing prospects for how a content marketplace could be based alongside a game on a decentralized environment.
Think of it as an ecosystem
People do not tend to enjoy parting with more cash for additional content and I am prone to agree. EA are among the worst offenders for adding DLC bundles and often leave gamers feeling like they either bought an incomplete product or were made to pay once, twice or three times over for the full game.
However, this could be different on a network that makes micropayments possible. Using cryptocurrencies makes payments in the pennies plausible, because transaction fees are minimal and yet they still process at speed.
I’d like to personally reward a host of map creators who worked for free to give gamers like me hundreds of hours of fun on the most innovative game modes imaginable. So if I had to spend a few pennies to buy access, and the profits go to the developer, this is something I would sign up for in a heartbeat.
It follows that we would see far more quality content, too. Popular user created content could generate serious financial rewards for developers and provides a strong incentive to make much more of it.
What might this look like?
There are startups working to build a decentralized ecosystem for hosting games that fit the bill perfectly. If we take a look at these specific examples, we may have a closer idea of how it would work and really how near we are to a working blockchain gaming environment.
This, for me, is the most promising of the startups that I have seen in this space. Qlear have some unique technology towards the gaming end in multi-party computation, but its platform shows a staunch commitment to decentralizing the whole process. A secure environment for games and affiliated user content with the bulk of the power handed to the players.
Gameflip already occupies the in-game item market and have seized on blockchain technology to make it better. The marketplace does a good job in its remit, billing blockchain as making it able to build a “robust digital goods marketplace”. There is certainly room on Gameflip for trading a broader range of user generated content, though perhaps these would not always be micropayments as the platform will be looking to maximise the value of its business model.
Newer to the in-game item market but certainly not to be ignored; Dmarket raised over $19 million in their ICO and came out right away with a working demo. There is significant backing here and so, if a critical mass of users can be attracted to their marketplace, it may be perfectly poised to capitalize on the gap for helping to monetize user generated content.
Rewarding the talent in gaming communities
For too long creators of custom game modes have remained the unsung heroes. As purely labours of love, it is rare that they will receive any more than recognition and so it is about time that these efforts are rewarded in cash.
But it is more than this, too. We want to encourage more user generated content and financial incentives are an excellent way to achieve this. Garry’s Mod is still going strong nearly 14 years later and the reason for this is a strong modding community, facilitated by a game that encourages anyone to do what they want with it.
On blockchain the entire process and experience of user generated content could be made better, even financially plausible for those making it. Meanwhile the players would perhaps be spoiled for choice in what to play. Everyone in the community seems able to derive some benefit here… well unless, of course, you’re in charge of selling EA’s next DLC bundle.
Aubrey Hansen is a freelance writer, a graduate of Aarhus University and crypto enthusiast. She writes about blockchain technology, Fintech, and cryptocurrencies. She’s been researching major developments in the crypto world in past couple of years.