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For all that blockchain, crypto and NFTs are in the news these days it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t exactly mainstream. Lots of people might know of blockchain, but not very many people can explain what it is. Stardust‘s Canaan Linder, Making Fun’s John Welch and Playful’s Paul Bettner join Digital’s Amy Luo on our GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 panel, “How Blockchain Games will go Mainstream.”
The group try and explain just that, while coming up with some ideas on how to get some wider adoption going.
That kind of knowledge doesn’t happen until people have an undeniable reason to dive in. When you look at gaming as a whole, there’s definitely the hints of a pattern. In the early days of gaming Space Invaders and Pac-Man latched onto the collective consciousness. Games existed before them, but those two arcade games really brought gaming forward in a mainstream way.
Years later, gaming was a known quantity, but it was the territory of the nerds. Gamers might play anything and everything, but sports games brought consoles into the mainstream. Personally, everybody I knew owned a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis. Not just peers, but parents.
My friends were playing things like Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. Their parents were playing PGA Tour 96.
“Basically, every time there’s a new platform or paradigm shift,” said Welch. “The key is to understand what rules that have been written are going to stay dominant and stay literal, and which ones are going to be completely broken.”
Later console generations repeated the pattern. Gaming was more mainstream, but suddenly it wasn’t just for nerds. A whole new type of gamer seemed to spring up; the folks who only played the latest Madden, or Call of Duty and nothing else.
The rise of mobile gaming is similar. Farmville, Candy Crush and Angry Birds took the world by storm. I saw parents going hard on those incredibly popular mobile games, to the point of buying new laptops and new phones to play them.
The blockchain gaming killer app
Every example I can think of has a great game. A killer app. Blockchain games need something like that, I think, to really blow up in a mainstream way. I occasionally ping my mother about things like this, just to see where she’s at.
Right now, she knows of blockchain. When I asked, she specifically warned me not to invest in bitcoin. Blockchain gaming, specifically, isn’t on her radar. Blockchain, to her, is intrinsically tied to crypto. Crypto is something she distrusts.
Blockchain needs a killer app to go mainstream. But more than that, it needs a killer app to divorce itself from being related just to crypto. It needs a game that is entirely simple to access, and addictive enough to keep people playing. It doesn’t specifically need to be a game, either. Just.. something. Something to draw people in.
Once that’s accomplished, the overarching goal of using blockchain tech has a chance to take over.
“Games right now are intranets.. Blockchain represents a way to inter-connect all games,” said Linder. “NFTs and blockchain really represent the ways to connect all these independent, disparate games and communities into one large gaming ecosystem.”
Without that it might never reach the mainstream at all.