The emergence of Play2Earn (P2E) has marked a new chapter in the evolution of gaming.
Built upon the foundation of blockchain technology, P2E introduced a novel idea: transforming gaming from a purely recreational activity into a potentially rewarding one.
But like any pioneering technology, the first iterations of the P2E model faced their share of challenges, such as sustainable an in-game economy, designing engaging gameplay, and ensuring an overall positive user experience.
However, these inevitable growing pains are helping this infant concept of finding its footing among the 3 billion plus gamers worldwide.
Below, we'll explore these initial hiccups as valuable insights that will help us all to shape the future of blockchain gaming.
The primary that all of these games faced, under which all of these other examples could technically be classified, was a poor user experience that fell short of player’s expectations.
In an age where intuitive interfaces and seamless interactions are the norm, many P2E games struggled to meet these standards.
Slow loading times, clunky interfaces, and frequent glitches were not uncommon, resulting in a frustrating experience for many players.
Despite blending gaming and finance, P2E games are still video games and demands a user-friendly and straightforward interface nonetheless.
Players need should be able to manage their in-game assets easily and navigate the game world without unnecessary complexities.
If the user experience is frustrating, players will most likely disengage, no matter how enticing the potential rewards might be.
When players do disengage, it almost always declines leads to a game’s eventual downfall.
Nothing hurts a gamer more than not being able to find a playable server on his favorite childhood game, and experience that nostalgia just one more time.
Community is key in online gaming. It fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among players, creating a surreal immersive experience that is difficult to replicate.
However, many P2E games failed to build this sense of community.
In traditional multiplayer games, elements like social hubs, in-game events, and community platforms foster healthy competition, collaboration, and interaction among players.
But in P2E, it felt more like a poker game, where players were constantly wary of being caught holding losing hands.
Community platforms like Discord and Telegram, intended for collaboration and camaraderie among players, became filled with excessive "shilling" and spam rather than fostering genuine interaction and shared experiences.
Without a strong community, player retention becomes a challenge.
The first iterations of P2E games were mostly conceptual, with game developers raising huge evaluations for games that were still purely hypothetical and would never see the light of day.
The games that were released for the most part had incredibly bad gameplay loops, even worse graphics, and virtually nothing to keep players engaged other than using tokens or NFTs as a carrot at the end of the stick.
At the pinnacle of P2E, Metaverse games like The Sandbox and Decentraland looked like they were built in the Roblox Studio Editor (no offense Roblox).
Additionally, some games wouldn’t have any gameplay released and would still receive incomprehensible evaluations. For example, Collectible RPG & Autobattler game Illuvium’s native token $ILV reach a marketcap of $600M before ever releasing a gameplay trailer.
In 2021, it seemed like devs and players alike were so excited about the play-to-earn aspects of video games that they forgot about they gameplay all together.
When players invest their time and resources into a P2E game, they do so expecting the value of those investments to provides them with returns in some form or another.
Given that in-game economies being tied to real value is a relatively new phenomenon, many game developers (and unfortunately gamers) learned hard lessons about digital economies.
Most P2E games are sitting at fraction of what they were worth a mere 2 years ago.
Games that offer unsustainable get rich quick schemes can be disastrous for players who have invested heavily into the game.
They lead to insane highs, followed by crashing lows. A volatile and unpredictable economy erodes player trust and threatens the longevity of the game.
A well-designed game economy takes human nature into account, balancing game faucets (money coming out of the game) with game sinks (money going into the game).
In an ecosystem where players invest real-world resources, trust and transparency are crucial.
Games would often be made with small team and lack almost any customer facing members. If anything, it would be a some mods paid to run Discords and Telegrams without any actual involvement in the core team.
That being said, customer support was nearly non existent. Issues with games were expected to be taken with the game and the updates to resolve them were nowhere to be found.
Developers team were also often times mysterious, going by sudonyms, and if the game was rugged there was no way to track down them to hold them responsible.
Going forward, developers must prioritize transparency and establish clear guidelines that instill trust and foster a sense of security among players.
The Play2Earn gaming model is far from a lost cause. With thoughtful design and a learning from past mistakes, P2E games can still live up to their hype. The following section will explore solutions to some of the challenges we’ve discussed in P2E.
The complexity of P2E games can often be a barrier to entry for new players.
Simplifying the onboarding process can help to break down these barriers and make the P2E model more accessible.
The best way to make this happen is to create games in a way that players are not even aware they are using the blockchain technologies that support the game.
This could involve instant onboarding and custodial wallets, technologies we have implemented at 0101 Labs, or other features which have yet to come.
At its core, a game is about fun, challenge, and engagement. Developers need to refocus on these fundamentals, bringing gameplay back into the forefront.
A well-designed game should provide a balanced challenge, keeping players on their toes without overwhelming them, and keep them coming back for more.
The rewards should come as a result of skillful play, not as the primary focus.
By creating a game that players enjoy for its mechanics and challenges first, the added incentive of earning becomes a bonus, not the sole purpose.
The rewards system is a fundamental part of the P2E model, and it needs careful recalibration.
It's crucial to that development teams have a high-level understanding of the market forces which their games depend on, and integrate them accordingly.
Rewards should be enough to reward players and keep them engaged, but not so excessive that they lead to a ‘Pump and Dump’ of the game's economy.
The key is to carefully align the value of rewards with the effort players put in, creating a system that feels both fair and worthwhile.
Lastly, strong customer support is a pillar of any successful online game.
For P2E games, where players are investing not just their time but often their money, it becomes even more critical.
Providing prompt and effective customer support can help to build player trust. This includes transparent communication about the developing team, game updates, swift resolution of issues, and active engagement with the player community.
The more secure and heard players feel, the more likely they are to continue investing their time and resources in the game.
Reflecting on the first iterations of the Play2Earn model, it's evident that the initial obstacles - user experience difficulties, gameplay deficiencies, and economic instability - acted as hurdles to its adoption. However, these problems have information the way for crucial improvements and innovative solutions.
As the industry learns from these trials, the future of P2E gaming has the potential to offer games that blend fun, community, and financial rewards seamlessly. Despite its early hiccups, P2E is now on the brink of revolutionizing the gaming landscape, transforming the aspiration of earning while playing into a sustainable and enjoyable reality. And if the games are good, then the players will follow.
Here at 0101 Labs, we strive to be an industry leader in creating fun, fair, and free games that reward the communities that comprise them. If you’re interested in following along on our journey of creating the future of gaming, please consider joining our email list!