For the love of god by Damien Hirst sold for $100 million, a De Kooning for $300 million, a Davinci for a record $450 million. Since the dawn of time, whether it be for survival or social capital, people have collected things, it is just that nowadays things are exchanged for money, and somethings for a lot of it. A diamond skull you can hold in your hand or a painting you can hang on your wall, their value is determined in part by their scarcity but also by the fact that they exist in the material world. How then is it possible for a CryptoKitty, which isn’t even a physical object but just a code written on a blockchain, could sell for $140k? And this CryptoKitty is not the only ‘blockchain collectable’ to be sold at such a ridiculous price This Cryptopunk sold for 16k.
Homer Simpson-meets-Pepe The Frog was sold for a jaw dropping $39K. And with CryptoKitties’ total sales bringing in $25 million, they are by far not the only game that’s trying to turn code into gold. Everything in Blockchain games costs real money. You have to make a decent investment to begin with. It is accessible to everyone. So what are blockchain games and why do people invest so much time and money into them?
Blockchain games are built using distributed ledger technology. And most of them like CryptoKitties are being built on the Ethereum blockchain. Objects that are written on blockchain have an objective history to them.
It can’t be faked like for example you have a gun in the blockchain version of zimpler deposit casinos in canada and somehow you manage to ask Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the game on your computer with your gun and he shoots somebody, and this thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger played with your gun is written to Blockchain on your gun and this gun also automatically increases in value because it’s a celebrity gun. Each СryptoKitty is what’s called a non-fungible ERC-721 token. Non-fungible means that unlike Ethereum or Bitcoin, each ERC-721 token is one of a kind. So each Kitty you own is a unique Kitty, making it rare and scarce and most importantly owning the token means that you own the CryptoKitty’s code. For this video we decided to play 2 recently released blockchain games. Blockchain Cuties and 0xUniverse.
But before we could start playing, first we had to top up our crypto wallets. Everything in Blockchain games cost real money They are not free. In order to play you need Ethereum.
But think of it as an investment. But, more on this later. So, here are Blockchain Cuties. Think CryptoKitties, but cuter, possibly. Every new player receives a free trial cutie but it disappears once you breed your first one.
The real serious players want what’s called a “generation 0” Cutie. These are the ‘rarest’ of the rare in terms of Cuties. The starting price for one of these: 0.1 ETH, which is about $30 at the time of the recording. There are two options in the game: – To breed your own Cutie with a unique genome. – Or to send it on what the developers decided to call adventures, where it will fight with other Cuties. Though don’t expect anything like Zelda or Mortal Kombat.
We put our Cuties on the battlefield and they fought surprisingly well! Wins strengthen and give experience to the Cuties, which increases their value. So, later on you can sell them for a profit. We also played the 0xUniverse. The idea of this game is to collect planets and build your own universe. Without going into too much detail, we pretty much just launched a bunch of rockets to go look for new planets, with a few never returning, apparently lost in space.
But since we didn’t discover any planets, we decided to buy the coolest-looking planet we could find. In total, we spent $50 at 0xUniverse. Blockchain games are all about money.
Every action you make in these games – you pay for. In exchange if you are lucky you might be able to make a positive ROI. People who are collecting in a digital space, they are good at staying focused, they have some kinds of critical thinking because they’re making comparisons. Even though we were just breeding Cuties when we played it, it gave us a sort of sense of achievement. Turns out this makes total sense.
When you actually make the purchase you have the reward centre triggers in your brain: you’ve accomplished something. The same when you’re playing a game with any kind of reward so your brain responds with a reward, neurotransmitters, it feels good. So what drove players to these blockchain games in the first place? Blockchain games allow them to earn money. The average gamer is not like a gamer at all, it’s more of a trader. Usually a male of age 25-40 They can buy an asset, do something with it and try to sell it at a higher price I know a guy personally who made 40k euros by playing CryptoKitties in December.
So if the average gamer is not actually a gamer but really more of a trader – can we really call it a game? Well, the answer is both Yes… and… No. The breeding aspect is really interesting to me, trying to decode the genome, it does require you breeding constantly to figure out the data point to figure out how the genome works, and that puzzle of the game is one of the most intriguing things in Blockchain Cuties to me. But what really makes these games popular is the fact that these blockchain Cuties or kitties or planets or whatever else are essentially a cryptocurrency, which you can buy, sell or hold.
And as cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile, so are the games that use them. If crypto completely crashed to the ground, yeah, I would probably stop playing Blockchain Cuties. And that is what happened to blockchain games. Since the release of CryptoKitties in December 2017 the number of daily users has dropped by 96% from 14,000 to around 500 less than a year later. These collectible games obviously resemble gambling, and like a casino, the house always wins.
There might be a few lucky success stories, there are certain behaviors to watch out for: Electronic funds are quite hard to keep track of mentally. People when they do mental accounting. When you then put that into cryptocurrency and gambling with decimal points. It’s very difficult for individuals to really easily track how much they are winning and particularly how much they are losing. When It starts to be problematic is when people are gambling more than they can afford to lose. When it no longer a fun, entertaining leisure activity.
But on the other hand, these games are about collecting, not about betting. So what compels people to play? These objects are a part of how they see themselves or a part of their identity. People collect because these objects have meaning to them and by accumulating them it gives them a sense of competence or self-efficacy and it gives them social capital, something to talk to other collectors about, to show that they are knowledgeable, that they have these assets. Although we were not constantly breeding like Risсo, it was fun playing both Cuties and 0xUniverse.
It is hard though to justify spending $40 on a digital planet and even more on the Cuties. Furthermore over the time we spent playing, the crypto market has dropped substantially and the value of the Cuties, planets and most of the collectibles have followed suit. Blockchain created digital scarcity. While it is true the code behind a pixelated character is unique, something almost completely identical is so easily reproducible that the idea of uniqueness is almost meaningless. What is being created is really just artificial scarcity. So far these collectible games don’t offer much to gamers, their survival it seems depends on whether they can offer gamers more than just a trading platform.
The relationship between player and developer will be more like an open market relationship rather than a closed ecosystem like it is now. As long as blockchain has a system where I’m going to have to pay gas to write to and it’s going to take a decent amount of time I don’t think that’s going to fit in to something like world of Warcraft. This is the first generation that are collecting digital objects, if you collect sculptures or Dresden dolls, you can pass those down, how does this pass down? So whether or not the idea of blockchain games appeals to you, their existence raises some interesting questions about value, scarcity, gaming and even ownership. Tell us your thoughts and your gaming experience in the comment section below!