Former Age of Empires producer talks blockchain gaming adoption and GameFi

Former Age of Empires producer talks blockchain gaming adoption and GameFi

The crypto ecosystem has spent over a decade proving it can disrupt the status quo as crypto and blockchain technologies such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain-based games go head-to-head against their mainstream counterparts.

While Bitcoin (BTC) has managed to move closer to mainstream adoption, the same cannot be said for other crypto sub-sectors. In the gaming world, blockchain games were given hype and passion equal to their mainstream competitors over the years.

However, challenging the status quo of an established industry is no easy feat. As a result, the blockchain gaming industry is tasked with delivering everything mainstream gaming offers, exceeding players’ expectations with new features and experiences.

Considering the potential of crypto innovations to disrupt the mainstream, the crypto community has not given up on GameFi – the fusion of gaming and finance. Building on the foundation laid by crypto entrepreneurs, mainstream gaming veterans have taken up the challenge of delivering a long-awaited comeback for the blockchain gaming industry.

For over 25 years, Peter Bergstrom worked at mainstream game publishers, including Microsoft Game Studios and Sony Interactive Entertainment. As the producer of Age of Empires, he saw what it takes for a game to have an impact across generations. Bergstrom has now stepped into the Web3 world to help bring blockchain games on par with traditional video games.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Bergstrom delves into the factors that make or break a game title. He shares his views on why blockchain gaming hasn’t taken off and what needs to be done to change that.

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Cointelegraph: Despite clear setbacks over the years, players and capital investors alike continue to bet heavily on the success of blockchain gaming and the GameFi ecosystem. When you look back and compare it to the traditional games industry, what do you think is missing? Is there a need to rebuild the ecosystem from scratch, or can we build on the existing winning formula known to the gaming industry for decades?

Peter Bergstrom: The traditional gaming industry has had decades to invent and fine-tune what players find exciting:

  1. A compelling challenge and conflict
  2. The balance between player strategy and how to deal with random events
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Exciting themes and history
  5. Rewards that are not just money based

The GameFi ecosystem hasn’t had time to come close to making points 1-4 compelling or competitive with traditional games. In terms of rewards, GameFi seems to have relied primarily on earning money/crypto and little else – very complex systems and not convincing to many players.

Also, there are no GameFi publishers that can come close to competing with the online (or retail) distribution systems of iOS, Android, Steam, Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo. Additionally, too little effort has been made to make boarding a GameFi game user-friendly or playing the game easily. Ease of use has largely been ignored.

CT: Will mainstream titles eventually enter blockchain/Web3 gaming?

PS: Eventually, AAA game developers will integrate Web3 […] and create hit titles. By using non-traditional forms of distribution, perhaps through developed social media, a new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered distribution platform, or an acquisition of an established Web2 publisher – Web3 games will eventually find a solid audience

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CT: In your experience working for one of the most iconic titles – Age of Empires (AOE) – what was the most crucial factor that helped the AOE franchise develop a relationship with fans and players that spanned generations?

PS: Age of Empires was and is great because you got to choose your own pace in the game. The games begin with you expanding a civilian population; You then build a military force to protect them, expand the civilian population to support the military, and gradually build your empire over the course of a battle. Some Age of Empires skirmishes can last for hours because the series puts more control in your hands by giving you more options, resulting in a slower, more deliberate and strategic playstyle.

Age of Empires games come in three basic modes: single-player campaign, single-player skirmish, and multiplayer. The campaign and skirmish modes are all about playing against the computer and trying to win a scenario. Multiplayer is a more hectic affair because the players are smarter and focus more on total military dominance than the computer.

Age of Empires Definitive Edition screenshot. Source: PCGamer

In Age of Empires, you can win peacefully by building and defending a wonder, such as the Great Pyramid or the Colosseum, holding it for 5-10 minutes, or by capturing relics, artifacts, and ruins and holding them for a set period of time. time. These win conditions have a lot in common with games like Civilization, emphasizing more than just military dominance.

CT: What is more important for mass adoption – a good gaming experience or more rewards?

PS: Both — There are no black and white answers in game design. What makes the gaming industry so successful is that brilliant game designers are constantly designing new and different ways to play and integrate this seamlessly into the rest of what’s already there. This is sure to happen with GameFi Web3 games as well. Not everything will happen at once, but a little bit at a time by different game designers and developers.

CT: Many believe that gaming, not payment, attracts players. Who is the primary target audience for the GameFi industry – crypto investors, gamers or both?

PS: It’s clear that gamers are the main target – GameFi is all about adding a new dimension of compelling gameplay to Web2 games. Crypto investors are the new Web3 financiers of games, venture capitalists (VCs) and individual investors – as opposed to the traditional Web2 publishing funding model which is primarily controlled and monopolized by large technology companies.

CT: What are your thoughts on the claim that, unlike NFTs, the GameFi ecosystem is less dependent on the price of cryptocurrencies?

PS: Because the GameFi tokens and its ecosystem are part of a proven business model that has experienced growth for 35 years, there are 3.09 billion players globally, generating $185 billion as of 2022. Some of these players are likely to be early adopters of Web3 games (which we have already seen in the Philippines with Axie Infinity). Even a 1% part of the gaming business amounts to 31 million players. Most business analysts look at the huge consumer installed base and likely incorporate that into their investment recommendations – thereby incentivizing investors where they should place their investments.

CT: In your experience, what can blockchain games do to repair their reputation and catch up with mainstream publishers?

PS: Players don’t care about the technology behind a good game. Drop the blockchain/NFT/play-to-earn (P2E)/metaverse/Web3 talk. Make a good game and incorporate invisible blockchain, NFTs, play and earn, AI, G5 or whatever to make a better game and players will buy. They don’t care if there’s a Unity or Unreal engine in the game – as long as it’s a good game. They just want an entertaining gaming experience – not a science lesson.

CT: What’s the fastest way to adopt GameFi – Mobile, PC, Consoles, Virtual Reality (VR)? And what does the full potential of GameFi look like to you?

PS: When it comes to accelerating GameFi adoption, PC takes the cake because it is the least monopolized by tech giants that oppose Web3 gaming. It’s also not hardware sales dependent like VR. However, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to predicting the future. That’s for our brilliant game designers and developers out there to make.

CT: Finally, what is your advice to the GameFi ecosystem founders and developers?

PS: After the investment boom of 2021 and 2022, 2023 is all about cutting costs and extending your financial runway, then building your game and inventing new, more attractive solutions to your gaming while you wait for the VC money to show up again. Also network for connections, alliances and partnerships with companies that are synergistic for you in your space. Exchanges, Tier 0,1,2,3 blockchains, metaverse builders, avatar plugins, Web3 game publishers, middleware providers etc. and, of course, never stop looking, and make friendly contacts with VCs and other investors.

Bergstrom concluded the discussion by highlighting that gaming will be the largest single user application for blockchain in 2023, bar none – given the size of the overall gaming market and current momentum.

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