The Role of Chainlink in Play-to-Earn Gaming Economies

As the industry-standard decentralized oracle network, Chainlink offers a variety of services that further a fair, reliable, and more interactive playing field for in-game value creation.

Using Chainlink VRF in Blockchain Gaming
Consider an MMORPG in which a loot box has a 0.001% chance of dropping the game’s most powerful item to date. If a player or game developer could manipulate the random number generator (RNG) used to distribute this item, the sense of fairness that underpins strong communities and values would be undermined.

Chainlink Verifiable Random Function (VRF) offers blockchain games a tamper-proof and publicly auditable form of randomness that restricts the potential for manipulation by any entity and helps ensure the chance to open a loot box and receive an extremely rare NFT game item is equally fair for all participants. Chainlink VRF generates both a random number and cryptographic proof off-chain, then delivers both on-chain where the cryptographic proof is verified on-chain prior to the acceptance of the random number by the consuming application. By using this mechanism, gaming platforms can become more equitable and protect their integrity. 

Gameplay aspects based upon RNG can benefit from transparent and auditable randomness.

Axie Infinity used Chainlink VRF to give players verifiable assurances that the traits of Origin Axies—which impact their real-world value through varying rarity, utility, and desirability—were generated in a provably random manner.

Any randomized event that has even a small impact on the end result, such as the RNG that determines damage output and the winner of a player-to-player battle, can benefit from the transparent randomness offered by Chainlink VRF. As a core part of many video games, tamper-proof and verifiable randomness is necessary for fair and fun gameplay—especially in play-to-earn games where everything has a tangible monetary value. 

Supplying Games With Data Through Chainlink Data Feeds
Blockchain games can use Chainlink Data Feeds to build communities around in-game items in the form of dynamic NFTs and create unique in-game situations based on real-world events.

Imagine a game that features in-game items that automatically change based on pre-set conditions. For example, a base cosmetic weapon skin that changes based on specific gameplay stats, such as how many goals a player has scored, or how often a character has died while using the base weapon. 

In this example, the weapon skin changes to become completely unique to a player’s specific set of stats. The more a player is defeated and loses, the less impressive and valuable the skin becomes. The more a player succeeds and wins, the more impressive and valuable it becomes. Chainlink Data Feeds make it easy for on-chain NFT game assets to be connected to a game’s backend system or network to fetch player information in a way that is tamper-resistant, cost-efficient, and transparent. 

Dynamic NFT items can change based on personalized player stats, building immersive and interactive experiences.

Chainlink Data Feeds can also be used to make NFT valuation data accessible to smart contracts, unlocking utility on other blockchains. For example, a player with a $10,000 item could use it as collateral for a blockchain-based decentralized finance (DeFi) loan in a way that is completely tamper-proof and automated—something that would never be possible with current video games and in-game items. One example here is JPEG’d, a decentralized lending protocol that mints native stablecoins collateralized by an underlying NFT with the support of Chainlink Data Feeds. 

Reliable Automation With Chainlink Keepers
Any successful game needs to be seamless in all of its functions, with players expecting reliability in order to maximize their gameplay performance. Blockchain game developers require tools to help them boost performance and overcome some of the limitations presented by blockchains, such as smart contracts requiring a trigger to execute.

Chainlink Keepers can provide reliable automation for critical value-supporting functions, such as making sure the start and end of game rounds happen on time. If rewards are distributed based on a particular game result, Chainlink Keepers can automatically trigger a smart contract to reward the respective winners, furthering crucial service reliability that keeps players engaged.

Cross-Chain Gaming
The upcoming release of the Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP), an open-source standard for blockchain interoperability, will unlock the potential for expansive video games that leverage NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and community governance by allowing these games to bridge their data and assets across blockchains in a seamless manner.

From moving NFT game assets across various blockchains and bridging NFTs between different games on a variety of underlying networks to syncing game states across chains and facilitating cross-chain NFT marketplaces, CCIP has the potential to make it simpler for both developers and users to reside in a multi-chain environment. 

This has the potential to create exponential growth of in-game value, competition, and adoption in a virtuous cycle, with interconnection across blockchain environments enabling game publishers to access a larger player base, which in turn lead to more social externalities that ultimately drive in-game value. Similarly, the advent of multi-chain marketplaces underpinned by CCIP can allow for more liquidity and better pricing for items, which also can contribute to more efficient gaming economies.

This potential increase of in-game value could then result in more competition between game publishers, who hope to capture a piece of the expanding market, and more adoption from players as new games launch. As more games are built and more players enter the ecosystem, increased social gameplay and the expansion of multi-chain marketplaces can again lead to further increases of in-game value—perpetuating this virtuous cycle of adoption.

The Play-to-Earn Paradigm Shift
The full potential of play-to-earn gaming has yet to be fully realized. The popularity of social media platforms for peer-to-peer information transfer saw self-made influencers, musicians, and streamers form entirely new economies based upon digital advertising, micropayments, and subscription models. Similarly, play to earn has the capacity to change the game for the video game industry by enabling entire new economies through collective decision-making and the verifiable ownership of digital assets.

With players able to share the value of their gaming time, the potential for play to earn is limitless, and NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and decentralized oracle networks are powerful tools that can offer more efficiency, opportunity, and structure to this new generation of video games. 

These implementations are only just beginning. Though it’s impossible to know exactly what the future will look like, the core tenets of blockchain technology point to a growth in gamer empowerment through fairness, ownership, and markets open to all.

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