The art world, the gaming world, and even a few app developers are jumping onto the trend that is cryptocurrencies, seeing them as a perfect prize to tantilize and attract people to their work. But what is the end goal for these people and companies?
There is of course a lot of free marketing that comes up when ever cryptocurrencies are tied to something - the real estate sector has felt that - but, for an abstract artist like Andy Bauch, it adds another layer of intrigue and interest to his work.
Gaming companies have also found a technological link to the digital currency, setting it up as a prize for a global market. They too can benefit from the hype, but can also entice a bigger audience with a collectively attractive prize.
Why are these cropping up?
Prizes are nothing new, especially when it comes to games, or even sporting events. However, the allure of Bitcoin is starting to spread to the likes of puzzles and paintings too. What is the appeal of attaching a Bitcoin-based prize to a game that someone can beat, or a puzzle that someone can solve in a painting?
One of the biggest reasons for this has to be that generally, Bitcoin media comes with a lot of hype and free publicity. There have been many instances where pretty mundane occurrences, like selling a house, have suddenly garnered a lot of attention because of a Bitcoin price.
The real estate market was a prime example of this as a £17 mln mansion in Notting Hill, UK saw unprecedented interest since it went on sale in October last year.
“I sincerely believe that Bitcoin as a currency or exchange medium is not sustainable. It's purely a marketing gimmick.”
The same could be said about this latest trend of Bitcoin prizes for solving puzzles and games.
Everyone knows what it means to be a struggling artist, with little to no recognition of fame - see Vincent van Gogh - but, by incorporating a Bitcoin puzzle, suddenly the news is all over the internet and the name achieves a level of fame.
The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto
Artist Marguerite deCourcelle has, on three occasions, hidden Bitcoin prizes in digital paintings for the public to unearth.
The Bitcoin puzzle series, “The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto”, has been going on for a long time. It took nearly three years for the third puzzle in the series, “TORCHED H34R7S”, to be solved – recently by an anonymous winner.
When DeCourcelle and her team originally placed the key to the Bitcoin wallet into the digital painting, the wallet contained 4.87 Bitcoins – which was, at the time, worth about $1,400.
DeCourcelle explained Cointelegraph how she got into cryptocurrency and why she thought this would be a good idea to merge this with cryptic puzzles:
“In 2013, I was reading books such as Diamond Age, Snowcrash, Ready Player One, Daemon and Freedom which all share an underlying theme: a metaverse with currency that is valuable in both real world and virtual world. I was just learning about Bitcoin around this time, and Bitcoin immediately stood out to me as something that crosses these barriers. I realized that I could break down "money" into a string of information and encode it visually with patterns or layered strategy to encode the information in a more dynamic way - in other words, using game play to unlock a sequence that would otherwise be hidden.”
“Blockchain is a treasure trove of unexplored potential for how information transcends a virtual existence and can be simultaneously rooted in the real world. In the early days of Bitcoin, artists were asked to "show" the Blockchain through conceptual art. This was really hard to do. People also wanted to ‘see’ a Bitcoin - it was hard to accept that money wasn't tangible. So a natural bridge to this for me was to ‘show’ people Bitcoin using art as the gateway.”
Artist Andy Bauch’s new painting series “New Money” combines art and cryptocurrencies by hiding abstract codes in his Lego artwork. The paintings represent the private keys to wallets containing as much as $9,000 worth of cryptocurrencies each.
Again, Bauch has been given a free bout of publicity for combining the two worlds of art and cryptocurrency, leveraging the fact that cryptocurrencies being ferocious for any news that emanates from society.
However, it would appear that Bauch is not only doing this for the fame as his abstract pieces obviously have a narrative behind them, especially with the exhibition be labeled ‘New Money.’
A gaming gift
As well as artists, gaming companies are also hiding cryptocurrency in their games for those who reach the end first. Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma is a game that will feature an digital world players navigate in the first person, solving 24 ‘enigmas’ in order to claim the ultimate prize of 1 full Bitcoin.
The developers have remained anonymous, with their wish to remain as such until the prize is claimed, but they have mentioned in the game’s FAQ’s that:
“We are not here to advertise Bitcoin. We think it can be fun to have a Bitcoin as a prize for our game.”
Neon District is another game that is launching soon that will have a crypto prize at the end, this time 15 Ethereum (ETH). This game comes from the same team that is behind the digital painting series; they clearly believe this is a good tool for marketing.
Is there a chance to be scammed?
DeCourcelle spoke to Cointelegraph about trust, and its importance, as she came to realise that in the cryptocurrency space, there is a lot of space for people to be trusted, and for that to be abused.
“I think people are absolutely wary of being scammed. I've found that my puzzles or my endorsement of a puzzle has given people confidence to pursue a contest. Similarly anyone in the space who is ‘trusted’ also brings legitimacy to projects. But it doesn't take much to shake that trust, so we hold it close to our chest and do our best to not lead people astray.”
With the third puzzle being solved only last month in DeCourcelle’s series, she and her team have built up a decent reputation in regards to this tiny, but growing, facet of cryptocurrency. However, she admits that regardless of whether a company or person is offering Bitcoin prizes, or initial coin offerings (ICOs), trust and reputation is paramount.
“I think even in the ICO space, people are launching projects who have no business doing so as they've never had a proven product. Why would people throw time or money at anything that may never come to fruition? Trust and the ability to carry projects across a finish line means everything to a community who is backing a project,” she told Cointelegraph.
“We're working on trustless systems that still rely heavily on trusting people based on social merit or reputation-based systems. Most ‘giveaways’ these days do not turn heads. In the old days, you could tweet - "1 Bitcoin for one lucky follower" and include a fancy gif. This doesn't work anymore.”
“The current approach to marketing in crypto is becoming building trusted brands that people can feel confident to stand behind. People also want quality, delivering an educational experience where they are building relationships, making personal progress, and not wasting their time. It's not really about the money, the money is a perk.”