Play And Win - Why Choice Matters
Updated: Mar 4
“If synthetic worlds become commercialized completely, the golden goose will be dead.”
~ Edward Castronova
The right to participate and the obligation to participate in a system are two entirely different points. Conflating the two changes the fun of win-win dynamics into miserable zero-sum games.
This is, essentially, the problem we set out to solve at Metanomic; how to empower gamers by giving them the right to share in the proceeds of the value they bring to gaming communities, without forcing them to pay to participate or participate in non-gaming “work”, in order to play. How, in other words, can the gaming industry move from play to earn (which is just another word for time-based work) to play and earn, or towards a culture of shared value rather than make-work?
In our view, the difference between play to earn and play and earn systems is the difference between rent-seeking dead-loss markets, which transfer value from one person to another on the one hand; and productive open trade that increases net value for all the players involved.
Furthermore, it is critical to understand that “value” is not only monetary, value, in its truest sense, can be (indeed, in a gaming context has to be!) intrinsic too. The intrinsic value in a gaming environment comes from the fun players have from playing the game itself. Indeed, the value that players would happily pay for, in terms of their time, and in terms of “real” money; not the resources players often feel forced to spend to win, but the resources they would commit purely for the joy of playing.
Just about any efforts that game developers make to increase financial utility for players that do so at the expense of reducing the intrinsic utility of the gameplay itself are, as such, inherently long-run unsustainable. This is the Faustian bargain developers are caught in with the current play to earn landscape; by opening up their games and their players to speculative open market forces, by inviting the temptations of get-rich-quick tokenonomics into their gaming environments, they find themselves dealing with incompatible incentive structures. On the one hand, the speculators and token holders who aim to maximise short-term token prices have no incentive to protect long-run game utility or invest in improving the intrinsic fun of the game. This means, gradually, players are replaced by workers until the tragedy of the commons takes its course and all the surplus intrinsic utility is stripped from the game and the speculators and their new working class are forced to find new pastures to repeat the same zero-sum game.
This somewhat cynical slash and burn business model, is indeed a strategy, but it is a cynical one, that destroys untold long-run surplus for the pursuit of short term profits. Over time, as both players and the new working gaming grinder class realise that they can get more fun and more money for their scare attention and time elsewhere (online or offline), the easy money on the table will become harder to extract. This is why we are betting on another model, based on the idea of mutually beneficial trade between peers, which can only come from designing self-sustaining systems with aligned incentives for all the players involved.
As such the Metanomic platform tool suite has been designed to keep and grow value within gaming economy networks. To do this we have embraced the original ethos of the decentralised web, which highlighted that participants in games and networks should share in the ongoing value of those networks they have helped to build.
This is subtly, but significantly distinct from the ethos of the more cynical projects in the space that focus on extracting value from communities rather than creating value with and for communities.
Come build value with us.