For too long, money has been gated behind drudgery for those who do not already have sufficient amounts. Those financially free enough to roam the wildlands of the working world walk with only their wealthy peers. The rest are weighed down with the grey, suffocating words like “obligation” and in many cases, “survival”. The global pandemic has exacerbated that divide, with communities in all countries wondering how they will be able to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
It’s easy to get lost in the darkness of the past 18 months, but there has been an unexpected glimmer of hope, and it unexpectedly came in the form of gaming. I wrote recently about how Play to Earn games had more or less saved a community in an underprivileged area of the Philippines. Through the Play to Earn mechanics of one blockchain game, the population of this small town, struggling with the lockdown’s impact on their livelihoods, were able to bring in the same amount of money they were from working full time. They were able to pay their bills, stay fed, clothed, and housed, all by playing a computer game.
This heart-warming tale may be encouraging and even gratifying for believers in blockchain technology and its role in the gaming industry, but there are two worthwhile pieces of information to add. Firstly, this is not a story in isolation. In fact, it’s in rather good company, as entire continents like Africa and South America are quick to adopt this revenue stream. Secondly, as novel and invigorating as Play to Earn is, it’s not the flash in the pan some critics have predicted. On the contrary, Play to Earn is just the beginning.
The Economy the Metaverse Is Birthing
Mother Metaverse is legs akimbo and the glimpse at the capabilities of Play to Earn is just her crowning; there’s a full baby behind that luscious head of hair. Ok, that’s enough of that metaphor. The truth is, Play to Earn isn’t a gimmick or a ripple outward from the splash crypto has made to the financial world. It is akin to the precursor to a fully fleshed out economy that is inevitable for, and indispensable to, the metaverse. There are currently entire online communities and Discords, gathered around the notion of Play to Earn games, each looking to find the next big hit. That too will change.
The gaming industry — as blockchain is integrated widely — will see Play to Earn mechanics relegated to a foundational standard for modern titles. As the transition is made, many projects that have long been in development or have been ill-advised in direction and swerved around blockchain, will either have to scrabble to tack it on as an afterthought, or lose out. Players will gravitate towards games where their time is rewarded, and that isn’t limited to literal tokens.
The popularity of Play to Earn has seen many games look to reward players with a token that can be swapped or sold for a well-known crypto or even a fiat currency in some cases. That isn’t the only way in which games can be Play to Earn, and in actuality, we will likely see in-game tokens take something of a backseat to NFTs. With a game’s items — from weapons and skins to characters and expansions — moving to NFTs and thus being able to be owned, the economy will gravitate towards it. Whereas we are currently stuck with a shady, grey market for trading skins and unownable in-game items, the blockchain both legitimizes and enriches this economy. Revenue streams will be formed for developers and gamers alike.
Empowering the Creator
The revenue stream this will create for developers is markedly more important than it might first seem. This juicy vein can be tapped into in more ways than one. While making key items in their respective games NFTs, that is thinking too small. With a little relinquishing of control and some added oversight, the NFTs needn’t even be developer-made. Or rather, they needn’t be made by the developers who created the game. Part of what excites many of us proponents of blockchain technology is the opportunity it affords creators of all colors and creeds. The metaverse will take that seed that Play to Earn has planted and transform it into a rich and vibrant forest.
The creator economy is central to MyMetaverse and will enable anyone with an internet connection to have access to not only a newly available revenue stream, but one that is enjoyable to paddle in. It isn’t overstating the value of the creator economy to say it is revolutionary. For some it may mean supplemental income from something they enjoy. For others it will mean a better life across the board; earning a good income doing what they love. This sort of global equality of opportunity (or at least the closest we have been to it by a longshot) will have substantial trickledown effects to entire countries once the creator economy is prevalent.
A Futuristic Future
When we imagine a futuristic picture of what the world will one day be, it isn’t hovercars and space travel, it’s global equalization of opportunity. So much of the world’s population is hamstringed by national economies and myriad tethers as a result of nothing but being born in a certain place. Not only does this represent unthinkable quantities of untapped potential, but more importantly — far more importantly — the creator economy can improve the lives of billions of people.
In all honestly, a decade ago, I couldn’t have possibly given any worthwhile answer to the question of how the world could be improved. That is, an actionable plan rather than platitudes. Now, seemingly out of the clear blue sky, an opportunity has been built that could leave such a sizable and positive mark on history that it will be taught in schools for generations. It isn’t hyperbole, hot air, or hysteria; we have seen the earliest steps towards the metaverse and its creator economy, and it’s profound. The future is filled with terrifying realities, but the metaverse is a truly redeeming bright spot.