Can Web3 and dynamic NFTs unlock sustainable game monetization?

The endless monetization conversation has become heated in the Web3 world, where many games focus their core mechanics on speculation, artificial scarcity and collecting. At GamesBeat Summit Next, Alun Evans, CEO and co-founder of Freeverse, spoke about the three problems that Web3 actually solves — but only if tokens can evolve and change based on what the user does with them.

“We believe that the digital economy should also be much larger than just collectibles,” Evans said. “There’s an entire iceberg there waiting to be unveiled, and I think we do that with living assets, with dynamic NFTs.”

From speculation, scarcity and collectibles, the focus should be turned to utility and earned value, where the value of the token is based on what the user does with it, and how the user engages in the ecosystem, he argued. Collection and speculation isn’t sustainable, and boom and bust only hurts the reputation of the blockchain game industry and the wallets of developers.

“There will never be this permanent influx of more new users that will drive the economy, and so the impact of that is, why bother with Web3? What problem is it really solving here?” Evans said. “We can reward players for their time by allowing NFTs to level up. That drives retention. We can allow users to create user-generated content, which can be sold on secondary markets. That not only increases retention, but also increases monetization.”

For instance, Goal Revolution, on Freeverse’s platform, lets users train characters to upgrade their stats, essentially generating value on that token. Any profit earned when they sell it is based on their investment, rather than scarcity. Players are also incentivized to maintain the value of their assets for themselves both in and out of the game — a character that loses its skill if it isn’t consistently trained, and the asset loses monetary value. And these mechanics proved successful enough to attract the interest of a worldwide football IP, which will launch next year.

User-generated content, which increases engagement by giving gamers the permission to customize their experience, shouldn’t be immutable either, Evans argues. If a player has customized something — maybe even paying money to the developer for the raw ingredients — being able to sell it on a secondary market retains that player in the game ecosystem, and lets the game developer charge a commission on that sale too.

“It’s also being slightly fairer to the gamer,” he added. “If I create something, why shouldn’t I be able to monetize it?”

Finally, there’s an opportunity to mix the worlds of Web2 and Web3 to help build a community and spread a message, which not only increases retention, bualso drives player acquisition. During MetaBeat, held in San Francisco earlier in the month, Freeverse launched the free MetaBeat NFT, which was also worthless. To level it up, users could engage with social media in a variety of ways — retweet conference hashtags, collect likes on their tweets, present proof of ownership at the conference door and so on.

“Brands are engaging with their users on social media and rewarding them for that engagement in the Web3 world with tokens that can be upgraded and can unlock rewards, features, prizes and so on, whether they’re virtual or real,” he explained.

Done correctly, allowing users to extract value from the economy generates more value for the economy in the long run, which is a very powerful tool to use. So what’s stopping developers from using earned value within the Web3 world?

“NFTs are thought of by most people as these immutable collectibles. What we’re trying to do at Freeverse is move that discussion on,” Evans said. “We’re trying to make dynamic NFTs — we call them living assets — whereby the user actions affect the NFT properties, and therefore affect its market value. What that does is change the discussion. We move away from this passive activity of collecting to an active engagement with the tokens and with the underlying game. There’s a massive opportunity there for the games industry, the metaverse and brands in general.”

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