Blockchain technology has been around for just over a decade now and has already had a profound impact on the financial markets. Some cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum have become attractive to some types of investors who see these digital tokens as a hedge against inflation, similar to precious metals like gold.
While cryptocurrencies have been hogging most of the attention, they are not the only use for blockchain technology. Smart contracts are one of the most discussed features and they are, at least in theory, so versatile that they could be used to facilitate and regulate just about any type of transaction.
There are thousands of articles published online about how smart contracts could be used for almost every industry from real estate to pizza delivery, though there are few real-world examples of this actually working.
However, in 2021, a new use for the blockchain hit the big time. In the first few months of the year, talk of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) began to circulate. These are a digital record of ownership that’s stored on the blockchain that allow people to prove they have the rights to a piece of digital (or real-world) art.
The excitement behind NFTs grew quickly. While many pieces of digital art sold as NFTs have sold for smaller amounts, many have also earned life-changing sums of money for their creators. For example, Beeple sold a piece he called Everdays: The First 5,000 Days for $69.3 million, while several Cryptopunk pieces have sold for millions or even tens of millions each.
Seeing these huge price tags, some analysts have described the current phenomenon as a “mania”, similar to tulip mania in the 17th century or the dotcom bubble of the 2000s. Despite this, many others are seeing the possibilities that NFTs could offer outside of the digital art space. Perhaps most-notably, gaming companies are exploring the different options for incorporating this blockchain technology into their games.
The “Future of Our Industry”
Leading the way in this space is Andrew Wilson, the CEO of Electronic Arts, one of the world’s biggest video game companies. In November 2021, he told investors in a company earnings call that NFTs and blockchain technology in general would be the “future of our industry”, though he added he wasn’t entirely sure exactly how it would play out.
The crypto space was quick to jump on these comments and it helped to fuel speculation in the NFT and cryptocurrency markets. Many also speculated how NFTs could work in the world of gaming.
The most obvious approach would be to merge the ownership records that NFTs provide with the microtransactions present in many modern titles. This could mean that players could prove they own rare in-game items and then sell them on secondary markets.
A month later, rivals Ubisoft went a step further. launching its Quartz ecosystem. In it, players will be able to earn or buy “Digits”, in-game items that each have a unique serial number. Players can choose to use them in the game or trade them with other players.
Casino Games Using NFTs
The iGaming industry is often quick to embrace new technologies to add into its games, so it was only a matter of time before NFTs would show up.
Online casinos already offer hundreds of different slot games for their customers to choose from, with a wide variety of themes and styles that range from TV shows like Deal or No Deal to folklore like leprechauns.
However, an NFT slot game would be something new for the industry. So in September, when one company announced it had bought four CryptoPunks NFTs to be used as prizes in a new NFT-themed slot, fans got excited.
Known as NFT Megaways, the game uses the CryptoPunks as Wild symbols alongside many other crypto-related graphics on and around the reels.
It is clear that many different people in the industry believe NFTs are going to play a key role in the future of gaming. While EA hasn’t publicly announced any concrete plans, it is clear that its leadership believes that the technology is something they need to focus on.
Meanwhile, other companies have already begun to experiment with the different ways of implementing NFTs.
With so much focus being placed on the technology, it seems pretty likely that it will play some sort of part in gaming in the years to come.
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