Stop calling them NFTs: Web3 Gaming boss speaks out amid player backlash
by James · March 14, 2023
Web3 gaming is on the rise, but it has yet to find a wider audience beyond crypto. Developers attempting to introduce digital assets (like NFTs), meanwhile, have faced fierce backlash from players who see them as nothing more than another cynical cash grab in an industry that often plays nickel-and-dime games.
“There’s some bad branding around NFTs in general,” Chris Gonsalves, CEO of Web3 esports platform Community Gaming, told Decrypt at ETH Denver. “Game developers should move to calling them digital assets, digital collectibles, [or] legendary skins. Players are used to buying skins; they are used to buying goods.”
Aiming to change that perspective, Community Gaming announced today that it has joined Game7 – a DAO focused on Web3 gaming – to launch the 3XP Gaming Expo June 8-9 in Los Angeles. It will take place ahead of the games industry’s traditional E3 convention from 13-16. June.
Community Gaming is the official esports partner of the 3XP Expo, which will also feature companies such as Ava Labs, Polygon Labs, Coinbase, Magic Eden, Yield Guild Games, MoonPay and Phantom, as well as the respective makers of Web3 games STEPN, BR1 and EV .io.
In Gonsalve’s view, the slow adoption of Web3 games can be linked to low-quality experiences with incorrect tokenomics and even outright fraud that damages the industry’s reputation.
“Let’s just be real: a lot of these games were bad, they had promises they couldn’t live up to,” he said. “We had the profile picture craze confusing the issue, and players thinking that NFT technology is purely images of expensive animal art.”
While the previous crop of Web3 games left something to be desired for many gamers, Gonsalves sees a bright future as more and more traditional game studio veterans enter the space – including from major publishers like Activision Blizzard and Riot Games.
“They know what it takes to build a game,” he said. “They know how long it takes, which is why they don’t call them NFTs, and they don’t lead with ‘rah rah blockchain’ and tokenomics.”
Gonsalves said these developers make fun games that can stand toe-to-toe with titles that players spend hours playing — like Valorant, Call of Duty and Hearthstone.
Last month, a group of video game industry veterans teamed up to form Web3 gaming company Avalon Corp, raising $13 million in funding in a round led by Bitkraft Ventures with participation from Hashed, Delphi Digital, Coinbase Ventures and others. Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins is also involved in Web3 gaming, which joined gaming startup Games for a Living to develop games based on blockchain technology.
Such moves could be indicative of the kind of shift Gonsalves sees ahead, as more and more seasoned game developers bring their knowledge into the Web3 world – developing immersive games that put fun over economics. Digital asset ownership and potential token rewards don’t mean much if people don’t actually want to play the game.
“[Gamers] is not going to appreciate it if the game is not fun, Gonsalves said. “So the focus has really shifted to higher quality games [with Web3 features] which is only additive to that experience.”
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