For a long time, it wasn’t clear which features of the XRPL Forte would be using, or whether they were going to exist on the XRPL at all. When Ripple first backed the project over a year ago, NFTs and federated sidechains were not being explicitly discussed, and it seemed unlikely that XRP could be used in a gaming marketplace or by a game’s market economy as anything more than an intermediary settlement mechanism.
Considering the need to tokenize video game assets, it seemed likely that Forte’s marketplace would be hybridized using another blockchain for tokenization/smart contracts, with XRP taking on a more subtle role in Forte’s project. But in a recent presentation at the Apex Developer’s conference, Chris Jimison, CTO of Forte, detailed the adoption of XRPL features by their upcoming games marketplace. The XRPL tools explicitly mentioned were ILP, Paystring, and the ledger’s set of functional APIs.
During the presentation, Jimison specifically mentioned the costly and inconvenient nature of other blockchain gaming projects and stated that XRP Ledger technology enables Forte to entice credentialed game developers to finally make use of blockchain marketplaces and features in their upcoming games.
We use a whole suite of Ripple products. Whether it’s the ledger that gives us low-cost transactions, fast finality, or really just simple and easy-to-use APIs, it’s great for us from a developer perspective. ILP we use quite a bit to achieve packetized payments, settlement systems to help reduce the cost. But finally, there’s Paystring. And Paystring is great because it starts to get back to that initial argument which is meeting user expectations, having identity assigned. Compared to a crypto address I’m now firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inferior experience is so ingrained in the blockchain ethos that I’m convinced it’s one of the major reasons that accusations of centralization are so often levied against the XRP Ledger. How else could it be so cheap and nimble when most other digital asset projects are the technological equivalent of a unicycle — useable by only the most tenacious and masochistic of cyclists. The only reason most blockchain projects thrive is that the balm of profit is regularly applied to injuries or inconvenience sustained during use. The thought process is that if something can make me so much money, well, it must be prescient and wonderful. This strategy cannot work with the gaming industry because games are utility and experience-driven creatures. If a game is less convenient, more expensive, and not as fun as centralized counterparts, gamers are going to play those instead of a blockchain nailed awkwardly onto a game.
Expecting a typical gamer to set up a crypto wallet via Metamask and manage recovery phrases and private keys is unrealistic as it adds friction to a process that is already seamless for gamers. Adopting the more nimble and cost-effective XRP Ledger will mitigate many of these issues and allow developers to explore the more promising aspects of blockchain integration into their upcoming gaming projects.
Paystring integration is a big step towards convenient blockchain marketplace integration as it allows consumers to use a more familiar identification format (similar to email). And if we consider previous Ripple-backed projects like Keyless, it will eventually be possible to generate private keys using a combination of biometric authentication and passwords, which is something gamers are much more familiar with than 24-word recovery phrases. KYC for marketplaces could be streamlined and managed via services like GlobalID.
If the Forte project takes off, it will give much-needed credibility to this lagging aspect of the industry. Blockchain-powered games are typically met with pessimism and disdain by most gamers because the added cost and latency are not in any way worth the benefits that the blockchain offers. I’d even be so bold as to say that no serious gamers are interested in any current blockchain video game offering as a game itself. What interests people in that space is profit accrued from collectibles, but that does not a good game make.
Placing monetization technology before gameplay typically means that a project never reaches its full potential. It’s important to note that games, even without the blockchain, don’t have any problems generating ridiculous amounts of revenue. Greedy collectible monetization cannot come before gameplay, or the project will eventually fail. If you want a real-world example of this, look no farther than Valve’s collectible card game Artifact. With Ethereum powered games, fees and slow transaction times all but ensure the only enticing aspect of these games is profit. Adoption of more efficient ledgers like the XRPL by Forte has already attracted legendary developers like Will Wright, who create enticing experiences rather than scammy cash grabs. The next big step for Forte’s project would be one of their titles becoming a runaway hit. After that, mainstream gaming adoption is sure to follow.