The worldwide videogaming industry is expected to grow by approximately 59 percent this year, topping sales of $100 billion by 2018, according to market researcher DFC Intelligence.
According to research firm Newzoo, the free-to-play Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) market is expected to generate $14.4 billion in global sales during 2015. MMOs provide an industry segment ideal for disruption by bitcoin. The ease of transactions, the lack of age restrictions, and the low cost of utility, provide Bitcoin solutions with a distinct edge.
There are already a large number of companies utilizing Bitcoin to provide access to gameing products and services; Industry titan Microsoft accepts Bitcoin, through a Microsoft account; Zynga accepts Bitcoin payment for Farmvilles in game currency, Farm Bucks; Bigfish Games, Green Man Gaming and the German game developer Bigpoint all accept bitcoin for online gaming or in game upgrades. Collectively, these companies put products in front of more than a billion users.
Bitcoin has the potential to replace many traditional revenue streams in this field. The crypto currencys unique properties allow it to be used in-game, replacing in game economies, as well as for purchases and rewards.
SaruTobi, is the first video game available from the iTunes store to use Bitcoin, incorporating a Bitcoin faucet. The game is currently rated 4 ½ stars, and according to Developer Christian Moss, downloads of the game have been as high as 2200 per day.
Gavin Andresen originally pioneered Bitcoin faucets, with freebitcoins. Debuting in 2009, freebitcoins gave Bitcoins to people for free. Bitcoin faucets still exist, handing out varying amounts, with some requiring the recipient to view a video, or an advert.
SaruTobi includes a faucet style element, and is the first iOS game to reward users with Bitcoin for playing. The game disperses a prize pool to the players 0.0001 bitcoin at a time. Moss claims games like this can be great tools for encouraging bitcoin adoption.
“I got a few emails from fathers who were pleased that their children could get into Bitcoin through the game, that was nice.”
— – Moss
While iTunes already offers bitcoin wallets, price tickers, and other Bitcoin centered apps like the Coinding scavenger hunt, SaruTobi is the first videogame where users can accrue bitcoins. Moss explains, “the initial release and was largely a test to see if Apple would approve such an app.”
The prize pool for players relied on donations. Moss told BNC, “we received around $700 in donations which was great but due to the game’s popularity it was used up in a week or two.”
Moss aims to address funding issues in a future version, “SaruTobi 2.0 will be released soon and will be partially funded by a large Bitcoin wallet service” He continued, “I am also replacing the in-app iAds with custom adverts. This gives Bitcoin companies ad space in return for donations to the purse/pot. I’m hoping that this model will help keep the pot full.”
Bitcoin utilization in game is not unique to SaruTobi. Minecrafts’ BitMines holds the title of being the first bitcoin using videogame of all time, and used bitcoin as an in game currency. It is similar to the current minecraft world of BitQuest.
In both of these worlds bitcoin ‘bits’ were represented as emeralds, and could be earned and traded for other items. To get bits out of BitQuest, players have to take the emeralds to a bank in their realm and put them into an enchanted chest. BitQuest then sends the same amount of Bits to an external Xapo Bitcoin Wallet, through the Xapo API.
A flappy bird style game, Coinflapper also provides bits for playing. There is a constant supply of bits during normal gameplay, and an element of competition. In tournament mode 3 players contribute bits, and the winner receives the prize pool.
“Skill-based gaming has a well-established legal, social and commercial history. From classic board games to major sports tournaments, games of skill have long offered participants a chance to compete based on one’s ability.”
— – coinflapper.com
Besides Coinflapper’s tournament mode, Gambit desktop games include bitcoin prize pools, “If you want to make it a little more exciting, deposit Bitcoins and make a wager!” – Gambit.com.
Gambits Bitnopoly board is similar in style to the classic Monopoly, replacing properties like the Boardwalk with famous bitcoin companies like Coinbase. All games on Gambit can be played for free.
Currently in development, Spells of Genesis (SOG) aims to take Bitcoin integration one step further. By including bitcoin and blockchain technology into both its game economy and its storyline. SOG provides the combination of a trading card game and arcade game, with Gems as its in game currency.
“Mines are tradable assets which produce gems, the premium currency in the upcoming game Spells of Genesis. You can use these gems to enhance your gaming experience, or you can choose to sell them to other players and in this way get your investment back.” – Spellsofgenesis.com
LeetCoin aims to corner a separate corner of the market, claiming to be ,”the first skill-based eSports platform where players can compete against each other in their favorite video games for bitcoin.” LeetCoin’s slogan on its steam page is "Beat your friends and take their money".
LeetCoin is attempting to offer video game prizefights across many different platforms. Their focus is on popular games like League of Legends, Team Fortress and Counter strike in multiplayer mode, where players put their bits in at the start of a round and the players with the most skill takes home the prize pool.
Founder and CEO Kingsley Edwards, told BNC that they now have over 1,500 players signed up, “Our team worked hard last year to support League of Legends on our platform. This year we are focused on user acquisition.” Edwards continued, “Some other things we are working on include tipping (or gifting) in-game and possibly even trading digital game items on the blockchain.”
The last thing he told BraveNewCoin was, “One of [our] goals is to make bitcoin THE gaming currency.” To help with this LeetCoin offers a free API to game companies, providing quick integration of LeetCoin services.
“It helps developers attract a competitive playerbase, and monetize their games. Players are able to compete against each other for bitcoin in real-time with immediate payouts.” states Leetcoin.com, “There are many possibles with our API: team based per-match rewards, per-round rewards, per-frag rewards, 1v1 matches, weekly leaderboard payouts, etc. The implementation is completely up to the developer.”
Oddly, a few Bitcoin games out there don’t use bitcoin in any way, but are about the subject of bitcoin nonetheless. BitcoinBillionaire is a game for iOS and has become an extremely popular mobile game, rating 5 out of 5 stars on gaming review sites.
According to SaruTobi’s Christian Moss, independent gaming is embracing bitcoin, but there is still a long way to go. “I can definitely see the use of micro-transactions having a strong place in video gaming,” he says. “Whether this will be Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency I’m not sure. I can say I have been [contacted] by a few companies who are exploring this space, specifically whether they can use Blockchain technology.”
He went on to say that we should look forward to a time when grassroots efforts put pressure on the larger game manufacturers;
“I think if enough successful indie games use Bitcoin there may be a tipping point where larger studios will come on board.”
— – Moss
While the majority of the games in this article are age restricted, Bitcoin provides a unique aspect for financial disruption. Touched on by Moss; Before Bitcoin, children required access to bank accounts, or credit cards to make online purchases. With bitcoin, kids are empowered to spend money all across the web and even earn some back doing what they want to do more than any other demographic: Playing video games.