Power to the people! The rise of community driven gaming
by Ramona Ciocea, Head of Business Development at Protokol
Global attitudes towards centralisation of power and control are shifting, from concerns over data ownership and control by large institutions, following events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to the birth of cryptocurrencies as a rejection of traditional central financial institutions.
The gaming industry is no exception. Traditional gaming ecosystems are almost entirely controlled by the entity or studio behind the gaming title. This naturally restricts the level of influence that players can have on the game itself.
However, the last few years have seen a change in priorities when it comes to ownership in the gaming world. Some mainstream gaming companies are seen as prioritising profit over player experience and wellbeing.
As a result, we’re starting to see increasing calls for a re-focus, putting players at the centre of decision-making and ownership, rather than control over community matters and game development falling solely to the centralised entities which create and maintain the game.
This shift in mentality comes at a time when technology like Web3 and blockchain is also coming into maturity.
Blockchain was founded based on the principle of decentralisation. One of the most revolutionary aspects of this technology is its ability to remove the need for a middle man in any transaction or online interaction.
This same technology is beginning to be applied to the gaming industry, allowing studios to create structures to put power into the hands of the end user. This gives players a sense of empowerment that traditional gaming can’t provide.
The rise of DAOs
Decentralised Autonomous Organisations, or DAOs, are key to the evolving trend of community governance in Web3 gaming. DAOs are a new kind of organisational structure where stakeholders of a given ecosystem can participate in the management and decision-making of that ecosystem.
There is no central authority in a DAO; instead, power is distributed across stakeholders who collectively cast votes. If applied to gaming, this means that players can acquire (or earn) a token within a game, which can then be used to vote on both game development and community matters.
Because of the completely transparent nature of blockchain technology, with every participant having access to the same, real-time record of events, it can also ensure that results are provably fair.
DAOs have emerged across nearly all communities, whether you are a writer, musician, or a gamer, DAOs now allow you to directly connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals that you may never have connected with in the Web2 world.
There are some huge benefits here. Gaming studios and developers who can get this right will not only create a more engaged and loyal user base which is more invested in the future of the game, but will also have a direct line to community feedback, meaning that they can optimise games and even release new ones which are directly based on player needs and desires.
Already we are seeing the emergence of gaming DAOs across the gaming and Web3 world. These range in their mission and objectives, from those designed to help ‘wannabe’ pro gamers find success, to those dedicated to game streamers.
For example, GameDAO works by uniting players together towards a common aim. Whether that is helping to crowdfund new games for the community, allowing players to connect and collaborate in guilds, or preparing players for e-sports tournaments, the creation of a DAO helps like-minded players to come together and expand their skills, interest and experience in the industry.
Another example would be Alpha Gaming DAO. This community is built on the Harmony ONE blockchain, with the express goal to “expand the metaverse and generate revenue via scholarships, as well as leveraging our community-owned assets for maximum utility while sharing profits with token holders and gamers”.
This means skilled gamers can join, play together and earn rewards and resources, further expanding the ability to monetize their gaming skills.
Shift in thinking
Attitudes towards centralisation of power, whether that is towards governments, big tech companies or gaming studios, have irrevocably shifted. If studios and developers wish to keep up with this shift, they need to find ways to put ownership and decisions back in the hands of their communities, or risk falling behind.
The good news is that the infrastructure to allow this shifting of power to take place is here, now – and it is booming. If some of the traditional ‘older’ names from the world of Web2 gaming embrace the rise of community, the rewards of doing so are likely to be well worth the time investment.