Sixty-three percent of gamers say they would spend more if virtual goods had real-world value,and could be traded or sold. And 64% say they would also play more often. This is all according to a survey by digital media consulting firm Vorhaus Advisors. This suggests players could have real demand for games that adopt blockchain, the secure and transparent decentralized ledger technology, that enables virtual items to be tied to real-world goods.
Blockchain-based items can be uniquely identified and verified, allowing people to take them outside of a game to other virtual worlds or perhaps cash them out. Blockchain games produced a lot of hype, but they have been slow to impact the larger mass market for games. Overall, the report said that people are interested in developers enabling players to make money from the exchange of virtual goods inside games.
The survey analyzed the opinions of more than 2,000 consumers (interviewed in the summer) to evaluate how they viewed virtual goods and blockchain features in games. The target group that is most attracted to blockchain is the 18-year-old to 34-year-old demographic.
“It’s fair to say that blockchain had some fad moments and will continue to have fad moments in the future,” said Mike Vorhaus, founder of Vorhaus Advisors, in an interview with GamesBeat. “I think blockchain is less of a fad, even if it’s not as well known. I think when people start to learn about it, they discover that it’s a very deep, real, elegant technology.”
The independent survey commissioned by Forte also said that 24% of gamers say they’ve purchased virtual goods while playing games, spending an average of $168 over the last year. At the same time, a third of gamers (32%) think that the prices of virtual goods can seem arbitrary and are not necessarily a true reflection of rarity or value.
Blockchain still has a way to go. It’s still a broadly unfamiliar concept to most U.S. adults, Vorhaus said. And that means that companies are just beginning to scratch the surface on how to monetize their games, he said.
“Blockchain is really a function of consumers getting accustomed to it,” Vorhaus said. “It’s more about getting used to it. One of the really interesting things in the study is when you explain to people that blockchain could make it possible for people to trade goods that they worked on and built in virtual environments, then they like it. Blockchain makes it possible to do that trading with transparency, safety, and without duplication. They already love virtual goods. And now they can make a virtual good they can buy, sell, trade, and make money on. If you look at games like Animal Crossing, we are halfway there.”
Nearly half (46%) of virtual good buyers expressed interest in having real ownership of their virtual goods. Virtual good buyers also expressed interest in being able to sell their virtual goods to others on an open marketplace. That’s one of the big advantages of blockchain. If a game shuts down, a player can take the goods that they have purchased and take them to another game that supports those items. By contrast, if someone wanted to sell an item that they bought in a game today, the publisher might call them out for violating the terms of service.
Being able to take your goods from one world to another is an attractive feature of the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Our next event on January 27 will focus on the metaverse.
“We know that in a metaverse one would need to maintain the same identity throughout it, and there are a lot of people who believe blockchain will be useful for that,” Vorhaus said.
Since goods can be uniquely identified, developers can create scarce one-of-a-kind items that players can collect and resell using verified peer-to-peer transactions.
More than half of virtual goods buyers (51%) expressed interest in earning income from playing games. The capability to create, own, and trade digital assets might allow the lines between play and work to blur more than they already have, the survey said.
Virtual goods buyers are most interested in the community-focused gameplay features of blockchain. Peer-to-peer trading of virtual goods (40%) and a universal marketplace that works across any game (39%) were the features virtual goods buyers expressed the most interest in.
Virtual goods buyers see the most benefits of blockchain. Gamers who buy virtual goods are 26% more likely than U.S. adults as a whole to cite the economic benefits of blockchain; 52% of virtual goods buyers are more likely to see it as a way to guard against removal or tampering.
“Blockchain is clearly growing in awareness and experimentation,” Vorhaus said. “I would add that certain things can be done to make it grow more. Education is one of the biggest ones, as well as the assurance of safety. If the gaming industry works hard at educating consumers, we could be on the verge of a massive breakthrough. I agree that a couple of key games will make a difference.”