We’re still in the nascent stages of the arrival of blockchain technology onto the world stage, and that can be seen no clearer than in the example of the gaming industry.
Specifically, blockchain gaming. The current market may be flooded with casino games and trading cards and collectible furry animals, but there are also some startups and developers trying to produce high-quality, truly playable games.
Not only are these games examples of how blockchain technology can handle such a format, but also serve as proxy-mining processes, where human activity equates to transactions on the blockchain, and results in cryptocurrency payouts for the player.
Unfortunately, even with financial incentive many such games are going almost completely unnoticed, as the gap between technological advance and widespread adoption remains an extremely wide chasm as far as blockchain tech is concerned. But that hasn’t stopped game developers from trying.
Some of the games aren’t even particularly new; in fact, Huntercoin has been around since 2014, and has been developed and played steadily, if not necessarily extensively, since then.
Huntercoin drops players in an Elder Scrolls-type world and has them search and battle it out for HUC, or Hunter Coins. The game operates on the concept of ‘human mining’, where it is the human activity on the platform which powers the mining process.
Each block produces a reward of ten HUC; with nine of those being dropped into the gameworld for players to find, and one going to the miners who confirm the transactions. When a player dies, 4% of the coins he was holding at the time also get sent to miners to further incentivise their engagement.
To continue the Elder Scrolls analogy: at the moment Huntercoin is a top down 2D game which resembles something like Arena or Daggerfall.
But the team are currently working on a 3D version which utilizes the Unreal Engine, and the early screenshots suggest Huntercoin is slowly edging closer towards something more resembling… a modded version of Arena or Daggerfall. And let us not forget that those games are 24 and 22 years old respectively.
However even that might be too hyperbolic a comparison, since the breadth of activity in Huntercoin is pretty slim. Gameplay involves searching the map for coins and then trying to get them back to a specific place before another player can stop you. There’s relatively little in terms of lore, story or skill requirements.
With that said, Huntercoin is a passion project with zero marketing and no budget. The team add to it when they can find the free time, and continue to do so at the request of a still vibrant forum community, even five years after the game’s initial development.
The lack of graphical fidelity isn’t a major priority for the game’s players, who have much more important goals in mind, namely, finding money.
Huntercoin is currently ranked at No. 802 in terms of market cap, with a 24 hour volume in the low four figures. HUC coins have halved in value since April, and this will be felt in the game world where player rewards will be worth much less.
Ultimately, Huntercoin stands as a solid early example of what can be achieved in terms of blockchain-gaming, and with its continued development, this may not be the last we hear of Huntercoin.
Beyond the Void
This Steam-based game comes with much heftier graphical fidelity, and therefore hardware requirements than Huntercoin. The developers recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM and a quad-core processor, but you can see where those resources go when you play the game.
Beyond the Void is Ethereum-based, and uses the Nexium (NXC) token to power its in-game marketplace. The game involves roaming through space and finding planets which you then develop for resources. In-game resources are fully-owned by the player, and are registered on the blockchain just like with a transaction. Marketing materials for the game say that these resources will be compatible with transactions across different games, although the details aren’t made clear.
Beyond the Void has a ‘mostly positive’ rating on Steam (77%). One review describes the game as:
“… the RTS rock/paper/scissors concepts of Starcraft 2 or Warcraft 3, apply that to a Dota 2/Heroes of the Storm/League of Legends concept, and remove any allies from the equation — that’s Beyond the Void. It’s fast paced with a deep complexity of combinations and strategy that make it something you’re going to want to keep an eye on as it goes through Early Access.”
The game benefits from a much higher budget than the previously mentioned Huntercoin, and the trailer for the game opens with a professional voice-over artist uttering in a foreboding tone:
“Hundreds of years ago, people discovered the most powerful matter in the universe, called ‘the cube.’ This marvelous discovery brought about a new kind of technology that enabled them to travel among the stars. Soon, however, reserves of the ‘Cubes’ ran low. These people had to expand even further, and great noble families went to war to control the precious matter. With the help of its allies, the most powerful noble family brought about peace and founded a galactic empire. The families, known as houses, were the Harkon, Asgar, Syan, Morsith and Estherid. Now, cubes only found in wild systems beyond the edge of the galaxy. The Barons of the houses will do anything to get them. Captains with powerful Motherships fight in their names for the control of the cubes.”
So there we have it. A solid intro which tells us what we’re doing and why. While it’s all rather derivative of the Dune story, it serves as enough of a hook to justify the player’s actions within the game.
While it has gained praise for its gameplay, graphics and atmosphere, the sad fact is that very few people are playing the game. The gameworld is so bereft of human players that most new users find themselves playing against bots, and then grow tired of it and leave.
This is the same problem that lots of new blockchain games are running into. They may already have the product in place, but they simply don’t have the user-base required to keep the product alive.
Only 24 million crypto wallets exist worldwide, and of that number only a small amount will be even be aware that crypto-gaming is a thing. However, the number of crypto wallets in existence has already nearly doubled since the first quarter of 2017, and if that rate of adoption continues then the two games mentioned here could suddenly find themselves with a burgeoning user base. Or, they could end up relegated to the noble, but tragic status of being early pioneers who were just too far ahead of their time.
Given the sheer ubiquity of gaming in modern life, it’s not difficult to imagine a time when games like these could become immensely popular. Much like the invention of the World Wide Web in 1991, a lot of blockchain’s possibilities are going unnoticed outside of a relatively small number of industry enthusiasts.
One could make the case that it took twenty years for the internet to become commonly adopted. How long will it be for blockchain?