Blockchain gaming is one of those technologies that no one is excited about except for a handful of startups … and maybe GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi. Blockchain, of course, is the innovation that powers cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. When it comes to gaming, however, a number of companies are promising that it will — well, I don’t know. Mostly, it just sounds like people are trying to make new platforms to do a lot of stuff that Steam already handles, like ownership of digital items.
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John McAfee ran the company that created the McAfee antivirus software, and now he doesn’t. Instead, he now spends his time like any bizarre billionaire: evading police questioning regarding an alleged murder in Belize, running for president of the United States, and investing in cryptocurrencies.
In December 2017, McAfee grew frustrated with people doubting the long-term viability of cryptocurrencies.
“Bitcoin now at $16,600,” he tweeted. “Those of you in the old school who believe this is a bubble simply have not understood the new mathematics of the blockchain, or you did not care enough to try. Bubbles are mathematically impossible in this new paradigm. So are corrections and all else.”
Ignoring that it would be very bad for literally anything if pricing corrections were impossible, that tweet did not age well. Since then, Bitcoin has lost 75 percent of its value. It is now trading at $4,000.
Blockchain gaming is nothing
As someone who write about games and the business of games, I get a lot of pitches about blockchain gaming. I started ignoring those emails months ago. And the reason for that is because the technology is almost entirely meaningless at this point. A lot of companies are trying to make it happen, and that’s fine. But not a single one of those startups has made a compelling argument to consumers, game developers, or publishers.
That doesn’t mean these businesses are short on hypotheticals. They all have big ideas about the potential for the blockchain. It could decentralize ownership of digital items, and that is an interesting idea. Developers could also potentially use blockchain tech to run tamper-resistant online worlds without requiring servers. Instead, games would run on local machines, and then the blockchain would keep track of any changes.
I think these ideas have potential. So now, why aren’t these startups building products to prove that this is filling a need? I think it’s likely because that need doesn’t exist — at least not in a way that is consistent with the amount of noise companies are trying to make about it.
So I’m going to continue ignoring blockchain gaming. I’ll start paying attention again if anyone makes a product that people actually care about.