The mainstream adoption, or at least recognition, of blockchain technology has led to some incomprehensible posts across the internet writ large. First came the endless proclamations that NFTs represented the future of art. Then, depending on how online you are, the idea that multiple slurp juices could be used for a single ape was introduced, only to find out the mind(s) behind that meme are associated with fascist ideologies.
Now, web3 truthers are letting the takes fly — this week a gaming venture capitalist drew the collective ire of the internet for a two-week old post, championing the virtues of blockchain gaming, which instead highlighted a very depressing future. Take a look for yourself:
This post succinctly points out all the worst things about gaming, namely predatory microtransactions that incentivize users to spend real-world money on virtual items that should theoretically be attainable by you know, actually playing the game in question.
“Tonight’s objective is to kill the level 128 Frost Giant hiding in the Cave of Sorrow. He has a 5% chance of dropping an Immaculate Orb of Brilliance, of which there are currently only 4 in existence ... The Orb can be used as a power source in an upcoming space exploration game, and should give your guild a great advantage in reaching distant galaxies first. A 5% drop rate is low, but you’re feeling optimistic.”
Cascading networks of commerce — When scarcity is built into a video game through the incorporation of loot boxes, the only avenue to maxing out character builds and attributes is to either get incredibly lucky or pay for more spins at the wheel. It doesn’t help that the algorithms and datasets determining what a loot box spits out are kept private by publishers.
Now, to be fair, the author of this post, Nicolas Vereecke, probably doesn’t have malicious intentions — he simply works for a global investment platform for gaming and web3. In short, he wants to make money off blockchain-enabled gaming and the like.
The insularity of crypto-adjacent communities is on full display here, however. Maybe there are loads of gamers hungry for the endless possibilities for microtransactions and gacha-esque gameplay that the blockchain can provide. But, more likely, Vereecke’s hypothetical future is one that most people interested in actually enjoying games can do without.
Reducing games — an enjoyable hobby, or an art form even — to an opportunity at getting in on the ground floor of the next big, self-contained economy is fine, I guess, but don’t expect most people to erupt in applause over the idea.