The Psychology of Owning Virtual Content on the Blockchain

If you’re a gamer, you know the feeling of spending countless hours trying to boost your player’s level, rank, weapon arsenal, and fashion attire. With video games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and World of Warcraft, players are able to either earn in-game points or purchase downloadable content (DLC) through their video game console’s online store (Microsoft or Sony) to enhance their gaming experience.

But in the gaming world, all players are not created equal. In multi-player gaming, some gamers have better in-game experiences than others on their team or opposite them, because of the DLC available. You would think DLC could be readily transferable to other players, but due to intellectual property laws and other restrictions, game developers have restricted them to a single purchase, preventing any further transfer, sale, or exchange of that content with another player.

One platform, Hoard, utilizes a blockchain to mitigate this shortcoming, providing users with true ownership of the virtual content they purchase online.

Why Open The Gaming World To Freely Transferable DLC?

1. Enhancing and Enriching the Gaming Experience

These days, it is becoming the norm that individuals no longer distinguish between virtual and physical content. “But, it’s important to remember that both have significant value to those in the space,” says Martin Amor, CEO/Founder of Hoard, and Co-Founder of the massive multiplayer online game Anarchy Online.

Amor shared with me that when he first created Anarchy Online, the network was enormous—every player could own their own virtual content. “You had players who owned their own virtual apartment, furniture, clothing lines, and other property,” says the co-founder. “This was twenty years ago, and they loved this. We then came to realize how much value these virtual items brought to players.”

2. With New Gaming Consoles Comes Loss of DLC

Here’s a feeling we all know too well—we spend countless hours playing Call of Duty or Madden trying to boost our ranks, teams, weapons, skills, etc., and at what cost? Time and money.

But what happens when we stop playing those games? What happens when we upgrade our consoles to the latest XBOX, Playstation, or Wii? These games sit idle, as does the content we’ve purchased along with them, because that content just can’t be transferred. The publishers and developers have restricted this, because one, they can; and two, they haven’t been able to exploit its potential in secondary and tertiary markets.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars people spend purchasing such content, only to use it for a limited period of time, is a waste of time and money. But if a player goes out of town for two weeks and Johnny next door wants to rent or purchase some or all of their DLC so that he can boost his class on Call of Duty, shouldn’t he be able to do it? Who does it harm? It keeps the content and the gaming experience alive.

Keeping Players, Developers, and Publishers On The Same ‘Team’

1. Gamers Gonna Game, Game, Game

At the end of the day, gamers are allowed to buy, sell, and trade their DLC, having true ownership over their virtual content, which incentivizes people to keep the game alive, even across new generations of consoles.

2. Providing Value to Game Developers

Intellectual property laws are in place for two reasons—protection and nutrition. Think of it as a battery that allows for an inventor or innovator’s product to continue running and running, for as long as the inventor or innovator wants it to. At the same time, it also protects that content from those who wish to exploit it in a negative way, making false claims as to the ownership and source of the content.

But Amor believes that platforms like Hoard allow all parties to benefit by adapting intellectual property laws to the digital space and making them a bit more realistic.

“If you buy something with your hard-earned money, that entitles you to do with it what you want, especially in an online world,” says Amor. “If I went to a bicycle shop and bought a bike, and the owner goes, ‘You can use it for the next 2 months, but then you have to give it back’, that [seems neither] real nor fair.” Amor believes that virtualization of content should be recognized as having real potential value.

By opening the space up to the blockchain, game developers and creators are able to monetize their work in these secondary and tertiary markets that they just don’t have access to right now. “Today, when they sell DLC, that’s where they earn their money,” says Amor. “Their financial loss is attributed to that alone—once the content is purchased, they prohibit users from doing anything with their DLC other than using it for themselves—they cannot transfer, sell, or ‘rent’ it out to other users, so it just sits there.”

But with blockchain technology, every time there is a transaction, users are able to receive a percentage or fixed amount of the sale, determined by terms governed by the smart contract. They have now just opened themselves to profits not just from the first sale, but from countless others.

3. Removing the Fraud

Currently, there are a lot of grey and black markets where such trades occur, and unfortunately, the space is no stranger to fraud and theft. Hoard aims to remove that fraud, and exploit these markets, by providing value to gamers, developers, and publishers.

“You have to trust each other,” says Amor. “Through platforms like PayPal and other third parties, you pay an amount and hope the other party meets their end of the bargain, but this doesn’t happen.”

We need transparency, security, and, most of all, continued entertainment.