After 20+ years organizing and taking part in Esports events, from the Clanbase.com Spring Cups and ladders and my own experiences organizing competitions in games like Counter Strike, BF1942 or RTCW in 1999-2001 and others during the following years, and after another 20 years working in games industry publishing games, from MMORPGs to FPS, from PC to mobile, and now working over the last 2 years in PlayToEarn games I have come to the inevitable conclusion that PlayToEarn is the natural evolution of Esports and probably during the next 5 years we will see a complete shift in the industry where every single Esports will have to live in a blockchain and NFT metaverse in order to survive.

The PlayToEarn game mode unites the competitive part of the games with a built-in rewarding system and with the security and transparency that a public blockchain provides that is superior in every single way to traditional online-Esports gaming in terms of player appreciation and value proposition, either from developers/publishers, Esports organizations, distribution channels and audience.

Let me detail why.

For all of us who witnessed the rise of Esports from its early stages in the 90’s – yes, there was Atari’s Space Invaders competitions back in the day in the 80’s but let’s talk about online Esports -, we saw how something proposed by players/communities in time became part of the videogame product and forming a critical feature on it: the competitive mode.

If we go back in time to the end of the 90’s we had the main Esports games types in FPS BF1942, Quake, Half Like and its mod, CS or some RTS like Starcraft.

How did it work?

Players met playing in public servers, recruit for their clan (Club) in public chat (Can I have your Messenger ?) , established a clantag like ={w00t}= for all the team, sign up for competitions in clanbase, communicate using Roger Wilco first (and TS, then Ventrilo) pay a clan server together to do some training there and compete in a ladder or cup maybe twice a week at clanbase.com.

Games did not have ranked mode or competitive mode. So it was actually player’s communities and staff at clanbase.com (and similar sites) who established rules, designed admins/mods and developed all the business and created the seed of what Esports are nowadays.

So in natural way, the competitive spirit of the human being (in every game being or not being a sport) and the classical “I want to be the best” created the Esports industry on top of publishers and game studios. Then the industry learnt from their communities and started creating game features for the Esports in a product development route.

And this hapened because it was so much fun as a player. Playing BF1942 on a league with your clan ={w00t}= in maps like Bocage or El Alamein was immensely more pr0 than playing in public servers. Actually it looked like a complete different game. And with a 14 players roster in 1999 over a 256k xDSL, l33t!!

Just four years later we had World Cyber Games , couple of later more World of Warcraft introduced Ranked PvP ladders based on Elo rating or something similar in their BattleGrounds: Arathi Basin or Warsong Gulch. A super hardcore rating grinding based on win/losses that actually needed a 8 hours a day pre-made group during a few months to scale up from rank 1 to rank 14. Trying it solo was impossible, only a pre-made voice coordinated (yeah not that common back in 2007) with a leader could take your character to the Rank 14 PvP Set Items, especially from Rank 12 when you could get the Epic Chest and Leggings.

Then ESL appeared and other organizations and ranked queues and ranked modes started to appear in some games and soon after that LoL and other games appeared and competitive mode was a standard on the industry. But hey, never forget this was created by players’ communities long before it was a created as a product feature in a online game.

And now we are in 2021 after the so called blockchain games have been a around for more than 4 years. NFTs (or tokenized items as were called only 2 years ago) are becoming a thing and also in a natural way.

We live now on a society where almost anything you purchase you can rent or resell. Your car, your parking space, your clothes, a room in your flat, your bike … But hey, in app purchases can’t be resold. Why? Well, because they do not belong to the player as in most cases are purchasing the right to use it. NFTs are here to change that and players now understand it. And on top of that, NFTs belong to a specific blockchain and token that has some value. Players are now learning that farming/grinding can now have real world value and legal. And I am not talking about goldsellers in MMORPGs for real money.

And guess what? The better a player is in a game, the more options he has to earn more tokens (cryto-currencies)  and NFTs. All of it integrated into a game economy and its tokenomics, audited by the blockchain itself, governed by game communities formed DAOs (same fashion as Bitcoin miners rule Bitcoin polices) with instant rewards sent to players or clubs crypto-wallets triggered by smart contracts linked to tournaments.

High value proposition, decentralised governance, earning from the very first moment the competitive players enter in ranked mode (or PlayToEarn ranked modes) with clear tokenomics and value defined by the communities per tournament (DOTA 2 style financing prizes).

This is why I think every single Esport will evolve to PlayToEarn soon enough. Players will get a reward other than devaluated in-game soft currencies compared to cryto-currencies in the form of tokens or NFTs. There is no possible competition from a value proposition point of view. Even the smallest studio and a token supported by a good communities is already more valuable than big publishers soft currencies.

There is a new generation of gamers learning this and they will not come back to earn virtual gold, gems or others forms of soft currency. Game quality will be irrelevant. Making a good game nowadays is way easier that only 5 years ago due to engines plug-ins for anything developers can thing about. Game development teams now can achieve things that required teams 5x bigger only a few years ago.  

Esports games very soon will be indistinguible from PlayToEarn games: players will still compete but they will earn while competing and they will do it from their first game and the highest earners will be the challengers of each ELO. This is what the playtoearn future looks like. Every single online game with competitive mode will be a playtoearn game no matter what.

Let’s get ready for it!

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