Dennis Wan, a game industry veteran with almost two decades of experience in console and mobile games, discusses Play-to-Earn games with us.
Who is Dennis Wan?
Having battle-tested in trenches of development right up to the war rooms of publishing in companies like Konami, Bushiroad and Gumi, Dennis spearheaded the development of various games collaboratively with Square-Enix, Nintendo and Disney. Today, he is the Chief Development Officer of Affyn.
Exposed to the wonders and dangers of gaming since the early 1980s, when the Atari 2600 was still popular, Dennis grew up with and witnessed the evolution of gaming. From Atari, to the Nintendo and Sega “bit wars”, till they stopped caring about the bits altogether with the Playstation and Xbox, and then to the awakening of mobile gaming, he was there. And he knew games would be in his future.
So, Dennis did whatever it took to get into Nanyang Polytechnic, a polytechnic that is a pioneer in Singapore game education. He then jumped straight into the fledgling local game industry where he has been surfing the gaming waves ever since.
Play-to-Earn Isn’t New!
Dennis explains — Picture this, you’re huddling over in front of your gaming device, running instances over and over in your favourite MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), to get the latest and best gear available. So you can join your guild to take on the latest raids. Alas, the epic sword you have been seeking still eludes you. Or worse still, has been won by the annoying PUG (pick up group) teammate who didn’t really contribute much.
Your patience is wearing thin, you haven’t slept in 2 days, and the first raid starts tomorrow! Buying some gear sure looks REALLY appealing now. So, you stop by the auction house to see what’s available. But the first thing that hits you is the staggering amount of gold required for anything that’s half decent. As if on cue, another character nearby whispers: “Get cheap gold starting at $X.XX per gold at http://xxxxx.xxxx.com! 100% safe, fast delivery!”
If you were like Dennis, spending his teenage years on many hours of grinding in games like Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, and other MMORPGs, the above scenario probably isn’t alien to you. And that would pretty much be your first experience with Play-to-Earn! Except that it was the gold farmer doing the earning. Dedicated individuals spending many hours a day grinding out in-game currency, to be sold through shady channels (since doing so usually infringed upon the games’ terms of service).
It is said that gold farming in games started as early as 1997, in Ultima Online, the first truly massively-multiplayer online RPG. At the same time, Ebay became popular as well, and became the vehicle of choice for the trading of virtual goods.
Farming gold for sale wasn’t the only way one could earn some real cash through gaming. Over time, savvy entrepreneurs came up with various ways to maximize their profits:
- Leveller-for-hire: Need to hit a higher level, but don’t have the time? Hire a leveller who will play and power up your character for you!
- Mercenary-dungeon-runner: Dungeon too tough? An overpowered Mercenary will join your party for a fee and blow through the challenge for you! And you keep the loot!
- Farm Bot: Some games were able to be “botted”, allowing players to script a bot that will play for you automatically, farming items you need. For a fee, you could buy a bot or get one built for you!
- Accounts for sale: Want to join your friends in their game, but they’ve already been playing for months? Ready, powered-up accounts for sale can be easily found for all kinds of games!
- And many more!
Of course, caveat emptor when participating in these illegal activities. Developers and publishers are ready to crack down on both buyers and sellers, in the name of fair play. Unscrupulous vendors understood this as well, and all manner of scams were (and are still) rampant.
Play-to-Earn is more like Work-to-Earn?
But at the end of the day, what do such examples of Play-to-Earn resemble? Everyday you clock in, repeat the most profitable actions over and over, only taking breaks for a quick meal or bodily functions. As more and more competition arises, the value of your gold drops, and you have to spend a longer time farming to get the same profit.
That’s right, it’s pretty much a job. Where’s the fun?
Which brings us to modern Play-to-Earn, or gamefi, or whatever hipper moniker it will take on. Blockchain gaming has already begun taking off, and free from the regulations of real money gaming, casino-style games were among the first to allow you to earn some cryptocurrency, which you can then trade for real cash on an exchange. Eventually, other non-casino games emerged, with Axie Infinity among the largest, that allowed players to not just own their own game assets, but also earn additional tokens completing tasks and quests.
Will the modern Play-to-Earn economy also end up as a chore for new age token farmers? Dennis says “We won’t know for sure, since we’re still in gamefi infancy. But the runway ahead is still long, and companies like Affyn are already working on next-generation Play-to-Earn games.”
The Time is Here Again
Dennis pretty much called the mobile explosion when he gave up his comfortable lecturing job to dive back into the industry when gaming on smartphones were starting to come together. And he said that the time is here again, with the advent of blockchain gaming.
“As the Chief Development Officer, I’ll be using every ounce of my experience to build an amazing team that will bring Nexus to life,” Dennis proudly stated. “There is no doubt NFTs and blockchain gaming is the future, and Affyn will lead the way in bridging blockchain gaming, mass adoption and business integration which will eventually be the new norm” he added.
About Affyn: Affyn is a Singapore-based company building an integrated ecosystem with a Play-to-Earn Metaverse where the virtual and real world converge. FYN token will be the official blockchain utility token which users can earn and utilize within the ecosystem.