Building Portable Gamertags with NFT Domains
Sep 02, 2021
Last updated on Sep 02, 2021
Remember your earliest days of online gaming? Heading to the Grand Exchange to sell some runes. Or booting up Modern Warfare on a Saturday morning and magically connecting with your friends on the other side of town or anywhere else in the world.
Today, it’s hard to imagine the world of gaming without online multiplayer. And as far as we have come since the days of Quake, Counter-Strike, and RuneScape, the gaming world still suffers from one big limitation — assets like avatars, currencies, and items are all locked into the games themselves.
Most of us are painfully aware of the potential pitfalls here. Losing access to an account, getting banned, or simply having your items nerfed are all possible and all out of your control (fun fact: Vitalik was inspired to create Ethereum after Blizzard removed his favorite spell from World of Warcraft). The result of any of these situations is the same - you lose the game assets you’ve poured time, energy, and possibly your own money into. On top of that, you can’t trade any of those valuable in-game assets for real world value.
But now, this is all changing. Thanks to blockchain, digital wallets, and NFT domains, we can actually take these game assets off of the platforms where they were created. Avatars, items, in-game currencies, everything. We can do more than use them - we can own them. And by combining them with NFT domains, we can create digital identities that span the multiverse of game worlds.
The metaverse has never been closer. To bring it to life, though, we still have some work to do.
The Blockchain Gaming Landscape
Alright, so what does this actually look like? Owning in-game assets is already here and is proving to be as revolutionary as it sounds. The largest name in this space is currently Axie Infinity.
Axie Infinity is a play-to-earn game built on its own Ethereum sidechain, Ronin. Think Pokémon’s combat with a more robust system of upgrading your digital monsters, called Axies. Players can earn cryptocurrency from simply playing the game, and they actually own their Axies and other in-game assets as NFTs. By own, we mean that they have custody of them outside of Axie Infinity's platform, and can sell them to other players on a secondary market. This has created an entire economy around the game which, at the time of writing, is worth north of four billion dollars.
Because players own their piece of the pie here, a large portion of that wealth is actually held by them, not just the company behind the game. Players are free to breed and trade their Axies, as well as sell them to other players for the in-game currency SLP. SLP is then transferable for real world cash, and is even accepted by a number of retailers. In stark contrast to how most games handle ownership of their assets, Axie Infinity has handed over ownership to the players and encouraged them to contribute to the ecosystem. While Axie Infinity may be a frontrunner in this space, they have plenty of company.
The Sandbox is a player-owned metaverse built on Ethereum. This voxel-based open world looks a lot like Minecraft, and operates a lot like Roblox. Like these titles, users create the game’s assets and experiences themselves. But unlike these games, everything within The Sandbox is owned by its players.
As well known as Roblox is, it is also known for taking a massive cut of the revenue generated by its platform’s creators. The Sandbox takes the opposite approach by providing creators with true ownership and copyright control over their creations. Players can also purchase the digital real estate of The Sandbox, called LAND, and purchase assets with the in-game currency, SAND. Just like with Axie Infinity, all of the assets within The Sandbox are NFTs, so they can be exchanged on secondary markets. While The Sandbox is still getting up and running, it holds a lot of promise. Creators can make and sell avatars, items, and full-on experiences while being adequately compensated for their work.
Owning Your Gameworld Assets
What are the other use cases for this?
For starters, this can be applied to just about any other game. Many games already rely on the grind, get loot, upgrade your stuff mechanic, so the foundation is already there. Have a sword you’ve upgraded to a ridiculous level on ESO? Sell it for some ETH on a secondary market. Did you spend hundreds of hours tuning up a CCGT in Forza Horizon 4, but now you’re ready to start playing Horizon 5? Instead of abandoning that souped up car and starting over from scratch, simply sell it and bring those funds over into the new game.
While AAA games like Elder Scrolls and Forza probably won’t be adding this functionality any time soon, it will become increasingly difficult for them to hold out. Other games like Upland, Aavegotchi, and Decentraland are utilizing NFTs in their own ways to give players and creators alike ownership over their game worlds. The world of blockchain gaming looks poised for an even greater explosion for many years to come. Before long, the element of ownership these games offer will almost certainly make its way into the mainstream gaming industry.
Names - The Missing Piece
A quick recap:
With these blockchain games, all of the in-game assets are NFTs. Players store these NFTs in blockchain wallets like Wombat, Venly, and Trust Wallet. On and off of the game platform, these NFTs are entirely owned by the player. Game companies can’t simply change or decrease the value of items that players have worked to craft or obtain, and players can finally profit from their digital assets. The value of in-game assets is now set and captured by players, not companies.
Still, blockchain wallets are essentially just digital folders. While they make it possible for players to own their digital assets and move them around, there is one more missing piece to this puzzle. The addresses to these blockchain wallets are just long jumbles of letters and numbers. What they need to be are names.
Enter NFT Domains
If you wanted to invite someone to an Xbox game today you would just ask for their gamertag. Unfortunately, this is not possible on blockchain. If you asked a friend for the blockchain equivalent of a gamertag, their wallet address, you would get back something like 0xdh8Psjn32xix194chdJ29s37f….Yeah, not exactly the best way to identify a friend online. This is where NFT domains come in.
At Unstoppable Domains, we already allow blockchain users to replace their complex wallet addresses with human-readable names. So, what if we extended this functionality to games? Instead of your friend’s messy wallet address, they can tell you to add MikeFPS.x to your friend list. And because this is still a blockchain wallet, they can use it across all of the games they play. Their avatars, in-game currencies, digital vehicles and items - they are all attached to the same name.
By adding recognizable names to these wallets with NFT domains, they are no longer just wallets. They are digital identities. These identities, or portable gamertags, are the collection of all of your digital assets and info, allowing you to jump from gameworld to gameworld with ease. Plus, you can use that same portable gamertag with the rest of Web3’s apps, from NFTs to DeFi and beyond.
This is the foundation for a truly player-owned metaverse.
The Metaverse Awaits
Of course, creating a new form of digital identity is no small task. But we have the tools and resources to get you off the ground.
Unstoppable Domains has already created a robust ecosystem, integrating with over 70 applications, wallets, and exchanges. The foundation for bringing our NFT domains into the gaming world has already been set.