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EGD News #112 — The hottest thing in gaming

EGD News #112 — The hottest thing in gaming
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel / Unsplash

Sent on December 10th 2021.

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🔥 The hottest thing in gaming

“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” — Warren Buffett

These days, a pretty common DM that I get on social media:

“Honest opinion, what do you think of the NFT space?”

I’ve been extensively thinking about what things will look like for blockchain gaming in a year to see the long-term potential of crypto gaming.

But first, I want to point out a few things that I’m thinking about when it comes to “the new (hot) thing” in gaming.

First, it’s always the game that matters.

Here’s an example outside of blockchain gaming: Once in a while, I get founders pitching me a games company that has an “environmental impact” angle to it. For example, they’ll plant threes as players spend money in the game.

Even though on an admirable mission, I believe these companies are building more work for themselves than they realize.

First, let’s look at the audience who would like to play “environmental impact” games. If you survey the broader public, a majority will say that they’d want to consume content that supports environmental awareness. And then, you start to look at how many gamers there are, and you extrapolate a conclusion that a messaging of environmental awareness will attract a large chunk of gamers.

Often what is lost in this conclusion is that you’d still need to have a great game.

Let’s say you’re making a Match-3 game that thematically messages environmental awareness. But the game, when removing the thematic, can feel mediocre, subpar, and it just doesn’t work.

Once you apply the thematic, the numbers hardly change. Here’s why:

I did some guesswork, but this is what I believe is happening.

Not a favorable Venn diagram

The Venn diagram intersection for groups A) environmental aware gamers who are superfans of doing everything through an environmental, and B) would play and spend in a mediocre game. The overlap of A and B is minuscule.

The same observation can be done for many other gaming projects that bring in something new. Take crypto games, where the intersection seems to be more significant.

Crypto fans, people who like the concept of play-to-earn, and are collectors of NFTs, are growing as a group. They are often motivated by the earning components, meaning that the motivation to spend time, even in a mediocre game, is of less concern to them.

But you’d still have to think about the game first. It should stand on its own.

Suppose the earning motivation, categorized as extrinsic, loses its effect. In that case, the intrinsic motivations, like mastery of a game, are still there. The great game will retain with just being a great game.

Another pitfall with crypto, environmental impact, you-name-it games is that the team often starts development by putting the cart before the horse. You go into lots of additional projects when you’d still want to be figuring out the game.

Here’s what you are working on, often with limited resources.

  • Project 1: get the game designed and prototyped
  • Project 2: get investors to bet on your angle.
  • Project 3: you start building partnerships in the DeFi space or the carbon offset circles
  • Project 4: you finally get back to the game

I was there as well in 2008. My first startup had launched its virtual world, but it wasn’t gaining or retaining players, so I went out to sign cross-promotion partnerships with celebrities, bands, where we’d feature them in our virtual world. It was a lot of work on getting players into a “leaky bucket,” and I was not focusing on getting the game to work.

The fear of the new

I’m a big fan of new things, possible paradigm shifts for gaming. Free-to-play took a while to work, but when it started working, it was so obvious. But it’s not always easy to get new stuff to work when you’ve got the opposition for the new.

Ten years ago, when free-to-play was becoming popular, many existing developers called it a scam. Still to this day, free-to-play is considered exploitative in many circles. Lootboxes are gambling. The games are pay-to-win. In many ways, the have been bad examples of free-to-play, where the entire game was designed to cater best to the players who were willing to spend hundreds of thousands or millions on a game. But the free-to-player industry is so broad, with most of the revenue coming from watching in-game ads.

I was recently reading Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights, where he shared his experience from film school, where the “professors made us go see movies each weekend and come back on Monday and talk about them with the class.” McConaughey went to see movies like Die Hard and other blockbusters, and here’s what happened.

“The rest of the students started murmuring, ‘That’s big studio shit, man…corporate America sellouts.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. Tell me why it’s shit. Why it sucks. What you didn’t like about it.’ They said, ‘Well…we didn’t actually see it. We just know it’s shit.’ “Fuck y’all,” I said. “Fuck y’all for saying something is shit just because it’s popular!””

Now, blockchain and NFTs are the latest things to get bashed. Sure, there are flaws like energy consumption and the possibility of scams. But the industry and the market will become more advanced, and we will see what sticks and evolves to become sustainable.

In a few years, I believe that blockchain gaming will become as varied as free-to-play gaming, with NFTs, play-to-earn being just the first experiences these technologies provide. Is it just features for existing games or its own genre? That’s still uncertain, and I think it’s totally fine.

One thing will stay consistent in gaming. It has been consistent from the start, and it will remain constant: the best game will win. What is the best game? The players will decide by voting with their time and money spent.

(Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash)

Sponsored by Gameye

🎙 Building a game studio from scratch

In this week’s podcast episode, I’m talking with Tatiana Kondratyeva, the co-founder and CEO of Play Pack, a mobile game studio based out of Berlin. Tatiana has an interesting career in gaming, recently being Executive Producer at Etermax, and before that having product and producer roles at Wooga and Game Insight.

In this discussion with Tatiana, we talk about how to get past the fears of starting a company, how to succeed the competitive mobile games industry, and what have been takeaways from being a founder for almost a year now.

Listen to the full episode by going here.

📃 Articles worth reading

What Comes After Battle Royale and Why You Need to Know Vigor — “I think it’s safe to say that the battle royale gold rush is over. The winners are decided, both on PC/Consoles (Warzone, Fortnite, Apex Legends) and on mobile (PUBG Mobile, Free Fire, and Call of Duty). Those who were late to the bandwagon are now looking for the next big wave.”

Solve a Hard Problem (Tinder). Chapter 8 of my upcoming book — “It’s the story of how messaging apps, marketplaces, workplace collaboration tools, multiplayer games, all share a common thread of being products that connect people with each other. And launching and scaling these products requires a mastery of “network effects,” one of the most-used but misunderstood jargon terms in the industry. My book aims to change that, systematically laying out concepts for startups and folks launching new products to consider.”

Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch — “Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.”

💬 Quote that I’ve been thinking about

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

— Carl Jung

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I hope you have a great weekend!