In 2022, the global gaming industry is forecast to generate total revenue of more than $200 billion. Of that total, more than half - that is, $103 billion - comes from mobile gaming. That is more than twice the share of its next largest contender - consoles. More importantly, it represents a 5% percent increase on last year for mobile, the largest increase by far of any sector.
If gaming represents the next frontier for blockchain technology, then it seems to follow that mobile, rather than PC gaming - which saw its revenues decrease compared to last year by 17% - should be the principal focus.
More than 3 billion people play mobile games - the largest number by far of any platform. For those of us who dream of onboarding the world to web3, that’s a number that can’t be ignored.
At least, that’s the thinking of Şekip Gökalp. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, and now living in the UK, Gökalp has worked in mobile gaming for years. Coda, a mobile gaming publishing platform that he co-founded and serves as CEO, has seen more than 15,000 studios use its services to help bring their games to more than 200 million users.
In March 2022, Coda - by then rebranded as Coda Labs, released its first web3 project. Infinite Arcade helps developers to build web3 games, from conception through to release and publishing.
“Our mission is to enable the little guy to be successful in mobile gaming,” he said in a recent interview with Venly. “Coda is an enablement tool for mobile studios across the spectrum. Infinite Arcade is a marketplace where the mobile studios can enter the metaverse or just introduce web3 dynamics and principles into their games with the lowest friction possible.”
“Mobile and casual gaming is the largest form of entertainment. So that’s why it has to be part of this revolution. There’s just no way around it.”
The current gaming landscape, according to Gökalp, is “in a very late stage, very consolidated. It’s a heavy market where small teams struggle to break through the crowd.”
“For a mobile game to be successful, it has to be discoverable… You have to pay a lot of money to be in front of customers. Paid advertising, performance marketing. This creates a huge entry barrier which pushes people to centralized systems and ownership.”
“We think there needs to be a more democratized way of getting in front of customers. Crypto is, in our view, a powerful tool to break that cycle. My focus is on empowering [developers] to distribute these games in other ways. Decentralized community discovery.”
In such a competitive and experimental landscape, there are bound to be missteps and mistakes. Gökalp sees much of what has been produced in blockchain gaming so far as iterative steps toward more stable, sustainable models.
“There are many wrong ways to set up tokenomics in games… I think people are moving away from ponzi-nomics.”
“The use case that crypto enables for power users today… is not how the general public think of games.”
“Not everybody wants to make money in their spare time… You might want to tap into the tactics of DeFi. If it works for your game, why not? But it shouldn’t be the first thing you do and then try to build a game backward from that.”
“Long story short, the game design needs to be figured out. It needs to be a great game that can then introduce blockchain features.”
“Of the 2 billion people in the mobile free-to-play universe, you have 2% paying. So 98% of people pay zero to play these games. The moment you introduce even a $1 charge, you kill 98% of the funnel. So the crypto version of free-to-play needs to be figured out properly.”
“The upfront cost needs to be reduced or eliminated. That’s pretty basic. Play2Earn mustn’t be the only way for the ecosystem to exist. You don’t want to limit the number of people. You want to have as many players as possible.”
Solid game design fundamentals and an open, accessible tokenomic model that means new players can start playing for free or for only a minimal investment. This, according to Şekip, is what will lead to a sustainable blockchain gaming future.
“At some point, we want consumer spending or investments to come in - and that means we need a very safe, secure platform for transactions… where you don’t have to memorize 12 words [or] go figure out what Polygon is and then create a Metamask and then go back.”
“Wallets will have a presence in every game in some way. I won’t even know I’m using crypto technology even as I start experiencing the benefits.”
“Good tech just needs to disappear.”
It’s the same philosophy driving Venly’s own wallet API, which allows sign-on from within a mobile gaming app using a user’s social media or email account. Game developers on mobile and beyond are already using Venly wallets to provide blockchain powered experiences to their players.
You can listen to the full interview with Şekip Gökalp on the Venly Expert Talks Podcast here.