Above: The Grand Exchange — it’s Bitcoin-friendly.
Image Credit: Jagex
A new game appeared recently in the App Store in which players earn Bitcoins just from playing well.
SaruTobi is a Super Mario-style game. It’s name is Japanese for “flying monkey,” and it not only managed to successfully gain Apple App Store approval but also found a unique way to introduce iOS gamers to Bitcoin.
Marrying gaming and Bitcoin together is a shrewd move by the developer, as gamers and owners of the cyptocurrency share a lot of similar demographics. Typical Bitcoin users being profiled as a tech-savvy male, 25 to 40, with above-average income, according to a report by Nicholas Colas, the chief market strategist for Convergex, last year.
As the game industry scurries to work out how to integrate Bitcoin and figure out whether it can be used as a way to attract gamers, we explore just how Bitcoin might be appearing in your next game.
Enabling in-game payments
RuneScape is from Jagex, the U.K.’s largest independent developer and publisher of online games, and it recently announced it had started accepting Bitcoin payments. While players can download and play the game for free, in-game content, power-ups, and other items are for sale — and Jagex accepts Bitcoin. In most games, players would need to enter credit card or gift card information; but with Bitcoin, payments are almost instantaneous.
Rewards for playing
SaruTob rewards players for playing well. As the game becomes progressively more difficult, the further you get and the more power-ups you collect, the more Bitcoin you can potentially earn.
Payments are made from a pool of Bitcoins that comes from both in-game purchases and advertising revenue, and it’s used as a communal pot that pays out tips to dedicated gamers. As game companies continually look for new ways to attract and retain players, this could be an interesting new model for them to explore.
Compete for Bitcoin
Leetcoin is building a competitive e-sports platform that enables gamers to compete against each other for Bitcoin. It’s the first of its kind to offer direct competitive micro-rewards for players who rival each other.
The platform works almost like online poker but applied to video games. Gamers deposit Bitcoin into the game – essentially buying into the match and playing either solo, or as part of a team, competing for the currency.
This has the potential to draw in a wider audience, maybe even attracting people who don’t normally play games, like Bitcoin miners.
Buy games with Bitcoin
For many gamers that hold Bitcoin, it would be easier if you could pay with digital currency. One retailer who has just started accepting payments for games via bitcoin is Games Planet. They are also planning on incentivising gamers to use the crypto currency by making games 10% cheaper when they are purchased in bitcoins.
Microsoft’s integration of Bitcoin payments late last year may be a precursor to its Xbox One console directly accepting the currency. This would also be a valuable tool for other consoles, such as the PlayStation 4 or Wii U.
Console integration would be the final piece in the puzzle, meaning that gamers could buy games from an online marketplace using Bitcoin, compete for prizes-in game, and get paid out in the currency, without ever having to enter their credit card details online.
Gaming frequently results in innovation
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies might be relatively new, but games companies are leading the way in terms of innovative ways to implement bitcoin payments, giving gamers new ways to spend (and earn) bitcoin online and in-game.
Gaming is an innovative way to introduce people to the digital currency, and at the same time it gives developers possibilities that they never thought would be possible.
The future is really wide open with cryptocurrencies when applied to gaming.
Wouter Vonk is the European marketing manager at BitPay. Wouter is also the owner of Bitgild.com, Europe’s first online gold and silver bullion shop to accept Bitcoin.