Blockchain in Games

Blockchain in Games

Opinion Piece

What is “The Blockchain”/”NFTs”/”DeFi”/”Web3”?

There are a whole bunch of terms floating around on blockchain tech that, understandably, cause some confusion. Here are some simplified summaries:

Blockchain: A large public database that stores all accounts/balances and transactions. NFT: “Non-Fungible Token”, an item stored on the blockchain. DeFi: "Decentralised Finance”, an umbrella term for the act of storing various assets/currencies on the blockchain instead of company-held servers. Web3: An umbrella term for various blockchain-adjacent tech.

Example Models

If this all sounds pretty abstract, here is an example of how a player would buy an item from an in-game store and trade it with another player to visualise it in action.

Note that as with any set of tools, there are a variety of implementations - the following examples are based on the most commonly used.

Let’s start with how things work right now

In-Game Purchases: Without Blockchain


Here we have a game studio with an in-game store where players can buy items.


In this example, the flow for a player would be:

  1. Purchase in-game currency with real currency
  2. Purchase item with in-game currency
  3. Receive item in their inventory

Taking a peak in the player inventory, we can now see they have a copy of the cool sword! The player can now keep it for themselves.

(Some games allow for trading purchased items between players, but more on this later!)

In-Game Purchases: With Blockchain


In this example, both the store and player inventories are stored on the blockchain; this essentially decouples them from any relationship to the game studio, aside from receiving payments.

Let’s take a look at the item purchasing process.