Why gamers don’t embrace Web3-blockchain games?

Web3 games have been around for a while, but despite the interest and investments they attracted, it still looks like they didn’t gain the traction they were supposed to. But why? Why Web2 gamers don’t join the supposed revolution of Web3 gaming? Why are Web2 gamers still hesitant, even resistant, to embrace Web3 games? 

When the concept of Web3 games and Web3 gaming was born, it was presented as a revolution on the brink of changing gaming forever. Just like blockchain and cryptocurrencies were presented as the revolution that would change the finance, currencies, and the currency of the future. But like them, they haven’t flared any revolution and attracted masses rallying around it. 

Sure, many people are taking advantage of them, even making various amounts of money from them. There have been considerable investments in the industry, but where is the revolution? Why did it get stuck on the stall? Let’s look into the dynamics behind it.

What are Web3-blockchain games?

Web3 games emphasize asset ownership. Unlike traditional Web2 games, Web3 games leverage blockchain technology. Web3 games establish an ecosystem founded on decentralized principles, introducing a groundbreaking layer of asset ownership and economic structures. The integration of blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, ensures that in-game assets become tangible, ownable entities owned by the players, of course.

A defining feature of Web3 games is incorporating non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These tokens tokenize in-game assets on the blockchain, making them unique and irreplaceable. This approach grants players true ownership, empowering them to buy, sell, and trade digital assets in a decentralized marketplace. Every sword, skin, or spaceship is unique and becomes the player’s property. One of the great ideas, or unique selling points, if you will, behind the Web3 games is elevating the players from mere participants to true digital proprietors.

The differences between Web3 games and blockchain games

Web3 and blockchain games are often used interchangeably but are not precisely the same. Therefore, let’s point out their differences. 

Web3 games are a broader category that includes games utilizing blockchain technology. The term “Web3” often refers to the third era of the Internet, emphasizing decentralization, transparency, and user ownership. In the context of gaming, Web3 games leverage blockchain to redefine ownership of in-game assets and introduce decentralized economies.

On the other hand, blockchain games specifically highlight the use of blockchain technology within the game ecosystem. These games use blockchain to secure transactions, enable true ownership of in-game assets through NFTs, and create transparent and tamper-proof systems. The emphasis is on the underlying technology and how it transforms the gaming experience.

All Web3 games are blockchain games, but not all blockchain games fall under the broader category of Web3. Web3 encompasses a more extensive vision of decentralized and user-centric experiences beyond just blockchain technology in gaming. Web3 games are covered in more detail in our “What is Web3 gaming?” article, so you can also check that out for more.

The concept of play-to-earn

The concept of play-to-earn is another unique selling point of Web3 games. The idea behind it is simple. Unlike traditional games, where the players play just to have fun, Web3 gamers earn rewards with supposed monetary value for engaging in various activities within the game, such as completing quests, acquiring rare items, or mastering skills. It depends on blockchain technology and decentralized economies.

The true ownership of in-game assets is a critical component of the play-to-earn concept, and true ownership is enabled by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the blockchain. Players can securely own, trade, and sell their digital possessions thanks to NFTs.

Theoretically, play-to-earn rewards players and acknowledges the time and effort invested in the gaming universe. In a world where attention is a valuable commodity, players earn greater rewards as they invest more attention, time, and effort in the game. The more successful a player gets, the greater financial gains they earn. 

What are the differences between Web2 and Web3 games?

Let’s look at the key differences between Web2 and Web3 games. In Web2 games, assets are owned by developers and have no real-world value, in theory, at least. In Web3 games, however, blockchain and NFTs grant true ownership; therefore, assets have tangible value. Web2 games are centralized and controlled by developers, while blockchain technology in Web3 games enables decentralized economies and player-driven dynamics. Rewards are confined to in-game progression in Web2 games, but play-to-earn model lets in-game achievements offer tangible real-world rewards. Centralized servers of Web2 games pose security risks and lack transparency, but blockchain ensures transparency, security, and record-keeping.

Why Web2 gamers don’t switch to Web3?

That’s the million-dollar, even billion-dollar, question when considering all the investment poured into the industry. Yet Web3 games, even the industry pioneers, are far from deemed “popular.” Their Web2 counterparts multiply their auidence by thousands. To be more precise, for each Axie Infinity player, there are 2,155 Roblox players.

As a side note, finding healthy, objective statistics was hard. That’s mainly because it’s an emerging industry with much hype around it. The data is either absent, inflated, or interpreted to look more positive and higher in potential, anecdotal, or highly conflicting with other sources, which proves a fact that we are about to point out. 

The play-to-earn aspect of these games is highly marketed. Still, the way they are marketed makes them perceived as “cheap,” “pushy,” “boring,” and “blatant cash grabs.” In one interesting article on Medium, the writer conveys an interesting anecdote and statistics gained from his conversations with a prominent Web 3 gaming content creator. The creator points out that most of the audience consists of “boomers” and concludes that his audience doesn’t consist of gamers but “speculative investors” instead. That’s a spot-on analysis. That’s also what most people assume without needing to see any statistics.

Web3 gamer profile

Let’s look into the Web3 gaming audience to better understand the question at hand. Web3 gaming all-in-one platform Vorto offers a detailed look into the demographics of Web3 gamers, their motivations, and the reasons behind the Web3 revolution stalling, using data from an a16z report.

As mentioned above, many people associate Web3 and blockchain games with scams or stay away because they are too volatile. Players are not familiar with them, see no purpose in them, or think they’re just a fad. A considerable amount of them also think they are a bad investment

Regarding investment, I’m inclined to agree with Warren Buffet:

“Now, if you buy something like Bitcoin or some cryptocurrency, you don’t really have anything that has produced anything. You’re just hoping the next guy pays more.”

He adds that such investments are mere games or “gamble.” It’s worth noting that he makes this statement about cryptocurrencies, but the logic behind it is still valid. Web3 games keep pushing the notion that the players have true ownership and “real-world” tradability of the assets but have no real-world value or function. You cannot defend yourself in the real world with NFT armor. It only has value as long as the next person is interested in buying it. Besides, people have been trading in-game items, even characters, and some have been making a living from it for ages. To counter this, Web3 game enthusiasts put forth cross-platform ability, but I haven’t encountered anyone so far who can explain to me how a sniper rifle that I own in a shooter game will fit into an FRP game or how my character in an FRP game will function in a strategy game.

Psychological and motivational aspects of Web2 and Web3 games

What Web3 developers have to understand and internalize is that “earning” alone cannot be a motivation to play games. Doing something just for the sake of earning money, regardless of whether you like it or not, is the definition of a “job.” People play games to escape the boredom, tediousness, and monotony of their jobs and lives. Setting aside all the statistics and analyses, having fun is the sole motivation for playing a game.

In a world where the gaming community discusses that even the most advanced graphics alone are not enough to make a successful game, expecting “getting paid” to be enough to make a game successful is naive, to say the least. 

Honestly, I have experienced a situation where owning my in-game assets would be beneficial. With the season 1 update of Call of Duty Warzone, I have lost all my level progress, weapons, and everything I achieved in that game. What did I do? I stopped playing Warzone, opened a ticket to the support team, and switched to Battlefield V and The Finals. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it would be nice to keep my weapons, but I still don’t comprehend how they’d fit into Battlefield V or the Finals. 

So far, Web3 games and their marketing only cater to the greed of humans. Their hunger for money. And their hatred for a central, higher authority. Successful Web2 games, on the other hand, are successful because they are made by passionate and ambitious artists who aspire to tell something or at least share their passion. Doom, which gave birth to the FPS genre, didn’t even have a backstory. Years later, Half-Life revolutionized the genre with its “narrative,” among other things. StarCraft hasn’t become one of the pillars of the RTS genre because it paid people to play it. It did because it was designed so cleverly that the rest of the industry readily adopted its gameplay and design principles. Having deep, complex characters and a fantastic story also helped. Battlebit Remastered wiped the charts and overthrew AAA games because it answered a long-time cry-out from the gaming community: Stop seeing gamers as cash cows and offer pure gaming experiences.

Yes, Web3 and blockchain games have vast potential, and yes, earning money as a result of playing games is a good incentive, but only if the games are good and enjoyable. Gathering around greed or hatred creates mobs or fragile alliances at best. Gathering around passion, fun, and joy creates communities or societies. I won’t play a game that I don’t like even if someone pays me. But if you pay me to play one of the games I already enjoy, that would be awesome, and I’d be grateful for that. Web3 game industry has to understand that if they want to flare the revolution they have been talking about.

NEXT: Why is it hard to get into the Japanese game market?

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