The burgeoning online gaming industry is turning its attention to incorporating digital currencies, including bitcoin, into various platforms to get people excited about blockchain and the use of the digital currency.
Two companies taking advantage of the market are MandelDuck, the company behind such games as SaruTobi, Game of Birds and KA-GE and Counterparty, a peer-to-peer financial platform built on the bitcoin blockchain that allows users to create and trade digital tokens, write smart contracts and execute them on the bitcoin blockchain.
Developed by Christian Moss, lead developer of MandelDuck, Takara is the first ever bitcoin geocaching iOS app that has included support for Counterparty tokens. This partnership gives gamers the ability to plant and hunt for bitcoin treasures across the globe, utilizing IndieSquare’s API.
Based in Tokyo, IndieSquare provides developers with digital token management features saving them the task of running and maintaining their own Bitcoin and Counterparty systems. This, in turn, means that developers can focus their efforts on game play. For players, it means that they can securely store, use and send their blockchain assets via their mobile devices.
In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, co-founder of IndieSquare, Koji Higashi, said, “Application of blockchain technology in the gaming industry may very well be the first real reason for regular people to get excited about the tech and push wider adoption of bitcoin as well.”
Higashi said that IndieSquare has the most popular mobile token wallet in the world with an active user-base. “As more applications are built upon IndieSquare, connecting other interesting apps such as Takara will be easy and will provide further utility to your own service.”
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Moss said that using Counterparty tokens within Takara was the start of digital property rather than virtual assets being tied to a single use case.
“I was interested in the idea of users collecting and geocaching tokenized game items,” Moss said. “Currently Spells of Genesis and a few other projects are using Counterparty tokens as game items, so it seemed like a good fit compared to other protocols such as Colored Coins.”
Director of the Counterparty Foundation, Trevor Altpeter, told Bitcoin Magazine that in-game assets present the opportunity to create advanced video game economies containing value that is fungible in the real world.
“This concept has already been demonstrated through features like World of Warcraft Gold and Counter Strike [where] Global Offensive skins are being used as value stores in their respective game economies.”
He added that Counterparty assets are an improvement over the existing model, offering enhanced functionality, while also reducing counterparty risk inherent to the current centralized custody of these assets that ultimately limits their utility and value in the real world. The Counterparty tokens in Takara can be used for coupons, tickets, loyalty points, company stocks or even game items.
For the teams involved, the functional decentralized exchange that Counterparty offers was the key differentiator compared to similar protocols. It is the decentralized exchange itself that would, essentially, draw more people toward the blockchain technology giving users more exciting interaction, making the concept of it more attractive.
Popularity of the Gaming Industry
According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) over 150 million Americans play video games. Approximately 63 percent of homes have a least one person playing video games on a regular basis or at least three hours per week.
When it comes to the monetary value of the gaming industry, the ESA reports that in 2014 the gaming industry sold more than 135 million games, generating $22 billion in revenue.
Unsurprisingly, video games are a strong contender for economic growth.
Of course, with more people using their phones to download and play games, consumers are becoming more interested in games that aren’t your run-of-the-mill casino, dice or gambling games. Games that are challenging and provide rewards are more interesting, which is why games such as Spells of Genesis, Takara, Game of Birds and Sarutobi are becoming increasingly popular.
Is Crypto too Complex?
Moss said that while it’s interesting to explore a new space with the potential for innovative games, he thinks that for regular users grasping the potential of crypto may be a little too complex for them.
“At the moment, most games are gambling dice games with the emphasis being on the financial rewards rather than innovative gameplay,” he said. “However, with Counterparty and tokenized game items I hope this will allow the development of crypto games that are not just about winning bitcoin but rather collecting value and wealth through blockchain assets and game items.”
The popularity of PokemonGo, for example, is a clear indication that people are interested in innovative gameplay that involves gamers with their surroundings. Takara, in fact, is similar to PokemonGo, but instead of users collecting Pokemon they are finding bitcoins and various tokens.
Higashi suggested that adding bitcoin to PokemonGo would have the potential to boost the adoption rate of bitcoin to the wider community.
“If we can somehow insert blockchain into the equation, say being able to trade their Pokemon securely on the blockchain with other players, that alone can easily be a killer app for bitcoin.”
Currently, however, there aren’t many games that implement crypto in them. Nevertheless, with the release of IndieSquare’s API and SDK tools it will be easier for other creators to include crypto into their products.
“I predict as a game like Spells of Genesis becomes popular, other games will implement the use of SoG cards in their own games in order to attract SoG’s user base,” said Moss. “This ripple effect of sharing game items for users will incentivize other game development in their space.”