New Trends in Blockchain Gaming Stake To Play Mechanism and Exemplary Games
Blockchain Gaming Trends Stake To Play Mechanism and Exemplary Games
Original Author: wasdmedia.eth
Translation: Zen, LianGuaiNews
Just like the ICO of tokens, DeFi’s liquidity mining, and NFT’s PFP, the rapid rise of Friend Tech in recent years once again proves the ability of financial incentives and speculation as growth catalysts.
In the world of blockchain games, we are beginning to see a trend of pure gambling to leverage economic incentives. This mechanism can perhaps be described in more easily accepted terms: Stake-To-Play (S2P). As the name suggests, S2P means that players place their assets at risk in some way or form in order to participate in skill-based PVP games. Then, these funds are put into a prize pool and distributed to the winners when the game ends. This seems like a simple concept, but if you look closely, you will find more content.
Pros and Cons of S2P Games
The core idea behind Stake-To-Play is not new. People have been investing money in various types of games, whether it’s through Poker, Fantasy Football, or the “hottest free MMORPG game” RuneScape.
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The reasons for doing so are very simple. People not only enjoy the opportunity to win money, but increasing the stakes also increases the stakes, thereby enhancing the drama, intrigue, and intensity of the game. In the real world, this is mainly handled by rough trustees; or, in the case of the game Fantasy Football League, by using the trusted payment service Venmo as a third-party trustee.
However, using Venmo is not a scalable solution. Players have been frozen from time to time, and starting in 2022, Fantasy Football gambling winnings over $600 must be reported to the IRS. We can see that there are many benefits to implementing S2P in blockchain games, which may allow them to far exceed their current scale.
Some of these key benefits are:
- Self-custody: Player funds are stored in on-chain smart contracts, rather than centralized and opaque off-chain custodians.
- Access to global liquidity: Blockchain games can leverage capital from the crypto economy, allowing anyone, anywhere to participate, greatly increasing the potential size of the prize pool.
- Sustainable financial incentives: Games can leverage the intrinsic expectations of cryptocurrency users for speculation and adventure, without relying on inflationary token incentives.
- Developer revenue: S2P blockchain games can earn revenue by extracting a portion from the total prize pool, providing funding for their development and growth plans.
- Upgrading to full autonomy: S2P can help provide economic incentives and economic activity to sustain a strong modding ecosystem, helping ambitious autonomous worlds reduce their reliance on their initial creators.
S2P is not suitable for all blockchain games, and it has some potential drawbacks, such as:
- Limited user base: Some players may not want to risk losing money every time they play a game, which may limit the potential player pool for the game.
- Loss of fun: The ability to earn money cannot replace the playability of a game, and some players may feel that the pressure of S2P games deprives them of their enjoyment.
- Balance issues: Players can spend different amounts in S2P games, which could turn it into a “pay-to-win” game and ultimately be dominated by whale players.
- Regulation: Regulatory authorities may view S2P as unregulated gambling and attempt to crack down on games implementing S2P.
Games Applying the S2P Model
After understanding the advantages and disadvantages of Stake-To-Play, let’s see how it is implemented in practice.
Words3 is a PvP word puzzle game developed by the game studio Small Brain Games based on MUD. Similar to word puzzle games, the goal of players in Words3 is to form words and earn points from them. However, Words3 is actually more like a gamified spelling game and combines S2P, where players have to pay ETH for each letter they place in the game. The price of letters changes throughout the game based on the demand for using them, and the price will be dynamically adjusted according to the VRGDA algorithm. The speed of letter sales higher or lower than the target speed will trigger price increases or decreases.
All the ETH spent by players in a round will be put into a prize pool, which is distributed based on the profitability as the criteria for “winning” the game. The goal of Words3 is to maximize profitability, either by earning more ETH through playing words and then spending more money to create words. Words3 launched its first mainnet game on Base on August 9th and lasted for four days, with a total of 122 players participating and a cumulative prize pool exceeding $22,000.
Overall, Words3 greatly increases the risk, novelty, and fun of the game through the use of S2P. The fluctuation of letter and word prices adds a new layer of strategy that does not exist in other word-building games. However, the use of VRGDA pricing provides too much advantage for early players who can collect rent by placing the first word. I also believe that there is a possibility of pay-to-win due to the absence of an upper limit on the amount of ETH each player can spend. Nevertheless, the ability to create custom games with different time limits, pricing features, and expenditure limits will greatly alleviate these issues.
Rhascau is a turn-based racing game developed by Minters and running on Arbitrum Nova. In the game, players hop on a ship and aim to complete a lap around the track. Just like blockchain board games, players roll virtual dice to determine how far their spaceship can move. In their turn, players can also use abilities to attack and immobilize other ships and further move on the board. Rhascau implements the S2P mechanism in its paid game mode, where players have to put a certain amount of ETH into the prize pool, which will be distributed to the winners. Free mode players do not involve any stakes in the game.
The S2P mode of Rhascau allows players to choose whether they are willing to take the risk of losing hard-earned ETH, which can help Rhascau and other games that want to implement S2P, while attracting casual players who want stress-free entertainment and hardcore players who want to increase their stakes.
The potential of S2P games
Third-party prize pool
The underlying game itself does not necessarily have to implement Stake-To-Play in its base contract. The underlying game can remain free and leave the implementation of the S2P prize pool to third-party developers. For example, in the current version of Sky Strife, it is a free PVP real-time strategy (RTS) game and participation in matches does not require payment. However, developers can build an “S2P layer” on top of Sky Strife, where players can participate in the game by paying ETH. We can also see the community, brands, and other projects using it to create and sponsor tournaments without having to deal with or hold any funds. This can not only create intense, high-risk Sky Strife games, but also create revenue streams for developers building this infrastructure.
On-chain gambling market
Gambling is becoming an important part of society, with many people having placed bets on sports gambling. Data provides strong evidence of this, with gambling revenue in the United States more than doubling from 2020 to 2022 alone. Therefore, this demand has the potential to be transformed into on-chain games, where developers build protocols for players to bet on the outcomes of different PVP matches. This could help games like Words3 increase their prize pools to millions of dollars, considering the ability to leverage the global liquidity pool of cryptocurrencies, or even reach billions of dollars, given the scale of the DeFi and gambling industries. However, doing so may have significant regulatory risks and require efforts to combat manipulation to prevent players from abandoning the game.
Stake-to-Play is a design trend in on-chain games. We see early iterations of S2P implemented in games like Words3 and Rhascau, which, although in need of improvement, demonstrate the powerful functionality of this mechanism. When combined with the open, composable, and permissionless nature of on-chain games, S2P may promote growth and unlock a range of new applications.