A New Era of Ownership Is Changing the Nature of Competitive Games

New GameFi platform Polemos Forge is helping all gamers make better use of the blockchain gaming industry


WindAwake/Shutterstock.com modified by Blockworks


Gaming psychologists have long known that competition enhances motivation and engagement in gameplay. It is why so many developers aim to serve their most competitive players by adding complexity and higher stakes rewards to their upgrades. 

But like all things, these upgrades suffer from the law of diminishing returns. In-game incentives grow stale and players venture off for new challenges. 

Co-CEOs of Polemos Sascha Zehe and Richard McLaren both believe that blockchain-based asset ownership is a solution to this problem. Their new GameFi platform, Polemos Forge, is helping all gamers make better use of this industry. They have an educational hub that helps players take advantage of new opportunities and will soon release an asset lending and asset staking library. 

“For me, ownership is the important part. Ownership of assets is what’s going to drive the growth for web3 games compared to Web2 games,” Zehe said.   

The impact on the competitive gaming industry

This type of ownership unlocks a new dimension of incentives for competitive gaming. 

“If a player wins a weapon or badge that they are able to store in a self-custody Web3 wallet, then they get access to an endless list of ways to leverage that reward,” McLaren said.   

While the value of this type of ownership is not limited to competitive games, many prominent game developers are using it in competitive environments. 

Illuvium, a AAA Web3 game still in development, has released Arena (Private Beta 2), which will allow players to battle against each other using assets and avatars (Illuvials) they own. 

This competitive element is the first step of their full IBG (Interoperable Blockchain Game) launch and is already amassing a massive social following.   

Shrapnel, another AAA-quality blockchain game, is also integrating esports functionality in its own P2P (Peer-to-Peer) competitions and player-created tournaments. With the use of Shrapnel’s professional-grade creator tools, players can design their own combination of weapons and custom skins to use in matches against other players. These are high-stakes battles because players can either capture their opponent’s loot or lose everything. 

While there is potential for disruption, both McLaren and Zehe explained that it is hard to measure industry-wide impact at this stage. “These fantastic games,” McLaren explained, “are still in development.” There need to be more active users to gauge how much transformative value NFTs can offer high-quality games. 

Zehe added, “We need better games (like these) in Web3 that can leverage the value of blockchain ownership.” 

When asked if GameFi has the potential to shake up esports, McLaren said, “Not yet, or certainly not outside the inherent gameplay and spectator appeal for the games. There might be interesting models for crowdsourcing prizes and tournaments, or for team sponsorships, but we haven’t seen anything there yet.”

The fact that GameFi is still in its infancy could be interpreted as good news for investors and players. It offers them the time to learn and investigate the games and strategies that could provide the most opportunity. 

Correcting the mistakes of the past 

McLaren emphasized the importance of evaluating in-game revenue models in relation to the quality of gameplay. “If there isn’t a balance of incentives, then games will struggle to acquire users beyond pure profit-making motives.” 

For example, Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn video game, has struggled to retain players during the global recession and crypto winter. In February 2022, the value of the in-game currency dropped by over 90% from its all-time high in July 2021, causing many players to stop playing the game.

But it is more than just a matter of imbalanced financial incentives. When asked why Ubisoft struggled to launch its Quartz NFTs, Zehe said, “the industry as a whole suffers from a branding problem, and it’s called NFTs.” 

For those unfamiliar with the launch, in late 2021, Ubisoft introduced a new initiative called Ubisoft Quartz. It aimed to incorporate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into games by turning in-game items into collectible player-owned assets. The first game to receive this treatment was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint on PC. Unfortunately, the initiative saw lackluster sales and backlash from the traditional gaming community.

McLaren explained that, “calling a game item an NFT is unnecessary jargon and what’s more, a somewhat discredited ‘dodgy’ term. Adoption is going to need to be gentler and at players’ own pace.”

He added, “NFTs will eventually make their way into AAA games, but they will most likely not be called NFTs. And the movement will be grassroots led.”

Facilitating community management and gaming lore is an important aspect of Polemos’ work with AAA-quality blockchain games like Illuvium and Shrapnel. 

According to Zehe, “The openness of these communities to collaboration varies depending on the stage the game is in. In the earlier stages of development, it may be more difficult to collaborate, but as the game expands its exposure, it can lead to more opportunities for partnerships and marketing efforts. These can include things like trivia contests, live game sessions, giveaways, AMAs or the creation of educational content.” 

In the case of Illuvium, the team even conducted an NFT collaboration, in which they announced a Polemos-branded Cosplay Illuvium Stabbin NFT earlier last year. 

Polemos is also making great efforts to build out its own platform’s lore, fantasy, universe, and background stories. They are finding creative ways to weave their storytelling into the work of their partners. This type of creative collaboration provides the backbone of gaming interoperability – and can ultimately open gaming NFTs to a new world of utility.

This content is sponsored by Polemos.

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