Ripple’s blockchain investment wing has funded some promising projects over the years, but the one that I’m most excited about is Forte. Forte is a blockchain-based gaming marketplace that allows developers to integrate decentralized marketplace features into their emergent gameplay experiences.
Back in 2020, Forte announced a partnership with the Will Wright chaired Gallium Studios. Will Wright is the legendary gaming developer behind projects like Sim City and the Sims. The Sims is a franchise that has achieved market penetration levels that only a few games have ever come close to.
Gallium Studios recently published a developer preview for their upcoming game called Proxi. Proxi is a simulation game where players generate a world from events in their memories. While Gallium has been tight-lipped about which game will be integrating Forte blockchain features, the host mentions minting art assets on the Gallium store, which would be a peculiar choice of words for assets that weren’t intended to be placed on a blockchain-powered marketplace. If they were simple art assets in a run-of-the-mill cosmetics store, publishing would be a far better choice of words.
Gallium also courted prominent members of two modding communities which produce popular game modifications for The Sims:
We’re looking for enthusiastic content creators to help us bring this concept to life. We’re taking applications for a private pre-launch community where members will get the opportunity to go behind the scenes, collaborate with the dev team, and earn credit for their creations!
Game modifications are typically developed after a game has been released and can add features and gameplay elements that developers have overlooked. Mods sometimes even lead to the development of new game modes or spinoff titles. Typically, modding is a labor of love, but if successful Sims modders manage to earn a living creating content for Gallium’s upcoming title, it could attract a great deal of attention to blockchain gaming projects like Forte. A blockchain powered mod marketplace would be the ideological opposite of Electronic Arts’ earlier policies on mod monetization.
A blockchain-based gaming marketplace would have none of the above restrictions, and publishers may eventually be more willing to allow paid game mods because they could receive a portion of the mod’s revenue via smart contracts without the need to independently develop their own mod storefront. Forte’s model makes a blockchain marketplace much easier to deploy. For modders of previous Will Wright titles like The Sims, the ability to monetize the content they develop for Proxi will no doubt be enticing.
We could eventually see Proxi modding projects sold as NFTs, granting access to new expansive multiplayer titles on an XRPL powered marketplace. Imagine owning an NFT that represented access and ownership to the earliest iterations of the Counter-Strike mod. A collectible like that would no doubt be very valuable.
During Proxi’s developer preview, Josh Williams provides a rudimentary example of what the minting process would look like for art assets:
The developers also mention sound assets, which could be created and sold on Gallium’s storefront. During the demonstration of their memory creator, the developer stated that these sound assets would be ethereal music that “give the viewing of this memory more depth and texture.” The music could be from indie artists or even household names who choose to mint their music as NFTs on a decentralized ledger to be used as a soundstage in people’s memories.
What’s not clear is whether the memories themselves can be tokenized and sold on the Forte blockchain. An interesting collectible monetization method would be the sale of a notable person’s memory minted as an NFT, giving a player the ability to view the event in Gallium’s Proxi client. These memory NFTs could be valuable collectibles in the future.
The most exciting prospect for XRP holders is the integration of upcoming XRP Ledger NFT features with the Forte project, which could then find their way into Will Wright’s latest game iteration. A game like Proxi that can map memories of traumatic events and allow individuals with common experiences to interact and heal speaks to the human element of technological adoption. People who adopt a technology they find useful aren’t simply looking to see a number go up; there’s something beyond simple profit offered to them. And I suspect that the cryptocurrency projects that wind up being the most successful will be the ones that can offer experiences and services that people find meaningful.