A Good Game Economy For Blockchain Games
There is more to your game economy than just your in-game store content or your revenue that comes from it. Essentially, it’s a system of game loops designed to enhance your gameplay and engage your players. The more you craft and balance these loops, the better your analytics dashboard metrics will be. Revenue is just a part of it.
It’s first necessary to figure out what data you’ll present to players so they can understand how their actions within the game world have impacted things like currency used for purchases or skills/levels/character advancement.
In order to provide players with opportunities to advance, you need to determine what economic activities will drive your game forward. These activities may involve spending a lot of currency (like buying land) or simply performing repetitive tasks (like beating enemies).
Last but not least, you’ll need to decide when players will be rewarded for participating in these activities. Are there any restrictions on how many hours can be spent playing the game? In exchange for performing virtual labour in the game’s economy? Or both? It might even be a good idea to reward players differently according to how much they invested in your game.
As play-to-earn or play-and-earn is just an extension of games economies, with a blockchain maintaining this aspect, we can have a deeper look into existing Tripple-A games and how they design their economy to provide a thriving economy.
Economy = Ressources
A game economy is the flow of resources in a game and its system. This can include anything from weapons, clothing, crafting material, experience points and money. What components belong to this economy of course differs from game to game but in most games you can break down the economy to five blocks, which can be described as:
The Faucet, The Inventory, The Converter, The Sink and The Trader.
The faucet is responsible for creating new resources. This could be stone or iron for weapons and ammo, monsters and enemies for XP or meat for food and health. With the faucet you can control the players behavior. If you want them to explore your game place resources they need in specific parts of your map or let them travel to find new enemies to level-up their XP. With a wrong balanced faucet in blockchain games, where resources can be harvested to easily, bots come into play, that have an unfair advantage over normal players. To avoid this you could create different seasons on different parts of your map, that offer season depending resources. In “winter-region” you can find bear skins for better protection and in “summer-region” you can find more food to heal again or get stronger. Another idea is to implement time restricted resources, that can only be found on specific in-game-events and help you to level-up faster, create rare weapons or clothing.
The inventory holds all resources a player collected or bought. In a blockchain game, where every resource is a token and can be traded, this topic takes on a whole new meaning. A player can buy everything he needs without even playing the game. Obvious misaligned incentives are created and decreases the risk of alienating long-term players. A lot of web2 games limit the amount of resources a player can keep in his inventory. This adds a layer of complexity as the player has to think, which items he will keep and which ones he will sell or simply give away. A possibility to create the right incentives is generating special missions or events where players are rewarded higher, than in “normal” missions. To participate in these special events you need resources like weapons and skins, that can only be found in the game. The clue is, that they also can’t be traded but could still be in your wallet as a soulbound token. This will show, that you’re an active part of the community and actually play the game.
The converter, as the name states, changes one or many resources into another. This helps to reduce resources, that enter the game via the faucet. The converter also helps to encourage a decision making. Every time a player enters the shop he has to decide, how to best spend the collected crafts, coins or XP they have on what they think will help them in their journey the most. A good converter has to have some sort of tradeoff for the player. In a game with 5 resources this tradeoff could be, that every resource levels-up a different area of the player (weapons, armors, XP, e.g.). In addition every resource can be found in various parts of the game, so the player has to decide in which area to stay and if he wants to level-up his weapons, armor or XP first. Another possibility is to limit the resources the longer the game progresses or the higher the level or the weapon, armor, e.g. is. It should not be to easy to level-up game items so players, who spend a lot of time and effort in the game are able also able to sell their assets for a high and fair prize regarding their expenses.
The sink is the other block, that reduces resources or items coming from the faucet and maybe even the converter. The difference between the converter and the sink is, that the sink permanently removes resources from the game. There are different ways to do this, for example every time you use a weapon its efficiency gets reduced or when you fight an enemy and you get hurt your health sinks. This increases the game’s complexity and slows down the players growth. In blockchain games there’s also the possibility to completely destroy player’s items by burning their token. This is an option that should be used with caution, as it can be very frustrating for players. However, features can also be included that allow the player to protect their items, such as special skins or armor. However the sink is applied it is the perfect way to add risk to the game as a whole.
The trader is an individual who buys and sells resources on their own. In a single-player game, a trader can act as a shop, but in multiplayer, they will have resources and inventory of their own. Through multiple trades with different traders, players can purchase items for “cheap” through their ingenuity. In web2 game economies, this is one of the rarer blocks to have in the game but they add an entirely new level of complexity to the game and in most web3 games this is the block developers focus the most on and one of the reason why a lot of play-to-earn games fail as they have the wrong focus.
As it should be evident by now, you can’t design a good and sustainable gaming economy without also ensuring the other blocks of the game economy are just as well thought out as the trader block. But what we’re still mostly seeing in web3 games is the means of trading being worked on rather than the economy as a whole. Another important part is building up a good and busy community. Of course this can be done by social media but also in-game by raid events, where players have to work together to beat tough enemies or solve difficult missions. To build up this social in-game system is probably one of the most sustainable and important parts when building a game.