GameFi – The Noise

GameFi – The Noise

So, after all the huff, puff and noise starting in 2019, the blockchain Web3 GameFi ecosystem is still struggling against core games. You know why? They (devs, VC, everyone in the chain) have now figured out that :

  1. Making games is hard
  2. Making core games, even AA, is super hard
  3. Core gamers aren’t idiots
  4. NFTs aren’t games
  5. P2E is a F2P derivative wrapped in a fad

there’s literally nothing in blockchain games that core games (especially multi-player games) didn’t already do

Aside from a few, those trying to build a Web3 core game on a budget that wouldn’t even fund 6 months of a core games’ dev, have found out the hard way. They either failed or burned through investor money and never saw the light of day.

This hamstring approach while trying to build Web3 ‘games’ on a shoestring budget is why the end result has resulted in crap games that core gamers see for what they are: blatant cash grabs.

You’re never — ever — going to make money — at least not the kind of money from core games — from a Web3 game that isn’t targeted at core gamers.

The whole fiasco started when a group of people decided that tying Web3 to P2E was a brilliant idea because they figured that gamers would be more interested in the prospects of making money than in the enjoyment of said games. As we have now seen, given the trends, they were wrong. Gamers aren’t stupid; and most of them just want to play games for fun, not for the prospects of making pennies while grinding. I mean, it’s precisely why MMO games started to decline when a lot of them did away with monthly subscriptions and went with the F2P model. Suddenly devs and publishers had a whole different problem to deal with because, again, gamers aren’t stupid and most will never play a bad game even if it were free.

In a career spanning 30+ years, I have built various tech, games that run on said tech, worked with the best of the best; and the more things change the more they stay the same. You’re never — ever — going to build a game that appeals to a wide audience if you focus solely on what you ‘think’ a subset of that audience wants. You need to think big picture.

Gamers, aside from some being finicky, dastardly, and who will tank your game on a whim, tend to be as loyal as the next patch release is detrimental to their enjoyment of the game. That’s what most Web3 game devs are now contending with. Anyone who thinks Web2 gamers are somehow different from Web3 gamers is a fool. It’s the same pool.

That Web3 GameFi is still severely lagging should come as no surprise because devs, publishers and investors look at trends before committing to anything. Why would you spend $1M to build a game that, as a core game, should cost $5M? Unless you want to be out there first, gain momentum, then burn (See Axie Infinity and it’s ilk) up in the Sun when the fad fades. That’s called a cash grab. To be clear, it doesn’t matter how much money you put into a game; if its target audience doesn’t engage, it’s Game Over.

The other Web3 GameFi issue is that a large majority of the money guys — and those advocating for it — are neither gamers nor have experience (little if any) in the gaming sector. You wouldn’t believe the number of blockchain bizdev guys that I have spoken to and who have next to no experience in the sector. It’s shocking to me.

When you tell some of these guys what it takes to make a game, what it costs, the long-term projection costs etc. they look at you funny. Then they start asking how to make it for less, how to make it like some other game their side piece is playing or investing in etc. It’s the same old ‘cash grab’ mentality because when it comes to the guys in this [Web3] space, saying a Web3 game will take 5 years and $20M to make is basically asking to not be funded. So, teams go low, get some cash — then either can’t finish the game or they finish it and it tanks because they cut corners.

Don’t do that.

The other side of this equation is that there are so many ‘chains’ out there that it’s a minefield figuring out which to use for your game. I recently came across a chart put together by the folks over at ImmutableX. It’s an eye-opener to say the least.

Some of these chains, in their quest for adoption, were and still are, giving out grants (mostly in shit coins) to various projects. Guess how that turned out. I mean, picture this: How on Earth do you think a team is going to make a game to sit on your chain if your grant is either spare change or in the form of a coin or token that has to be converted to fiat? I don’t get it. It may as well be a marketing spend with zero expectations of performance. Again, the bizdev guys either have little to no experience in the sector or they’re just trying to get more for less while flooding the GameFi sector with shit games and projects. And yet, they wonder why core gamers are still rebelling against Web3 games.

The games industry is spectacularly unforgiving, has a short attention span, and a long-term memory. In an industry where — at last count — about 90% of games fail to recoup their costs, how do you think those numbers are playing out in Web3 GameFi? I daresay a whole lot worse.

For one thing, there isn’t a single Web3 game that couldn’t have been made as a Web2 game. Not one. And that’s part of the GameFi struggle. Why would a gamer play your Web3 game when there are so many better Web2 ones to play? What are the outstanding USPs of your game? Why should they play it, let alone invest time and money in it?

How about you try this. Make a core Web2 game, and if it has a monetization scheme, support both fiat and crypto. Then market it as a game first. That whole Web3 / GameFi nonsense isn’t going to sell your game. Ever. It’s just tech. It’s no better than you touting graphics tech that every game already has; to the extent that nobody even mentions visuals as a USP anymore. Except that a bunch of clowns and corps with more money than sense have tainted the Web3 game pool with shitty game cash grabs.

As for now, top game devs, publishers and studios who know how the industry works, what it costs to make core games etc. are planning to make Web3 games that cost millions of Dollars and which can take upwards of 5+ years to release. It’s a process, and one size doesn’t fit all.

Eventually we are going to start seeing publishers catering specifically to Web3 GameFi because it’s going to take a lot of failures, heartaches, experience — and burned money — to rise above the current stigma associated with Web3 games.

As to the blockchain corps, if you’re going to attract games to your chain, go big or go home. And while you’re at it, stop giving out grants to inexperienced teams who are only going to flood the sector with crap cash grabs. I mean, look at Steam for insight on how that tends to work out and why it’s a terribad idea. And if you don’t have bizdev execs with experience in the gaming sector, you’re already doing it wrong.

Web3 gaming is here and a whole lot of projects are going to die or be stillborn. Welcome to the party, pal.