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“Play while earning” games can learn lessons from traditional games, design multiple winning paths, focus on tokenized input, and make the game sufficiently decentralized.
Written by: Jon Lai, partner of a16z Translation: Lu Jiangfei
When (mostly) the real money trading model in the game didn’t work, we found that “play-to-earn” (play-to-earn) began to rise. So, what valuable things can be learned from each other in these games @AxieInfinity @Diablo @EveOnline @CSGO?
I will propose a framework in this thread to explore what makes the “play while earning” game model so successful.
First of all, for some popular games, some use the “real money transaction” mode to be effective, and some are not effective:
- Invalid games include: Diablo 3, Artifact, Star Wars Battlefront II
- Effective games include: Counterstrike, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, Genshin Impact
Framework: Earn while playing / Real money trading
- There are multiple ways to win in the game
- Compared to game merchandise based on finished products, game input is usually tokenized
- The market is decentralized
Experience: Design a game with multiple feasible paths
Critics of the play-and-make game model usually only focus on paid games. However, in paid games, when payment becomes the only way to win, a big problem arises. A typical failure case of the real-money trading game mode is “Diablo 3”. In this game, the core game loop is to kill monsters to get loot. Although there are some player battle scenes, the vast majority of Diablo 3 Players regard the loot as their only choice to play the game.
Therefore, when Diablo 3 introduced real-money trading “auction houses” for in-game items, the rules of the game were broken. Players found that it was easier to buy items from the “auction house” than to kill monsters. As a result, a large number of players were lost after “winning” (after buying the game items, they no longer spend time playing games), which eventually caused Blizzard to quickly close “auction”.
In the two games of “Eve Online” and “World of Warcraft”, players can experience a variety of game modes and “winning” methods-you can fight other players, raid dungeons or simply decorate your own battleship. As a result, although many “Eve Online” and “World of Warcraft” players buy gold coins and other in-game items from others, the game foundation has not been destroyed.
In games like Zed Run, play and make money, players are also provided with a variety of ways to play, such as:
- Jockey: through horse racing to increase their own value
- Breeder: Keep a stable performance and can win the competition
- Manager: can rent horses to other players
You will find that creating unfinished game tasks is the key to the healthy development of games while playing and making money.
In a game with many tasks to do, there will be a number of different player pools. A good game can segment players and group them with like-minded people. The key to the success of “player battles” games usually depends on whether they have the ability to match players with similar skills (and spending levels).
One more thing to remind, don’t ignore “free” players, they are actually the “top of the funnel” of the game, and they are also potential consumers that can be built into the game. In crypto games, the “top of the funnel” may be NFT collectors or landowners, so you need to ensure that they have a wealth of experience and a way to “win”-and then convert them into active gamers.
In the game Genshin Impact, you can use completely free characters to complete the game. This is a great game experience. My favorite character is the free flame mage Amber.
Does this “free-to-play” mode work? The data won’t lie, Genshin Impact is the fastest game among games with revenues of more than $1 billion in six months.
Lesson learned: focus on tokenized inputs rather than finished products
Although it is tempting to make all powerful game items as NFTs and watch these NFTs being traded for huge dollars, in the long run, this approach will harm the game. You need to design a system that supports purchases, rather than simply To make game products, the important effect of doing so is: game skills are more important-fighting, making and researching metagames (metagame) become basic skills for learning. If the balance is good, the game can allow skill-based and paid-based gameplay cycles to coexist harmoniously.
Take “Counter Strike” (CS: GO) as an example-highly skilled players can always get better guns to defeat their opponents. Similarly, in the Axie Infinity game, highly skilled players with the correct strategy can also defeat opponents with better Axie pets.
Tokenized input also strengthens game development with a “multiple jobs-to-be-done” mechanism. Cultivating Axies pets is profitable, partly because SLP tokens are an investment in themselves. The more players in the game, the lower the SLP price and the higher the return on investment, which in turn forms a self-reinforcing loop.
Finally, it is easier to balance the economy with tokenized inputs. In the real ownership model, players are actually very likely to be resistant to changing the in-game merchandise. For example, Valve’s Artifact game failed, partly because it was difficult to rebalance game cards purchased with real money.
Through tokenized input, the traditional model of using real money to buy game goods has changed. Game designers can balance the economy through an abstraction layer, which is similar to the central bank by changing interest rates to control inflation and directly set prices
Lesson learned: Give up control of the community! Decentralized markets work better-because it allows players to set up their own organizations, determine prices, and trade directly with each other.
When game developers try to maintain control of the in-game market, the results are usually counterproductive. One of the most unpopular comments in the history of @Reddit is that EA tried to prove to the angry community that the prices of the goods in the “Star Wars Battlefront II” game are reasonable.
Buying game merchandise from a game developer is very different from buying game merchandise from other players-when you pay a game developer to unlock Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars Battlefront II”, it feels like they are It’s like grabbing money openly. However, when you pay a gamer who has worked hard for 40 hours to unlock, it feels like a fair deal.
When control is truly handed over to the gaming community, wonderful things will happen. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) like YGG have established a vibrant secondary market around renting game assets, allowing people all over the world to make more money as “scholars”, sometimes even more than players’ More normal work.
Decentralization also tends to become the core advantage of encryption. In terms of the flow of ideas-bottom-up vs. top-down, what kind of innovation do you think is easier to succeed?
Loot, the NFT word game project developed by DOM, is a typical example of bottom-up innovation-the community projects and creativity built around Loot are shocking.
Summary-I am very optimistic about encrypted games. Of course, encrypted games are still in the early stages and there are still many problems to be solved, but for many “play while earning” game developers, they can fully use the experience in traditional games Lessons, take the essence and discard the dross.
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