By Victor Agreda
There are a number of blockchain plays involving games, and a subset include AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). One company seems to be building out the logical manifestation of blockchain VR in the form of unique real estate within a virtual world and complementary attractions within. Decentraland has been in development for a few years, but the company started showing the fruits of developer efforts during NIFTY last week. NIFTY is both a conference and hackathon (much like TechCrunch’s Disrupt), and coders took to Decentraland’s SDK with fervor (Decentraland was also a sponsor).
Perhaps one of the best examples of a collaboration between blockchain gaming companies is in the form of Etheremon and Decentraland. Announced at NIFTY, Etheremon will have a battle stadium in the VR world. Most of the gaming projects using blockchain tout the ability to use game assets from other games interchangeably. Gamers could think of using Gears of War weapons in Fallout, for example. Of course, publishers might not care about this stuff yet — walling off content is considered an advantage for now — but blockchain advocates are certainly bullish on the notion. Etheremon in Decentraland provides one of the first, best examples of how your “average gamer” would enjoy cross-game experiences.
Still, Decentraland isn’t a game itself, but a platform. It’s not that far removed from Second Life, with its own ability to create events in the virtual world. Also, while Decentraland has been in development for a while and has an estimated market cap well over $100,000USD, it just unveiled its private alpha. It’s in this environment that developers have been building experiences, many of which were mentioned during NIFTY.
Founder and CTO at Decentraland, Esteban Ordano, announced on Twitter some of the projects that have been built so far during the NIFTY Hacks hackathon:
- Multiplayer P2P board games
- Karaoke, jukebox music, music clip videos
- Art expositions
- A trading floor using decentralized exchanges
Esteban also showed off a game that had players racing to the top of a mountain while picking off enemies as they climb. The next day, the company showed off the alpha version of Decentraland, which already has a good amount of content within. Perhaps most important is that users can now apply for access to the alpha and take a look around themselves.
One of Decentraland’s key advantages, too, is not the novelty of what it’s offering, but the fact that much of its infrastructure is built using open-source tools developers in the space (both VR, gaming, and blockchain) would be familiar with — Ethereum, IPFS, WebVR and more. As Esteban noted at his alpha demo to developers, if you build projects within its platform, you can keep the money you make from them. The platform they’re building takes a number of cues from behemoths like Facebook, enabling developers to build fun diversions atop their own infrastructure.
The million-dollar question is how many users will flock to its VR landscape when the project is out of beta? Well, Decentraland has put up a $5M bounty to develop projects for its platform, announced last week. That money will be shared among “top contributors” chosen by the company, but it’s certainly a way to get things moving.
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