The power of play: Web2 games need web3 stickiness | Opinion

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Traditional gaming is in a tough spot. Mobile revenues are slipping and user acquisition costs are heading in the other direction. To revive growth and cultivate community, developers are turning to web3 to bake in true digital ownership, token incentives, and play-to-earn models.

This stickiness is changing how players engage and how games attract and monetize audiences. As a result, users are stakeholders with real skin in the game, marking a paradigm shift that combines immersive gameplay with economic upside and data-driven platforms. 

From onboarding to engagement to personalization, web3 is rewriting what it means to play. Let’s look at how blockchain gaming is sparking a renaissance of perpetually loyal gamers and how this impacts the industry at large.

It’s no wonder traditional gaming companies are eyeing web3 with envy. We have something they desperately want—users with strong spending power, high loyalty to projects, and experience navigating complex game worlds. Additionally, blockchain gaming also boasts superior conversion capabilities. We can more effectively guide users through deep, in-game experiences using incentives and token rewards as motivation.

Just take a look over at Telegram for an instructive example. Hamster Kombat is taking the chat app by storm with more than 150 million players completing tasks and earning in-game currency. This game is on the simpler side of web3 but its popularity is easy to understand—it rewards players for playing. Further, the in-game currency can become real-world capital once the coin hits exchanges. For example, a similar “clicker” game, Notcoin, did this six months after release, enabling some players to earn several hundred dollars for their efforts.

While legacy games turn to loot boxes or battle passes, blockchain gaming unleashes far stickier incentives around ownership and tangible user earnings. Traditional studios simply can’t compete with experiences where time invested directly correlates to transferable value accumulated by players (and not corporations). This play-to-earn ability fosters the perpetual engagement and sustained monetization that major publishers crave.

Such rampant engagement brings me to the second point of stickiness: community. Hamster Kombat takes place on a platform that’s social by its very nature and you don’t need to look far for memes and user-generated content related to the game. Additionally, by encouraging engagement and asset accumulation, users can directly compare themselves with others and foster a greater sense of playing together versus playing alone.

Hamster Kombat illustrates basic community-building principles in web3. However, major platforms like Immutable and Avalanche take this to another level entirely. Through enabling seamless asset transfers between games and nurturing user loyalty with airdrops, these unified ecosystems foster remarkably cohesive communities. CARV’s Infinite Play is another good example of this elevated approach. This feature lets players stake their in-game assets for bigger rewards and greater platform voting rights. Additionally, by staking and playing, users can enjoy a slice of a special prize pool based on accumulated experience points. Again, the idea is to encourage engagement to make even the platform part of the game. 

Finally, there’s also something to be said about how web3 handles something like identity. For example, NFT standards like ERC-7231 link multiple gamertags to one profile—creating an “identity of identities” that helps players tell their story throughout the metaverse. Better yet, the data protocol simultaneously offers users full ownership and encryption of their data on the blockchain. This level of integration and cohesion is unparalleled in the traditional gaming landscape, setting the stage for a more immersive experience.

Beyond fostering strong communities and persistent identities, web3 unlocks another key advantage over traditional games—the ability to learn and evolve with each user.

By anchoring player data on-chain from the start, web3 games gain access to rich datasets that can train hyper-personalized companions to serve as guides, mentors, or rivals across the gaming universe. These artificially intelligent assistants enhance stickiness by making every gameplay session feel fresh and adaptive to the individual.

Imagine an AI assistant that understands your unique playstyle, optimizes challenges based on strengths or weaknesses, and develops its own personality through prolonged interactions. Such contextualized experiences are nearly impossible in web2 where user data is siloed across disparate games and platforms.

Protocols that unite gaming’s full stack—from gamer identities to asset data to tokenized incentives—are key enablers. By providing the coherent data fabric and economic rails, they manifest web3’s interoperable potential into dynamic virtual worlds that shift and shape alongside their inhabitants.

This virtuous loop between enriched data, improved AI, and incentivized engagement creates a flywheel effect. The more users invest time and information into web3, ecosystems the more value propels back in the form of tailored challenges, where progression echoes across the ecosystem.

While web2 games rely on black-boxed behavioral predictions to drive repetitive loops, web3 counterparts can precisely map the unique journey of each user’s time spent, assets accrued, and reputations forged. This level of personalization is emerging as one of web3 gaming’s most powerful retention weapons.

The attraction is evident for games and gamers in web3. Players in blockchain gaming enjoy real stakes in player-driven markets, and game-makers tap into new value streams. By leveraging actual ownership, token incentives, and unified data economies, players become invested stakeholders rather than cyclical spenders. 

Add to this protocols that unlock player data and unleash AI assistants that dynamically adapt alongside each player’s journey and you have a recipe for engagement. Armed with the “power of play” and tangible incentives, web3 is primed to redefine how games captivate audiences. 

Brace for traditional gaming’s inevitable convergence as web3’s perpetual play revolution only accelerates. This upheaval is just getting started—and the data-driven future belongs to those who embrace it.

Paul Delio

Paul Delio is the head of business development at CARV, a platform that allows gamers to bind web2 and web3 gaming activities in one place. At CARV, the modular data layer for gaming and AI, Paul is responsible for onboarding new game projects to CARV Play while also maintaining existing relationships with games, ecosystems, and other projects across web3. Before joining CARV, Paul held critical roles at Real Madrid and Pocketful of Quarters.

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