More Ponzi than not
Nice write up, agree it’s Pay to Play and then maybe Earn and now they are trying to switch verbiage to “Play and Earn”, I think web3 games need to learn from mobile gaming and how it was a cash grab initially until the F2P mobile games like Free Fire, PUBG Mobile to Honor of Kings came out and now dominant in revenues because the games are very fun and free to play with lots of amazing content, events, etc. that people are willing to pay for and it isn’t pay to win. Most of web3 nowadays is a mix of pay to win / ponzi where only the early adopters gain the most.
Nice reflection on the status of blockchain gaming in general.
On your proposed "solution" you mention the focus on fun and utility of the NFTs, but you don't mention tokenomics aspect of it.
I think that balancing the tokenomics and the fun aspect of gaming is way harder than getting utility for the NFTs, but would love to read your opinion on it.
Pardon the crass self promotion but your hypothetical "Diablo game" scenario pretty much describes exactly what we're doing with our mobile pvp game, https://CryptoKnights.games as enabled by our Gen 2 NFT launch platform https://Monet.market . As you suggest, playing a fun game is a critical first focus - ours is a AAA mobile game that players can get the full game experience for free and never have to touch an NFT wallet. However, players who are using NFT Knights (as opposed to the free knights they get from just downloading the game) will also be able to earn RUBY, our ERC20 token.
The main consideration for sustainable tokenomics is, as you describe, ensuring that the best ROI incentive for players is to improve the value of the NFTs rather than focus on cashing in on the game token. The limited tokenomic expressiveness of Gen 1 NFTs (which can hardly be described as decentralized) like Axie really subject the tokens to constant downward price pressure resulting in an inevitable ponzi scheme model which requires an ever increasing rate of new player growth to subsidize old player incomes. Our system incentifies players to burn their RUBY token in game or in other decentralized investment vehicles to get more play time out of their NFTs so they will be more powerful/valuable, be able to earn higher level rewards, and can then be resold on the secondary market or even generate rental income thanks to our entirely trustless NFT rental DAO which also enables the Guild/Scholar business model to scale in a sustainable manner. This produces positive price pressure for both the NFTs and the RUBY token which results in a sustainable tokenomics economy. CryptoKnights is available on iOS & Android now for beta users (register free on the website) and will have a launch announcement on July 5. We hope to accomplish exactly what your post envisions in the next few months.