Pureplay On-Chain Games
By James Brodie, Chief Investment Officer, ID Theory
As blockchain technology matures and is dramatically changing the gaming landscape, a more novel kind of gaming experience has emerged: on-chain gaming. It is even considered as revolutionary as the advent of arcades, consoles, mobile devices, etc., which has attracted the attention of many OG users in the crypto community.
Fully/Pureplay On-chain Games (also known as fully/pureplay on-chain games) are games that exist in the blockchain in the form of smart contracts, which is different from games like GameFi that only cast in-game assets into FT/NFT.The state storage and logic execution of on-chain games are all on the chain, so it is decentralized, permission-free, composable, and so on.
One of the familiar on-chain games isDark Forest", a space conquest multiplayer online chain game that not only runs entirely on the chain, but also uses ZK-SNARK to help players hide personal information while participating in the game. In addition, another studio also focused on on-chain game researchCurio Research Recently, it has received a lot of attention from crypto players after releasing its first on-chain strategy game, Treaty.
And on Tuesday, Curio announced it had raised a $2.9 million seed round led by Bain Capital Crypto, TCG Crypto, Formless Capital, Smrti Lab, Robot Ventures, Zonff Partners and a number of angel investment, by many capital in pursuit. The evolution of on-chain games has ushered in a new era and may well be the beginning of the next generation of complex on-chain applications.
On the other hand, James Brodie, chief investment officer of ID Theory, a multi-strategy crypto fund, recently published a commentary on on-chain gaming. He believes that on-chain games will generate dynamic, vibrant, and evolving ecosystems that facilitate community growth and collaboration. With open source code and permissionless custom clients and mods, these games will be a democratizing and a force to be reckoned with in the entire gaming industry.
They will be more than games, they will be about community ownership and governance, and through the power of a decentralized network, they will unlock the potential of both player and developer communities.
BlockBeats has compiled this article. In this post, James highlights 10 of the most compelling trends and differentiators that are exciting for on-chain games:
- The immersive experience stems from the persistence of the on-chain game;
- Embrace open, collaborative and more adaptable networks;
- Game content will be centered around public domain NFT in the future;
- Economic superstructure will emerge from open economy;
- Protocol DAOs unleash the power of community ownership;
- Guild DAO is the new frontier of this trust-free revolution;
- Games are a testing ground for generalized governance primitives;
- The off-chain social layer adds depth, complexity, and appeal;
- In-game tokens will appear, representing "proof of game work";
- Innovative gameplay loops through asset revenue and genre overlap.
Before we get into the details of the above, let's define exactly what we mean by a full on-chain game. Because when it comes to blockchain-based games, they exist "on the chain" and tend to fall into three broad categories:
Web2 games provide players with a seamless and easily accessible gaming experience. Their key benefits include public accessibility, superior user experience, low latency, and efficient bug repair processes.
But traditional games are walled gardens that continue to use and purchase in-game products or services, and the ultimate beneficiaries are entirely the game developers. The key breakthrough was to give players sovereignty over their in-game assets, eliminating the need for intermediaries to act as gatekeepers.
In addition, such games tend to be highly centralized risks, relying on closed source code and placing trust in a single game publisher, so weak composability and non-persistence present challenges for players seeking a truly decentralized gaming experience.
Ushered in the age of P2E, a breakout area with very high DAUs in 2021. The reality, however, is that many P2E games are not fun to play, they are simply a simple game on top of a series of financialized tools in an attempt to attract users. The process of determining rewards remains opaque and confusing, which creates a lack of transparency that creates distrust among players.
Also, when such games are successful, they bring in speculators who invest some of their money in hopes of making a quick profit. This causes value to drain out of the system, putting further negative pressure on falling asset prices.
At the same time, the genre's lack of adaptability to early balance creates a pay-to-win mentality that makes players feel like they need to spend money to be competitive, to the point that it turns off players who don't want to spend money.
The biggest advantage of Web3 games is theirOpen source code, bottom-up development, composability, trust minimization and permissionless features, and persistence.
They provide a high degree of anti-vulnerability and are likely to persist throughout the lifetime of the Ethereum network (or other networks). In addition, a transparent and unchangeable record of in-game interactions on the blockchain increases trust and accountability, eliminating the risk of censorship and manipulation.
However, such games still face challenges in terms of UX/UI, latency and information hiding, making them vulnerable to reverse running and other forms of MEV.
Innovations in blockchain technology are unleashing new capabilities and spurring the development of fully on-chain gaming. Among them, zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) techniques can protect sensitive information while allowing complex mechanisms and interactions. Optimistic Rollups enhance the scalability and performance of on-chain games, allowing developers to create rich and dynamic player experiences.
Daos run at the protocol and guild levels to help coordinate activities and collaboration. In addition, account abstraction greatly enhances UI and UX, making it much easier for the average player to experience.
Finally, AI generation and procedural output automate agents within the game to further create rich and vibrant on-chain worlds.
However, it will take some time for these cutting-edge technologies to reach a level of sophistication that will revolutionize the on-chain gaming experience. Right now, we're on the cusp of a gaming revolution that's even as important as advances in consoles, mobile games, and so on.
Here, let's take a closer look at the top 10 trends these innovations will bring to online games:
0xParc mentionedAutonomous world, offer a new level of immersion and interaction, in part because of their longevity and enduring environment. All game logic and game states are recorded on the chain, and once deployed, they are permanent, ensuring that they can be played whenever possible using the blockchain network. These games can theoretically last for generations, making them a better investment in terms of time and capital.
In this way, however, a timeless game is likely to be unsolvable and characterized by continuous non-trivial gameplay, known as an "infinite puzzle". If all else fails, the game breaks down, or the developer moves on, but if the game is still in demand, forking ensures that the game persists.
As a result, immersive gaming eras will exist, documented in game history, where maps or resources are controlled by superusers and guilds for long periods of time. The balance of power shifts, though, and those who manage the agreement (and its value) are incentivified to keep the game exciting and fun for both old and new players.
Looking at the full history of the game, the history of the item and even the history of the player will provide a level of provenance that rewards long-term contributors in countless unexplored ways.
Ultimately, persistent on-chain games offer enhanced interactivity, and their time-based and "always-on" nature requires a degree of coordination among other participants to achieve common motivation and consistency, thus encouraging global and borderless guilds. This can connect people meaningfully and create a global community around the game.
With open source code and a permissionless structure, players can customize and modify their favorite games to become player-creators, not only investing in the game's success, but also its passionate champions. This shift from passive consumption to active creation has led to unparalleled creativity, community building and growth.
On the one hand, they are not limited by the resources of a single studio. On the other hand, with a small budget and a small amount of time, it levels the playing field and provides an accessible platform for independent game developers.
In addition, composability creates a fascinating design space that game designers have built with this principle in mind. Such asMUDWith the introduction of the "Physical Component System (On-chain Game Engine)" at Optimism, other teams have built similar architectures on ZKDojo. These implementations will allow developers to create reusable and modular components that can be easily combined to create new games and game entities to improve performance, scalability, and flexibility.
In addition, true ownership and the ability to apply royalties provide opportunities for content creation, and the combination of AI-generated content and user-generated content results in a diverse and imaginative gaming environment.
Democratizing the game development process will also reduce costs and increase the potential for innovation. Their openness means that players can contribute not only to the core game, but also to a variety of external things. For example, they can reward players for previous behavior (recorded on the chain), build new communities around specific achievement aspects of the game, and create novel game loops to reward certain types of players.
The world of gaming content is undergoing a major transformation with the advent of NFT, and one of the key drivers of this change is adoptionCC0Permission. It allows NFT creators to dedicate their work to the public domain, thereby enabling reuse and distribution without legal restrictions. This bottom-up approach to development creates a more open and creative ecosystem, contributing to the flywheel effect that drives innovation and growth.
The concept was first introduced byDom HofmanncreatedLootThe lootverse, which includes Realms, Crypts & Caverns, Genesis Adventurers, Banners, Hyperloot, and many others built on it.
Because NFTS created under the CC0 license can be easily shared, modified, and remixed, and because their modular structure enables the creation of initial primitives, these primitives can be created through the"On-chain binding"Combined and treated as a single asset. Thus, it adds flexibility to the bundle and opens up new possibilities in the NFT world, allowing for more detail and user involvement.
As stated in 0xParc,Program generation (ProcGen)It also plays a crucial role in the growth of on-chain gaming content. This powerful tool uses algorithms such as cellular automata (cellular automata, a discrete model), fractals (fragmentation), and Markov chain (discrete time Markov chains) to automatically create content, as seen in on-chain generative art. It will soon extend to games and be used to create large, diverse and complex environments that make games more fun and replayable.
The open economy of on-chain games provides a unique and engaging gaming experience comparable to traditional games. These economies, notable examples of which includeMithraeumandRealms:EternumAnd maybe even across multiple games.
They result in player-driven experiences where the demand for in-game assets, items, and skills determines their value. This creates an environment where players must think critically and act strategically, leading to a more engaging and satisfying gaming experience.
Realms: The eternal resource bazaar
Market inefficiencies and arbitrage opportunities in open economies provide opportunities for aggressive players to profit and promote competition and innovation. For popular games, we will undoubtedly see derivatives of resources, where supply, demand and market forces interact to determine prices and influence the way participants allocate resources. Blockchain technology is crucial to ensuring that the game economy works efficiently and that players can freely choose to participate in transactions transparently and fairly.
And the aforementioned "on-chain bundling," combining multiple NFTS to create more valuable assets, will be a key component of an open economy. It allows for greater flexibility and opens up new possibilities. In addition, the interaction of skin, true ownership, and on-chain binding creates a virtuous cycle of player investment, enjoyment, and reward that increases engagement and retention.
As the chart above shows, the economic superstructure will be shaped by the intricate and interdependent relationships between individuals, assets, NFT bundles, and various other smart contracts, and held together through the synergies they generate. Autonomous agents will reap these economic superstructures for players and guilds, adding another layer of complexity to the game economy, and these will probably be the first notable PvA (player-AI) battlefields.
Unlike traditional web2 games, Web3 games eliminate central control and potential manipulation, providing complete transparency and accountability. This newfound freedom has profound implications for player rewards, game dynamics, and governance.
The sovereignty and private property rights inherent in decentralized networks encourage participants to participate in markets and contribute to the overall health of the economy. By controlling game parameters such as physics variables, resource emissions, combat outcomes, reward systems, and developer incentives, these are all examples of on-chain game governance. However, creating self-sustaining economies is a challenge, which makes these types of governance particularly important.
The decentralization of on-chain games means that rules are transparent and unchangeable, making them difficult to exploit. DAO will be recognized as an important tool for harnessing the collective creativity of the player and developer communities. Such asBibliothecaDAO(under Realms:Eternum), responsible for developing these games, building and maintaining a repository of game utilities and components.
Their governance Token controls their ability to publish protocol tokens as a reward for contributions to the game, as well as for player generated content. This decentralized approach fosters a sense of ownership and investment in the game, while providing a unique experience compared to the traditional centralized gaming model. As a result, it increases interest and participation, encourages promotion and drives growth.
Moreover, these agreements are independent of venture capital investment. Instead, when they want to raise money, they can raise it from the community.AavegotchiDAOThis is an example, recentlyRealms: The team behind EternumAnd to prove it, it was oversubscribed 6.4 times.
In addition to the protocol DAO,MatchBoxSuch ecosystem DAOs can also hand out bounties and initiate hackathons to further strengthen communities by unlocking potential and fostering teamwork. They have published significant content on blockchain game concepts, tools and ideas, and will continue to provide guidance to aspiring game developers in the future.
In the world of on-chain games, trust-free guilds are becoming game changers by eliminating the central control and potential manipulation that plague traditional web2 games. By leveraging DAOs and smart contracts, they allow entities and individuals to work together, delegate activities, and share revenue, reducing barriers and eliminating the need for trust.
Some guilds and guild platforms, such asGuildly, is taking advantage of new developments in account abstraction. In addition to the obvious advantages of making it easier for players to get in, the technology can pool assets and share responsibility for control of those assets.
The implementation of the traditional DeFi mechanism in on-chain games opens up a whole new market for the lending of revenue-generating assets, and the DAO-2-DAO protocol is emerging. For example, DAOs on these game providers collect and "nurture" in-game assets,DarkHorseThese DAOs on the demand side of the game can be monetized, such as those with a large number of academicsReadyPlayer.
When they use assets in the game, they are lent out in exchange for a cut of the scholar's income. These revenue-sharing agreements create a mutually beneficial value creation environment. Smart contracts and automation facilitate coordination between actors and assets, systematize actions and reduce barriers to entry. This harmonization blurs the lines between developers and players, promotes a community-driven economy, and encourages cooperative asset management and collaboration.
As players earn money, consolidate assets, and work together, deeper social connections are made, leading to increased engagement and player retention.
These games will serve as a testing ground for a variety of governance primitives, including economic, defensive, and offensive protocols, a safer testing ground than the real world. Moreover, we can find novel and appropriate ways to use the emerging technologies such as the zk-proofs, and these are likely to be applied in the real world in the future thanks to the open economy in the game.
Initially, these primitives were formed in guild DAOs, but their scope has now expanded to include all DAOs, even non-game DAOs. A set of primitives is emerging that are essentially composible and can be put together like Lego blocks, such as the original OfferProtocol in the early days.
These patterns range from simple Token/NFT exchanges to complex social protocols. In addition, instead of focusing on a single game, they are shared across multiple games and adopted by DAOs outside the games industry, using account abstraction to their full power.
The flexibility of these primitives is what makes them so appealing. For example, the founder of MithraeumBohdan MelnychuckAs described, shares of assets may be issued and offered as part of alliance and client negotiations. The ability to negotiate, trade, and lend all or part of an asset in these games is a major development and could change the way we think about ownership and property rights.
In addition, these primitives are found in other 4x grand strategy games outside of Mithraeum, such asTreatyIt also demonstrates the power of on-chain contracts. These games help shape the future of decentralized governance by providing a safe space for experimentation and bundling.
The off-chain social layer will enhance the normal on-chain gaming experience, these are independent of the internal workings of the game, but they significantly affect the way players interact and cooperate with each other.
Humans are inherently unpredictable, adding a level of strategy to games that makes them challenging. Intelligence gathering and sharing, from on-chain sleuthing (looking at how resources are allocated and how troops are recruited) to counterespionage (making connections between unlinked addresses) are just a few examples of the strategies players use.
Despite the perception that these games are just DeFi in gaming clothing, the complex and interdependent interactions of individuals produce a dynamic and sometimes chaotic environment that requires an adaptable approach. As a result, these games cannot be easily cracked, and players must rely on their social skills and strategic thinking to succeed.
Two Mithraeum negotiate in Discord
Currently, off-site negotiation, on-chain espionage, transparent on-chain interaction, and privacy technologies are all playing a role in shaping the social landscape of these games. While coordination across multiple mediums is increasingly the norm, it remains to be seen whether a unified space will emerge.
Gamers invest a lot of time and effort in building their game characters, acquiring weapons, and earning upgrades, and this "PoGW" is a testament to their dedication and hard work in the game world. However, the inability to transfer this value to other games makes it difficult to monetize these achievements.
The concept of transferable PoGW Tokens could revolutionize the gaming industry by allowing the transfer of value between game worlds, a new model that instead focuses on asset portability emphasizes interoperability and universal reputation. After all, a game's medieval sword wouldn't be much use (and therefore of little value) in the trenches of a World War I game. Similarly, an experienced racer has no chance against a dragon intent on destroying a city.
An example of this approach isTreasureDAO, which is a community-oriented gaming network, hosted by its native TokenMAGICManagement. MAGIC also serves as a PoGW Token, the in-game currency for all games in the TreasureDAO ecosystem, which can be bought or earned by betting and playing, or by selling characters and in-game items to earn it. Here's another exampleThe LORDS,Realms ecosystemThe Token of
This new model not only benefits gamers by monetizing their attention, but also fosters community engagement and creativity. Players can trade their PoGW tokens with other players and can even use them as payment methods for goods and services.
Ultimately, on-chain in-game tokens provide players with greater autonomy and control over their in-game achievements. Instead of being confined to a single game world, players can take their achievements anywhere, creating a sense of ownership and personal investment in their experience that increases engagement and enjoyment.
In these enduring universes, all states and logic are on the chain, allowing for modular construction of different types of games within the same universe. For example, in Space Pirates, where players compete to mine asteroids and intercept and attack each other for loot, builders can build a whole new game on top of that, targeting the pirates with silicon or energy-based life forms. So it's a new kind of PvE experience.
However, the technology also opens up new possibilities for cross-genre gaming experiences that can bring together previously separate communities.BibliothecaDAOIs the leading platform for blockchain games, with 4x grand strategy games Realms:Eternum and Dungeons & The Dragons style role-playing game Realms:Adventurers combines adventurers to take this concept to the next level. This marks the first time that the two genres have crossed paths in the gaming world, causing two very different groups of players to collide in a way they never did before.
By bringing these previously separate gaming communities together, novel game loops have emerged, where both communities can provide resources, items, and more. For example, adventurers can craft items to enhance buildings in Eternum, and Eternum landlords can create exploration opportunities for adventurers to win resources they can use for the aforementioned crafting.
ZKP technology will provide a new solution to the problems surrounding transparency on the chain. It will allow game loops where players can use their hidden information to gain strategic advantage while still ensuring the integrity of the game. In addition, ZKP can prove ownership of digital assets without revealing the assets themselves, providing players with greater privacy.
In addition, the previous section discussed the social layer of on-chain games, whereMetagamingIs a term used to describe games played outside of the immediate game itself, a form of meta-game. Players can only play the base game successfully if they focus on this key layer, which is especially important in on-chain games, especially if money is involved.
Fully on-chain games represent a bold and exciting step forward for the gaming world. Its uniqueness offers an unparalleled gaming experience that is both challenging and rewarding, and they promise to shape the future of gaming as we know it.
By incorporating community feedback and input, on-chain games are truly community-driven and adaptable, enabling the creation of an almost infinite range of games, from casual entertainment to complex virtual worlds that may last for generations.
- The combination of CC0 and AI can produce an infinite amount of autonomous content, and the possibilities for players, developers and game designers are endless.
- on-chain game currency allows players to transfer value between game worlds, promoting community engagement, creativity, and investment opportunities in open economies, which in some cases leads to economic superstructure. On the contrary, on-chain games also create new opportunities for cross-genre experiences within the same game world, bringing together previously separate communities.
- The new social layer means that these games aren't just entertainment, they're a new frontier for social interaction and collaboration. This cooperation will be extended and organized in detrusted guilds and DAOs.
The evolution of generalized governance primitives in on-chain games is a story of innovation, experimentation, and growth. These games are proving grounds for the development of new governance models, and their impact is only beginning to be felt. As technology and understanding of these primitives evolve, we can expect to see their impact extend beyond gaming to the broader realm of DAOs.
- The main challenge for game developers is to avoid the pay-to-win trap, where players with more resources have an advantage over others. Instead, an open economy for on-chain games must strike a balance between investment and return, creating a fair and transparent playing field for all players. With careful planning and design, the open economy of on-chain games promises to deliver truly immersive and engaging gaming experiences.
The future of on-chain gaming is bright and has only just scratched the surface of what can be achieved.