As the hype surrounding play-for-profit (P2E) games and platforms began to wane in early 2022, Web3 participants began to stress the need for games to be more “fun” and less money-oriented. On the latest episode of NFT Steez, Alyssa Exposito and Ray Salmond spoke with Aaron Berschmidt, CEO of Laguna Games and founder of Crypto Unicorns, about the sustainability of P2E-focused blockchain gaming.
For Beierschmitt, the evolution from the game-to-make-money model to the game-to-earn model indicates that there is still experimentation and maturity to be seen in these games. “Nothing has changed in terms of making games,” Berschmidt says, but with blockchain technology, crypto-citizens and gamers are now able to play, own and potentially monetize these play and earn models. The bigger question is, is it sustainable?
Paradigm shift and emotion for P2E games
On the shift in sentiment around P2E and how Crypto Unicorns is approaching it, Beierschmitt said it is “painting a course for sustainability through a combination of economic farming simulations” along with real-time “skill-based gaming episodes” to attract more users into its ecosystem. . Not only do these gaming rings need to have a semblance of form and function, but they also need to be fun and engaging for players, according to Berschmidt.
However, he also acknowledged that blockchain-based games are not for everyone and Crypto Unicorns targets a demographic more in line with those who are native to cryptocurrency.
According to Berschmidt, there is a lack of “free-to-play incentive alignment”, whereby developers over-extract value from the minority of players who spend in free-to-play games. This asymmetry creates a “paradigm mismatch,” as Web3 games allow players to reach a new level of autonomy and ownership when it comes to in-game items, assets, and skills.
For Beierschmitt, this is what makes the play-and-earn model “compelling,” as players can earn along the way while playing their favorite game. Web3 not only enables player source and ownership, Berschmidt said, but with governance models, players and participants are now empowered to “take ownership of the game’s direction, ecosystem, and intellectual property (IP)”.
In-game economies are a work in progress
In-game economies have proven to be a sticking point for most play-and-play games. When discussing the factors necessary for in-game economies to be sustainable in the long term, Berschmidt explained that one of the contributing factors is the dynamic between passive and active players. Passive players are those who invest in active players to advance in the game.
However, Berschmidt emphasized that for the dynamic to be sustainable, “skill-based game loops” and “token pools” must be implemented as this brings the player back into the economy and ecosystem. As Berschmidt said, most play-and-earn games are still oozing their transition from a “growth stage” to a “mature stage,” but he firmly believes there’s a “bright future in the days ahead!”
For more on the discussion with Aron Beierschmitt, listen to the full episode of NFT Steez. Set reminders and tune into the NFT Steez Twitter spaces that air every Friday at 12pm ET!