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Read this before hiring a blockchain game development team

NFT and cryptocurrencies have successfully drawn the attention of many blockchain game developers, including big industry names such as Square Enix, GameStop, Konami, and Ubisoft. The latter even started its own blockchain platform – Quartz – to sell and exchange in-game cosmetic items. Many developers, publishers, and individual entrepreneurs are interested in rather new blockchain technology and continue experimenting to find more application methods for it. Nevertheless, not all of them know where to start and how to create a blockchain game that will work. So let's discuss the issues and their solutions together.

What are blockchain games?

Blockchain is basically a massive database of information but with a few peculiarities. First, it is uncensorable and immutable. Second, it is decentralized and open for everyone to see or use. Third, no one actually "owns" this database. Another incredibly important factor is that within a blockchain, there is provable ownership and history. The blocks of data within the blockchain are secured by a cryptographic element, so they cannot be compromised.

Naturally, blockchain games are titles that were built with this technology. So not only one entity holds a copy of the game but everybody, every active computer. It is possible thanks to smart contracts that decide the action on the blockchain. This means that if you play the game, any action you make (complete a quest, attack someone, unlock an achievement, etc.) generates a transaction. That transaction is then written into the blockchain, and everybody with a copy of the game can see the transaction.

Both players and developers recognize the immense potential in adapting this tech for gaming. Last year, Ubisoft announced that 5 of their new startups would be blockchain-based. Atari even created its own token and started a blockchain department to develop and promote NFT projects. So for publishers, it is about gaming evolution and discovering innovative ways to make more profits (obviously).

For gamers, on the other hand, it is pure interest in something new, something that can enhance the traditional experience and take it to the next level. On top of that, they gain incredible benefits due to the blockchain’s decentralized nature. For example, on centralized servers, a game dies whenever devs decide to kill it. With blockchain, people can continue playing even without dev support. It makes communication between creators and audiences much more meaningful and fruitful. Furthermore, such games are hack-proof, so no one can mess up your playing experience like it often happens on traditional public servers.

We cannot blame both parties for their desires, especially when they promise to stir up the entire industry. The only thing we firmly stand against is flooding the market with primitive, poorly designed games. It takes an experienced team of developers to create a traditional game, and you know that. But with blockchain solutions in the mix, you need even more: devs with a particular set of skills and knowledge of the tech, plus expert game designers that understand how to make all integrated systems work.

How are blockchain games different?

As we mentioned above, the mass integration of blockchain can significantly change the entire gaming industry. So here are our key points to back up this point of view.

Full control over digital items and assets with decentralized ownership. As you may know, blockchain allows you to tokenize in-game objects and transform them into NFTs (digital assets with unique attributes). This lets players claim ownership of their in-game stuff. In some cases, it is even possible to transfer items from one game to another. This way, all those items, cosmetics, and gear you earn truly belong to you, not to the developers.

A multiverse of games. Further popularization of blockchain games will result in the possible formation of a united gaming multiverse. In it, everyone will have their unique avatars that can switch between different game worlds while keeping their inventory, equipment, and other digital stuff.

Decentralized governance in games. It means that developers of such projects will have to talk with players and agree on game changes. If the audience does not agree to certain updates, then they can refuse these changes, and the devs will have to fork a new copy of the game. At the same time, the original title will remain intact with the previous deployment that it had and the previous gameplay as well.

The last aspect is incredibly important. It explains to us that the communication between the creators and their players has to be really strong, and they must agree on everything in a community-based fashion. Isn’t it great when you, as a part of the community, can have an impact on the game’s development?

One more thing: tokenomics

This is where things deviate from traditional game development. The term itself is a combination of “token” and “economy.” It implies that game design must revolve around economic systems taking into account the peculiarities of integrated blockchain solutions. So you are gonna need a detailed plan for building a token-based economy that includes various incentive methods to attract users, distribution mechanics, and a solid trading system.
In titles with blockchain, good tokenomics solves three main issues: makes the game interesting from the economic point of view, protects the players from risks, and assures long-term economic sustainability. Obviously, you will need economists and developers to design such a system and balance it well. Otherwise, there is a big chance that the system won’t produce any profit or fails to attract people. Poor tokenomics means a small player base, quick devaluation, and possible financial collapse of the game.

Healthy tokenomics is a cycle where players earn tokens by playing and expanding their collection. As you see, tokenomics is a fundamental aspect of any blockchain game. It attracts not just players, by the way, but investors as well. The success of your project, in the long run, is determined by the quality of your tokenomics.

Is the game development process different?

Blockchain game development is similar to producing a traditional game but with a special emphasis on the economy, trading mechanics, and support tools. As an example, we can briefly explain how we do it at Argentics. First, we begin with small talk with a client to get a better understanding of the project goals and specifics of the request. Then, when all basic questions are answered and details agreed upon, we follow the 6-step game development cycle.

Inception

Creating or revising a high-level Game Design Document is the bread and butter of any game development endeavor. It conveys the creative vision, mechanics, and key selling points of the product. Based on it, we define what must be done, in what order, and how. Once the GDD is bilaterally agreed upon by our Partner and us, we elaborate on it and prepare a Game Architecture Document.

Concepting and design

It all starts with concept art and raw sketches that lay the foundation for the entire project. Styes make not only fights but memorable games too! So it’s extremely important to select visual references that convey key game vibes.

Art production and development

At this stage, all art forms and mechanics are transformed into code to create a playable prototype that will serve as a foundation for further game development.

Testing/polishing

Our QA team inspects the game, nitpicking every little detail that seems off. This way, we can be sure that the final version of the product will work as intended, providing a perfect game experience.

Game release

A polished version of the game is ready to be shown to the world. Post-release support is also possible according to the contract.

But for all those aspects to work properly, you are going to need an experienced team that consists of both talented game designers and knowledgeable blockchain specialists. This brings up the question of expertise.

How to find a blockchain game development team?

If you played MMO games with trading systems, auction houses, and in-game stores, you should know how difficult it could be to make them function properly. And it gets even harder when you add blockchain trading. Projects with blockchain integrations require extra attention to game design as it has to factor in multiple aspects of a blockchain-based economy. Regular studios usually don’t have specialists for that kind of job, so they would rather seek an outsourcing development partner who knows how to make multiplayer games AND has experience with blockchain technology.

In such narrowly specialized departments, there are usually a few core teams: the first focuses on the blockchain network itself, the second on the economy and trading mechanics, and another one does research and documents all blockchain development processes. It is also good to have security and compliance experts familiar with cryptographic mechanisms (signatures, hash functions, etc.) and QA engineers for maintaining and testing your blockchain network (distributed computing, cryptography, and consensus protocols knowledge is required).

To avoid development problems, you must be sure that you have created a good conventional game with an eye-catching art style, cool mechanics, an interesting storyline, and so on. Why is this the best and safest way? Because your future blockchain game won’t be attractive to the audience without engaging content and juicy features, resulting in non-existent game retention.

If you are aiming to make your own blockchain game, Argentics studio is here to help with anything you might need. Whether it is full-cycle development or partial help with its elements, we have resources and expertise. Our game developers follow the latest trends and understand how modern blockchain development works. Therefore, every project can be neatly tailored to your requirements with maximum efficiency. Feel free to contact us any time, and we will get in touch!

Notable blockchain games

A few years ago, blockchain titles could not boast of high-quality and well-thought-out economies, especially in combination with cool game mechanics. Today we can finally say that the era of primitive niche projects has passed. The market is packed with high-quality games, and many more fantastic titles are yet to be released. Those could very well be conventional games without blockchain, but developers saw an opportunity in the tech, which made the final product even better.

For example, this tech gives the audience decentralized ownership over in-game assets (cosmetics, skins, equipment pieces, etc.). Or lets the players participate in the game development almost on par with the creators, thus making the community more influential than in other regular games. On decentralized servers, the game’s mechanics can be changed only when the majority of players approve the update. Furthermore, the devs cannot just abandon their creation and close all servers – as long as blockchain lives, and the project does too.

All these undeniable benefits can be found in modern blockchain games. Here are some of the most memorable niche representatives that we have played or impatiently waiting to be released.

Phantom Galaxies

For all those who are into mechs and Transformers themes, this game could be very well what the doctor ordered. A rich storyline — check. A galactic conflict between good and evil — check. Action-packed combat gameplay featuring your spaceship mech suit of choice — check. All mech-suits, Avatars, gear, and even game currency are available to players in the format of fungible (FT) and non-fungible tokens (NFT).
Right now, the game is in beta, but it already looks amazing with impressive cut scenes to accompany the main quest, convincing voice acting, and plenty of side missions and quests to embark on. Phantom Galaxies also promises a PvP game mode that goes beyond classic arena fights with spontaneous clashes across the frontier or in open space. Various periodic events are also on the menu. The latter will contain player rewards through random drops, event progression, leaderboard rankings, and whole more activities that include exploration and fighting.

Thetan Arena

Easily one of the most famous MOBAs on the blockchain. The title has simple controls, a wide arsenal of abilities, multiple action-packed game modes, and a variety of characters with different roles (tanks, assassins, and marksmen). No two matches in Thetan Arena are ever the same, given so many playable combinations.
The game was released in December of 2021 and has managed to draw in over 21M players, with almost 1M of them owning the in-game heroes and skins as valuable NFTs. With competitive modes ranging from solo or duo Battle Royale to team-based Deathmatch Superstar and Tower Destroy, Thetan Arena is arguably one of the most Esports-complete blockchain games currently available. Developers also host tournaments with generous prize pools to boost player engagement to the max.

Nyan Heroes

Cats, robots, and evil corporations – that’s Nyan Heroes in a nutshell. The title takes you on a wild ride through a compelling campaign as you explore the history and lore in the game’s universe. Players pilot the Guardian Max controlled by daring Nyan heroes and have the ability to choose from multiple classes, including assassin, tank, warrior, and medic. This open-world adventure ramps up in difficulty as you complete more quests and progress through the story while collecting rewards and shooting up enemies.
According to the game’s whitepaper, Nyan Heroes is set for an alpha release in 2022 (Q4), but lovable cat pilots are already available on NFT marketplaces like Solanart and OpenSea. The number of tokens exceeds 11K, which is a serious number for a project in the making. By the way, the devs promise a Battle Royale mode (PvP) to accompany the PvE adventures to attract even more players. The early footage from NH displays seamless movement, eye-catching graphics, and captivating shooting/melee mechanics, so this project is definitely on your “Worth waiting” list.

Blankos Block Party

Do you remember Fall Guys? The worldwide pandemic phenomenon everyone was playing and streaming back in 2020 until the hype suddenly died. We have a game with a similar vibe, the same fun factor, and one even more addictive component – playable NFT collectibles! So instead of farming game currency, you can just buy your favorite skin for a few bucks.

BBP brings you that simple but fun platformer gameplay with the added layer of character collectability. With multiple party modes, including racing, shooting, battle royale (but of course!), brawls, and bat whacking, Blankos Block Party is the type of game you can quickly lose yourself playing.
The game also features the Build Mode, where players can get creative and design their own worlds to invite people into and play together. With over 1M registered accounts and an upcoming listing on the Epic Game Store, BBP could arguably become a massive hit and one of the largest blockchain-based games. Right now, the game is in early access and available for free.

Splinterlands

This one is a treat for card game enthusiasts. Formerly known as Steam Monsters, Splinterlands was released in 2018 but managed to stay fun and relevant over the years thanks to the continuous game development, content patches, and competitive tournaments. With over 100K daily players and a ton of content in both PvP and PvE modes (plus challenges), there is always something to do in Splinterlands. Its free-to-play nature makes the game easy to pick up for newbies, while for card game veterans, there are special cards represented as NFTs on the blockchain. And if you are serious about the tournaments that have multimillion prize pools, you will have to invest in the game. If you prefer to play casually, then you can try Splinterlands right now with a free account.
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