- Gamers can currently own virtual land, build objects, and play and earn all through NFTs.
- Experts say the future will be about verifiable scarcity and an integrated marketplace.
- A big value-add to the sector would be an interoperable avatar that carries value across platforms.
The NFT LA conference kicked off on Monday, covering everything from non-fungible tokens as art to their use as financial instruments and investments.
Since these unique digital assets can be rented, traded, bought, and owned on a blockchain and within an ecosystem, they open the door to many use cases, including in the gaming industry. During the panel discussion titled “Ways to Earn a Living Exclusively in Gaming Using NFTs,” panelists discussed how these tokens could permanently change the gaming sector.
The money-generating potential of NFTs is great news for gamers who spend hours and dollars on end playing only to give it all up once they’re through with the challenge. And that can feel like time wasted, said Liam Labistour, a panelist and the director of growth marketing at Splinterlands, a battle-based gaming platform that has earning opportunities.
“I’ve dumped thousands and thousands of my own dollars into those games, but at the end of the day, when I’m done playing, we don’t get that time back, we don’t get that money back,” Labistour said. “Those are just accounts that are then sitting there and doing nothing.”
Shea Newkirk, the panel moderator and host of the YouTube channel CryptoStache, also admitted that he has spent more money than he cares to admit on games — and he’d be ok with getting back even a fraction of the amount initially spent.
But the hope is that these assets could even appreciate, Labistour said.
That’s where NFTs come in: they can create a mini-ecosystem in a game because they allow people to transact with each other in a free market, and there are many ways people can earn crypto on these platforms. For example, users can be digital landlords or owners of digitized objects like clothing, infrastructure, and gaming tools. These objects can be bought or even built. Owners can then sell or rent their property to others. Users can also create games to sell experiences, and gamers can play and earn.
Logan Welbaum, the founder of Plai, a platform that helps small businesses advertise on digital platforms, took it upon himself to experiment in this new world. He tried his hand at becoming a digital landlord and bought property in two leading metaverses that also offer gaming experiences: The Sandbox and Decentraland. Welbaum said he bought his property in Decentraland for $2,000 worth of crypto at the time and in The Sandbox for about $8,000. He believes they both appreciated within a year of their purchase based on the values of other lands for sale near his.
Virtual property has seen price tags in the millions. For example, one piece of land in Decentraland went for a record $2.43 million. As investors compete for blocks of prime real estate in busy city centers, they bid up prices. But Mark Cuban, a billionaire entrepreneur and co-host of “Shark Tank” who spoke on a different panel, told audiences that they shouldn’t be vying for prime and expensive property in the metaverse because everything is just a click-away. As long as you build an experience on your property, users will show up.
Welbaum also tested out the play-to-earn approach. He spent a few hours playing in The Sandbox during a beta release and earned 1,000 SAND, which was equivalent to about $3,480 at the cryptocurrency’s trading price of around $3.48 on Thursday.
Welbaum was able to do this because he had an Alpha Pass NFT ticket, which he won by applying for the contest. This pass allowed him early access to the beta version of games on The Sandbox. Since he was a landowner in The Sandbox, it increased his chances. But anyone with an account could win a pass by applying to daily social contests when the program was running. Passes could also have been purchased on the secondary market on OpenSea. The Sandbox in particular also allows holders of SAND to stake their crypto and earn rewards.
Shawnee Sande, the co-owner of Beta1Creative, a digital marketing agency that helps clients bring their brands to the metaverse, previously told Insider that the metaverse isn’t very different from the real world. The income-earning opportunities could become endless as the platforms evolve.
For example, she explained that Decentraland has the Builder page, which allows users to create objects that can then be sold on the marketplace. The platform provides educational videos on how to use their tool so anyone can learn.
“Overall we’re really just trying to provide a free market for the assets within the game so that when people play the game, they contribute their time, they contribute their capital buying assets, then those assets aren’t lost. They have access to that value in the future,” said Miles Anthony, a panelist and founder of Decentral Games, a platform that rewards users for playing Ice Poker.
He continued, “And I think it’s basically giving them property rights secured by the blockchain, which is huge for some folks to be able to commit a lot of time and commit a lot of capital into these ecosystems.”
Daniel Frank, a senior vice president at Mythical Games, said the goal is to create games that are fun to play so that it’s not “playing to earn” but rather “play and earn” or “play and own.” This will serve to gain authentic engagement so that users are playing because they enjoy the experience and the earning potential is a bonus.
Frank believes that the future of gaming will be all about owned assets, verifiable scarcity, and an integrated marketplace.
Labistour added that once players understand and see the value of ownership within gaming, the script will flip in the sector and any previous hesitation gamers had about NFTs and crypto potentially being scammy or part of a pyramid scheme will be resolved.
Finally, the industry experts agreed that one of the biggest value-adds to the sector is an interoperable avatar. This would allow users to take their avatars into different metaverses and worlds so that ownership can hold value across platforms.