Mavens: Do players need blockchain education?
Welcome to the October edition of BlockchainGamer.biz’s regular Mavens group. If you’d also like to join the discussion, please contact [email protected]
Many people say that players need to be educated before they will understand the benefits of blockchain games. We asked our blockchain gaming experts whether they agree with this, or if we should assume that this “education” will occur when people just start playing better quality games.
Robby Yung – CEO, Animoca Brands
I think it’s an interesting question, as I feel like the answer to this has evolved over the past few years. When we first started integrating blockchain into our games, we felt like this was a natural fit, because you wouldn’t have to explain to gamers about the value of spending virtual currency on virtual items – they already do that, albeit in a rental economy.
I then spent a few years really worried about ease of onboarding and whether the benefits of true digital ownership could really be explained or if they just needed to be experienced to be understood. And now I think I’m at a point where I feel like custodial wallet solutions are making onboarding nearly as seamless as in web2, and so players will be able to experience the benefits of ownership and interoperability much sooner.
The education piece is tough, and there’s really no substitute for just trying the products and experiencing it for yourself.
Simon Davis – CEO and co-founder, Mighty Bear Games
The problem is not the player. If the player needs to be ‘educated’ then something has gone wrong with the game. People play games for many different reasons, but most play to have fun and disconnect from the world around them. Give players something intuitive that they’ll keep wanting to come back to every day and the ‘learning’ will take care of itself.
Susan Cummings – CEO and co-founder, Tiny Rebel Games
The education will come over time as the game industry focuses on games first and foremost – and treats blockchain as a database to enable true ownership and provenance. The consumer needs to be empowered to decide whether or not they wish to participate in that. No good will come of forcing it on people.
Right now, there’s really nothing to educate about – any more than we need to educate about Google Cloud or AWS. If people become truly attached to something, they’ll want to own it, if they have the ability to.
But this has nothing to do with what web3 has been up until now. Buying something to speculate and sell – that’s at odds with an industry built on communities. When someone sees the only value as selling and profit, that’s not real community – they sell, they leave.
We need blockchain usage to be more focused on permanent ownership of what you love. THAT being the value – as opposed to speculative trading – is sustainable and good.
Gabriel Meredith – Merfolk Games
I personally find it to be a bit patronizing to assume that potential players need to be “educated” in order to play a studio’s blockchain games. It assumes people don’t know what they want, and that’s a problem with a lot of blockchain game studios. We can’t force people to want to play our games, and we need to, as a community, adjust our priorities to be player-oriented.
The type of player learning that can help a studio’s projects shine through are things like accessibility, straightforward tutorials, and fantastic UX. With those aspects accounted for, a fun game will speak for itself.
Quinn Kwon – Head of web3 strategy, Delabs
I disagree. To expect a player to be “educated” about the benefits of a technology behind some elements in a game, is against the approach we take at Delabs Games. We believe that we should always put the gamer experience first, and that any knowledge or opinions should come naturally through gameplay.
I see two parts in how this “education” could occur naturally through a game. The first part would be to create blockchain elements integrated seamlessly where the element of education is gamified and weaved in naturally within the core gameplay loop so that users will gradually learn the mechanisms behind one on-chain action, then the next. The other part that can be used to increase gamers’ blockchain literacy would be to design a motivation system strong enough for users to want to perform the on-chain transactions and eventually get to understand the benefits of using blockchain. It must be the game which proves the benefits blockchain can bring first to the gamer, not the other way around.
This all assumes that the quality of the game is top notch, and the fun elements are present to preserve engagement with the game. A premium game which can prove the benefits of integrating blockchain through gameplay will eventually be the key to bring web3 to a wider gamer audience.
Alexander Goldybin – Founder and Chairman, iLogos
Undoubtedly, a certain degree of education is essential, if only to elucidate the advantages of blockchain games over conventional ones, such as the concept of ‘true ownership’ and the benefits it confers. This education can be imparted in various ways. Among the most effective would be word-of-mouth recommendations from relatives, friends, and colleagues who have ventured into blockchain gaming and grasped its edge over traditional games.
As the number of early adopters crosses significant thresholds, curiosity will drive more gamers to give blockchain games a try. It’s at this juncture that the utmost attention should be paid to the user experience – streamlined and easy onboarding processes and seamless blockchain integration into gameplay. Only then can we optimistically anticipate that higher quality blockchain games will retain players for a long time and dispel the currently prevalent misconceptions that blockchain games are overwhelmingly confusing, of inferior quality, or predominantly scam-oriented.
David Amor – CEO, Playmint
Show, don’t tell. Gamers don’t want to be educated about the benefits of blockchain, they just want to see the benefits.
I don’t think that means making higher quality games, but instead showing games and features within games that wouldn’t work without blockchain. There aren’t enough of those yet!
Mike Levine – Founder, Mystic Moose
Most people and especially gamers do not like to be “educated” in the traditional sense. “Informed”? Maybe. While it’s important to have information for the minority who want to know more, like most things, living is learning.
By allowing players to own their in-game assets, players will start to understand the value. There is very little use in beating it over people’s heads. And finding meaningful places to ‘inform’ players about Web3 elements is also key, and they’ll much more likely adopt if they encounter these at high/feel-good points within a game session.
The parallels to when Free-to-Play arrived are rampant. There was so much backlash and trying to convince people around the benefits (and reasoning) behind it … which did nothing. It was only until more games started utilizing F2P and more people got used to it that it fully became the norm. Also, a new generation of players started gaming with F2P, being the only way they knew, which helped overall adoption. We see the same thing happening with web3 in games.
Jean-Paul Faraj – Head of Community and Partnerships, Unstoppable Games
In the world of blockchain games, the question of whether players need to be educated about the benefits of this technology is a crucial one. It’s important to acknowledge that, just like any emerging technology, a certain level of education is necessary for users to understand what blockchain games are and why they should consider playing them. However, there’s a balance to be struck between educating users and providing high-quality gaming experiences.
Blockchain technology can indeed be complex, and its integration into games can create a learning curve for players. Nevertheless, this education process doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal one; it can occur organically as players engage with better quality blockchain games. Here’s a more refined perspective:
Education is essential in the blockchain gaming space, primarily because blockchain introduces a paradigm shift in how players interact with in-game assets and the overall gaming experience. Players need to understand the benefits, which include decentralization, increased control and rights over their in-game assets, and improved accessibility, at the cost of having to manage their own account security.
The goal shouldn’t necessarily be to make web3 gaming mainstream for everyone. Instead, the industry should aim to create compelling experiences that appeal to specific communities of players, including indie, casual, and niche markets. These players may not be interested in the broader web3 philosophy or the associated social and political aspects. Over time, as successful blockchain games gain traction, the demand for increased rights and control over in-game assets will naturally drive adoption, with players requesting these features from future developers and studios.
Aron Beierschmitt – Co-founder, Laguna Games
With advancements like Account Abstraction gaining wider adoption, I believe the need for extensive education is diminishing. The industry’s evolution is making it increasingly possible to onboard players seamlessly. Players can intuitively discover the benefits these games offer, including capturing a portion of the value they create.
It’s not about concealing the blockchain elements; it’s about reducing player friction until they reach that ‘aha’ moment.
Ben Cousens – Chief Strategy Officer, ZBD
Broadly speaking I’m not sure I hold the view that any entertainment product should require education to enjoy. Even when it uses incredibly complex tech in the background, such as Apple Pay’s biometric confirmation, all the user needs to know is that they can pay securely with a single tap. Right now, the user experience in web3 is more comparable to Linux as a desktop environment in 2004.
It’s up to web3 service providers to provide a UX that’s not just comparable to contemporary solutions for gamers, but better. UX has been blockchain’s Achilles’ heel since the Bitcoin whitepaper. No one enjoys interacting with a database or trying to protect a signature in a browser extension. Sure, we could invest resources into teaching users how to do this quicker, but surely making blockchain gaming more approachable to begin with is a better use of everyone’s time. Let’s meet gamers where they are, not make them jump through hoops to get to us!
Nicolas Gilot – Co-CEO and Founder, Ultra
If we feel the need to educate gamers, we’ve already lost.
As developers, we need to offer gamers different experiences and ways to engage with enjoyable games. Ideally, we’ll see parallels with the emergence of F2P, where players were simply able to play games for free that they would previously have had to pay for. Players didn’t need to be educated. Some were able and interested in paying for additional in-game content, many weren’t able or interested, and therefore exchanged their valuable attention-free content.
The learning here was on the part of the developers, who over time realised that this new business model could maximise player engagement and revenue. The same applies to blockchain gaming, where we need to offer experiences that make use of the functionality only web3 can provide in ways that are instantly intuitive to players.
Chris Clay – VP and Game Director, Immutable
One of my core beliefs is that players will begin to understand the benefits of blockchain games when their gaming experience is enhanced and their needs are better solved by blockchain features. However, contrary to what many might say, great games alone will not educate players. In fact, if a blockchain economy diminishes their enjoyment of the game, it may actually lead to further division.
Instead, I believe that while great games will get players in the door, it’s great economies that will keep them there. My expectation is that similar to the ability of esports to drive long-term retention for games, blockchain enabled economies will drive greater retention and sustainability of web3 games, bringing in more players and ultimately educating them about the benefits of blockchain technology.