The Impact of Cryptocurrency on Gaming in 2020

May 12, 2020
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As people all over the world are spending more and more time online in 2020, digital industries like cryptocurrency are becoming a hot topic again. Plenty has been happening in the Crypto world during the first quarter of 2020, Bitcoin is surging in value again, having hit $8.1k this spring, displaying this seasonal rise in value for the fifth year in a row. Meanwhile, Ripple has begun potentially cutthroat proceedings against Google, after YouTube allegedly ran adverts for “fake XRP giveaways” across its platform.

On a lighter note, crypto-focused gaming is finally becoming a thing, with gamers across the world realising the potential of blockchain-based games and crypto gaming tournaments. Here’s a summary of the major developments so far this year, which could indicate the way things will go in this sector for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Blockchain Games Rise in Popularity

So far this month there’s been a significant rise in the number of people playing games online, leading to MMORPGs like World of Warcraft to up its quality to meet the demand. There’s also been a notable increase of gamers playing blockchain games and platforms.

Microsoft Azure, the blockchain-friendly cloud service that enables developers to run networks on applications like the Xbox app has confirmed record-high levels of latency, confirming that more users than ever are accessing the app to stream games (blockchain ones included).

Indie games have experienced a surge in interest in April too. The Mad Max-esque War Riders game built on blockchain has seen a 70% increase in new users alongside longer average gaming times, as well as TSB Gaming’s The Sandbox – Cryptovoxels.

This is leading industry experts to ponder whether blockchain gaming is sustainable on a mainstream scale, although many are inclined to believe that the tech we have available at present is able to meet the demand. It’s clear, however, that the blockchain gaming sector will need to diversify and build engaging games that can stand up equally against their video game equivalents.

MINTGOX Hosts First Bitcoin eSports Tourney 

Pre-2020, Crypto didn’t play a particularly significant role in the development of eSports, despite seeming a natural fit for this emerging gaming sector. Coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum have begun to be accepted as payment methods for eSports betting, but in 2020 the first ever Bitcoin based online eSports tournament was finally launched by Magic Internet Gathering (MINTGOX).

Earlier in April, MINTGOX hosted a Lightning-enabled live gaming tournament as part of a wider crypto/VR weekend conference in collaboration with Zebedee, Lightning Labs, Bitcoin 2020, and THNDR games. Matches were run for a total of three online games, and even featured a VR panel hosted by Bitcoin enthusiast Udi Wertheimer.

One of the games featured was Raiki, a fighting game on the rise, and entry was open to any player of any level providing they had a Lightning-enabled crypto wallet. Both the gamers themselves and audience members were able to generate satoshis, and influence the individual matches with strategically dropped power-ups.

The virtual conference itself wasn’t without issues, but according to Zebedee CEO Simon Cowell the eSports portion of the event only “suffered from lag”, which is something that can affect any eSports tournament. With a total of 100 gamers competing and generating nearly 1,000 transactions on the Lighting network, Cowell feels justified in “calling the first event a success” and plans to run them on a monthly basis moving forward.

Atari Steps Into the 21st Century

Finally, one of the original video game pioneers, Atari has chosen to embrace crypto this year. The Atari Group and its partner, ICICB, revealed a somewhat bizarre three-strand focus for 2020: the Atari Token cryptocurrency, a gaming platform incorporating the currency, and (of all things) the development of a music game “based on the back catalogue of the world-renowned artist AVICII.”

Atari choosing to focus two of its initiatives on crypto indicates just how seriously major gaming manufacturers are now taking the tech, but whether or not the group will be able to achieve the same levels of success as it did with Pong and PacMan during its console heyday remains to be seen. First, however, there’s some housekeeping to be done in the form of finally getting its much-anticipated Atari VCS console shipped out to the patient crowdfunders who helped ensure its development with the $3 million they collectively paid out. The VCS has been plagued with a rocky development process and now, given the current global situation, it’s on an “indefinite hiatus” after last month’s release was cancelled.