Can blockchain transform videogaming?
The newly-launched Blockchain Alliance describes itself as a “coalition of industry-leading gaming and blockchain companies committed to advocating for the democratisation of blockchain within the gaming industry”. And certainly, it already appears to have some clout. Amongst the names involved in the Alliance are Alto, Gimli, Fig, Ubisoft, Ultra, B2Expand, ConsenSys, EverdreamSoft, and Enjin, and the aim is to bring together their respective expertise.
One of the key figures in the Blockchain Alliance is Nicolas Gilot, the co-CEO of Ultra. And he exclusively spoke to CNR about the project, and what it means for videogaming.
Can you explain to us what the Blockchain Game Alliance is in your words to start with? What is it, and why do you feel it needs to exist?
The Blockchain Game Alliance brings together some of the most renowned blockchain and gaming companies, which will allow us to realise our vision of democratising blockchain within the gaming industry.
We believe that by supporting each other, and by having some of the brightest minds in the industry facilitate research, development and education, together we can drive disruptive change and deliver innovative solutions to the gaming community.
And what about you, Nicolas? What’s your personal background?
I am the Co-CEO of Ultra, a blockchain-based, game publishing platform designed to put an end to the current PC game market status quo.
I previously led Xiaobawang as CSO, a major game console project undertaken in partnership with AMD with a budget of over US$100m. I was also responsible for the success of numerous businesses including game studio PixelBeam which was later acquired by Kingsoft [Xiaomi], and multiple game/app projects including Plants VS Zombies, Highnoon, and The Economist.
Blockchain is clearly hugely important to you. But what kind of impact do you feel blockchain technology can have on gaming?
Blockchain technology will impact gaming by making it possible to process payments instantly, which will allow developers to quickly reinvest money into their businesses.
Blockchain-powered platforms will also make the trading of virtual items easier which may be extended to third-party platforms, as well as facilitates fraud-proof marketing which provides developers with the ability to spend their marketing resources effectively and track that these resources are legit. Ultimately, what all of this creates is a dramatically improved experience for players, and increased revenues for game developers and publishers.
But do you see a willingness, in an industry as cut-throat and competitive as gaming, for companies independent of each other to work together, and share ideas?
Services offered by companies are often complementary — publishers needs platforms to distribute their games, platforms need battle-tested technology, and technology often already exists then finds its utility afterwards within new services in the gaming ecosystem.
From our side of the fence, how do you believe the end user will benefit? Is it in any way going to affect the games people play, or the way they play them?
Blockchain opens up a world of possibilities for both gamers and developers — for instance, users can now earn money by helping developers, while developers can utilise blockchain to build new solutions that ultimately benefits players, such as trading items and reselling games. It will also be interesting to see how games evolve over time, especially since there will no longer be a centralised system controlling a game.
You’re pushing for a universal standard: what kind of standard, though? Can you explain a little more about that?
Many companies are often building technologies to create new possibilities or solve issues — by establishing a universal standard, we discover what is optimal for each situation and are able to provide valuable insights to the community and developers.
Your plans sound ambitious! What’s your roadmap for the Alliance for, say, the next 12-18 months?
We are currently finalising the governance structure of the Alliance, including how we can accommodate new members. We are receiving a lot of requests from companies who want to join the Alliance, so we want to ensure that the structure is ready for new members.
We will then be focusing on the various challenges that blockchain solves for the gaming industry, as well as educating developers and big publishers on how they can take advantage of blockchain to build better games and solutions. We will provide more details in the coming weeks in our roadmap.
One more thing: can you recommend to us a really good game from the last six months we probably haven’t played?
I wish I had more time to play games, but recently I played Deep Rock Galactic which is a first-person shooter game, where you mine resources and explore different worlds – which could be perfect to adapt to blockchain!
Another game which is still in the alpha stages is The Cycle. I’m very much looking forward to the open beta version of the game and highly recommend it. It’s a hybrid of Player vs. Player (PvP) and Player vs. Environment (PvE) and FPS with resources management, and is a very interesting game!
You can find our more on the Blockchain Alliance here.