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Web3 mobile games are on the horizon, ready or not

Whether embraced with open arms or met with skepticism, the integration of blockchain within mobile gaming is not just a possibility — it’s an impending reality.

As the figures and trends from recent years illuminate, mobile gaming’s ascendancy is undeniable. Coupled with the shifting dynamics of in-game purchases transforming gaming economies, a new era beckons, an era where Web3 will take center stage. 

The reasons are manifold: Enabling a new transaction paradigm, instant expansion for players and publishers to a global marketplace and genuine digital asset ownership. These facets make it clear that the gaming world is poised for a Web3 overhaul. It’s not so much a matter of “if” but “when.” 

Gamers might have reservations or display hesitancy, but industry dynamics suggest a clear direction. The convergence of mobile gaming and Web3 is on the horizon, ready to reshape the industry, irrespective of whether every individual gamer is on board.

The meteoric rise of mobile gaming

The world of gaming has seen an exponential growth trajectory, with mobile gaming leading the charge. 

In 2022, the valuation of the global gaming market reached an impressive $184.4 billion. Mobile gaming, bolstered by the increasing ubiquity of smartphones around the globe, carved out a staggering $92.2 billion from this total, meaning half of the global gaming revenues were derived from mobile games alone. 

This dominance leaves conventional platforms, including console and PC gaming, striving to catch up. The allure of mobile gaming is multifaceted: Not only does it provide the convenience of gaming virtually anywhere and anytime, but it also offers immersive experiences designed for brief yet meaningful sessions. 

The “perception” of Web3 gaming is not the reality

Web3 gaming’s current bad rap was actually well earned. 

Critics have asserted that blockchain games are boring, costly and cumbersome to play, and that they appeal solely to technical minds and speculators. There’s also debate about excessive gas fees, with some even dismissing all Web3 games as not genuine gaming experiences. A few go as far as to brand NFTs as deceptive and challenge the real relevance of blockchain within the gaming world. 

The reality is that these criticisms were accurate. However, huge amounts of time, resources and funding have been pointed at solving these issues.

Those watching closely are seeing that the page has turned. As of now, more than 35 Web3 games have over 5,000 active players daily, marking an increase from the previous year. Breakthroughs such as embedded wallets, zero gas blockchains and instant block times, among others, have paved the way. This progression has smoothly integrated blockchain tech into the gaming scene, making it more of a foundational element than a main attraction.

It’s evident that the earlier skepticism around blockchain gaming is diminishing, and the line between conventional and blockchain gaming will blur in no time.

Mobile gaming’s economic success doesn’t solely rest on the vast number of players it attracts; the revenue model that mobile games employ plays a pivotal role. And central to this model is the presence of in-game purchases. No longer confined to mere aesthetic enhancements or gameplay shortcuts, these purchases have become core components that drive the in-game economy.

The assets that users purchase — ranging from exclusive character skins to in-game abilities — provide players with both gameplay advantages and bragging rights. As the digital economies within games have matured, in-game purchases have morphed from being simple microtransactions to vital elements that not only enrich the gaming experience, but also encourage sustained player engagement and investment.

These aren’t just about acquiring assets anymore, they’re about owning digital properties in a Web3 framework. Players will soon recognize the heightened value of their in-game assets, pushing them further into the embrace of blockchain-driven gaming realms. And as these in-game economies mature, the shift from simple microtransactions to essential Web3-based transactions becomes inevitable.

At the heart of this transformation lies the capabilities of blockchain technology.

Blockchains open up a whole new world of transaction and marketplace activity. Through the use of modern blockchain technology such as “gas-free transactions,” microtransactions can live in a seamless manner within gameplay. The concept of “programmable money” via smart contracts can truly come to life within mobile gameplay. 

Rather than limiting the marketplace for in-game items to the app itself, the game can have a storefront in any NFT marketplace while still earning royalties via smart contracts. This gives far greater flexibility to game players and game developers/publishers. 

Read more from our opinion section: Web3 should never, ever grow up

Blockchains also allow players to truly own assets via in-game NFTs. Not only do they wholly own the asset, but they can play to improve its utility and eventually sell it in a marketplace to other game players. This notion of true ownership and asset liquidity adds a layer of real-world value to in-game items. The implication is profound: If players know their items can be sold or traded, they may be more incentivized to dive further into in-game economies, knowing their assets hold tangible value beyond the screen.

As we stand at this intersection of technology, innovation and gaming passion, it’s crucial to recognize that the impending fusion of Web3 and mobile gaming is more than just a passing trend — it’s the dawn of a revolutionary epoch. 

Drawing from the evolution of mobile gaming’s economic structure to the undeniable pull of blockchain’s transformative potential, the direction is unambiguous. Web3 integration, offering genuine digital asset ownership and decentralized economies, isn’t merely an industry’s adaptation — it’s a redefinition of gaming’s essence. While individual sentiments among gamers may vary, and the pace of acceptance might differ, the industry’s trajectory toward a Web3-based future is set.

Jack O’Holleran is Co-Founder and CEO of SKALE Labs, the team behind SKALE, the world’s fastest blockchain, designed for ultra-fast, secure, user-centric Ethereum scaling. Jack is a veteran Silicon Valley Technology entrepreneur with a deep background in machine learning/AI technologies and blockchain. Formerly, Jack co-founded IncentAlign (now Aktana) and held executive positions at Good Technology and Motorola. Jack first started working with digital currencies in 2008 when he was instrumental in building a digital currency platform for Enterprise Resource Allocation.

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