It's been a seismic couple of years for the gaming industry. NFTs are playing an increasingly bigger role in new titles as studios experiment with blockchain technology. But this isn't an innovation that has been met without controversy.
Here, Catheon Gaming's head of business development Philippe Ho tells us about the biggest obstacles standing in the way of wider adoption — and why careful consideration is required before digital assets are integrated into games.
1. Hello! Tell us about Catheon Gaming.
Catheon Gaming is one of the fastest-growing blockchain gaming and entertainment ecosystems. We are a fully end-to-end platform that provides world-class technical, publishing and advisory capabilities to game developers and companies that want to join the blockchain revolution.
2. You have 25 blockchain games in your portfolio. Why are you offering dozens of titles instead of focusing on one single game?
Catheon Gaming is growing beyond the single-title approach of many existing projects by creating an ecosystem consisting of a diversified portfolio of games that will endure beyond the life cycle of any one game. We believe this will make our ecosystem much more sustainable and resilient against any internal and external shocks.
3. Some critics say blockchain games aren't fun to play because they focus on monetization too much. What's your response to them?
That’s certainly true for some of the 1st-generation blockchain games, where developers were definitely more focused on the crypto earning aspect over actual gameplay value.
Since then, developers have realised that maintaining a sustainable blockchain gaming ecosystem requires more than just the ability to earn — it also requires engaging core game design and gameplay mechanics that can keep players hooked and spending time on the game, above and beyond a simple desire for earning.
4. You're launching an accelerator program for GameFi. Can you tell us a bit more about how this will work?
The accelerator program will leverage the expertise of the Catheon Gaming team along with the expertise of a prominent line-up from venture capital, gaming, blockchain, crypto exchanges and business partners. They will provide best-in-class support to participants through masterclasses, workshops and panel discussions.
The eight-week intensive program designed and managed by Catheon is aiming to provide participants with in-depth guidance and training across five critical aspects of any blockchain project, including technical expertise, marketing strategy, community building, fundraising and business operations.
The accelerator program will conclude with a Demo Day, where participants will have the opportunity to pitch live and showcase their business in front of a selected pool of partners, stakeholders and investors. Upon completion of the program, all participants will join the Catheon Gaming GameFi alumni community and will become lifetime members of our ecosystem, where they will continue to benefit from strategic advice.
5. Some play-to-earn games have been built on unsustainable tokenomics. What are you doing to tackle this in your games?
This is another criticism that’s often leveled at the earlier generation of play-to-earn games — that they attract players based on "Ponzinomics" where the earnings of players who joined the game earlier is reliant on the ability to sell NFTs or tokens to new players.
This system typically crashes as new player growth slows down as there are not enough “sinks” in the game to use up the NFTs/tokens generated by the player ecosystem, thus leading to an oversupply and price crash.
We are tackling this problem by carefully designing gameplay to be balanced and not reliant on new players entering in order to balance token emissions.
6. Do you think blockchain gaming has the potential to overtake the traditional gaming sector?
Definitely. We think that blockchain gaming represents the next evolution in gaming, similar to how the free-to-play movement revolutionized and cemented the place of in-game microtransactions as a viable design decision and monetization mechanism in mainstream games.
With the ability to monetize in-game time investment, the ability to freely trade NFTs, and true ownership of assets, blockchain gaming provides several inherent advantages over prevailing gaming modalities. This should lead to significant future growth, as evidenced by the incredible volume of high-quality game studios joining the trend.
7. What are the things that stand in the way of it doing so?
The largest obstacles that currently stand against more mainstream adoption include player backlash against blockchain implementation.
A vocal minority of players indiscriminately protest against the inclusion of blockchain elements within a game, without consideration for the fundamental game design benefits. This has led to review bombings in the past — as we saw when Storybook Brawl was bought by FTX Gaming.
Complexity is also a concern. Currently, players need to be tech savvy in order to fully enjoy blockchain elements in games — such as the ability to set up and fund a wallet on an appropriate network. Contrast this with traditional in-game microtransactions, where you only need knowledge of how to use fiat payment methods online. Reducing friction would likely significantly increase blockchain gaming uptake.
8. What are some of the biggest benefits that blockchain games offer to players?
Beyond monetizing time investment in a game, freely trading NFTs and true ownership of assets, there is another benefit that is less discussed.
There's real potential to democratize the ability to earn from gaming — transforming it from being predominantly focused on high-level competitive pro-gaming tournaments, and making it available to everyday amateur gamers competing at a grassroots level.
We’re starting to see more of this trend in the latest blockchain gaming models, such as win-to-earn and kill-to-earn arena shooters.
9. What's your vision for the role NFTs and the metaverse will play in the future?
Without a doubt, NFTs and metaverses will be a significant part of future blockchain games. However, their inclusion as a core gameplay mechanic must be justified and subjected to careful analysis and evaluation using basic game design principles.
Does it make the game more fun? Will it improve the player experience? Only after satisfying these basic criterias will we consider designing incremental NFT/metaverse elements within our blockchain games.
10. You've established many partnerships for this accelerator program. Can you tell us about some of them?
Notable founding partners include Abu Dhabi Gaming, Algorand, Ava Labs, Bitkeep, Chainlink, Cointelegraph, DIFC Fintech Hive, Phemex, Polygon, Rarible and Storm Partners.
The accelerator program will leverage the expertise of the Catheon Gaming team along with the expertise of a prominent line-up of venture capital, gaming, blockchain, crypto exchanges, and business partners, who will provide best-in-class support to the participants through master classes, workshops and panel discussions.
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