Shual Profile picture
23 Nov, 37 tweets, 10 min read
Gaming and crypto, two of the fields in which my life revolves around

Here are my comments on @wvaeu's lovely, insightful article:
First of all, let me start by commending Eva for a wonderful article. She formulates her theses, explores them in-depth, tries to poke holes and voice counter-arguments, and utilizes examples, explanations, and data to articulate her points.

As a sucker for good research, kudos
Right off the bat, I think this differentiation between the two core crypto-gaming categories makes a lot of sense.

Incorporating Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a nice touch. It touches on the *why* which is often overlooked.
I'd say this is a good gross oversimplification of the psychology behind why people play games. (Not buying Girard's theory wrt this)

Some other components researchers touched on were — achievement, social and immersion components, as well as competence, autonomy and relatedness
Motivations for Play in Online Games…

The role of psychology in understanding the impact of computer games…

Need satisfaction, passion, empathy and helping behaviour in videogame play…
Revealing the theoretical basis of gamification: A systematic review and analysis of theory in research on gamification, serious games and game-based learning…
Examining users′ intention to continue using social network games: A flow experience perspective……

Why do they enjoy virtual game worlds? An empirical investigation…
While crypto has been compared to MMORPGs a lot, and I can draw comparisons, I postulate that this has no relevance for the thesis itself

The questions are spot on though, specifically the last one
Earn-first games: economy-centric through crypto

Let's start with the conclusion: 'this sector of crypto gaming will see the fastest growth'

I agree. You've touched on why:

- ease of borrowing incentive models
- capital influx via funds/speculation
- lower dev barrier
The main selling point is never the gameplay nor other aspects of the game (graphics, UX, social) — it's the financial game behind it.

Ryan and Deci's Self Determination Theory postulates competence and flow as a key driver in enjoying the games we play

in other words:
"Flow is met in games when a game challenges the player enough so that it's still interesting and makes the gamer want to continue to play, but not too hard where it is not fun anymore or too easy where it becomes boring."
Earn-first games forego flow for tightening financial merits. Other way of putting it — it becomes work.

Gamers aren't playing earn-first game to zone out, pursue achievements, or connect socially. They play them to make money.
Now, is that bad? Not necessarily.

Eva states that gaming guilds and eSports leagues offer advanced opportunities around play-first games.

I add: these secondary opportunities might even bootstrap flow into flow-less games.
The gamification of finance is nothing new, in fact, the gamification of *everything* isn't new as well. Whether it's the gamification of trading (robinhood), of exercising (PlayFitt), of education (khan academy, duolingo) and the list goes on
Can't earn-first games be the next step in the gamification of finance? Can't they be a tremendous educational tool to teach kids and financially-illiterate users about core financial concepts?

They can. And they will be.

However, the pitfalls Eva mentions are *very* real
Eva basically says:

you either develop earn-first games for actual traditional gamers, which is a suicide mission because they expect a standard of quality wrt:

- graphics
- gameplay
- balance
- netcode and stability
- social aspects
- continuous content updates

(and more)
- or you target apes directly, and they care first and foremost about the game theory i.e. ponzinomics.

meaning even if you attempt to salvage your (future) declining game economy by making the game more fun, your users... won't care.
users will flock to the next game that offers better yields.

Eva postulates the music might drag on for longer because of VC money. I'm saying: that's the epitome of the problem, not the solution.
Just like how DeFi innovation is stuck due to inflarionary ponzinomics and yield games, games are are dressed-up ponzi-games won't be the salvation we are gunning for in the future.

These games are closer to 'casual' H2H games than 'true' video games
But, if some of these games break from the pack to create a game with true flow, incorporating the perks of using crypto/blockchain to add to gameplay (or other core components), they might veer into a new path — and future — altogether
Play-first games: fun gameplay with crypto

I agree with a lot of what Eva expanded on in this section. Medium-to-long term, true innovation will stem from games in this category.

innovations will be incremental and will revolutionize game-design exogenously -> endogenously
What do I mean by exogenously -> endogenously?

At first we will see 'changes on the surface'. Cosmetic and other items might become NFT or at the very least, ownable. Maybe the gamification of social aspects (which aren't anything new btw)
Then innovation will stem from completely new ideations and concepts involving crypto in games. There are countless teams and studios world-wide who are tackling these very questions right now.
AA and AAA games takes forever to ship; there's a lot of money on the line and many moving parts.

I suspect the winds of change will be blown firstly by indie developers, who are much thinner, move a lot faster and answer to less heads.
We will see the revolution of game passes, closed and open betas, and the industry's new-favorite, early access.

indie developers and AAA studios alike will unlock new monetization models that will also serve the gamers themselves far better.
it's no secret a lot of games suffer from aggressive monetization schemes over things gamers actually care about, whether its gameplay, meta (content and balance), steadiness (net code, game servers) etc.

bf2042, cyberpunk, SMITE. There are many examples.
Unlocking new monetization models will transform how games are being played but more importantly, how games are being *built* and *designed*.

Instead of FIFA shipping the same game every year, making billions from micro-txs, new models can potentially unlock other improvements
At the same time, the pie can grow bigger. not only by gamers, but by content creators, market makers and collectors.

By enabling different actions around the games themselves, actions that can be financialized, actors are driven to explore many new paths *around* games
Eva raises sound risks:

- Game development takes time and money. A lot of both.
- play-first games are competing with other play-first games first and foremost
- technology and scaling issues with using blockchain technology
game designers need to understand that with a 'bigger pie' comes more headaches: accomodating new categorical actors and balancing each moving part against all others.

game-designers are masters of manipulating user behavior, *inside their closed garden*
But what happens when free markets, the ownership economy and different categorical actors collide? 🤷‍♀️

But Eva postulates, and I agree, that the next true winner will be one where crypto-natives + traditional game designers work hand in hand to create an entirely new beast
Games like Entropia showed us some possible designs - and their outcomes. Tokenization of in-game assets and bootstrapping ownership can be detrimental to a system, as Eva explains with the Diablo 3 auction examples.
By fucking with item drops and thus interrupting the flow of the game, the team drove players away from the game. Path of Exile's very complex financial system is a good example of an improvement on that part, but when you look closer... not really.
There are also composability issues. Composability is great on paper — for the players. Not so much for developers who need to work extra for compatibility, balance and other issues that may arise. Resources need to be allocated for those purposes, valuable resources sometimes.
Also, users aren't used to true ownership. Sure, I own my TF2 hats and can trade them, but do I own them? No. But do I care? Not really.

I paid for them out of my pocket, I knew what I was buying. Gamers are absolutely fine with spending money on meaningless shit, on purpose.
NFTs and ownership economy might also introduce play-to-win mechanics in otherwise non-P2P systems. Do you as a game designer value openness over meritocracy? What do the gamers want?

I agree with Eva's nuanced takeaway message.
Not a lot to add to Eva's conclusion that wasn't already broken down by her or in this post.

The future is bright. There will be both earn-first and play-first games. True winners will be play-first games with hybrid, innovative mechanics.

Thank you Eva for a great article

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