As most people already know, GameFi is a combination of Gaming and DeFi, where users can play games and accumulate assets over time through decentralized finance (DeFi). It gave birth to the model Play-To-Earn, which is probably not too unfamiliar with veteran crypto enthusiasts. This concept blew up during mid 2021. However, GameFi has ceased to impress the crypto community by the end of 2021. What could be a good explanation for this event?
The weaknesses of GameFi
Lack of decentralization
One of the key differences between GameFi and traditional games is the factor of decentralization, or so it would seem. What a lot of people fail to realize is the fact that traditional games have already integrated this concept into multiple of its products. In simple words, decentralization refers to the game’s allowance for players to create or alter details inside the game without the need to request approval from the developers. There have been cases like Warcraft 3, where a player randomly created a custom map Dota (Defense of the Ancients), and it became a big hit, setting the first step for a successful game genre in the past decade Moba (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena).
Back to GameFi, more than half a year has passed, from the time Axie Infinity went viral for helping the community make money in the middle of the epidemic season, but the games still focus on developing completely based on the development team. Some games in the future Roadmap will have a DAO section, which provides decision power to the community. But DAO here is only limited to voting in the game, then the developers will be responsible for implementing it instead of giving the ‘tools’ to the users.
For younger projects, it would make sense that they need time to adjust and meet the users’ demands. But even the old name Axie Infinity only offers mundane tasks logging in every day, holding three animals to fight in turn. Have you ever thought about players using the Axies in a first-person perspective? Or an Axie Infinity with a different gameplay? Of course another game can code this easily, but keep in mind they won’t have Axies. The Axies owned by players are limited to too few and repetitive activities.
Lack of innovation
Following the point made above, GameFi is clearly inferior to traditional games in terms of adding new and interesting gameplays, ideas, features to their virtual worlds. How many times have you clicked on a Play to Earn game that looks attractive, but after reading it carefully, it is no different from Axie Infinity (two token mechanism, turn base gameplay, graphics, … ), except the characters and plot? Innovation is the key factor that decides success in the field of technology. Such successes could easily be named, for example, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Bill Gates’s Microsoft, etc. They all bring to society, or at least the smaller community of tech dwellers and social media users, a new wave of more advanced and convenient tools.
It would be unfair to say GameFi does not have innovation, a good example is Axie Infinity. Many people will say Axie Infinity pioneered in bringing games to Blockchain, but what really brought Axie Infinity to the top was ‘Earn’ – the first time the idea of “earning money” is incorporated into playing games. But currently, the games do not show much creativity. They are mainly focused on proving their community can earn from them more than from the competition.
The most obvious example is Crabada on Avalanche, which has exactly the same gameplay as Axie Infinity, from turn-based to three-character squads. The only difference is that these characters are Crab for Crabada, and Axie for Axie Infinity. GameFi waves exploded strongly thanks to Axie Infinity, just as the epidemic made many people unemployed. But that wave has been up to the task for the past half year. Now, for GameFi to attract more cash flow, it needs a new idea.
Lack of Marketing Effort
Marketing has been pretty much the same for most NFT games, as in the end they are all crypto projects. The repeated steps of marketing include announcing investment funds, introducing IDO, launching NFT Marketplace, AMA, launching Staking,… This method of marketing is making all projects look the same, which only cuts deeper into the wound that most games already have the same gameplay and token mechanisms. Contrary to this reality GameFi is facing, traditional game makers are constantly coming up with new ideas to impress and bring more players to their games.
How to reverse the situation
Allow players to build the game
What if Axie Infinity supports the necessary tools for the community to participate in map creation? With the creativity of thousands of members in the community, there are definitely better ideas outside of what the dozens of members of Axie Infinity’s development team could come up with. Once the community are free to create as they please, the outstanding Custom Map will bring in a lot of players. This is a win-win move for both sides.
It is also one of the steps to stimulate the community’s urge to cause new ‘breezes’, which is currently seriously lacking in hundreds of GameFi projects now. Besides, other games had best find new ways of gameplay, instead of editing a little plot, redoing a bit of shaping, maps, … and then rushing to launch products. One question is, will these Custom Maps reduce the value of the token? Definitely not, because the project team might make a provision to only use its tokens in Custom Maps. In addition, the more players, the more poured into the main game.
Fix the gameplay
In order to reach success, a game cannot lack good gameplay. And as a game, its targeted customers should be the ones that are looking to have fun, not to make a living. Therefore, no matter how much a game advertises about the money-making opportunities it brings, it would fail as a game without a gameplay good enough to keep the players entertained. This should be addressed as one of, if not the biggest issue with GameFi, since projects are running after how to look like a profitable gold mine, while forgetting about their fundamental value, which is being a game.
If the gameplay is widely accepted and enjoyed by players, more players will most likely be willing to spend money on acquisition of in-game items, and that cash flow from users’ purchases will keep the game growing. The traditional games do not have the Play-To-Earn mechanism, instead they only allow players to spend money on them. Yet players are willing to play those games rather than the ones that actually offer to pay. Which means the attraction from money cannot overcome the lack of game-building effort in the long run.
Be creative with marketing
More marketing is needed. Bigger scale, more easily accessible, and more creative. Marketing is not limited to formal advertisements, it could come in many shapes or forms. For example, a project can hold a tournament. The bigger the tournament, the more people will learn what the game is, how to play, how to win. Especially during a market correction like this, perhaps no one would criticize making a large amount of money through tournaments.
Another way would be through fundraising, like how many sport promotions run events to attract people, and donate to charity a promised amount of money based on how well the participants of the events do. Marketing can be learned from all kinds of business, not just bound by the world of crypto projects.
As of today, GameFi is still a fairly new concept. Will it just wither away after blowing up like Dogecoin, or will it last long enough to become a significant part of the global economy? No one can predict the future with certainty. But most people are able to see the current issues that GameFi can and should deal with. In the end, what GameFi is lacking is a clear understanding of what aspect of life it contributes to, as projects are too eager to launch and prove to users how lucrative their games are, before realizing what value they actually bring to their customers.