Did Blizzard Accidentally Accelerate the Adoption of Gaming on the Blockchain?
Gaming has been an interesting application of blockchain technology. Since Ethereum's launch in 2015, there have been several attempts to make use of smart contracts and blockchain for gaming.
There were also a handful of gaming oriented ICO's in 2017, which includes Enjin coin & Decentraland to a certain extent. It seems however, that the most successful blockchain based games did not require their own token to function.
CryptoKitties & Blockchain Gaming
In 2017 CryptoKitties launched on Ethereum's blockchain. The game allowed people to purchase a unique virtual cat card, which could later breed with other cat cards. Essentially it was a trading card game with a few aspects of a virtual pet thrown in.
Every card was a unique non-fungible Ethereum based ERC-721 token & trades were done via Ether.
The game became so successful that a single CryptoKitty was sold for the ETH equivalent of $100,000 at its peak. Its success did cause technical issues, however. The number of card transfers temporarily congested Ethereum's blockchain and transactions were delayed by hours for months. As a result, some changes were made to Ethereum's maximum gas fees, which seemingly resolved the issue.
As with any success story, many similar games followed, such as Ethertulips & Etheremon. None have managed to recreate CryptoKitties success until recently.
Gods Unchained Breaks CryptoKitties record
Released in 2018 and dubbed "Blockchain's First eSport", Gods Unchained bears many parallels to Blizzard's Hearthstone. Like CryptoKitties it is also a card game, but a much more complicated one at that. Users can use their cards to battle each other or trade them freely. Like loot crates, random card packs can be purchased with Ethereum.
Recently God's Unchained soared in popularity, registering nearing 500,000 token transfers. This dwarfs CryptoKitties peak of just under 100,000 back in December 2017.
God's Unchained gained popularity quickly by capitalizing on Blizzard's recent PR blunder. Blizzard have reportedly banned a professional Hearthstone player & seized his winning's after the player voiced support for the Hong Kong Protests.
They have offered to pay the player his winnings and invited him to a tournament.
.@Blizzard_Ent just banned @blitzchungHS and stripped his Hearthstone winnings because they care about money more than freedom. We will pay for ALL his lost winnings and a ticket to our $500k tournament: no player should be punished for their beliefs. #freegaming https://t.co/ONvtkG4x9Gâ Gods Unchained (@GodsUnchained) October 8, 2019
Following Gods Unchained announcements, many Hong Kongers have switched over from Hearthstone. Many have begun to boycott Blizzard in the West as well, making Gods Unchained a viable alternative.
This could be a paradigm shift in gaming in which players are truly in control of their in-game assets. Seeing that both gaming and blockchain & fast growing industries we will likely see more overlaps in the future.
Vitalik Buterin visited the Ethereal Summit in Tel Aviv earlier this year and briefly brought up gaming. Apparently, he began developing Ethereum after losing his in-game items in World of Warcraft. Perhaps an MMORPG could be the next killer app on the Ethereum blockchain.
Written by Jonathan Ganor
Writer & cryptocurrency aficionado