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A Brief History of Game Economies
Metaverses with sprawling real-world economies have existed since the 1990s. In Ultima Online (released in 1997), players were introduced to this emerging phenomenon, where digital game items could be traded for real-world currency. As Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) grew in popularity, so did virtual economies.
In 2004, World of Warcraft brought game economies into the mainstream. There were a wide range of websites spun up to drive the monetization of these secondary markets.
Several developers actively promoted the open trading of virtual goods in these secondary markets. A major feature of Second Life was the ability to exchange Linden dollars for fiat currencies by third parties. CNN Money even reported on the world's first virtual millionaire, Anshe Chung, who made a living flipping real estate in what is arguably the first metaverse.
Metaverses are nothing new, despite the recent buzz. There is, however, certainly room for evolution.
An Overview of the INF Currency
Infinite Fleet embraces a free market philosophy regarding game items.
Our belief is that players should be able to trade their game items among themselves without needing our permission. That is the beauty of the INF currency.
INF is a game currency. It eliminates counterparty risk and facilitates the trade of digital goods. A player might do this on Infinite Fleet's upcoming marketplace, on a platform of their choice, or even in a café!
Proof of Participation
INF is extremely simple. As you play the game, you earn INF by participating in events and social activities. When players open a game account, they also open a digital wallet right there in the game launcher.
When a player first opens their wallet, all they need to do is pay attention to their 12-word seed phrase. This gives them access to their digital wallet. Upon completing that step and setting a PIN, INF tokens can begin to accumulate in their wallet as they play. Then all you have to do is open the Infinite Fleet marketplace, and off you go! You can trade digital items as you wish.
Blockchain games, often described as play-to-earn or Web3 games, require players to purchase the game's native token. It's actually quite complicated. You have to buy some Ethereum or Solana on a crypto exchange, set up Metamask, download some other game wallet like Phantom or suchlike and deposit your game tokens. Honestly, it's too much friction to just play a game (and these blockchains are also likely unregistered securities).
We believe that this is just a horrible user experience. There are many hoops to jump through and a deep understanding of crypto is needed to participate.
Furthermore, Blockchain game companies often promise huge gains with their crypto tokens. Many times they are unable to sustain their economies as a result. They reflect a Ponzi scheme that counts on more people buying at higher prices in order for the game to continue. It is an unsustainable model.
The INF currency is an optional part of the game that a player can choose to participate in or not. There is no promise of making money, and you cannot buy INF tokens from us. You can only earn them by playing the game.
INF was created to allow trustless trading between players.
Trustless Trading with Atomic Swaps
In the past, if you wanted to buy World of Warcraft gold with US dollars, you could use eBay or other secondary marketplaces. Once you found a buyer, you would pay them online, arrange a meeting place in the game, and hope they show up! Many adventurers have been scammed.
This is where Liquid, the protocol on which the INF currency is minted, comes in.
By utilizing a feature called Atomic Swaps, assets minted on Liquid can be traded – without the need for trust – by ensuring both parties commit their assets to the transaction. The entire transaction is revoked if either party fails. The assets are either received by both parties, or nothing happens.
No matter where you trade, a fan forum, or just chatting privately with a stranger, you can be confident that your trade will go through legitimately and without counterparty risk by using an Atomic Swap. This is a huge leap forward for opening up game economies.
If you want to learn more about Atomic Swaps, check out Blockstream's blog here. After all, don't trust, verify.
Infinite Fleet’s NFTs
Infinite Fleet assets as NFT's will allow players to trade their in-game items with other players. An NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a unique, digital token existing on a blockchain that points to an asset. In our case, spaceships and other game items.
In Infinite Fleet, the NFTs serve as keys to your ships, so whoever holds them controls the ship.
Infinite Fleet makes no claim to being decentralized; that would be unnecessarily complex and would not offer any benefit to the players. Instead, the NFT digital goods are simply pointers to items on our servers. This allows them to be used in the game, as well as traded for other digital assets, in or out of game.
Why NFTs Aren’t Popular with Gamers
It's understandable why NFTs are contentious in the gaming community.
A lot of blockchain game companies have raised millions of dollars with ICOs and DAOs, fueled by well written whitepapers, well funded marketing, and eye-catching concept art. These grifters sell JPEGs and pretend to care about games. Most fail to launch a viable product, or they exit scam within months of launch.
The gaming community may not understand why NFTs exist in games, and that's totally understandable. NFTs are – more often than not – just another way to make profits without providing anything special or unique to gamers.
The goal should not be to convince gamers that they need cryptoassets or NFTs in their games; the majority of them don't. The goal should simply be to make a great game and offer this feature for players who wish to engage in it, without tying it to monetization. In the same way that Second Life's secondary markets were highly successful for similar reasons.
Web3 games have struggled with user experience. Imagine you have built a great Web3 game (you might have to stretch your imagination a bit here) and you want to attract players outside the cryptocurrency demographic. What are the steps you would need to take?
Let's take Axie Infinity as an example. This is taken from their extensive how-to instructions:
Before entering the world of Axie Infinity, the followings are required:
ETH coins for buying NFT Axie
Transfer ETH coins to Metamask
Transfer ETH coins from Metamask to your Ronin Wallet
Access Axie Marketplace, select Axie you want to obtain, and click “Buy now”
Axies will be transferred in inventory (at least 3 Axies are required to engage in game modes)
Download the game on PC, Android, or iOS, and you may start your journey at Axie Infinity now!
This is all for a game that looks like a Facebook game from 2005 with less engaging mechanics. Players who do not have a significant interest in cryptocurrency will find these requirements a dealbreaker. Most gamers would probably have trouble setting up a Metamask account and buying some ETH, let alone completing the steps that follow.
Infinite Fleet does not engage in this nonsense. It's as simple as downloading and playing. Once you register an account, you can create your wallet right there in the launcher; all you have to do is write down your 12-word seed phrase.
What makes it so simple for us? To enjoy 100% of Infinite Fleet, you never have to interact with a blockchain. Only if you want to trade your NFTs or INF elsewhere do you need any prior knowledge, and 90% of users likely won't do that. That's totally fine, since that's not the goal.
So What Is Our Goal?
If we believe so strongly that Web3 gaming is mostly nonsense, why are we bothering at all?
Infinite Fleet is a game designed with a solution for MMO gamers - primarily issues with trading in the secondary economy. Our ships are NFTs and the INF currency exists to solve this problem. We want to empower players as well, by giving them assets they can self-custody.
The INF currency and NFTs are not the main selling point of Infinite Fleet. In fact, at this point, the majority of our ship sales took place before any NFTs were minted. NFTs aren’t revolutionary, but they can offer an incremental improvement for gamers.
It’s important to reiterate that we do not sell the INF currency. We don't take a cut from players trading items with it and we don't monetize it. It's simply a feature we provide for our players.