Free-to-play Web3 games hold the key to mass adoption — YGG co-founder

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2024’s most successful Web3 games will pivot from play-to-earn (P2E) to instead focus on being entirely free-to-play to attract players, says Yield Guild Games CEO and co-founder Gabby Dizon. 

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Dizon said unlike games such as Axie Infinity — which require players to purchase at least three Axie nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to play — the new wave of hyper-successful Web3 games will seek to remove as many of the financial and technical barriers to entry as possible.

“There’s this big realization that for millions of people to be able to get into a game, they have to be free-to-play first.”

“There’s an evolution of the business model where the games are free to play, and then at some point along the way while you’re playing, then you’re able to mint an NFT or start earning tokens, but a lot of new games aren’t really starting with requiring NFT ownership at the start,” he said.

This shift toward a free-to-play model is part of a wider effort from Web3 game developers to put gameplay first and tokenomics second, Dizon explained.

He added the shift forms a large part of the solution to speculative Web3 gaming bubbles. By creating games that players want to keep playing, they’ll reinvest their capital in the game and prevent the in-game economy from becoming a cash-generating machine, Dizon said.

Running near-parallel to the decline in crypto prices, blockchain games witnessed their own downturn as players and revenues trickled out of the ecosystem following the sudden collapse in Axie Infinity-related asset values in late 2021.

Surveys from October 2022 showed that even the most adamant crypto gamers were leaving in droves, citing the over-financialization of gameplay, lack of fun and confusion around crypto wallet tech.

Dizon thinks all of that is about to change.

“After Axie became popular two years ago, a lot of very experienced teams took a look at its rapid ascent and thought: ‘Now it’s a real industry, maybe I could do better by making my own game,’” he said.

“A lot of these teams got funding in late 2021, and for a really good game, it typically takes two to three years to make.”

For the past 18 months, Dizon and other Web3 gaming industry leaders have eagerly awaited the launch of a series of new Web3 games in the fourth quarter of 2023, such as the Nov. 16 open beta Epic Games store launch of the blockchain-based trading card game Parallel.

PRIME time is almost here.

— Gabby Dizon | YGG ️⚔️ (@gabusch) November 19, 2023

“Expect to see lots of really high-quality games, with high-quality teams behind them, as well as new experiments in tokenomics and earning models,” he said.

Related: Blockchain game Illuvium goes mainstream with looming Epic Games Store listing

Dizon pointed to the introduction of the ERC-6551 token standard or “token bound” accounts in gaming as a reason to be excited about blockchain-based games in the future, as some developers are using it to thread artificial intelligence (AI) into games.

“You can actually start attaching AI behaviors to your avatar, and you can give it instructions: ‘I want you to go out to the world, craft me a gun, kill some monsters and then bring the treasure back,’” Dizon said. “Then, a few hours later, you can check the wallet that’s embedded in it, and it’s like, oh, I got these things back.”

Dizon believes this kind of automation will greatly reduce the amount of “grinding” needed in games — allowing players to jump in for the fun parts while leaving the boring stuff to AI.

“I think it’s going to be the start of a new game genre of you interacting with AI and not having to play the game all day,” he said. “You set parameters for the AI and just let it do things in the game world.”

“It’s going to get really interesting, man.”

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