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Blockchain has become something of a buzzword, especially after digital currencies based on the technology (Bitcoin, Ether, ADA etc.) rose to mainstream fame in 2017 with unprecedented price surges and profits. Since then, every company, brand, and startup has at least considered some ways in which they can integrate blockchain technology into their products and services - and the gaming industry is no different.

As much as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are in the news, it is hard for the average member of the public to understand the underlying principles behind blockchain technology. The most basic definition of blockchain is “public digital ledger” – and as a ledger, blockchain can store not only financial information, but information regarding tokens, events, people, and even player characters and virtual items. Games based on collectibles can benefit greatly from these options, as the tokenization of gameplay elements can open new possibilities for game designers and creators.

Although the idea of blockchain games has existed since at least 2013, it was in 2017 that it took the imagination of crypto enthusiasts by storm. However, until now, there haven’t been many notable implementations of blockchain in gaming scenarios, where the technology actually complements and enhances player experience. That isn’t surprising though since most blockchain networks today do not offer the kind of bandwidth required to handle a fully-functional and heavily interactive video game.

Tokenized Elements of Blockchain-Based Games

A blockchain-based game is one where an element of its gameplay is tokenized. While this might seem the perfect solution for any game that includes collectible aspects – namely trading card games – often it is used more as a gimmick, rather than as a complementary feature to the gameplay.

On 5 December 2017, the Ethereum network slowed down to extreme levels. The network was clogged by an all-time high number of transactions, with brokers unable to trade while BTC and ETH prices set new records. The culprit behind this slowdown was the now-notorious blockchain-based feline collection game CryptoKitties.

CryptoKitties isn’t the first game to be based on the blockchain, but it does a great job of illustrating the various vulnerabilities and drawbacks of such a model.

Common criticism towards the “crypto-collectibles” genre of games, which CryptoKitties belongs to – is that they are all tokenization and no gameplay. In CryptoKitties, players collect virtual cats which they can breed to create new cats, or sell on the market – and they have to pay a fee in ETH to the publishers of the game for both. Many developers of blockchain-based games include smart contracts and expect people to send them money in exchange for digital items. Unsurprisingly, while many games tried to replicate CryptoKitties’ success, few have come even close – even CryptoKitties failed to maintain its sales rates, which saw a 98% decrease in July 2018.

The lack of gaming elements isn’t the only problem haunting blockchain-based games. Developers who choose to put their games on the blockchain are risking technical issues – at the peak of CryptoKitties’ popularity, it made up 15% of all transactions on Ethereum. Such issues can render the game unplayable and even alienate its player base. Furthermore, Ethereum, the most popular choice for video game developers, is “deterministic” in nature – it cannot produce random results at all – yet video games need to be random to at least some level to remain interesting and engaging.

Of course, that is not to say all blockchain games are merely a gimmick. Blockchain is a great solution for trading card and collectibles games, and it certainly has the capability to revolutionize video game business models. But even then, basing video games on blockchain comes with numerous drawbacks. However, your game doesn’t need to be based on the blockchain in order to benefit from the technology.

Sgame Pro’s Use of Blockchain as a Supporting Technology

Sgame Pro is a blockchain-based mobile gaming platform which provides games with a way to include blockchain-supported features and monetization without the drawbacks of having games run on the blockchain itself.

Using blockchain technology, the platform functions with a unique “proof-of-play” protocol, which allows players to mine native SGM tokens while playing a game. The SGM token is a form of in-game currency that players can use to pay for in-app purchases, and which can be exchanged for fiat currency, or spent within the platform’s ecosystem.

For publishers, this means they can leverage blockchain technology, avoid its drawbacks, and benefit from new, more interactive streams of revenue without affecting player experience.

Sgame Pro has already secured $6 million after a hugely successful private sale and is expecting its first public token sale next month. Gaming celebrities such as PewDiePie have already voiced their support for the platform, and Sgame Pro has secured deals with several video game publishers.

Blockchain-based Blockchain-supported
Often a ‘gimmick’ Facilitate blockchain monetization without becoming a gimmick
Lags and delays can alienate player-base and make the game unplayable No lags or delays apart from internet issues
Lack of gaming elements Traditional gameplay with blockchain integration
Lack of randomness Randomness is decided by the developer

You can learn more about Sgame Pro on their website, or engage with the developers behind the platform on Twitter or Telegram.