Paul Barclay on bringing blockchain to mainstream gaming
To players, a game is more than just a game; it’s a passion.
And that’s one of the things that Paul Barclay, founder of Nova Token, made clear to those attending Blockchain Gamer Connects Helsinki 2018.
While the advent of casual games would lead people to believe that players have an otherwise detached view on the games they play, Barclay argues that players want more, not less investment in what games they play.
“People want a bigger stake, a bigger role in their games,” Barclay announces.
“They want to be able to play, trade, stream, and participate in it.”
And one of the innovations that will make this new relationship work is blockchain, which Barclay argues must be seen as the next step in gaming, not a disruptive alternative.
Blockchain will become a large part of gaming, and we need to view this as an evolution, not a revolution in gaming.
But while bullish on its applications, he remains pragmatic, both in his talk and later discussion about what needs to happen to realize this potential.
Taking blockchain mainstream – lessons for developers
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we see a major game with a functioning economy behind it.”
Barclay elaborates, highlighting that, while the ambition is there, the inexperience of many blockchain game develoepers creates challenges.
“I feel like unless you have worked on a game, mobile game realistically, you haven’t experienced all the challenges that come with making them and why developers make the decisions that they do,” he says.
This represents one of the larger problems for these developers, side-stepping the reality that comes with developing a player-friendly interface.
“If you look at a big game, their UX [User Experience] interfaces have been tested and [rigorously] re-tested, and developers have tried every other option and decided on the final one because it’s the best.”
From 0-100, gamers and blockchain
For developers, Barclay stresses that there needs to be a shift in attention, delegating more to the end-user, and less time on stressing blockchain usage.
“You start with a game, and you use blockchain in any and every way that makes sense,” by doing this, developers can find a middle ground between putting blockchain to use, while ensuring that it doesn’t bombard the player with information that they’re otherwise not interested in, and don’t want to learn about,” he argues.
“Compared to the average gamer, who has, 0% understanding about blockchain, the evangelist or developer would have anything from an 80-100% understanding.”
NovaToken, Barclay states, is an example of how to create a game that weaves blockchain into the games ecosystem, while not placing the burden of learning onto the player unless they actively want to.
“The biggest thing for us is that once a player owns a blockchain item, they are then some way involved in blockchain. They might still know zero about it, but they start feeling incentivized to learn.”
Through gaming, you can create new blockchain users... Bring in players because they get a bunch of benefits from this new technology.
While these are lessons to remember for development, blockchain games still face the uphill battle with mainstream developers.
Blockchain and distributors
App stores and mainstream publishers have been less than excited about the prospect of applying or selling blockchain games.
And taking 30% of revenue from the developer, the argument emerged over why blockchain games should abide by this system.
In the opinion of Barclay, “for building a business in today’s market, the best way is to follow it.”
“Simply boycotting doesn’t work, we’re not going to change publishers minds by doing that.”
One of the arguments that Barclay makes with this approach is that blockchain is in its early stages, and with few real-use cases, it’s a challenge for third parties like Apple or Google Play, and developers.
Working with these distributors can be mutually beneficial, Barclay points out.
“While Apple may not be worth the 30% cut at the moment, but it’s likely to become far more interesting in the next few years.”
For developers, this also offers them the advantage of gaining far more exposure to the majority of gamers, instead of a niche enclave.
“There are two billion gamers out there, and it wouldn’t be hard to get blockchain items into the hands of gamers,” Barclay says, believing that putting this technology into the hands of players is possible in the very near future.
“This isn’t a ten-year thing; this is more likely something that will happen within the 3 to 4, years,” he predicts.