It was only a few weeks ago that Steam announced that the use of NFTs or cryptocurrencies was banned on their platform. They continued to state that games that ‘promoted the trading’ of these blockchains were banned too. So, why is Valve against the use of these digital trading methods?
Steam would later explain in a statement that any ‘items that have real-world value’ have no place on their platform.
However, not all platforms take the same stance as Valve.
Epic Games have recently announced they would be open to using any games that ‘support cryptocurrency and or blockchain-based assets.’ Cryptocurrencies and NFTs seem to be the currency of the future, but what impact exactly would they have on eSports?
NFTs (Non fungible tokens) are unique forms of cryptocurrency that are used in the purchase of digital assets. This includes digital paintings, videos, audio files, and most recently, assets in games.
In eSports, NFTs have been used to prove the authenticity of ownership of different skins, trophies, highlight reels, and tournament footage.
For example, both Team Alliance and Team Heretics have launched ‘fan tokens’. These fan tokens allow fans to buy shares using NFTs for influence in a variety of team decisions, through voting in fan surveys.
NFTs would establish a better structure in how eSports would operate, in terms of how game assets and fan engagement operate. The argument for NFTs in eSports is that they provide their unique currency for the competitive virtual world that is distinctly their own.
So, purchasing shares in a great DOTA 2 team like Team Alliance is made much easier through NFTs, and it puts a sense of real-world value on these teams.
A survey recently done by eSportsinsider shows that 63% of gamers would spend more money on eSports assets and their favorite teams if the assets had more real-world value. It also provides a way of expansion for eSports.
eSports companies could also expand their reach into a whole new market – the cryptocurrency investors.
Having cryptocurrency traders bet and trade NFTs on eSports tournaments, like the CS Major or the League of Legend World Championships, could have a profound effect on the reach of the entire industry.
It could even lead to eSports establishing a more mainstream presence in the media.
Cryptocurrency, as an industry, always has a negative stigma attached to it. It’s a largely volatile currency by most corporations' standards, and NFTs are even more unpredictable. They have only been used on a very niche scale at the moment, so it is likely most large eSports corporations may want to stay away from the use of NFTs.
Most people can only speculate about the direction NFT use can have on eSports, so it’s a huge risk for many eSports corporations to take without clear dividends.
The other main concern is the safety risks that most NFTs have suffered from. Many eSports diehards are worried that further use of NFTs could corrupt the eSports industry with scams and frauds that could simply rob most gamers of their money or artwork without any security on the gamers' end.
An example of this came to light with a recent NFT game Epic Hero Battles, which stole NFT artwork from another game titled Wildfire. Further research by more gamers showed that Epic Hero Battles was an NFT game created off of stolen digital assets.
Many games utilizing NFTs need to have a good economy in place, but it’s difficult to establish that without many regulations at the moment.
Verasity, a product layer platform for eSports, has been doing substantial research into eSports and is developing security measures to ensure NFTs are more reliable.
Their solutions include an authentication process for any sellers of NFTs and verification processes for the NFTs themselves.
Ultimately, the lack of security measures seems to hold back NFTs from becoming a staple trading currency in eSports. However, a statement by Verasity CEO, Justin Wenczka, seems more hopeful for gamers.
“We think that NFTs present an opportunity for esports to attract a new audience, and we will continue to empower the esports industry with the tools and technologies needed to leverage emerging decentralized technologies for sustainable growth.”