Crypto gaming needs to move beyond ‘just having collectibles,’ Argus Labs CEO says

Just presenting Web2 gameplay with collectible add-ons isn’t going to cut it, Sunarto says


Ink Drop/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The playbook for Web3 games might finally be coming into focus, but it’s still too immature to expect AAA games to have joined the fray quite yet, the founder and CEO of Argus Labs said.

“We’re in a stage of crypto gaming where I would say not anyone has really figured out a clear playbook, where it would make sense for us to invest four years of development life cycle…and tens of millions of dollars.”

At the Blockworks Permissionless II conference in Austin, Texas, Scott Sunarto said the infrastructure and the “zeitgeist of crypto” seems to change “on one or two year timelines,” so most gaming companies in the space are biased toward “just shipping fast.” 

Sunarto argued that developers and investors need to “take a more critical approach” concerning the types of games to build and development cycle strategies. The space isn’t quite ready for AAA development life cycles, Sunarto said, arguing it is still an “immature” market. 

He noted that people in crypto tend to blame a game’s shortcomings on infrastructure or distribution, but argued that, in reality, many developers are building “skeuomorphic” games, “where they just copy-paste the games from Web2 and then slap NFTs on top of it.”

Sunarto argued that this approach makes it very difficult to compete with successful Web2 games. “If you bring this to the gamers, then they’re like, okay, you don’t have the [intellectual property] that these large [Web2] game publishers have — and now, you’re just presenting gameplay that is basically identical.”

Sunarto said he is passionate about working with people “that actually found interesting ways to use crypto levers” to make games more appealing, “beyond just having collectibles.” He expressed excitement about experimentations in crypto-native design and the unique mechanics that could be offered in games.

The “next billion gamers” are expecting more

Attention is shifting, or at least it should be, Sunarto said, toward crypto gaming infrastructure that allows for more unique Web3 features that are not possible in traditional games. “We’re at a point where the market is really saturated with a lot of these clones and very low-effort games,” he said. 

Sunarto argued that the “the next billion” gamers are “expecting more.”

“If we want to make a claim that crypto is going to make gaming better,” Sunarto said, “then we need to show more —- and how that is going to be a case — beyond just providing more NFTs.”

Sunarto argued that ownership of assets is not enough to make a Web3 game uniquely appealing. The gaming community’s emergent behaviors that stem from ownership could be what makes it special. 

“Ownership means nothing if you don’t really have…interoperability, and you don’t really have this composability aspect of it.”

“You can own stuff in the Steam Marketplace,” he said. “The only difference here is in the blockchain, where you can actually bring out your game assets, and use them in these different protocols, and no one can stop you from doing it.”

“If we extend that logic to more parts of the game — let’s say you can increasingly build more games and have things on-chain — then you open up the design space for emergent behavior.”

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