How Black Video-Game Makers Are Sharing Revenue And Creative Control With Players On The Blockchain
Imagine playing a video game that pays you dividends. Perhaps another game allowing you to create skins or rewards and then sell them for profit. Still another game letting you vote on its development. This is not fantasy. This is the empowerment of blockchain gaming.
Three black founders — NFTYCO’s Casmir “Cas” Patterson, CinemaDraft’s Edwardo Jackson, and Finite Games’ Jomari Peterson — recently discussed how aspects of their games differ from corporate manufactured games as we know them in a panel discussion in May. The three founders produce games yielding profits and creative control to game players – all managed by the automated computerized network known colloquially as blockchain.
Patterson, Peterson, and Jackson spoke about their ventures in a panel discussion produced by Black People & Cryptocurrency called “NFTy Thrills: Examining NFT & Predictions Gaming Blockchain Models.”
NFTs or non-fungible tokens are non-monetary cryptocurrency tokens that represent unique creatives such as a piece of art, a song or an audio file. The owner who issues or creates an NFT allows others to further innovate or buy or resell them.Deidre McIntyre, founder of Black People & Cryptocurrency
Blockchain is essentially a group of computers owned by many different people but running shared software. These computers, called nodes, can be any type from a personal computer to a corporation’s computer. They can also be based in any nation on earth. Some of the jobs of these computers are to store records of transactions (activities such as an exchange of cryptocurrency, the cast of a vote, or the transfer of tokenized ownership). Other computers in a blockchain can process, secure, verify, and/or anonymize those transactions. For instance, Bitcoin, the first blockchain launched in January 2009, now has about 10,000 nodes (computers) dispersed throughout the world that are doing the work and storage of its blockchain.
Of course with more than 6,000 cryptocurrencies and counting, there are many blockchains beyond Bitcoin. One of the biggest blockchains that allows companies to build software on top of it is Ethereum. Companies such as IBM and Amazon build on top of Ethereum’s blockchain so all the nodes of Ethereum provide the data support, security, and transaction work of anyone putting a company on top of that network. Another up-and-coming blockchain platform is Tron, one that also lets people build software apps – better known as dApps or decentralized apps – on its platform. One can even build software on top of Bitcoin itself by way of third-party ventures such as Omni Layer or Counter Party. In any case, the game producers in our panel discuss why they build on blockchain.
Software can be built on top of these blockchains in such a way that the computers in the network provide the storage, security, verification, and sometimes anonymity for the software created on top of the platform.
For instance, Patterson created the first digital collectible sneaker on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Anyone who buys a SneakrCred, the name of NFTYCO’s sneaker token, released digital sneaker is assured that Ethereum is verifying the digital token’s existence and transfer between owners. SneakerCred launched Valentine’s Day 2020 and is the first sneaker token of its kind.
Patterson’s, as well as Peterson’s, ventures both use NFTs or non-fungible tokens, which are non-monetary cryptocurrency tokens that represent unique creatives such as a piece of art, a song, an audio file, etc. The owner who issues or creates an NFT allows others to further innovate or buy/resell them. So, Patterson releases sneakers with different designs and some with a blueprint as NFTs. The new owners of these digital sneakers can go on to sell them to others or can customize a blueprint to their own unique design and sell those all without having to obtain permission from Patterson. The blockchain verifies the activity and prevents forgery.
Patterson is CEO and co-founder of NFTYCO, a company that is working to create other collectibles game makers can embed as part of their rewards/marketplace structure and still allow those players who attain the NFTs to resell the bounties in online, blockchain-based marketplaces within or beyond the games themselves. This process nets revenue in transaction fees from the resales that physical-world reselling of collectibles often does not. Companies selling physical sneakers, trading cards, and other physical-world collectibles do not readily benefit from customer resales. Blockchain-created collectibles can.
Even without a game, Patterson’s SneakrCred shoe releases are entirely exchangeable in marketplaces now. One SneakrCred buyer exchanged what amounts today to about a USD $19 sneaker buy to a USD $2,500 exchange gain. All conducted in Ether (Ethereum’s coin) and fully viewable on the blockchain for transparency. SneakrCred went live on Valentine’s Day 2020.
“We are excited about our next airdrop of SneakrCred digital sneakers known as Legendary DNA because a portion of the proceeds will go to fund athletic scholarships of Mamba Academy,” Patterson noted, sharing her design below. She added, “Many people might not know I played basketball for my alma mater DePaul University and played after college overseas. Like everyone who loves the game, Kobe Bryant’s death and the rest of the victims of the helicopter crash earlier this year hurt deeply. I was that athlete passionate about the game. This sneaker is designed by Ken Freshh and plays homage to (Michael) Jordan, (Kobe) Bryant, and of course the Ethereum platform.”
Finite Games’ Peterson likes the idea of limits to creative tokens. His gaming startup produces a rock-paper-scissors game called RoShamBo issuing unique NFTs that have a limited issuance. So, game players can win unique prizes that they can then sell to others – risking the inability to acquire it again – or take these unique rewards with them as part of their possessions into other blockchain games.
“Because the smart contracts are public, it is possible to reskin the entire gameplay experience. Which means even if Finite Games goes out of business the games and experience can continue,” Peterson explained. “Owners will also be able to create tournaments with their cards [purchased for gameplay] and use [them] for special events.”
Revenue from in-game card exchanges among players is also shared among game players. The NFTs earned can still be valuable and used by the gameplayer within other game systems. Peterson has not decided if his NFTs will reside on the Ethereum blockchain since Tron, another cryptocurrency and platform, is among those that has NFT capabilities as well.
Jackson is using the Tron blockchain in a different way. His predictions-based game CinemaDraft lets game players create a roster of actors before premiere weekends of their respective shows. The game players predict which actors’ projects will do better than others while competing with other game players in a format that operates similar to daily fantasy sports games found on DraftKings or FanDuel. In Jackson’s game, blockchain verifies the locked-in answers and determines the winners based on film industry reports as compared to the game’s locked-in rules points structure.
CinemaDraft’s CD3D in-game token economy employs a variation of the system known as Proof of Weak hands that shares the revenue of transaction fees with all the players who hold the token. Thus, it gives players and speculators alike a chance of earning funds whether they play the game or not – and providing winners with extra monetary gravy. All that math is locked in the game’s smart contract (an automated series of code rules and instructions to execute results) that cannot be arbitrarily stopped or edited by the player nor owner. So, in Jackson’s game, players become dividend earners all while fees also support the growth of the company.
“Despite having what I considered to be a standalone good idea that had already been market-validated by a competing site, I found myself living the statistic of < 1% of African-American founders receiving venture capital. By using the proven, innovative, smart contract model upon which CD3D is based, I discovered a path to revenue and self-funding that did not rely upon the somewhat arbitrary nature of traditional VC funding,” Jackson explained how his development choices are providing self-funding opportunities.
All three startup founders are using blockchain to change the dynamics of game ownership and creative control. Listen to the recent “NFTy Thrills: Discussing NFT & Predictions Gaming Blockchain Models” panel below as the founders share more about their expertise, vision, and plans.
Deidra McIntyre is the founder of Black People & Cryptocurrency (BPC), a Facebook group launched in September 2017 as a place for members to exchange knowledge, participate in live stream events, and network. BPC’s goal is to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem supporting black-led blockchain startup founders linked to HBCU students managing on-campus blockchain labs. Reach her at Linkedin.com/in/deidra or Facebook.com/deidramc