Play-to-earn gaming is an exciting vertical in the crypto and blockchain industry. While most developers build on Ethereum or other EVM-compatible networks, Solana has also been of great interest. Certain aspects of this network appeal to game developers, even if Solana wouldn’t necessarily be their first choice.
Play-to-earn Gaming On Solana
The rankings by DAppRadar show there is a very small market for play-to-earn gaming on Solana today. That is not for lack of ideas, but because most developers favor different blockchains that might make things a bit more straightforward. Ethereum remains a top option in that regard, as are BNB Chain and others. However, Solana has a very different smart contract approach.
Plutonians CTO Tillmann adds:
“Solana was definitely not the first blockchain the team had experience with and we had a little pushback internally actually as EVM is a well worn path for a lot of devs, but Solana was the first time that made us stand up and pay attention and think hey, this could actually support the kind of gameplay and experiences that we want to do.”
As such, there are currently a handful of play-to-earn games building on the Solana blockchain today. SolaJump is, per the rankings, the most popular game, with under 2,300 users. The game generates $1.71 million in volume, which is more than acceptable at this early stage of blockchain gaming development. New projects, like NextMoon, Wolf Game for Solana, RaceFi, and others, will have their work cut out to attract users.
Monkey Ball CMO Oren Langberg explains his team’s approach:
“There are multiple factors that contribute to the engagement and attractiveness of a game; it’s art and design, game mechanics & design, and it’s economy. Not only is MonkeyLeague a super-fun arcade game showcasing the most popular sport in the world, soccer, and that the nature of the game appeals to a range of gamers, from hardcore to casual, but the team behind the game has 100 years of combined experience covering game art, mechanics, and economy.”
Technical Benefits Are Valuable
Developers are drawn to building play-to-earn games on Solana for various reasons. First, the network provides development flexibility that other ecosystems may not provide today. Developers must achieve flexibility and freedom when building their next blockchain game. Additionally, the network has a high throughput and low transaction fees, useful to developers and gamers alike.
One can argue the features Solana brings to the table align with a game’s demands. Checking the right boxes on the technical side paves a solid foundation to bring more game developers and players into the fold. However, it remains essential to attract mainstream users, which can be a rather steep hurdle. The current focus among P2E gamers is on rewards rather than the quality of gameplay. Mainstream users want engaging gameplay experiences without worrying too much about the underpinning technology.
Tillmann weighs in on this “divide” as follows:
“The two groups don’t necessarily agree, but they are both important. It’s from that nexus in the middle somewhere where you have gamers who are still seeking higher quality gameplay experiences but are becoming crypto literate and have these new expectations around their digital asset ownership… I feel quite strongly it’s this group of people in the middle that will come to define what those concepts mean and how that mainstream adoption will take place. Solana is of course a great place to start for games that are looking to remove friction from the blockchain side.”
Oren Langberg echoes a similar sentiment, and he identifies the proverbial “missing piece” as building projects with a much broader appeal. Finding a balance between top-tier gameplay, competitiveness, rewards, being easy to play, and forging strategic partnerships holds the key to unlocking the gates and bringing mainstream users to blockchain gaming on Solana.
Advancing P2E Gaming Beyond Rewards
Many players are drawn to play-to-ear gaming due to the rewards they can collect. All in-game assets exist as non-fungible tokens, enabling layers to convert them to real money. These rewards are a way to recreate an initial investment or generate a revenue stream for most. However, it is crucial to make blockchain gaming about core benefits beyond rewards and money.
Oren Langberg adds:
“For years, people have spent money in games with no real return. Once they know there exists a way to play quality fun games and receive a return, that’s the beginning. There is no better marriage than between blockchain and gaming and as blockchain acceptance continues to grow, the number of traditional gamers that migrate to crypto will grow as well. Crypto is still confusing and scary and too volatile for many.”
Tillmann echoes that sentiment and confirms it will come down to education. One way of educating mainstream users on the benefits of play-to-earn gaming [on Solana] is by showing them first-hand. Using influencers and content creators to help spread the word about what these games entail and how they change the gaming landscape plays a crucial role in those proceedings. Moreover, gamers need to learn the value of the gaming worlds they spend weeks or months of their lives in.
“Many websites in the 90s that would have historical value are now lost forever… So persistent state, especially in worlds and environments that we spend a lot of time exploring, these are often just as important in terms of externalized memory as physical places and objects. Being able to revisit levels and worlds regardless of if one single game studio decided to pay the power bill that week… This is an incredibly valuable thing moving forward as these worlds and experiences become a larger part of our lives.”
While game developers have various blockchains to build games on, it appears Solana is turning a few heads lately. The attractive features provided by the ecosystem are a big draw. Moreover, there is a solid team developing Solana and its ecosystem, which can contribute to the long-term viability of play-to-earn gaming.
Legacy chains, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others, will always have a certain appeal. However, they may lack the necessary benefits and features to make blockchain gaming a viable venture. Game developers cannot wait for such upgrades to occur, as they may never happen. Those tackling this new frontier want the necessary tools and features at their disposal from day one, making Solana a valid choice.