Exploring Challenges and Opportunities in Blockchain Game Development

Oleksii Stupakov
BLOCKCHAIN EXPERT
Eugene Potemskyi
LEAD BLOCKCHAIN ARCHITECT
Alina Ampilogova
COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Expected to increase its size by 65 billion USD in 2027, the blockchain game market continues to grow and introduce new concepts regularly, making it an attractive field for investors. The relative novelty of the area encourages creative minds to combine either classic or groundbreaking gaming concepts with new features for players. 

Meanwhile, the growing competition is already challenging marketing teams working on DeFi gaming projects. However, to fully understand the potential behind blockchain gaming and whether it's the direction worth taking, interested investors need to scope their surroundings and learn more about blockchain game development

To assist entrepreneurs searching for new investment options, this article serves as a detailed introduction to blockchain in gaming, its most common vulnerabilities, and changes to look out for.

What is blockchain gaming?

In terms of gameplay and layout, blockchain games aren't different from traditional video games. They exist in great diversity, from pixel-style platformers to open-world exploration quests to shooters, and provide nearly the same experience the well-known non-blockchain gaming projects do. 

Blockchain games stand out because they're based on play-to-earn (P2E) principles, allowing players to profit from playing a game by minting and generating assets that can then be converted into real currency. Depending on the genre, the way of asset generation can vary, but it must always be smoothly integrated into the gameplay and make earning tokens natural and entertaining.

Most prominent benefits of NFT in games

Despite the mixed reaction of the gaming community towards implementing NFT in games, at least 56% of players expressed interest in blockchain gaming platforms. In general, their positive expectations of decentralized games stem from the following advantages:  

  • Accessible source of income
    The play-to-earn idea isn't new because there are professional players who perform in global competitions and sign contracts with brands and organizations. However, earning money as a professional gamer requires treating games not as a hobby but as a full-time career. It also takes hours of training before players can get compensated for their efforts. 

Meanwhile, NFT games provide much easier options for generating income by enabling players of all skill levels to gain value from playing. In some blockchain games, the value of earned assets can be directly tied to the player’s performance, which serves as an encouragement to engage with the game and improve. 

  • Enriched player experience
    NFTs exist in a large variety—from images to skins to items and cosmetics—making them a good reward for players pursuing exclusivity rather than profit. Within a blockchain game, players can unlock unique content and become its exclusive owners, showcasing their status or progress. Additionally, blockchain game platforms allow players to trade or even sell their unique in-game assets for tokens that can be exchanged for currency—similar to selling belongings on eBay or trading collectibles. 
  • Player motivation boost
    There are examples of games that reward players for activities outside the gaming world. For instance, blockchain-based jogging apps can inject gamification into daily workouts and motivate users with challenges and rewards (depending on their program and performance). In addition to getting unique NFT achievements for their dedication, players can gain some financial value by trading their awards or converting them into currency.

While not all people pursue financial motivation during their self-improvement activities, DeFi games that provide extra encouragement can be an additional incentive.

Additionally, players admitted that adding the play-to-earn option would motivate them to engage with the game more, thus enabling game developers to boost the retention rate. Yet, realizing the benefits of blockchain gaming is only possible with the right blockchain development partner, process, and full awareness of potential challenges.

What does blockchain game development life cycle look like?

When it comes to P2E crypto game development, we can describe it as a standard game development process plus blockchain components. 

Similarly to standard games, it’s the non-development part that determines the game’s success: an upcoming blockchain game needs a community and early adopters, a development roadmap (complete with milestones), and a promotion plan. All those matters should be resolved before the development starts, so that game designers could understand the style and genre of the game, while marketing teams could identify and create promotional materials for the target audience. Additionally, developers need to address the issue specific to blockchain games only—tokenomics. 

In-game economics defines the level of player satisfaction within the blockchain game. The smoother are interactions between users and DeFi features, the easier it would be for the game to gather the player base. Also, it's essential to maintain a balance of profit gained by the developer and value for participants—if it turns out that the developer gains more revenue while players' earnings are superficial, the game will quickly gain a negative reputation and become abandoned.

Within blockchain game development enters the production level, two processes (building game mechanics and engineering DeFi features based on the blockchain network of choice) are executed parallel to each other, intersecting at the later stages of the production stage. 

Once the blockchain game passes the testing phase and goes to the pre-launch stage and marketing activities increase—developers engage with the community and invite players for closed testing, launch pre-release token sales, and the marketing team gradually releases promotion materials, keeping the players’ interest ignited and active. 

It’s worth noting that both gaming and blockchain sectors are highly competitive, which makes marketing efforts as vital to the game’s reception as its development quality—no matter how well-designed the game is, the development efforts won’t pay off without proper target audience awareness and active support from the community.

What are the most common challenges of blockchain game development?

From a technical standpoint, many blockchain game concepts and features are achievable as long as business analysts and creative thinkers work alongside skilled blockchain developers. However, even the most qualified team will have to deal with the most common challenges of creating a DeFi game:

  • Anti-cheating measures
    Play-to-earn games are attractive to people who don't like to play fair. Due to this, blockchain game development requires a constant lookout for exploits that cheaters can use to gain an unfair advantage and, therefore, earn and convert more tokens. The task of blockchain developers is to build a bulletproof infrastructure that prevents players from cheating. The team must also identify and remove potential vulnerabilities before cheaters can use them. Additionally, developers need to respond instantly to cases of in-game cheating to close the window for cheating opportunities as quickly as possible.
  • Gas cost optimization
    Gas fees compensate for computational resources spent to power smart contracts and keep blockchain networks running. No blockchain game is possible without gas fees, but since they're included in the price of the purchases made within the gaming ecosystem, the main goal of developers is to keep those fees as low as possible.

This can be done through several gas-saving patterns—-from skipping high-cost operations to removing bits of overly expensive data. Another option is grouping several transactions into one—this was the method we used to introduce a balanced gas optimization fee system into the blockchain game we developed for our client. Within this system, players were able to run several matches within one paid session rather than make a new transaction per each match.

  • Synergy between game and blockchain
    Making a game is already complicated. Making game components and blockchain solutions click together makes the task even more complex. The end goal of every developer working on a DeFi game is to make sure that both gameplay and blockchain platform are intuitive, perform rapidly, and don’t cause system-crushing issues during sessions. This synergy is made possible through the meticulous selection of programming languages, networks, and smart contract writing proficiency.
  • Balancing blockchain and off-chain components
    It’s nearly impossible to develop a play-to-earn game without off-chain components and keep the game’s end price at an acceptable level. Off-chain elements allow creators to keep the game cost-effective and scalable—so every time developers must choose what data should be stored and processed via backend and what data should be stored on the blockchain. 

How to choose best blockchain networks for web3 game development?

As a rule, choosing a network isn't considered a blockchain development challenge, as there are no restrictions regarding choosing networks for building a blockchain gaming platform. The final choice depends on the developers' preferences and business vision. Some developers prefer to use one chain network, and others go for a multi-chain approach. 

Ethereum
  • One of the most trusted and secure networks
  • Supports numerous decentralized apps
  • Has a large community of developers and builders
Solana
  • Is designed for interoperability
  • Has fast transaction speed
  • Offers low gas optimization fees
Polygon
  • Has a highly flexible infrastructure
  • Ensures smooth integration between off-chain and blockchain components
  • Enables fast performance without sacrificing security

What is the future of blockchain gaming and play-to-earn games?

Blockchain technology is here to stay—and the gaming world is certainly not an exception. However, before blockchain games can find their niche, they will go through a round of transformative changes to address several issues pointed out by the gaming community:

  1. Vague compliance
    Some blockchain games are preceded with “no consumer right protection” which alarms players who are used to having options to protect their rights as users. To succeed in the future, blockchain games will need to embrace regulations, so they can provide players with the necessary protection. 
    Compliance can be improved through partnerships with central authority organizations and video game publishers willing to take care of the legal aspect of gaming. The emergence of enterprise DeFi has already shown that such development is possible and can be a key to blockchain-based project transformation. 
  1. Lack of long-term planning
    For every widely known NFT game, there are thousands of projects that have never emerged or gained a negative reputation—mostly because none of them was built to last. Too many beginning NFT enthusiasts approach their DeFi games as the means to quickly profit and, therefore, didn’t have a long-term plan to build from. As a result, when the marketing hype subsides, most of the players leave. Addressing that matter requires developers to think about long-term benefits and entertainment they could offer to their players.
  1. Low creativity
    Players who are critical of blockchain games often point out how game developers that implement NFTs often pursue profit rather than entertainment—which is the original purpose of game development. Their concerns are justified since short-lived DeFi games had a very superficial gameplay and weren’t engaged enough to keep players motivated. Ultimately, players still value fun over potential profit—and if the game lacks the former, they won’t stay for the latter.

The key to solving this problem is approaching play-to-earn games with an emphasis on “play”: it’s important for developers to come up with new ideas, features, or events to keep participants interested in interacting with the game.

How to accelerate the transformation of blockchain games?

Blockchain gaming is about to transition from the hype stage to the normalization stage. Changes, adjustments, and complete strategic overhauls—all that will be an inevitable part of decentralized gaming and blockchain development. At this point, entrepreneurs should be attentive to the criticism from their target audience, as it's the players who determine the longevity and success of the project. 
Want your blockchain game to meet player expectations and deliver exclusive benefits? Let’s chat! Our team will share the most relevant blockchain game development practices with you—and help you implement them, ensuring a play-to-earn game that provides the best of both worlds.

FAQ

Creating a blockchain game requires a good game designer, an art director, and a team of developers and blockchain engineers. While the art director, game designers, and developers work on game mechanics, modelling and rendering, visuals, and audio, blockchain developers write smart contracts for the chosen blockchain network and build in-game economics. They may also add additional blockchain features, such as an NFT marketplace. Later at the development stage, the blockchain components are integrated into the game.
With the right approach and strategy, blockchain game development technology allows creating games that offer exclusive content and an additional incentive to the players. Blockchain gaming also increases player retention rate and enables the emergence of new game genres and gaming apps that will motivate players to do activities unrelated to the in-game world (working out, changing their routine, doing self-improvement tasks).
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