Mysten Labs Game Product Director How Does Sui Asset Ownership Improve the Game Experience?

Mysten Labs Game Product Director on Sui Asset Ownership's Impact on Game Experience

Recently, we interviewed Bill Allred, the Game Product Director of Mysten Labs, to explore why Sui is very suitable for games.

He shared his views on the key innovations of Sui and the value it brings to game developers. The key innovations of Sui help developers turn their imagined games into reality.

Below is the content of this interview:

Q1. Can you talk about what qualities of certain games are particularly attractive to players?

A: Game designers often mention a framework called Bartle’s Taxonomy. This paper has been published for many years and it describes four types of players. This is a good starting point for thinking about what makes a game interesting or attracts players to play. The four types of players are Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and the fourth type called Killers in the paper. The term “Killers” is a bit too aggressive, so sometimes people refer to it as Competitors.

Achievers are mainly motivated by progress. They compete with themselves and the game world with the goal of achieving success and improving their character level. Explorers are mainly motivated by exploring the game world, so they spend a lot of time wanting to explore all the content provided by the game. They tend to prefer open-world games or games that have no fixed path and are more open. Socializers prefer to interact with other players. Many casual games belong to this type, but you will also see some competitive games with social coordination belonging to this category. The last type is those who just want to win and they want to defeat other players.

Obviously, games and players are complex, so no game or player completely fits into any of these four categories. But most games, especially those with a large audience, have various modes or gameplay to accommodate these different player types and have clever ways to interact between different player types.

Q2. What are the benefits and challenges of applying blockchain technology to games? Does it help improve the ability to design for these four roles?

A: I think the infrastructure is not specific to a particular role, the infrastructure actually applies to products like games. The earliest form of games was people buying physical game cartridges from stores. They would play the game, and when they were done, they could exchange game cartridges with friends or consign them in stores to get a partial refund to buy new games. After consuming all the game content, they could still profit from the game, which is part of the game and an important component of the player’s social experience.

Then, the gaming industry gradually shifted towards digital downloads and free play. We often talk about the free play mode on mobile platforms, but in fact, free play has been around for a long time. It is not only a business model, but also a distribution model. This model allows players to try out the game and then charge them when they want to consume more content. This is a good model for digital content distribution. Therefore, in the past few years, free play has become the main game business model. Game companies provide games for free and then charge for specific digital assets and experiences within the game.

When other conditions are the same, having digital assets is better than not having them. In my opinion, this is actually very simple. I got involved in the gaming industry at Zynga. We observed that people had very interesting experiences when playing simple casual games. They bought digital assets to express their personality, interact with friends, and enhance their gaming experience when choosing game structures. But every game has a lifecycle. When the game lifecycle ends, players actually have nothing to prove their efforts and they cannot keep the digital assets they have acquired. I believe that blockchain infrastructure is just an evolution of the free play business model. It adopts the same model of providing digital content for free and charging for other digital content, and improves this model by adding the benefits of property rights and asset ownership.

For developers, I think there are potential benefits as well. Any game that reaches a certain level of economic activity will generate its own grey market. The in-game asset market is a market that developers cannot directly control. Blockchain can allow developers to participate in economic activities that happen outside of the games they create. This is an interesting way for developers to redefine the value exchange between them and players.

Q3, Are there any other features you want to emphasize to improve user experience and/or developer experience?

A: If we look at the development of blockchain in several main stages, Sui can be called the next generation of blockchain. Bitcoin invented the concept of digital currency, and before Bitcoin, there were various problems with online money transfers. The basic innovation of Bitcoin is that it solves the double spending problem and other core cryptographic problems, which is an amazing invention! Ethereum then appeared and popularized the concept of “how nice it would be if software programs could hold money like users?” So, while Bitcoin allows users to hold money, Ethereum popularized smart contracts, allowing programs to hold money. This opened up a whole new world for the application of blockchain. And for Sui, its concept is “what would happen if assets were the primary building blocks of blockchain, rather than just focusing on currency or accounts?”

We have seen the exchange of digital assets become a major use case for blockchain, but these chains are not designed for non-fungible assets. Sui is designed from scratch with a focus on asset exchange. In Sui, everything is object-oriented. It is built for modern applications, such as games with complex assets and multi-level relationships. In Sui, one object can own other objects. For example, in a game with hero characters, a hero character can have an inventory and other digital assets that belong to the character. Sui can accurately model these data hierarchies, something that other blockchains cannot do. Therefore, it provides developers an opportunity to express the applications they want to build without bypassing the fundamental limitations of the blockchain.

Q4, What do you think of the market’s view on Web3 games? What is the future development direction?

A: I believe that a great game is a great game, regardless of the infrastructure it is built on. When you pick up your phone and open your favorite game, you don’t think about whether the game is hosted on AWS or Google Cloud. It really shouldn’t make a difference for players, and historically it never has. Therefore, I don’t differentiate Web3 games from games built on other infrastructures. What I care about is creating great entertainment experiences in the gaming category. Moreover, I believe that the current situation and future development direction is that some of the best game developers are entering this field. Game developers who have built amazing large-scale games on other platforms choose to build games on blockchain infrastructure for their own reasons, because they see the ability to deliver the experience they envision to players.

I think there have been a few wrong starts in the Web3 gaming world, demonstrating an excessive financialization of games. Players don’t come to games to work, they come to games to escape reality, to immerse themselves in another world, to become a different character. It is fundamentally entertainment, competing with other forms of entertainment. So, what really matters is building great games, and the infrastructure is just a technical implementation that provides that experience.

Q5, Will the behavior or psychology of players change in Web3 games, especially when they own assets in the game?

A: This is one of the assumptions that blockchain infrastructure makes games better. Especially for mobile developers, they have faced real challenges in the past few years because there have been fundamental changes in advertising tracking technology on mobile platforms. These changes have indeed hindered their ability to target qualified players. For many free mobile games, acquiring users has become increasingly difficult. One benefit of blockchain for players is that it gives them a stronger sense of ownership, which may lead to higher engagement and/or longer retention rates. From a developer’s perspective, this impacts your business model. It increases the lifetime value of players, thus changing the economic model of user engagement.

The core assumption is that players will have different ways of participating in assets they truly own, which becomes an extension of their true selves in the game world. This changes their behavior and the essence of the gaming experience. It feels more like a community where you have ownership and belonging, rather than just being a visitor.

Q6, There are many new concepts in blockchain infrastructure, such as opening wallets or signing transactions, which may become barriers to entry for new users. How does Sui help developers build user services for those who just want to play a great game without dealing with Web3 technology details?

A: Sui’s design allows for new onboarding processes for Web3 applications. From creating wallets through social logins (such as using Google ID or Facebook ID), to very simple sponsored transactions that allow one account to pay gas fees on behalf of another account. For example, developers can sponsor the first few transactions for users and allow them to potentially skip cumbersome processes like KYC on exchanges and converting fiat into game tokens. Some of us have gone through this process and know how difficult it can be. Sui provides developers with tools to abstract the complexity for users.

Q7, What is your long-term vision for games on Sui?

A: My long-term vision is for every player in the world to have their digital assets securely stored on Sui.