The Evolution of Online Gaming: From Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 and the Blockchain Era
Games are constantly evolving. Developers are always looking for ways to create more innovative and interactive gaming experiences using current technology.
When the internet evolved into what people now call Web 2.0, so did gaming, but with blockchain and cryptocurrencies being the real game-changers. Here's a look at how new technology has changed the gaming landscape over three internet generations — and what's next.
Web 2.0 Games — Where it starts
Το Web 2.0 βελτίωσε σημαντικά το Web 1.0 εισάγοντας έναν βαθμό συνεργασίας και κοινωνικής διαδραστικότητας με μια νέα γενιά διαδικτυακών παιχνιδιών: Fortnight, Call of Duty, League of Legends and DOTA, just to name a few. In this generation of games players can acquire various assets (eg weapons, armor, pets, and cosmetics) through the game and trade them online, usually with the help of in-game, non-cryptocurrency.
Ωστόσο, με την πάροδο του χρόνου κατέστη σαφές ότι η ίδια η δομή των παιχνιδιών Web 2.0 δημιουργούσε τα δικά της προβλήματα. Τα παιχνίδια τρέχουν σε κεντρικούς διακομιστές που ανήκουν σε μεγάλες εταιρίες πολυμέσων. Σε περίπτωση που αυτή η συγκεντρωτική διαδικασία αποτύχει — ας πούμε, μέσω απώλειας της άδειάς τους, καταστροφικής βλάβης του διακομιστή, επίθεσης DDOS — το ίδιο το παιχνίδι καταρρέει. Έχουμε δει πολυάριθμα παραδείγματα παιχνιδιών always-online, όπως το Overwatch 2 και το Diablo IV, που ήταν εκτός σύνδεσης για ώρες μετά από μια τέτοια επίθεση.
Equally important, the player community has very little control over the game assets they have earned. If one day the game's developers decide on a major gameplay change that wipes out the value of these assets—or simply shuts down the game—there's not much the public can do about it. Club Penguin and Webkinz were shut down much to the dismay of their players, who had been creating characters and collecting pets for years.
Although it may seem safe and familiar, Web 2.0 games face an erosion of players and ideas, necessitating the evolution of online games.
Web 2.5 — Bridging the Gap
Web 2.5 begins the shift from centralized gaming to giving players more control over their data and the assets they acquire in-game. We are now seeing the introduction of blockchain technology and tokenized assets in games like Illuvium and Gods Unchained.
Ειδικότερα, τα NFTs (non-fungible tokens) έχουν αποδειχθεί απαραίτητα για τη μεταφορά ελέγχου στους χρήστες, παρέχοντας τη δυνατότητα να κατέχουν και να ανταλλάσσουν περιουσιακά στοιχεία εντός του παιχνιδιού όπως επιθυμούν. Αυτό έχει ανοίξει δρόμους για το play-to-earn (p2e), καθώς τα περιουσιακά στοιχεία μπορούν να ανταλλάσσονται με κρυπτονομίσματα και το αντίστροφο. Για τη διευκόλυνση των συναλλαγών, οι παίκτες έχουν γνωρίσει ένα νέο εργαλείο: τα crypto wallets, τα οποία σας επιτρέπουν να αποθηκεύετε, να παρακολουθείτε και να πραγματοποιείτε συναλλαγές με τα token και τα κρυπτονομίσματά σας.
Web 2.5 sees a more decentralized form of play, but it is only partially so. Developers still control how game assets work, the values of all items, the effectiveness of weapons, the structure of their player community, and so on. The risks associated with Web 2.0 games have not fully subsided — in fact, some are more likely to appear, as several parts of Web 2.0 are still actively and deliberately avoiding the shift to Web 3.0. Hence, even a successful game like F1 Delta Time was eventually shut down after failing to renew its license, wiping out hundreds of thousands of dollars from NFT holders.
Web 3.0 — The decentralized future
There is a misconception that Web 3.0 games are just Web 2.0 with NFTs. In fact, the third generation of the Internet promises much more. Web 3.0 aims to push the boundaries to offer players greater security, stability and freedom.
First, decentralized games are independent, requiring no cloud infrastructure or single server. Instead, they are hosted on a network of computers or nodes. These nodes validate and record transactions on the blockchain. Imagine the opposite scenario where Bitcoin depended on centralized servers, it would have been hacked into oblivion.
This distributed structure makes it difficult to hack or crash the entire service at once — if one part of the network of nodes fails, the rest allow the game to continue running. Thus, Web 3.0 creates a transparent and truly "always connected" service for exchanging data or carrying out various transactions.
Of course, there are some caveats to Web 3.0, one of which is that it is not as easy to use as Web 2.0. Since this new generation of games is made for players who are already familiar with crypto and NFTs, the technology involved with blockchain, wallets, seed phrases, and public and private keys can be a learning curve for a typical user who is more familiar with Web 2.0 games, which is why the transition to Web 2.5 is so critical.
Another issue with Web 3.0 games is that blockchains are not suitable for real-time data, storing information in a ledger can be expensive, and not every type of data needs to be stored. Scalability is also an issue. As a blockchain grows, the more resources it consumes, and there are limits to the number of transactions that can be processed per block.
Although still in its infancy, we see Web 3.0 already changing the gaming landscape: titles like Axie Infinity, Decentraland, The Beacon and The Sandbox are leading the way, but several new titles promise even more innovations.
The upcoming game Cryptopia, leads the way with advanced features such as a built-in wallet for a seamless gaming experience and an innovative player-driven P2P node network for real-time play while remaining fully decentralized. Intelligently segregates data: vital, stateful information (the state of the game) is stored on the blockchain, while real-time data flows through the P2P network. This is a game-changer for Web 3.0 gaming, offering the interaction players expect. Even developers rejoice: the built-in wallet and P2P hub will be available as SDKs for both Unity as well as for Unreal!
We will fully explore this technology as well as the pros and cons of these web generations in another article. Suffice it to say, the path of online gaming remains the same: cut out the “middleman” and put control where it belongs — with the players.