Arch Gate vs NFTs and blockchain

14 December 2021

In gaming, NFTs and blockchains are SO hot right now. We wanted to share our thinking concerning these technologies in Arch Gate. With enough cryptology and relevant computer science background in our team, luckily, we are able to evaluate the situation.

Generally, decentralized cryptocurrencies show a lot of promise. No one, not even big authoritarian governments can touch your coins. Some quirks need to be solved, like the enormous power consumption or high transaction fees. But that is doable. Nice!

So, what about gaming? Should we put items on a blockchain? Could players use them in multiple games across publisher ecosystems or metaverses? Earn while playing a game? Sell these items for a profit?

Here, the situation is a bit different because you own only a small record on the blockchain saying an item belongs to you. But the interpretation of how the item looks or what it does is up to the game developer. It’s no longer fully decentralized because a lot important stuff happens off the chain and is controlled by one or more parties you must trust. Moreover, you must trust they will play nice together. In this situation, blockchain becomes a low performance distributed database. In Arch Gate, all the unique items along with the history of ownership are still perfectly doable the old fashioned way.

What if, theoretically, all the game simulation happened on the blockchain? Every movement, every shot would be a blockchain transaction. One of our devs had a student who did a master thesis trying to do just that, as an academic experiment! The resulting game protocol showed some usability for slow paced turn based games,  but it is not practical for real time networked action combat. And even if performance was not an issue, if we wanted to achieve what cryptocurrencies do, but in gaming, there could be no authoritative developer, the evolution of the protocol would need to happen by consensus. Do we want players to develop their own games? Who provides the artistic vision?

Let’s move on and discuss the monetary aspect. Is it a good idea to intertwine real world finances with in-game systems? It depends on who you ask… For us, no. The integrity of game design comes first. We want our game systems to be fun and fair. We are categorically against loot boxes, pay-to-win, pay-for-convenience, or other systems that incentivize the developer to make the game grindy, less fun or cater to their biggest “whales”. We don’t want real world economic pressure to influence in game systems, we want to provide high quality escapism!

Furthermore, when earning real money is on the table, it tends to attract people who behave more like speculative investors than gamers. In the short term, this can bring a lot of users, but the long term health of the community is at risk. We want happy players, not a ton of fake accounts and bots.

Finally, when the game implicitly promises returns, it becomes a kind of an investment scheme or a financial product. This may attract unwanted attention from government regulators.

Of course, we may have overlooked something and if new info comes to light, we can reevaluate, but right now, there are no plans on implementing blockchain, NFTs or supporting real money transactions in Arch Gate.