How Blockchain is Driving Multiplayer Madness in Videogames
Multiplayer video games have enjoyed increased popularity ever since two people could play in split-screen mode. For developers, building multiplayer modes and games is now a virtual necessity because of the market’s expectation that they will be able to play with, or against, their friends. However, designing multiplayer functionality is significantly harder than single player.
Developers must account for a lengthy list of incidentals when supporting a high volume of players from around the world, and they don’t come cheap. For players, too, multiplayer environments are not entirely transparent or fair. However, emerging technologies could quickly shift these paradigms. Blockchain technology is a new tool that can solve many issues within multiplayer, from both the perspective of players and developers alike.
Democratizing game development
Historically, big-budget game developers have been the impetus behind most technological advances. Due to the traditionally high costs associated with game development, these industry behemoths have tightly controlled the market, often at the expense of participants. However, blockchain has the potential to be a democratizing factor in game development by providing a decentralized network for multiplayer functionality hosting.
This shift could benefit independent game developers that were unable to compete with their larger brethren. Blockchain development platforms like Network Units and Game Protocol have claimed to give developers who work with popular, flexible gaming engines like Unreal and Unity a way to maneuver out from under the shadow of the gaming establishment. Instead of renting expensive development environments from monopolies like Amazon or Google to host the multiplayer functionality, developers could opt to use decentralized space on blockchain structures, significantly reducing overhead.
These advanced development environments should be help developers in raising capital, lowering fees, and taking advantage of proprietary software development kits that help construct multiplayer versions of their game on the blockchain. The possible advantages of utilizing a new decentralized architecture, such as Game Protocol and similar platforms, could also enable developers to skirt major publishers and gatekeepers, who still charge enormous fees for this kind of power. If this concept could work the way it is meant to then this might save the developers from acquiescing to the control of triple-A gaming houses like Ubisoft to find an audience, and should be able to bypass these obstacles when introducing new multiplayer games.
“Blockchain technology is currently seen as the internet 2.0. It has many benefits that can be used by the gaming industry. It is up to game developers to implement this technology or get left in the past. We’re building an entire economy that revolves around game developers and based on the blockchain. With its unique platform and currency, it solves some of the biggest challenges game developers face; such as fundraising, distribution and more,” says Jonathan Swerdlow, the CEO of Game Protocol.
Building a better gaming community through collaboration
While some blockchain systems are trying to use their participants to keep their infrastructure functioning, other new creative gaming endeavors are attempting to utilize this architecture to build a more collaborative community that shares its benefits. The possible advantages of this collaboration includes increased participant accountability, speed, and security. Network Units, for example, has built a decentralized gaming environment that is run on a network of cooperating player and service provider nodes.
The issues which hurt the developers much are the cost of such high power servers network to support the multiplayer functionality. Not all server plans are suitable for the developers, so they usually go for a higher plan than necessary to make sure there game launch or user experience doesn’t get ruined by a sub-standard server performance. Whereas, in real there resources are not utilized to their full potential. And, yet the developers have to bear the cost of the network.
The blockchain technology in this scenario is presented as a solution for the developers to bring down their infrastructure cost. Using the blockchain, Network Units provides a platform for hardware owners to share their unused CPU resources and bandwidth with the developers who requires an infrastructure of servers to run multiplayer mode in a game. Such distributed gaming network hosting asserts that this whole multiplayer functionality could be run on blockchain, helping developers in reducing their cost of rented servers.
In online gaming, speed and fairness are two main components required to have a good competition. In the end, any prolific gamer knows that connection speed is most crucial when competing online. The latency issues add a big disadvantage for some players, especially those who are geographically distant from the hosting server in relation to others in the same game.
“Gamers expect a fair match and a good challenge. Sadly, most of them aren’t getting it. Cheating or broken matchmaking mechanics ruin entire gaming communities. Gamers become demotivated, stop spending on content and the full economic potential of the game is missed,” says Dan Shirazi, CEO of Network Units.
Network Units claim to offer both speed and fairness through their decentralized hosting environment. According to them, multiplayer games can use blockchain to actively reduce lag and latency issues by distributing the server-hosting duties. Each player on the network can play from a node that exhibits the best geographical proximity reducing the distance that a gamer has to the nearest “server” providing better connectivity. However, the claim of getting lower latency just because a user is closer to the server isn’t always true, although it can help. We’ll see if this proves to be a overall benefit.
Beyond latency, Network Units also rewards users and developers for their participation and doing different jobs; such as, players can report toxic behavior, developers tattle on unreliable hosts (those that give a bad connection), and more. Hosts are remunerated for supplying the network’s users, whether they be gamers or developers, and constantly check each other for uptime. The above example also elaborates as to how these technologies are utilizing Blockchain to offer above mentioned solutions to game developers for multiplayer functionality.
The more democratic future of multiplayer gaming
By combining tools such as Game Protocol’s developer kits and Network Units’ load-balancing solutions, independent developers might be able to create multiplayer experiences that are as engaging and immersive as triple-A publishers without incurring the prohibitive production cost. Though, we are yet to see a fit example of such a creation utilizing both the platforms.
“Crypto and blockchain technology will revolutionize esports. As one of the fastest growing markets and a target group interested in gaming and young enough to fully understand crypto, there is massive potential. On the business side blockchain technology helps esports companies to build trust, decentralize the asset values and reach a whole new level of interaction with their preferred target group,” explained Benjamin Föckersperger, chief esports officer and cofounder of Esports.com.
“Esports and crypto are a perfect match, which not only we leverage but a whole group of esports companies in the crypto space does.”
The responsibility for the success of these new multiplayer gaming environments increasingly depends on players and other participants as solutions. Developers must now learn to employ the convenient APIs and other tools that grant them the creative freedom to entice players. We’re off to a good start, but now, we just have to see when will this technology gets the attention of the larger game development community.
Aurangzeb A. Durrani is a former professional gamer and an esports analyst. His interests include esports, online gaming, tech businesses, and blockchain.