Blockchain Gaming Groups Are Trying to Lose the ‘Dodgy’ Tag in Japan

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In a sign of the rapidly changing times since the last physical Tokyo Game Show was held in 2019, one of the biggest booths at this week’s convention is occupied by a lending provider – for blockchain game players.

Philippine-based Yield Guild Games (YGG) is Asia’s largest provider of start-up loans for people hoping to make a living from the new genre. He chose the show to launch a global marketing campaign aimed at convincing industry, governments and the public that crypto-related games are not “shady”.

The Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, one of the main meetings of the global video game industry, has been canceled twice by the pandemic. During its hiatus, blockchain gaming has become a new growth area.

Video games have long incorporated their own in-game currencies, but newer cryptocurrency-based titles allow players to convert the assets they earn into real money through officially sanctioned channels.

High entry fees to games have spurred the emergence of companies like YGG, which provides start-up capital for people who plan to dedicate themselves to making money from games.

Part of the mission of YGG Japan and its local partner ForN is to convince a skeptical industry and public that blockchain gaming is, besides being lucrative, just as much fun.

“People think it’s very dubious to make money playing games and some even suspect that it’s financial scams, but we want to change that picture,” said Sho Miyashita, head of ForN marketing.

“So instead of a global slogan of ‘play to win’, we promote a concept of ‘play and win’: we want people to enjoy games first, and then have a winning experience,” said he added.

In other countries, like the Philippines during the pandemic, gamers quit their real jobs thinking they could make enough money fighting digital monsters in games like Axie Infinitydeveloped by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis.

To start, Axie required an entry fee of $1,000 and YGG became one of the first sponsors of Axie players in the Philippines and an investor in game tokens. It offers “purses” to finance users, taking a share of their earnings in exchange.

Blockchain games have been slower to develop in Japan, Miyashita said, in part because of strict regulations that foreign publishers of blockchain games must register their tokens on Japanese exchanges to sell games in the country.

An even bigger factor was their image problem, he acknowledged.

“Many of the players of these games today are speculators. . . The blockchain gaming industry will disappear in the next two years unless Japan, which is said to have a player population of 40 million, adopts these games massively. and just find them interesting as games,” Miyashita said.

Digital Entertainment Asset (DEA), a publisher of blockchain games at another booth at the show, said its products could provide financial support in other ways.

In one example, Belgian football club KMSK Deinze purchased non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for DEA gaming items using funds from its sponsors. He loaned them to fans, who can earn money playing the games and use it to buy items from the club shop, as well as match tickets and even a seat on a bus for a match at home. ‘outside.

“It shows that blockchain games offer a new option for a professional sports club to earn money, other than broadcast rights,” said Kozo Yamada, founder of DEA. “Games are no longer about those who develop and play games. A surrounding economic area can be expanded a lot.

Konami, one of Japan’s biggest traditional game publishers, is also looking to get in on the act. Ken Kanetomo, who oversees its blockchain business, said he believes the technology will “exponentially increase” the value games can offer.

The publisher behind classic hits like Castlevania and silent Hill has yet to give a date for the launch of its own blockchain game and is also struggling with the balance between making games enjoyable while allowing gamers to profit from the trend.

“If the global understanding of blockchain doesn’t catch up, it will be seen as a money-making game, which is not our intention,” Kanetomo said.

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