How can game design help?

What makes a crypto game good? Some would say that the value of a crypto game is determined by its tokenomics. The questions of demand and supply quickly become the center of the discussion if one follows this logic, but it is far from the only question of importance.

In fact, it is something that receives almost no attention from those in the crypto space. The question that needs to be answered before we can dig into what makes a crypto game good is, “what makes a crypto game a game?”

There are many answers to this question, but perhaps a commonly accepted answer in the gaming industry is “fun”. To really unpack what makes a crypto game a game, we first need to look at what makes them fun to play and the reasons to keep playing.

What exactly is “fun”?

Of course, to suggest that there is only one definition of fun would be a gross oversimplification because different people find different things fun.

However, that also doesn’t mean there aren’t any commonalities between the players. On the contrary, research has shown significant consistency between groups of gamers on what “fun” means to them.

Game designers classify them as: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers. This categorization, known as Bartle’s Taxonomy, divides gamers based on what they want from a game.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Achievers play to go further in the game and thrive when their mastery of the game is recognized. Explorers enjoy uncovering the secrets hidden within the game, and are motivated by “easter eggs” and learning more about the world the game presents to them.

Socializers spend time playing in order to meet new people and are motivated by social interaction with other players. In contrast, killers seek to dominate others in the game; any way a game lets them show off their power drives killers to play.

The main motivation for playing a game can be summarized as follows: achievers like to act on the game world, explorers like to interact with the game world, socializers like to interact with players, and killers like to act on players.

Understanding the Crypto Gaming Landscape

But where does this taxonomy leave us for crypto games?

Simply put, games need a healthy ecosystem of players to survive – domination of the player base by one particular group is neither sustainable nor desirable.

Moreover, crypto games have focused so much on the crypto aspect that they have neglected the “gambling” aspect of crypto games.

axie infinity
Image credit: Niko Partners

As the most successful crypto play-to-earn (P2E) game to date, it is perhaps most instructive to examine and deconstruct Axie Infinity as an example.

In Axie Infinity, players can collect and spawn tokens, called Axies. These Axies can then be used to fight against other players or to mine cryptocurrency.

Beyond that, there isn’t much else to do. The game is basically supported by those who keep playing to win money – no fun required.

Axie Infinity, as successful as it is, has already started showing issues in maintaining interest.

Its developers, Sky Mavis, recently raised transaction fees on their marketplace and offered a discount to content creators who successfully refer new players to the game. Axie Infinity.

Clearly, Sky Mavis hasn’t thought about the gameplay aspect of Axie Infinity to maintain a healthy player ecosystem and keep players invested in the game.

Axie Infinity is not the only one facing this problem. Since many P2E games follow the pattern set by Axie Infinity, this issue is actually common to most P2E games.

Selling crypto shouldn’t be the focus of crypto games

crypto games
Image Credit: Cryptopolitan

As seen earlier, current crypto games don’t really offer much in terms of gameplay – players essentially perform the same tasks over and over.

What really should be done for a crypto game to become more appealing to gamers is for developers to consider Bartle’s taxonomy and focus primarily on the look of the game, before incorporating features like crypto mining and P2E.

To get started, it can be helpful to consider what crypto games already have and what could be improved in terms of player retention.

Games like Axie Infinity already feature leaderboards, which can incentivize high achievers. However, the rankings currently only track two metrics: points and wins. To be more effective, rankings can be designed with other metrics and not all high achievers can be satisfied with limited metrics.

Some crypto games also appeal to socializers, with guilds, streamers, and other forms of social influencers, but a healthy mix of gamers should also include explorers and killers. Slayers provide a greater challenge for achievers, while Explorers discover better ways to optimize gameplay and discover better combinations that eventually trickle down to the rest of the community, allowing for higher levels of play and more. great challenges for all players.

Slayers can be incentivized by having a more engaging PvP element to games, which at this point is sorely lacking. Alternatively, game designers can include other ways for players to exert dominance – both strategic and mechanical.

Explorers meanwhile are asking game developers to find ways to better immerse players in the world they create. Creating scenarios, hidden areas or allowing for greater customization will provide explorers with reasons to keep playing. It is also something that has not received enough attention.

While that might seem hard to do for a crypto game – where the focus is on mining, fighting, and trading – the point that these games lack is that players don’t always need mine crypto to earn.

Games can incentivize mining and make it part of the game, but allowing players to craft items, control token customization, and measure success in ways other than points and payouts can significantly help retention. players. It also helps increase game depth, giving players more things to play and do.

tavern master
Image Credit: Tavern Master

And since all games have a currency, cryptocurrency can be the currency of choice in the gaming world. Players who want to earn money can go through the tedious process of mining or start a business in gambling, like running a tavern for example.

Ultimately, a cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange – it’s money. A market is not defined by having a large supply of money but rather by the different items that can be sold or bought, and the players who are there to buy and sell.

Designing a game where all players mine, mint and trade all day would be like creating a cryptocurrency and putting a game skin on it, without actually designing the game aspect of it.

Featured Image Credit: Cointribune

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