Is fully decentralized blockchain gaming possible?
Despite the branding of “decentralization” and “trustless ownership,” most crypto games today are only partially decentralized. While game assets may exist on-chain, the game logic, state, and storage are often kept off-chain on centralized servers. Building a fully decentralized game on-chain is challenging due to the slow transaction processing speed of blockchains. However, there is a passionate community of developers seeking to create fully on-chain “autonomous worlds” that are built by the players themselves.
Challenges in building fully decentralized games
One of the main challenges in building fully decentralized games is the scalability of blockchains. Current blockchains are too slow to handle the high number of transactions that video games require. This limitation makes it difficult to create complex on-chain games. Additionally, developers have to make tradeoffs when using blockchain technology to ensure the game is accessible to non-crypto audiences. These tradeoffs often involve keeping some aspects of the game off-chain to simplify the user experience.
For example, Aurory’s developers created a hybrid inventory system called Syncspace, which allows players to leave their assets in Aurory’s custody but move them into their Solana wallets if they wish. This system was designed to make the game more accessible to non-crypto-native players who may not want to handle the complexities of a crypto wallet.
The rise of on-chain games
Despite the challenges, there is a growing community of builders interested in creating fully on-chain games. In contrast to partially decentralized games, fully on-chain games have all their assets, game logic, state, and storage on-chain. This ensures immutability and transparency, and it enables open composability, similar to what is seen in the DeFi space.
On-chain games allow players to implement innovative changes and create their own rules within the game, rather than relying on centralized patch updates. These games are built on smart contracts, ensuring that the game’s state and rules are enforced by the blockchain itself. However, fully on-chain games currently tend to have simpler game loops compared to traditional video games, similar to the early era of video games like Space Invaders or Pac-Man.
The future of on-chain games
Building fully decentralized on-chain games is still in its early stages, and there are many challenges to overcome. Scalability is a major concern, but advancements in blockchain technology, such as ZK-rollups, provide opportunities for game designers to take advantage of faster and cheaper transactions. Layer 2 solutions like Starknet offer scalability and the potential for fully on-chain games with hundreds of thousands of users.
Software infrastructure also plays a crucial role in the development of on-chain games. Game engines like Lattice’s MUD (multi-user-dungeon) aim to provide a streamlined framework for building EVM apps with on-chain databases. As the technology evolves, on-chain games are expected to resemble blockchains more closely, allowing for greater creativity and innovation outside the restrictions of traditional game publishers.
Editor Notes: Are fully decentralized blockchain games on the horizon?
The concept of fully decentralized blockchain games is an exciting prospect for both gamers and crypto enthusiasts. The ability to have complete ownership and control over in-game assets, as well as the ability to shape the game’s rules and experiences, is truly revolutionary. While there are still challenges to overcome, such as scalability and game design principles, the passion and innovation of the community are driving progress in this space.
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