Nearly everyone in the cryptospace has mentioned the term "mainstream adoption" at some point, especially regarding video games. Plenty of blockchain-based games exist and are in development, but what would push this nascent form of gaming into the mainstream?
Scalability comes to mind as an obvious answer – it wouldn't be possible to have a large, mainstream audience if the underlying infrastructure couldn't accommodate more players in the first place. Plus, improvements in rendering speeds and transaction times would help to create the fast-paced gaming environments players are accustomed to.
Even with a scalable infrastructure, though, it's uncertain how much blockchain-based video games can penetrate the powerhouses of conventional gaming. Players will always flock to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to sate their video game desires.
Despite the barriers to entry and adoption hurdles, blockchain game creator MIXMARVEL has its eyes set on the mainstream. The team is developing a platform targeting traditional gamers, according to MIXMARVEL co-founder Yiyi He.
The company's first major project is HyperDragons, a strategy battle game wherein players can pit their unique dragons (each is an ERC721 token) against one another. The game also allows users to develop their dragon castles and win ETH rewards.
The game has experienced some success since its launch, topping the charts on DappRadar around late September and early October. At its highest point, there were 877 users in a 24-hour period.
Apart from HyperDragons, the MIXMARVEL crew plans to add other games to its platform, including a first-person shooter called Ground Hunter and a slots game. "We definitely need more and more content on our platform to get the mass audience to know about blockchain," He told ETHNews. Further, the team hopes to use its platform to cultivate interactive gaming experiences within the blockchain space.
One of the first steps in the company's expansion has been its partnership with the generalizable scaling solution Tenfold Protocol, which has allowed the team to accommodate more players and larger battles on HyperDragons. Moreover, He said Tenfold Protocol will be included within the company's forthcoming software development kit, which would help other blockchain video game developers to build their projects.
However, a game like a first-person shooter, with its litany of state changes, would be impossible to run on a public blockchain such as Ethereum, which is why MIXMARVEL's games operate off-chain. That's where the Tenfold Protocol comes into play. For example, after a battle in HyperDragons, all the stats (who won, who lost, who received the "glory," etc.) are sent to Tenfold validators who, under a proof-of-stake mechanism, validate the results and write them to the blockchain.
Results verification through a blockchain-based validation mechanism makes sense in terms of players faking their stats or playing unethically (ever heard of match-fixing in the eSports realm?). An immutable record of state changes (the stats) would help to avoid these issues.
But it's not very important to have results validated on a blockchain if no one else is playing the game. MIXMARVEL's upcoming Ground Hunter game might have more mainstream appeal, as first-person shooters are some of the most popular video games in the world, though even then, the network effect of conventional gaming options forever looms overhead. It's a situation similar to blockchain-based social networks – no project is going to displace Facebook anytime soon, no matter the good intentions or the revolutionary qualities of the new network.
Put another way, the veracity of gaming data may not matter if there are only 877 players – impressive compared to many other Dapps, but a small fraction of the audience that traditional video games have.
It's admirable for companies like MIXMARVEL to iterate with greater adoption of blockchain technology in mind. Players want immersive gameplay, so MIXMARVEL's focus on interactivity and its work on a first-person shooter (a genre known for its involved gameplay style) are steps in the right direction. We may know with more certainty whether scalable off-chain games such as Ground Hunter are the solution to mainstream adoption after these games are released and folks have had a chance to test them out.