In 1972, an incredibly simple game called Pong took the world by storm. Two vertical bars on each side of the screen with a ball bouncing between them. Arcade machines were set up around the world, sucking in hours and hours of everyone’s time trying to beat the previous player’s highs core. Fast forward a few years, the gaming industry was blessed with Nintendo and their tremendous storytelling and character development ability.
The Japanese studio released Donkey Kong in 1981, and garnered massive success. A colorful character made an appearance in-game that everyone loved, and thus Mario was born. The friendly plumber in red-and-blue gained. 41 year later, and a conservative estimate of $30.25 billion is the revenue generated by video games based on the Super Mario IP alone.
This is just a singular example of a company managing to capitalize on an in-game character and giving it its own story arc, universe, side-characters, merchandise, expanding its media of distribution, and most importantly, making it recognizable to anyone within the gaming industry. Of course, it goes without saying franchises like Pokémon, Street Fighter, Halo, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, and many others all managed to become successful IPs in their own right. World of Warcraft specifically has around 120 Million subscribers with an average of 1 Million players per day throughout August 2022, according to MMO Population. This helps you put into perspective the difference in size between massive franchises and aspiring web3 titles.
Now, to bring the conversation back to the web3 and blockchain gaming industry. The lucrative promise almost every project commits to is “building an IP.” Most don’t recognize how difficult it is to accomplish this task let alone doing it while trying to figure out how to successfully integrate all the new blockchain technology elements. The latter specifically is far from having a successful plug-and-play formula for game developers to implement and worry about other elements.
The difficulty in replicating the success of some of the aforementioned franchises comes from the fact that the gaming industry, whether traditional or web3 based, has become increasingly congested. The level of competition and the bar has risen so much over the years it has become exponentially harder for newcomers to stand out from the crowd. All those companies benefited from the early mover advantage and an eager player base waiting for a relatable character to idolize.
Having said that, the web3 gaming industry resembles an almost fresh start for all game developers to experiment as much as they want and a clear winner has yet to emerge. As redundant as it sounds, the games present on the market at the time of writing are a fraction of how many we will have in the blockchain gaming sector over the next decade or so. This means whoever is present now can easily capture the market share ripe for the taking with a recognizable and relatable in-game character.
Another major factor in the success of a gaming IP is building a loyal player base. The wording here is important for web3 enthusiasts, since they are not investors, they are not VCs, they are not the “community.” A game’s level of success is measured through its player retention withstanding the test of time through fun and engaging gameplay. What made Pokémon so successful is everyone trying to literally catch’em all.
As sad as it is to admit, the current blockchain gaming sector still needs work on the fun gameplay factor. However, this does not mean there are potential winners who are clearly building incredibly exciting games. This includes the likes of Big Time, Illuvium, Nyan Heroes, Phantom Galaxies, Aether Games, and many others.
This transitions us to modern day games and how a number of them has been successful in cultivating both a loyal community and an incredibly recognizable IP. Fortnite instantly pops to mind, with their plethora of integrated IPs ranging from WWE’s Hall of Famer John Cena and several of Marvel’s superhero characters to most recently adding the Dragon Ball Z cast in-game alongside their iconic super saiyan scream and Kamehameha ability.
Now, these integrations are the definition of the term interoperability. The word that has been thrown around recklessly over the past year in web3 gaming without any substance to it. This can only be done and be of any significance to the player base of a game when the whole franchise is recognizable to mainstream audiences and the crossover offers value to both players and other games as well.
One of the main reasons Epic Games managed to turn Fortnite into the behemoth of an IP it is in modern gaming is successfully leveraging its content creators and streamers actively promoting the game. The likes of Ninja, Myth, Nickeh30, TFUE, Dr. Lupo, and so many others were a major contributor to Fortnite’s rise to stardom. These personalities combined with Fortnite’s efforts to actively reward them for creating organic content, streaming major in-game events, and even competing in professional tournaments. All of this was done simply by recognizing their work with creator codes and the Icon Series in-game skins as well.
Web3 gaming at the moment lacks organic gaming content. Games should refocus their approach to cultivate and encourage those who are eager to stream their game instead of going through a list of KOLs and paid media that the gaming sector within the blockchain world has already recognized their ingenuity. Nothing gives your game longevity more than an active streaming scene and a consistent pipeline of content for them to feed on. It keeps your game relevant, and that’s what keeps gamers to this day interested in playing Fortnite, Pokémon, World of Warcraft, and so many others and helps their IPs withstand the test of time.
We have touched the surface of what a gaming IP needs to succeed but the elements mentioned in this piece can give you a clear foundation upon which the rest can be built. You can check out our top 10 web3 games for reference on the titles worth keeping your eyes on over the rest of 2022 going into next year as well as our top 5 blockchain FPS games available for you to play right now.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below on what you think contributes to a successful gaming IP and what makes you relate to an in-game character that you can’t forget when you stop playing.