In the last year, NFTs have seen explosive growth in both popularity and overall value. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to expand, technology companies are scouting out ways to introduce more users to the landscape. Recently, the concepts of NFTs in video games and play-to-earn games have been picked up by numerous developers, but gamers as a whole have been resistant to the ideas. There are conflicting reports out there, but for the most part, it seems as though there’s a long way to go for game developers, esports betting operators, and gamers themselves.
So, are gamers ready to adopt NFTs and P2E games?
Irresistible Force vs. Unmovable Object
There are many industry experts that believe the future of gaming lies within NFT integration and play-to-earn platforms. In January of 2022, it was revealed that Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, predicted that more than 90% of gamers “will not play a game unless they are being properly valued for that time” within a five-year window. As play-to-earn evolves, it stands to reason that more gamers will become interested in the concept of making money for playing the games that they enjoy.
As part of his bold claim, Ohanian suggested that, within five years, nobody will want to play a game that doesn’t benefit them financially. In a quote, Ohanian explained:
In five years, you will actually value your time properly, and instead of being harvested for advertisements, or being fleeced for dollars to buy stupid hammers you don’t actually own, you will be playing some on-chain equivalent game that will be just as fun, but you’ll actually earn value and you will be the harvester
This statement was a tongue-in-cheek reference to Fortnite, which is one of the most valuable franchises in the gaming world. There are enormous, unexplored opportunities for play-to-earn and NFT integration within Fortnite, and the developer, Epic, is more than happy to consider the concepts.
It seems that, as time goes on, there’s nothing that can stop the evolution and progress of the cryptocurrency industry. As these markets expand, so too does the potential for more advanced metaverse creations, which are inherently fuelled by play-to-earn, monetised experiences. However, a recent study of 1,500 gamers found that just 56% of them were interested in the adoption of play-to-earn platforms.
While these markets grow, the adoption of them on the part of the gamer seems to be a slow and reluctant process.
Late in 2021, iconic developer Ubisoft pushed out an NFT marketplace known as Quartz. In an attempt to be one of the first AAA developers to integrate blockchain technology into its games, Ubisoft made a bold but somewhat disastrous move. Within a matter of days, the bad press had been collected from every angle of the industry, and fans around the world were up in arms. Today, the Quartz platform is unused, and almost no interaction ever took place regarding Ubisoft’s introduction of NFTs.
Similarly, S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 developer GSC Game World flip-flopped on the decision to include NFTs in its upcoming, 2022 release. There was such vehement backlash from the community that the developers saw no path going forward where the inclusion of NFTs would succeed. Reportedly, according to a survey taken by the Game Developers Conference, developers, in general, are reluctant to get involved:
When asked how they felt about the possibility of cryptocurrency or NFTs in games, a few called it ‘the future of gaming’. However, a vast majority of respondents spoke out against both practices – noting their potential for scams, overall monetisation concerns, and the environmental impact.
According to this all-important survey, around 70% of respondents claimed that their development studios had no interest whatsoever in NFT integration. As the immediate adoption of NFTs in games has been a sore spot for the industry in general, it’s likely there will be some delay until we see a successful integration.
But Why Do Gamers Hate NFTs?
In a report published by Statista, it was revealed that 55% percent of respondents believed that earning NFTs would either not change or would reduce their overall time spent gaming. On the other hand, 45% of respondents believed that earning NFTs would cause their gaming habits to grow. Overall, 15% anticipated a ‘significant increase’ in their gaming habits. This survey targeted 1500 gamers, and it’s something of an indication of some curious behaviour.
On one side of the coin, gamers don’t want to adopt NFTs in their games, but on the other side, they anticipate that if they did adopt them, they’re likely to spend more time gaming. It seems that gamers appreciate the concept of earning money while playing games but they don’t want to actually see the integration of NFTs. This may be because of a lack of understanding, the spread of ‘FUD’, or even a fear of change.
There are several reasons why gamers hate NFTs, and most of it stems from a rocky history with microtransactions. For years, players have rued the integration of ‘MTX’ mechanics in their games, specifically skin purchasing, lootboxes, and paid boosts and upgrades. For NFT integration to take place outside of play-to-earn, there has to be something of an investment – and gamers just don’t trust that.
Furthermore, there are elements of distrust where gaming organisations are concerned, with many believing that these companies are just out to make a quick buck. Also, many gamers are aware of the environmental implications of such integrations, and the impact that the cryptocurrency industry has on other markets. For example, over the last two years, there has been a global shortage of graphics cards for PCs. In the world of crypto mining, GPUs are at the core of the practice, and as such, hardcore miners buy them by the dozen, leaving none for gamers.
It’s a situation that has had a knock-on effect for gamers around the world.
What About iGaming and Esports Betting?
In the betting space, play-to-earn games have seen considerable success. This is likely due to the fact that bettors are used to investing their finances for potential returns, whereas that concept is totally new and somewhat alien to the average gamer. For instance, some months ago, developer Red Tiger launched a play-to-earn slots game called NFT Megaways, and it was remarkably well received.
As the ‘metaverse’ continues to grow, companies are evolving to take advantage of the space. For instance, some firms have begun developing digital spaces to accommodate gamers and bettors together, introducing virtual casinos and VR-driven environments. One such firm is BetU, which is attempting to provide an all-digital landscape for its users, featuring a virtual casino, hotel, nightclubs, and more, all powered by the blockchain and VR integration.
For esports betting, cryptocurrency has long been an option for some of the world’s top esports betting sites. However, very few of these platforms offer any kind of play-to-earn or NFT integrations. Should the predictions from the likes of Alexis Ohanian become true, these esports betting operators will need to adapt to the requirements of the market. While esports betting is a lucrative space, the opportunity for play-to-earn is an attractive prospect, especially for those already operating within the world of betting.
It seems that 2022 will be an important year for play-to-earn.