Blockchain gaming and the next step to an open metaverse

Blockchain is decentralising financial ecosystems in gaming and the metaverse and putting users back in control. But to fully implement Web3 as an open and transparent internet ecosystem, the challenge of spatially connecting and scaling virtual worlds needs to be overcome.

18 May 2022
Sasha Burnside

Web3 promises an open, interoperable internet where users take back ownership of their data and assets. While critics have shed doubt on how quickly we can shift there, the gaming/metaverse space has made enormous strides to fulfil this vision within their ecosystem with the rise of blockchain gaming, or ‘GameFi’. To fully implement web3 and achieve this ‘open’ metaverse and internet ecosystem however, other challenges remain, particularly in how we connect and scale the virtual worlds making up this new landscape.

Blockchain Gaming’s Success Shows The Benefits of Decentralisation

The rise of crypto has brought to light the significant role that third parties play in regard to centralised control over transactions, which almost always involve a big tech company, who ultimately benefit massively due to the value in the users’ data collected. 

The vision of web3 entails that users will be able to transfer funds and assets across any platform securely, without the need for an intermediary, better retaining the privacy of their data. Greater financial inclusion and user control as a result of this are cited as some of the advantages, but the complexity surrounding crypto and NFTs often acts as a frustrating barrier to entry. This is where blockchain gaming is proving to be an exciting example of this actually coming into fruition.

The basic premise of blockchain gaming is that players can earn in-game items through playing, like custom skins, weapons, vehicles etc which you acquire as non-fungible tokens.  Rather than being stored on a game server, they are instead stored on a public blockchain, where they can be collected or traded for cryptocurrency. This offers advantages over traditional in-game economies, where users have no validation of ownership or ability to transfer or liquidate their assets.

For one, this format means that assets are not as susceptible to being lost, say if the server crashes or the devs decide to pull the plug on the game. But even more interestingly, this decentralised method of ownership means that these assets can be then transferred between different games or platforms.

We’re seeing communities being built out of the opportunity to ‘play 2 earn’. Emfaris, the crypto consultancy, recently did a wonderful feature on how Filipinos found crucial work through ‘GameFi’ during the economic disparity caused by Covid. Now this format is developing further into what has become to be known as ‘play 2 own’. Essentially, through the benefits of allowing users to own their earned assets, they are more likely to nurture them through more gameplay. By offering this incentive these games will no doubt attract more players, enriching these games further. This format will benefit gamers and developers alike and I’d recommend this article to read about it a little more.

Relevance to Building the Open Metaverse

We’ve already seen that the metaverse isn’t going to reside in one place, with different groups forming their own separate metaverse worlds. But if different companies are building their own platforms, how are we meant to fulfil the ‘singular’ vision of the metaverse that defines it? This is why blockchain enabling the transferability of assets between these various worlds is so relevant, as it’s providing a common financial channel for them to operate. 

But it’s only part of the solution. 

How We Spatially Open The Metaverse

The metaverse is being built in silos and these worlds are still being hosted in a centralised fashion. If we have to ‘end’ our experience and load up a different world when we want to change our activity, is it really so different to what we’ve had in the past? 

Achieving true interoperability will require spatially connecting these separate worlds. 

Metaverse hubs, which bridge these disparate worlds to form one fluid universe, will provide this solution. But they involve key challenges in how we supply the performance and sufficient networking to link thousands of users across different virtual spaces. In particular, what happens when there’s a huge surge of people leaving one place, or arriving at another?

We’ve seen how difficult this is already. Meta’s recent Foo Fighters concert, from a technical standpoint, was a disaster. Fans reported serious glitches and unending virtual queues. The key reason? Too many users entering a simulation at the same time. Relying too heavily on single computational architectures will undoubtedly end in these results.

Through distributed computation and networking, computation can be scaled dynamically to meet demand as needed. By making use of any cloud, edge or on premise environment, we can bridge and unite the various worlds and blockchain games together.